Churches’ struggle to connect with young people
New survey reveals churches’ struggle to connect with young people as charity launches new grants programme to help tackle challenge
A poll of more than 800 churches has shown 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.
Allchurches Trust carried out a survey of churches from a range of Christian denominations throughout the UK and Ireland during April 2019 to gain an insight into the work churches are engaged in with 0 to 18-year-olds ahead of the charity launching its new grants programme, Growing Lives.
The new programme makes grants of up to £25,000 available to help churches and Christian organisations to connect with children and young people and forge lasting links with families in their area. Find out more at www.allchurches.co.uk/growinglives
An encouraging 88 per cent of churches surveyed said that they felt their church offers a welcoming environment for children and young people, but 67 per cent have five or fewer young people aged 11 to 18 in their worshipping community (26 per cent have none) and 45 per cent have five or fewer children aged 0 to 10 (15 per cent have none).
Some 82 per cent of churches are running activities for children aged 0 to 10, but only 58 per cent are running any activities for 11 to 18-year-olds. And while 58 per cent rate their support for the younger age group as good or excellent, 41 per cent admit their provision for older children is inadequate.
Sir Philip Mawer, chairman of Allchurches Trust, said, 'It’s inspiring to read that 96 per cent of the churches we asked said they would love to run more activities for children and young people if they had all of the right resources and skills, but it is important not to under-estimate the scale of the challenge.
'While our survey uncovered some truly inspiring examples of churches running innovative projects that are addressing a very real need in their communities, it’s clear that many are struggling to run activities at all or are offering support that they feel lacks relevance or is unattractive to local families. Many are hampered by buildings that are not fit for purpose and outdated equipment.
'We hope to help overcome some of these practical problems through our new grants programme. We also aim to share shining examples of projects making a difference and encouraging church growth, so that more churches and Christian organisations feel inspired and confident to help young people in their communities reach their potential, spiritually and in other ways.'
The biggest barrier that churches said they face in running high quality activities are a lack of people to run them (75 per cent) and a lack of young people (59 per cent) and children (52 per cent) attending church, with 44 per cent responding that young people feel the church is not relevant to them. For churches in the most disadvantaged communities, however, top of the list of barriers was lack of funding (73 per cent).
Allchurches Trust’s new Growing Lives grants programme will fund between 10 per cent and 80 per cent of project cost, depending on the size of the project and the level of need in the community. Organisations can apply even if they have received a grant from Allchurches in the last two years. To find out more visit www.allchurches.co.uk/growinglives