If churches in England are losing committed members and worshippers, many congregations are drawing tourists and are even making a ministry of it.
Quadrant (July), the newsletter of the British Christian Research Association, reports that 30 million visits are made annually to churches and cathedrals — making for more visitors than regular worshippers. “More and more churches are realizing the opportunities that are offered in the ministry of welcome. Some Anglican dioceses have tourism officers” who raise funds to preserve church buildings and introduce visitors to British church life.
At the same time, those who shape Britain’s tourism strategy are only just coming to recognize the significance of the interest in churches as places of history, culture, architecture and faith.” A recent survey of 13,000 visitors to 165 churches by the Churches Tourism Group is also serving to alert churches on the role of tourism in introducing people to Christianity.
The survey finds that 70 percent of these visitors — many of whom are British — say prayer is something they would like to do in those churches. More than 40 percent look for an opportunity to make a donation, with this expectation particularly high among teenagers.
(Quadrant, Vision Bldg., 4 Footscray Rd., Eltham, London SE9 2TZ)