Data from the 2021 Census show that the average age of Christians is now 51. For evangelical leaders, the figures are “a challenge, but also an opportunity”.
According to the 2021 Census data for England and Wales, published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the average age of people identifying as Christian is now 51.
It is the oldest average age among all main religious groups, and far from the average 40 years of the general population.
Never before, since there is census data, the average age of Christians had been above 50. In the last census of 2011 it was 45.
It is not mandatory to answer the religious question of the census but 94% (56 million) people responded it. For the first time in a census of England and Wales, less than half of the population (46.2%, 27.5 million) described themselves as “Christian”.
Among them, 29% were 65 and older, while the proportion of Christians aged 21-25 fell from 5.1% to 3.9%.
Meanwhile, the youngest average age is 27 years, for people identifying as Muslims, followed by 32 for those who have no religion; Hindus and Sikhs: both 37; Jews: 41 and Buddhist: 43.
“The diversity in ages across religious groups increased over time; the difference between the youngest median age (those identifying as 'Muslim') and oldest (those identifying as 'Christian') median age increased from 20 years in 2011 to 24 years in 2021”, said the ONS.
For the of the director of the UK Evangelical Alliance (EAUK), Peter Lynas, “census breakdown figures on age and religion are a challenge, but also an opportunity, in the chaotic and contested moment people are looking for hope”.
“The hope found in Jesus and the community offered by the church, could lead to real growth. Trends are there to be broken, not followed religiously!”, he told news website Belfast News Letter.
Lynas stressed that “while we may see less young people ticking the Christian box, those that do are likely to be more passionate and keen to share their faith with others”.
EAUK CEO, Gavin Calver, agreed that “there’s a clear challenge in these results for us as the church to engage younger moving forward”.
“Grateful to many amazing churches and ministries who are already operating in that space”, he said on twitter.
There’s a clear challenge in these results for us as the church to engage younger moving forward. Grateful to many amazing churches and ministries who are already operating in that space https://t.co/auxmUWUN13
— Gavin Calver (@GavCalver) January 30, 2023