I find myself strangely heartened by General Synod treasurer Peter Blachford’s observation that many dioceses have given up updating membership statistics in favour of more important activities (Church statistics hard to come by, January Journal). This, surely, is how it should be. Jesus told Peter to feed his sheep, not count them. Besides, it is a vain and slippery task to determine at what point a person should be included in Anglican ranks, and at what point he or she can be said to be on the outside. In my experience, many who have long ceased to darken Anglican church doors continue to refer to themselves as Anglicans. By the same token, there are many regular adherents who, if pressed, would admit to some considerable degree of agnosticism along with some doubts about the centrality of the Articles of Religion. Are they Anglicans?
It probably does not matter except to those who would prefer to over-organize our spiritual lives and to entomb our various denominations into manipulable little boxes.
My advice is for congregations to continue downplaying the pointless task of amassing membership statistics and get on with the work of breaking down denominational walls, among other barriers to faith. If journalists, students and directory publishers cannot handle that – tough. Let them do the counting.