Why a spike in Easter church attendance is great news!

Easter represents one of the best opportunities for churches to reach Scotland with the gospel.

Despite what we might think, successive surveys demonstrate Scots have a good understanding of the basics of the Biblical Easter story.

Scotland’s young people and the Easter story

Although an overwhelming majority of Christians (90%) think that children in the UK today know less about the crucifixion and resurrection than children did 30 years ago,[1] recent research amongst Scottish children show a surprisingly strong grasp of the Biblical account:

  • 9 out of 10 children in Scotland know the Bible says Jesus died by being nailed to a cross
  • 7 out of 10 children in Scotland know the Bible says Jesus was raised from the dead.[2]

Easter: Christianity versus confectionery

Even our media, not particularly known for advertising the core beliefs of Christianity, manages to get the message of Easter out.

An unpromising headline in The Mirror this week (“What is the Easter Story? Top facts about the Easter bunny and the origin of chocolate eggs and hot cross buns”) is followed by an article that sticks faithfully to the Biblical account of the death and resurrection of Jesus, albeit with a greater interest in confectionery than Christianity.[3]

It’s true that Jesus isn’t the main event for many Scots at Easter, with only 49% of Scots associating Easter with Jesus.

Jesus loses out to Easter eggs (73%), Bank Holidays (51%) and narrowly beats hot cross buns and the Easter Bunny (tied at 47%)[4].

But for many Scots, Easter will be one of the few times in the year when they might actually consider coming to church.

A great opportunity

Easter, while not providing as big a spike in church attendance as Christmas, is one of greatest opportunities for reaching people with the gospel.

No statistics exist for Scotland, but the Church of England keeps incredibly detailed figures. Easter services in the last few years have had 14% more people in attendance than on regular Sundays.

Apart from the whopping 92% increase that is seen at Christmas, Easter is the one occasion when more folk will be in church than at any other time of the year.[5]

Recent research suggests that attending a standard church service is one of the top influences in people coming to faith. Can you guess what one of the other most significant influences is? Reading the Bible.[6]

This Easter, let’s not miss this moment to share the gospel with visitors we warmly welcome into our churches. Let’s proclaim the Saviour Jesus Christ and pray that people in Scotland might move beyond knowledge about the Easter story to knowing Christ for themselves.

And let’s not miss the chance this Easter to give people one of the key means through which they might come to faith – the Bible.

Why not gift everyone who comes to your church this Easter a gospel to take home?

What better way to ensure that those who visit our churches so infrequently might not have to wait until Christmas for another opportunity to come to faith in Jesus Christ!

Adrian Armstrong
Head of Bible Engagement

[1] http://www.comresglobal.com/religious-importance-of-easter-being-devalued-say-uk-christians-2/

[2] YouGov poll for the British and Foreign Bible Society, 28th-31st March 2014.

[3] https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/what-easter-story-easter-bunny-10230279.

[4] YouGov survey of 2670 adults on 13 April 2017.

[5] https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2017-10/2016statisticsformission.pdf.

[6] Talking Jesus: What people think of Jesus, Christians and evangelism, Barna Group, 2015.