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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Put youth first as survey finds churches fail to attract young

The Bishop for Youth has welcomed a new initiative that aims to help churches and Christian organisations to connect with children and young people and forge lasting links with families in their local area.

The new initiative comes after a poll of more than 800 churches found that more than two-thirds have five or fewer young people in their worshipping community; but 96 per cent would love to provide more support and activities for them if they had the right skills and resources in place.

“Without young people in our Church we are impoverished,” The Bishop of Hallam, Ralph Heskett, who is also Bishop for Youth, told The Catholic Universe.

“They bring creativity, vitality and a fresh outlook on life. At the same time there is so much we could offer if it were not for the many practical barriers that limit or prevent local outreach projects.”

The poll was carried out by Allchurches Trust, one of the UK’s largest grant-making trusts which supports the repair, restoration and re-ordering of churches and cathedrals of all denominations.

It comes as the trust launched their new Growing Lives grants programme earlier this month. The programme makes grants of up to £25,000 available to help churches connect with children and young people and forge lasting links with families in their area.

Eighty-eight per cent of churches surveyed said they felt they offered a welcoming environment for children and young people, but 67 per cent have five or fewer young people in their worshipping community, with 26 per cent having none at all.

Only 58 per cent offer any activities for 11-to-18 year olds and 41 per cent admit their provision for young people is inadequate. Some 82 per cent run activities for children from birth to the age of 10, but only 58 per cent rate their support for children as good or excellent.

Bishop Heskett said: “I am delighted to hear of the Growing Lives grant offered by the Allchurches Trust to overcome these barriers and help young people grasp their deepest meaning in life through a regular encounter with their best friend, Jesus.”

Sir Philip Mawer, chairman of Allchurches Trust, said it is “inspiring” that 96 per cent of churches wanted to run more activities for children.

Picture: Children pray in a church. (John Giles/PA).