Capital youth: a diocese where every parish is engaged in youth ministry
The Diocese of London has a history of innovation and change, a willingness to challenge the trends and step out in faith. Four years ago, we set the ambitious target of doubling the number of young people involved in local Christian community.
Over the last four years, the number of under 18s in our churches has remained stable, but we haven’t grown consistently across all parishes, which is what we were seeking to do. There are some success stories, but we are yet to see a trajectory of growth as the norm.
As a Senior Staff, in October 2016 we agreed that we need to be more radical. We all need to spend an increasing amount of time focussed on the young of the Diocese as part of our ministry. Outreach to young people is too important to delegate or avoid. We see a need to increase our focus on evangelism and discipleship within our youth work.
What have we done already?
- We have started some innovation with our youth apprenticeship scheme, first in the Willesden Area, then extending it to other areas.
- We have built the diocesan infrastructure to support ongoing parish youth ministry with resources, training and advice
- We reviewed all our investments in youth and children’s work through the Bishop of London’s Mission Fund and found what makes a successful project
- We surveyed the Diocese, and over 300 churches have told us where they are in youth and children’s work
- We travelled the country talking to the best examples of youth work we can find to learn from them
- We have appointed at least one youth advocate in every Episcopal Area to help us increase our focus on young people
- We sought additional funding to help implement what will be known as Capital Youth.
Today we are announcing a commitment to major investment as we seek to transform our Diocese into a place where youth ministry thrives in every parish. Capital Youth has five key strands:
- Transforming culture so youth ministry thrives – led locally by youth advocates working alongside fellow clergy to ensure each Episcopal Area develops a unique response that fits their own context: equipping everyone in the Diocese to welcome the young people in their parishes and amplifying the voice of young people
- Increasing investment in youth ministry in parishes – we are increasing investment in youth ministry in parishes, including 16 more youth apprentices and further investment in youth work in parishes. On top of this we will continue to invest in training, one-to-one sessions and expert support for existing youth ministry
- Innovating through investing in up to six youth minster churches to reach new young people. Each of these minsters will be expected to grow large numbers for their context by being innovative in reaching out to unchurched young people and be places that resource others by sharing learning, trying ideas and reaching young people. There are fewer than two thousand 11-18 year olds currently in our churches, meaning there is plenty of room for growth. As we learn we hope to multiply this work
- New youth missions reaching new people with the gospel – in partnership with other organisations, resourcing connecting young people involved in mission into churches
- Building links with schools including our Prayer Spaces in Schools pilot and missions.
The total investment over five years will be £3.3m. On Friday, the Church of England announced that we will receive £1.88m of Strategic Development Funding to support Capital Youth. The balance of £1.4m will be funded by the Diocese of London. We will continue to fundraise to support even more investment in local youth work.
To find out more visit www.london.anglican.org/capitalyouth.