Church of England spending millions to attract more young people

(Photo: Church of England)

The Church of England is spending millions of pounds on mission and evangelism projects in a bid to get more children and young people through parish doors.

The Strategic Mission and Ministry Investment Board (SMMIB) awarded £60m to Church of England projects and parishes last year, and an extra £29m to support lowest income communities around England.

Much of this money was focused on increasing diversity and doubling the number of children and young people, the latter dubbed the "priority of priorities".

Successful projects include 'church after school', community meals, baby hubs, mountain pilgrimages, mentoring and discipleship programmes.

The Church of England has been strategically funding mission and outreach projects since 2014 in a bid to halt the decline in attendance.

It said that the "vast majority" of projects funded over the past 10 years of strategic funding are "proving effective".

According to the report, there are now between 900 and 1,000 new worshipping communities, including church plants, chaplaincies and café churches.

There are around 4,000 to 5,000 new leaders who are volunteering, in lay leadership, training, or exploring ordained vocations.

An estimated 26-27,000 people are newly participating in church gatherings backed by the Strategic Development Fund.

The Church of England has committed a further £1bn to be invested locally over the next nine years focused on increasing people from all backgrounds and younger people especially.

Arun Arora, Bishop of Kirkstall and a member of the SMMIB, said: "After 10 years, it's clear that strategic investment is making a positive difference to worshipping communities across England, allowing more people from more backgrounds to know Jesus Christ and for their lives to be changed.

"I'm delighted that so much focus in the past year has been on our main goal of doubling the number of children and young people in the church, which is beginning to bear fruit. It is also very encouraging that significant funding has been awarded to revitalise the parish system.

"These achievements could not happen without the dedication and vision of extraordinary people whose faithful work in their communities invites the Holy Spirit to move. We are committed to learning from them and supporting more communities as the Church of England's substantial financial commitment to frontline parish ministry continues in the coming years."

In a foreword to the report, the Chairman of SMMIB, Carl Hughes, added: "This is a long-term investment programme and the Archbishops' Council and Church Commissioners have signalled that they will make a total of over £1bn available for distribution over nine years.

"It has been exciting to see the high levels of engagement with the new funding programme throughout the Church. The Board was delighted to award funding to 12 dioceses and three partners during 2023.

"The proposals include a strong focus on doubling the numbers of children and young people, with investment, for example, in ministers among children and young people in parishes and in schools, in training for youth worker apprentices and in chaplaincy.

"The majority of projects supported by the national Church are making good progress."