The Fifth Hong Kong Church Research concluded recently. The preparation work started in October, 2003. From June to October 2004, the research group handed out questionaires out to 1,181 Chinese-speaking churches in Hong Kong. Of the total number of questionaires sent out, 1,042 were returned.
Organizing this research, the Hong Kong Church Renewal published the result on Jan 21st.
In 2004, there were 1,181 Chinese churches in Hong Kong. Comparing to the year 1999, the number of church increased by 4.6%. The average number of church attendees was 216,739 -- an increase by 4.3% in five years. 92.8% of the study group went to Sunday services. Meanwhile, 7.2% of them joined services on weekdays, higher than the number of 2.7% five years ago.
The growth of teenager believers is especially remarkable. While the whole population of Hong Kong is aging, the combined percentage of individuals under 15 years old and 15-24 years old is less that produced five years ago.
However, the population of believers in these two age growps increased by 14.2%. In addition, the number of service attendees in these two groups grew rapidly from the 3,500 in 1999 to 11,599 in 2004 -- making the growth 200% more than the original percentage. This growth is due to the effort that many churches paid to the youth ministries in the past five years.
As Hong Kong residents and mainland Chinese, commonly migrate between the Hong Kong-China border for economic reasons, researchers say that new immigrants account for 3,611 of the total number of believers, 50% increase compared to the 2,293 in 1999.
Meanwhile, 61.4% of the Hong Kong churches admitted that their operation was affected because their members move northwards to the mainland. The estimate number is set at 2,588.
The vacancy rate of church position is 11.8%, a significant reduction compared to the 16.6% in 1999. However, same as five years ago, more than 50% church ministers and workers have changed or resigned from their positions according to date taken 2004. The rate in 1999 and 2004 are respectively 57.4% and 53.9%.
Reverend Lu Fei, the president of the research team, the general director of the Hong Kong Council of the Church of Christ in China, commented on the results of this research, "Now we should focus on how to explain the data, and by using them well, examine the churches, and conceive the developments in the future."
He described that the percentage of the church workers who left their position was "surprising", and expressed his worry that the instability of church staffs would bear negative affects to the churches.
The result also showed that Hong Kong churches were caring more for the society and responding to various social problems. 41.7% of them claimed to pay attention to the gambling problem. However, in 1999, only 10% claimed involvement in helping the poor. And within the 10%, only 28.4% are actively engaged in relief-work for the poor.
He also suggested the churches do further research on the following issues:
1) According to the results of each church research in Hong Kong, the economical downturn and social instability brought more people to church. This conclusion should be confirmed from other research, and churches should set up mission strategy according to the findings.
2) A lot of churches started small groups to hold activities in recent years. At the same time, service attendees raised by 40,000 people in the past five years, and 50% of the church members took part in groups. Is there any relation between these two?
3) 74.4% of all the churches confronted questions from believers about their jobs. There might be need to develop the shepherding in work fields.