Church of England focuses on reaching more young people with the Gospel

(Photo: Unsplash/Gaelle Marcel)

The Church of England is partnering with Christian charity Youthscape in a £1.29m project to help parishes connect with young people.

Launchpad is being rolled out across 18 dioceses after successful pilot schemes in Blackburn, London and St Albans.

The scheme will help priests create a plan for youth engagement within their parishes, as well as recruit and train 2,500 church volunteers for youth work.

Chris Curtis, Chief Executive of Youthscape, said: "We're excited to be able to serve the Church of England in this way and we are looking forward to working with parishes and benefices in every context - from rural to suburban and urban.

"Young people have so much to bring to the life of the church and we hope our work will be part of our shared vision to grow younger."

The Archbishop of Canterbury is the patron of Youthscame and funds for the Launchpad scheme have been made available by the Archbishops' Council.

So far, 140 Church of England priests have been equipped for youth engagement through Launchpad.

The scheme will be expanded over the next three years as part of the Church of England's Vision and Strategy plan which aims to double the number of children and young active disciples in its fold by 2030.

The Church of England anticipates that up to 4,000 young people could be reached through Launchpad.

The Bishop of Bath and Wells, Dr Michael Beasley, was involved with the pilot in his previous role in St Albans.

He says that the 10 clergy who took part in the course went from being "apprehensive to enthusiastic" about leading youth ministry.

"Each of their parishes is now working on plans to turn learning into action – ranging from offering Ignatian Meditation for 10 year olds in a local Costa to offering a drop in café for youth who walk past one church's door every day on the way home from school," he said.

"The impact of Launchpad has been such that we have immediately booked Youthscape to lead the course for a second cohort this autumn and we look forward to more taking part next year.

"I commend Launchpad highly. As we seek to grow a church that is 'younger and more diverse', it is an approach that holds the possibility of generating significant change in dioceses across our land."

Dave Male, the Church of England's Co Director for Vision and Strategy, said: "This is an exciting partnership with Youthscape.

"The work they have been doing with three dioceses clearly demonstrates their ability to equip priests and their churches to start youth work."