In his recent report to the General Synod, the Church of England’s Youth Evangelism Officer, Jimmy Dale, outlines the results of an 18 month analysis of church engagement with under-16s. Of those churches reporting 100 or more under 16 year-olds, a remarkable 32% were affiliated to the New Wine network and 30% of those reporting 51-100 under-16s would associate themselves with New Wine.
The report examines trends in under-16 church engagement with a wide range of influence, including the impact of youth and family workers, congregation size, location and tradition, as well as more general trends in growth and decline. In the category of tradition, it is noteworthy how significant a part New Wine plays in engaging children and young people. Responding churches affiliated to the New Wine network report the highest engagement with under 16 year-olds from any single group, with only ‘central Church’ – parishes which are doing traditional parish ministry and representing a significantly larger proportion of respondents – reporting higher engagement overall.
Paul Harcourt, New Wine National Leader, commented: “The report shows the extent of the challenge facing the Church in reaching children and young people, but, for the first time, it also identifies where the ones that we do have are being nurtured. As the report clearly states, we must not become complacent because the overall trends for under-16 engagement are concerning, but we will absolutely continue to teach and encourage with the New Wine DNA of the Word and ministry in the power of the Spirit. We know also that we need to go further and are looking at various ways of investing more into local churches as they reach children and young people.”
Rick Otto, Head of New Wine Kids’ Ministry, remarked: “Our kids teams are sensational and we are blown away every year by how many of the kids in our children’s groups come to know Jesus by the power of the Spirit. Our kids leader training throughout the year equips leaders to live by the power of God’s Word and the Spirit, so that kids can see and experience the power of the gospel for their generation.”
Lee Kirkby, Head of New Wine Luminosity (youth), also commented: “Luminosity inherits youth who have experienced incredible teaching from the New Wine kids teams and we also meet young people who have never known any kind of faith and are hearing about Jesus for the first time. In many ways, this report is encouraging and a confirmation that we are following God’s call for us, but we know the crisis facing the Church today in reaching young people and we’re committed to playing our part in the advance of God’s Kingdom for his glory and for all generations.”
The full report can be found here.