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Quarter of Anglican churches childless

Mon 23 Oct 2017
By Alex Williams

Twenty-five per cent of Church of England services do not have a single youngster among their congregations, newly published statistics reveal.

The 2016 Mission Statistics also show the average-sized Church of England congregation typically attracts nine children to each service.

Approached about the issue, the Youth Officer for the Diocese of Chichester in Sussex told Premier that churches, too often, do not properly cater for older children.

Dan Jenkins said one issue was a shortage of volunteers leading to Sunday schools grouping teenagers together with younger children.

He told Premier: "If there do happen to be any teenagers [at church], then they'll often just go out with the children and help with colouring."

"That's not enough to keep young people engaged and show young people that the church wants to invest in them."

According to the figures, the typical medium-sized Church of England church can expect three youngsters at its service, compared to 35 children among the largest five per cent of congregations.

Calling for a more relationally-minded approach to Sunday schools and youth groups, Mr Jenkins said "young people commit to relationships, not programmes".

He also cited potential for churches to work more closely with schools and parents, in order to encourage more families into church.

Mr Jenkins: "They [children] are committed to those that they're in relationship with, those that they know; whether that is leaders, other adults in the church or to their own friends, that's really what engages them with a particular activity.

Giving his reaction, former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey of Clifton told The Times: "We are one generation from extinction.

"If we do not invest in young people, there is going to be no one in the future."

Click here to listen to Premier's Alex Williams speaking with Dan Jenkins at the Diocese of Chichester:

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