News in English

Church membership is mostly declining in larger cities

New report about church statistics

83,3 % of the population in the Diocese of Aalborg are members of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Denmark. In Copenhagen the number is 57 %. Photo: Diocese of Aalborg/ Christian Roar Pedersen. 

The central authority on Danish statistics, Statistics Denmark, released a report in February 2018 about church membership. The report shows that 75,3 % of the Danish population are members of Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Denmark (ELCD). The figures also reveal that 15.433 left ELCD in 2017. This is far less than in 2016. 

Especially people in the bigger cities are leaving the church: Only 57.6% of Copenhageners are members. In comparison, the membership level in the diocese of Viborg in rural Jutland is 84.6%.

The report shows some positives concerning confirmation: 70% of secondary school pupils in the age group 13-15 choose confirmation – a number that has been more or less stable throughout the last ten years. 

But the general picture is that the church is slowly losing ground when it comes to the rites of passage. More people are opting out of a church wedding choosing instead a civil marriage. The same goes for burials outside the church, and fewer people choose baptism. Since entry to the church hinges on baptism, the fact that only 60.3% choose to have their child baptized within the first year is not good news for the church.

ELCD has therefore invested many resources in projects and initiatives that aim to break the trend of fewer baptisms.

Minister of ecclesiastical affairs, Mette Bock, is happy that 75% of the population are members of ELCD, but is also concerned about the decline in baptism:

“The many Danes who support and feel at home in ELCD should think about the future of the church. Without any people left using it, there will be no church. Baptism has always been a cornerstone in ELCD and modern parents owe it to themselves to consider if they want their children to be part of the community of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Denmark,“ Bock says in a statement.