An interesting piece by David Self in the Guardian today on (among other things) why people no longer go to church:
The neglected virtue of matins was that, although it required a half-decent choir, it demanded little emotional or theological commitment and minimal participation. Those attending merely had to sit or stand as required and mouth the words of the hymns. It was the ideal service for those who felt they should be seen "to do their duty" on Sunday mornings; a part of "being British". But to take part in holy communion requires you to make a public profession of your faith by walking up to the altar rail to receive the sacrament.
The rise of the parish communion was not the only manifestation of the church's changing nature. Until 1967, many "low church" parishes were simply churches without a lot of candles, vestments and ritual. In that year, at a short congress, the evangelical leader John Stott set out a new agenda. The evangelical wing of the church awoke to preach biblical truths with a new passion and, often, a requirement that its members should be "born again".
In 1980, the Church of England adopted a modern-language prayer-book, hoping to make services more "relevant". Alan Bennett gave a memorable quote: "The trouble with these modern services is that they're so very unsettling. You can understand what you're saying."
Obviously, rival Sunday attractions also hastened the process of change, but by the end of the century the Church of England had largely become a "members only" organisation. Go to any parish church and the notices ("See Sue for tickets", "Tell Pamela if you can help") indicate that everyone knows everyone and newcomers are not expected. Even cathedrals model themselves on suburban parishes, nurturing their regular congregations. Attend debates at the church's parliament or general synod and you witness an inward-looking body.