Numbers in church

Research co-funded by Single Christians confirms that the church is not attracting enough single men into its pews

Middle class Christian women, however attractive and successful, must be prepared to go through life without finding a partner who shares their Christian beliefs.

That is one of many stark findings of the survey, conducted by YouGov and conceived by Dr David Pullinger of, on the relationship between marital status and church attendance. It is the first time such detailed data has been assembled. Read the data here.

According to the survey, carried out by YouGov in September 2014, eight per cent of unpartnered people in the GB regularly attend a place of worship. However the greatest percentage of attendees are ABC1 unpartnered women – 21 per cent attend at least once a year, whereas only 13 per cent of ABC1 men and C2DE men and women do so. Because ABC1 women are also the most numerous as a group in society, this means there are a large number of unpartnered women with the same social status in churches. In fact, overall half a million more women than men regularly attend a place of Christian worship at least once a month in the GB.

'We've known it, anecdotally, for a long time but this new survey proves it at last,' said David Pullinger, co-founder of organisation Single Friendly Church. 'Traditionally, churches have been very successful supporting marriage but this data shows married couples are already over-represented in churches. What about single people? What about those of other marital status? Thousands of Christian women in particular must choose between marrying somebody who doesn't share their beliefs or staying single. They deserve far greater respect and understanding from church leaders and fellow worshippers.'

The survey reveals that married people are significantly over represented in church compared to the general population. While 47 per cent of GB adults are married, married people make up 60 per cent of those who regularly attend church at least once a month. Churches are relatively successful in catering for married people, especially those aged 30 to 44 years with children, but fail to reach other groups - including singles.

Professor Linda Woodhead MBE DD, from the department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion at Lancaster University, commented: 'This important research shows how the churches seem to cater much better for married than single people, particularly single men. As singleness grows in society, this is something which needs urgently to be addressed.'

Jackie Elton, founder of the award-winning, online dating site Christian Connection, who commissioned an earlier 2012 survey on attitudes and experiences of single people in the Church, believes local churches need to encourage single women much more and also work actively to attract single men of all ages, not just those under 35.

'There is little sign of church leaders taking on this issue,' said Jackie, who co-founded Single Friendly Church with David Pullinger. 'Local churches are letting down single people – both those who attend and those who don't. The number of single people in society is getting bigger and bigger all the time. It is time church leaders woke up and responded.'


The survey was co-funded by Single Christians (now Single Friendly Church) and Christian Vision for Men