Keep the young at heart
Young people are the key to re-evangelising our nation, says the Revd Dr Mark Griffiths as we mark International Youth Day tomorrow (Aug 12).
Wales has a population of more than three million people of which 4.8% attend church. Approximately 150,000 church goers. The Church in Wales attendance has more than halved in the last two decades, but the biggest area of decline is in the Sunday attendance of young people and children. Across all denominations, only three percent of under 18s living in Wales have any connection with Church - slightly below the five percent stated by Scripture Union for the UK as a whole.
Clearly this is something we must address as a matter of urgency. There are some wonderful initiatives appearing all over Wales with TLG (Transforming Lives for Good) , SU (Scripture Union Cymru) and Message Wales (part of the Message Trust) as well as local initiatives from church based youth workers and volunteers designed to share the gospel with young people and see lives transformed. Three years ago St Padarn’s started a Masters in Children, Young People and Families to train people for this areas and this year there are 24 people spread between the various year groups of the course.
This is a good time of year to focus on this area. Exam results will shortly be announced and young people will again have to make some significant decisions about their future. The World Council of Churches have declared (12th August) an international day of prayer for young people and a time to launch a new international resource. They are inviting people from all over the world to join with them from 1pm to 2:30pm. Here is the link which will be live then: https://www.youtube.com/c/worldcouncilofchurches or for more information here
And to ensure we focus on the younger ages too, we ran Carols at the Cathedrals for local schools in December, Dioceses have been undertaking a wide range of exciting an innovative children’s activities during lockdown and our next big initiative is THE BIG PARTY or Y PARTI MAWR taking place from Wednesday (12th to Sunday 16th). The uniqueness of our online Holiday Club is the morning is in Welsh and the afternoon is in English. Same programme repeated but in two different languages.
Scripture Union’s own Holiday Club “Wonderzone” launches in the last week of August. And of course Carols at the Cathedrals will return to Wales this year again.
Lockdown also saw the release of a wide range of lockdown resources for Collective Worship in our Schools headed up by John Meredith our Diocesan Director of Education in Swansea & Brecon and Roz Williams our DDE in St Asaph. Definitely worth looking at their resources (pop to YouTube and search for Swansea & Brecon Education).
So, lots happening and all exciting, but this really is an area we need to give attention to. It is our key to re-evangelising a nation.
- Revd Dr Mark Griffiths is Dean of Discipleship at St Padarn’s Institute