The statistics also show that churches flourish most when they are run by priests in their 40s or 60s.

Dr Brierley told Premier Christian Radio: ‘Here you are, you’re in your 50s and your church isn’t growing and you’ve been trying for a good four or five years, doing everything you can to try to help people to come faith and it hasn’t worked. You get disillusioned.’

Curates and chaplains are also more likely to quit in their 50s, according to the figures.

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