2 years of Calling Young Disciples7 Feb 2019 By Sam Setchell
Our Calling Young Disciples Project has now been running for two years. We have six Mission Enablers in place along with Project Director, Ruth Walker.
Over the two years, 10 parishes across the Diocese have received support from a Mission Enabler and they have worked with 42 individual congregations, in both urban and rural settings. The team have also been offering training to a wider number of parishes and individuals.
Ruth said: “The project received a significant investment from the Church Commissioners and each year they ask us to collect statistics to demonstrate how Calling Young Disciples is moving forward. At the end of the second year, we’ve got significantly more evidence than we had at the end of the first year and that evidence is looking positive. It’s been a real encouragement to see the numbers affirming that the model is working and we are moving towards achieving the goals set at the start.”
Churches that have been working with the Mission Enablers have seen a 67% increase in volunteers, which is over half way towards the anticipated total number of 250 new volunteers over the life of the project. These churches have also seen 360 people attending worship for the first time and 80 of these have been recorded as becoming regular worshippers. In addition, 221 other people have been recorded as taking part in some form of activity with a focus on the Christian faith.
Ruth continued: “It is still early days and the changes are fragile – it’s difficult to measure what a ‘regular worshipper’ might be. However, the numbers are important and give evidence of a change in the culture. It is also giving the CYD team and parishes greater confidence and the enthusiasm to do more and keep going! The Mission Enablers are only with parishes for a short time and the long term impact is dependent on local churches continuing to prioritise work with children, young people and families and always looking for the next thing.”
Evidence suggests that a number of the new activities initiated by Mission Enablers have the potential to be replicated elsewhere and adapted for different contexts – for example ‘Toddler Praise’ type events, cell groups for tweens/ teens and a programme of one-off events throughout the years linked to seasons or specific calendar dates. Participants have also emphasised the importance of engaging and blessing whole families rather than just focussing on children or young people as well as being clearly and invitationally Christian.
“We shouldn’t be embarrassed to include prayers or worship songs in our events,” said Ruth. “It’s essential that we model the faith and practice that we hope others will want to take up!”
Churches involved with a Mission Enabler also become part of a CYD Hub – a learning community where churches on a similar journey come together to share their ideas and help focus their planning. “There are currently two different hubs comprising of the churches involved in the project,” explained Ruth. “There will be two more by the planned end of the project with a total of 2-300 people committed to a three-year journey of meeting together, sharing practical ideas and receiving teaching to provide encouragement and strength to the parishes involved.This has been hugely appreciated by the majority of those who have participated to date and has definitely contributed to the growing levels of engagement and hopefulness reported.”
Alongside the work of the Mission Enablers in parishes, the team has been working with both the diocesan Children’s and Youth Officers and the Education team to run training for all churches in the Diocese. “We’re keen to ensure that as many parishes as possible can benefit from the Calling Young Disciples project,” said Ruth. “In particular, I’ve been talking to Emma Pettifer (Children’s Officer) and Simon Hill (Youth Officer) to look at how we can better support churches which aren’t in a position to host a Mission Enabler. This may result in deanery roadshows or resourcing events where we can encourage and support parishes to give more emphasis to working with children, young people and families.
“We’re also starting to explore what might happen next for the project – what are the areas that are particularly working and how can we develop and build on these in the future. Hopefully over the next few years, we will see more children, young people and families in our churches becoming disciples of Jesus.”
Key facts about Calling Young disciples:
- 6 Mission Enablers & Project Director, Ruth Walker
- 10 parishes involved with a Mission Enabler & 42 individuals congregations.
- 67% increase in volunteers across CYD churches.
- 140 people received training from the CYD team.
- Over 360 people attending worship for the first time since the beginning of CYD
- Signs of increased confidence, skills & an openness to trying new things.