Diocese of Leicester

Bishop urges Church to tackle 'recruitment crisis' among children and youth workers

Thu 19 Sep 2019
By Tola Mbakwe

The Bishop of Leicester has called for Christian youth workers to be valued more after a new study has shown high turnover in the job.

A study conducted earlier this year by a youth and children's ministry consultant interviewed 637 salaried children, families and youth workers in UK churches.

The study revealed more than half of those surveyed were in their post for less than three years, even though 74 per cent of those surveyed see their vocation to the role as a life-long calling.


The participants came from across the major denominations in the UK.

Rt Rev Martyn Snow, Bishop of Leicester said there's a recruitment crisis for children and youth worker roles in the Church of England that needs to be addressed.

"This survey makes it clear that we need to work harder and find ways to recognise and value those undertaking this ministry which is so vital to the future of the Church," he said.

"Children's and youth work is a critical part of the ministry of the Church."

The survey found that there is a high level of enthusiasm for the job, and the high turn-over partly reflects the large number of children and youthworkers who have left their roles to be ordained as priests.

It also revealed a discrepancy in pay between roles of similar hours. It found in some cases individuals are earning as much as twice as much as others in similar roles.

Also, three quarters of the workers said they thought that their line managers had no training in supervision or staff management. This is compared to clergy who are required to have training if they take on a curate in their church.

Meanwhile, 70 per cent of survey respondents working in the Church of England said they did not have formal recognition of their role from their diocese depsite them being highly trained and qualified.

Ali Campbell, who conducted the survey and is a former diocesan youth adviser, said the Church needs to respect and treasure youth worker roles.

"It needs to address how this work can receive the profile and value it deserves beyond the local church," he said.

"Most of those surveyed said they would stay in the role until retirement if they could and showed that despite the lack of stability, short-term roles. These salaried workers have a huge commitment to children and young people, a love for the work and a desire to stay in ministry for the long haul."

Bishop Martyn has asked for the newly-formed Lay Ministry Advisory Group to look at the issues raised by the survey findings and will be urging the Church of England to take notice of proposals that will come forward to tackle these challenges.

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