For the first time in census history, the average age of people who identify as a Christian in England and Wales is over 50.

New data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveals the median age of people who describe themselves as ‘Christian’ in 2021 was 51, an increase from 45 in the 2011 census.

Those who identified as ‘Christian’ had the oldest average age out of the main religions in the country, with Muslims having the youngest average age of 27.

Danny Webster, director of advocacy at the Evangelical Alliance told YCW he thinks the way people label themselves has a lot to do with the way the figures have panned out.

“My suspicion is that what we’re seeing is people no longer do it by default: ‘I’m British, I was christened. I went to a Church of England School. I’m a Christian.’ Whereas now people who say they’re a Christian, it reflects their beliefs, it reflects their practice.

“And actually, what we’ve seen in other surveys that we’ve done over the past few years is that stays pretty constant…about nine or ten percent of people attend church at least once a month…six or seven percent are practising Christians…that number hasn’t really changed in the last eight or ten years”.

Meanwhile, the ONS figures showed that most young people in England and Wales (22.2 million) say they have no religion.

Andy Hawthorne, CEO of youth outreach charity The Message Trust, said he was shocked and doesn’t see it reflected in his surroundings but did admit that the Church needs to seriously prioritise getting the gospel to youth.

“The Church needs to wake up and make mission and outreach to young people a priority,” he said.

“We need to wake up to the potential of young people, put our resources, put our finances, pray like mad, get out into the schools, mission to young people, and relevantly communicate the gospel. The gospel works, we’re seeing it work for young people. We just need God’s people to make that an absolute focus and priority in my opinion.”