Clergy are now gripped by a “feeling of defeat”, congregations are worn down by “heaviness” while the public simply greets both with “rolled eyes and a yawn of boredom”, he said.

His comments at a Christian conference came as a stark report laid before the Church of England’s General Synod warned that its position as a “national institution” will be in doubt if numbers in the pews drop much further.

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, also underlined the scale of the crisis telling members of the Synod they must “evangelise or fossilise”.