I’m 53 and far too often I am the youngest person in Church as I go out to different churches Sunday by Sunday! Our diocesan goal of ‘Reaching those we currently don't’ recognises this as we commit ourselves to reaching those in their ‘20s – 40s’.
There are some churches which have managed to retain the generation in their 20s – 40s but sadly many have not, and therefore, any children these folk may have are also missing from many of our churches.
Turning this situation around obviously presents a challenge but there is a growing sense that God is calling us to that task and that by the work of the Holy Spirit we can address this situation. We will need to embrace new ways – too often our current way of being church is alien to a younger generation. If the current Services can’t be changed, then we may need new worshipping communities which feel different and may not even meet on a Sunday.
We also hope to see a changing ethos amongst us where we share insights, resources and people; and when one church has seen growth, they don't keep it to themselves but look to give away people to start something new elsewhere.
Often we are already ‘reaching’ lots of people in this age range (baptisms, toddler groups, weddings, church schools, social events etc), the challenge is how to we talk about faith with them and accompany them on the journey of discipleship.
We are proposing a number of actions to help all this to happen :
13 new posts focused on places with a high number of 20s – 40s who will grow new worshipping communities, share their learning and then start again elsewhere
A Start Up Fund that will help churches create part time roles or provide resources to begin new projects, all aimed at reaching and discipling 20 – 40s
A web-based ‘Toolbox’ of Resources for all to use
Using St Michael le Belfrey’s experience to create new worshipping communities
Events to envision and equip us, to encourage a ‘ripple’ effect as learning and ideas spread between churches & deaneries
This all costs money! As well as using some of our reserves, we have applied for a substantial grant from the Church Commissioners which will fund the 13 posts and the Start Up Fund. We will know their thoughts in late June – please pray for a good outcome.
This will all be rolled out during 2019 but we can start now – looking for ways to reach and disciple 20s – 40s and praying that God will do a new thing amongst us all.