I am delighted to read from the Bishop of London that the 2015 Lent Appeal “will now concentrate on supporting Youth, Children and Family projects across the Diocese.” http://www.london.anglican.org/mission/lent-appeal-2014-helping-children-be-children/
The Rt Revd Richard Chartres states that “Our vision is to fund an additional 20 youth, children and family workers to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to serve their communities.”
He also points out that “to double the number of young people involved in the local Christian community” is “one of our key Capital Vision 2020 goals”, Bishop Richards states. The Bishop prays that in the next three years the Diocese of London “will invest at least £1 million...in order to realise this goal.”
Attending the Church in Wales conference themed, The Time is Now, over the weekend, I spoke to people working with children and young people in Bangor Diocese where the diocese has recently invested around £150,000 in youth and children ministry and four full time staff have been employed to look after the four regions. The staff are passionate and excited about the many possibilities that lie ahead as resources are available. Like in London Diocese, youth and children ministry in Bangor Diocese includes focusing on family.
Last time I worshipped at All Saints’ Cathedral in Nairobi, Kenya, was in 2011. Looking through the pew-sheet during service I learnt that the previous Sunday was a special Sunday to raise funds for children and youth ministry. When I checked the amount raised and converted to US Dollars, I was very humbled and impressed to discover that the Cathedral of All Saints had just raised an amount equivalent to US $100,000 on one Sunday!
As Director for Mission at the Anglican Communion Office I hear lots of Churches worldwide saying how they're desperate to attract and keep young people into the church. The above are all examples of “putting money where your mouth is”. Not just talk, but action.
In order to reap the benefits, investing in children and youth ministry needs to be an intentional commitment of leadership and of resources, and not simply tokenism.