Attendance at Christmas services in the Church of England is at its highest level for more than a decade, according to new figures published today.

The latest annual Statistics for Mission report shows that while traditional Sunday attendance edged lower in 2017, in line with long-term trends, the numbers attending Christmas services increased by 3.4 per cent to 2.68 million.

It was the fourth successive rise in Christmas congregations since 2013 and the highest figure since 2006. Combined with figures for special services in churches during Advent, including carol services, there were nearly eight million attendances over the festive season. In the Diocese of Lincoln 49,000 people attended a Christmas service in 2017, of which 17,600 were communicants. This represents a 5.71% increase on the previous year.

Meanwhile separate figures also published today show that the Church of England more than doubled its monthly reach on social media – from 1.2 million in 2017 to 2.44 million this year.

The Church of England’s Advent and Christmas campaign in 2017 was four times bigger than the previous year, with reach rising from 1.5 million to 6.8 million.

And the Church’s Royal Wedding prayer and videos for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were seen more than five million times on social media.

The figures for 2017 show that average Sunday attendance (measured during October 2017) stood at 756,000, down on the previous year in line with long-term trends. Average weekly attendance over October 2017 stood at 895,000.

But the ‘Worshipping Community’ – a measure of those people who regularly attend church rose slightly in 2017 to 1.14 million people, of whom 20 per cent were aged under 18 years old.

These statistics follow the recent report that more than 33,000 social action projects – from food banks to debt counselling – are run or supported by churches, according to figures setting out for the first time the full scale of the Church of England’s service to communities.

The findings – which amount to the largest survey to date of the extent of the Church of England’s work with some of the most vulnerable in society – show that 80 per cent of congregations are involved in one or more forms of social action. For further information on the Bishop of Lincoln’s Social Justice Fund, please see here.

The Church of England recently announced details of its 2018 Advent and Christmas campaign, #FollowTheStar, which aims to help to encourage people into a local church service or event to share in the joy of Jesus’ birth. More details are available here.