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Cause for hope: Insights from the Vision and Strategy team

The Vision and Strategy team – formed in 2022 to help implement the national Church of England’s Vision and Strategy for the 2020s – is seeing real signs of hope. Here we reflect on what we are learning and discovering along the way.

Presented by Church of England

What is the Vision and Strategy team?  

The Vision and Strategy Team is part of the Archbishops’ Council, one of the National Church Institutions which serve the Church of England.

It serves the wider church to concentrate on a Jesus-centred vision with three priorities for the 2020s. They are to encourage: 

  • a church that is younger and more diverse
  • a church of missionary disciples
  • a church where mixed ecology is the norm

These three priorities are reflected in six bold outcomes. Find out more on the Vision and Strategy pages of the Church of England website.

What have we learned so far? 

We have learned to prioritise
Archbishops’ Council has set ‘doubling the number of children and active young disciples by 2030’ – one of the six bold outcomes – as the priority of priorities at this time. That means that in our work at all levels of Church of England life – parish, deanery, diocese and national – we are encouraged to put work with children and young people at the top of the agenda. 

For all those who have been involved in ministry with children and young people, this is an unparalleled opportunity. Their faithful work – often done for many years and often, sadly, underappreciated – is now front and centre. Across the Church, at all levels, research, conversations, planning and huge amounts of work are going into a massive cultural shift to enable churches to work well with younger generations. 

The wonderful thing is, that from 2022-2023 the early stats indicate an increase in under 16 average weekly attendance of 6%. We are so thankful to God for this encouragement.

We are learning to P.R.A.Y.
There are two parts to our learning to pray. 

  1. For the last 18 months, we have set aside twenty minutes every Tuesday from 1 pm – 1.20 pm to pray for this bold outcome in a Zoom prayer meeting. Many different people have led it – including school children on one memorable occasion. It is regular, steadfast, national intercession and a crucial addition to all the work being done across the country. 
  2. Research with Savanta ComRes on churches which have grown their ministry with children and young people has led to a summary of our approach as P.R.A.Y. Our research is showing clearly that the churches that pray regularly to grow younger are the ones seeing growth in numbers of younger generations joining them. Story after story shows that the commitment to pray for this in local churches is vital. We encourage churches also to:

Prioritising children, young people and families in our churches is fundamental. One of the key drivers is committed leadership that sets the culture and sees youth and children’s ministry as an essential priority.

Resourcing growth can be done through a range of activities, such as toddler groups, craft activities, Messy churches, parent groups and youth groups. Volunteers are your best resource, but if you can also employ a Youth and Children’s Worker, this can accelerate growth.

Adapting is crucial. Churches – especially those with no younger people – have to face the fact that they will have to adapt if families and younger generations are going to become part of their worshipping communities. Churches that are growing acknowledge the whole family in their services, not just in their family activities. This can be a challenge, but we see that where churches do this, they find the blessing, challenge and energy that children, young people and families bring them is life-giving and inspiring. 

Ultimately the challenge is to each and every adult in every single church to acknowledge that it is a shared responsibility to share faith with younger generations. This isn’t just about the leadership, this is about you. Whether you are 95 and can offer to pray for younger people, or only five and can invite a friend along, we all have a part to play. Whether you pray, encourage, support financially, welcome or get actively involved in ministry with children and young people, we have discovered that each person needs to do something. 

We support dioceses and partners in receipt of funding
National funding is prioritised around the Vision and Strategy, and the Strategic Mission and Ministry Investment Board who distribute diocesan and partners’ funding, assessing proposals against the outcome of the vision and strategy. We are seeing most dioceses work on plans that focus on engaging children and young people, and are working with a range of partners.

We are seeing great fruitfulness in working with others
The task before us – to see over 200,000 new children and young people (under 18) becoming part of our churches’ worshipping communities – is so huge that we need everyone to join in. There are, therefore, several things that are funded nationally to support this priority. You may have heard of some of them: 

  • The Growing Faith Foundation is working on resourcing and growing the relationship between church, home and school to give children and young people the opportunity to discover faith in Jesus Christ and grow in it 
  • Future Youth is giving young people the chance to do a year working in church Children and Young People (CYP) ministry to see if this is something they want to pursue in their working lives
  • The 30K Project is working on three challenges to fulfil its mandate of recruiting 30,000 new people leading ministry with children and young people by 2030. The challenges are:
    • To recruit 3,000 new paid CYP workers across the country
    • To care well for those people, and all those currently in that ministry
    • To recruit 27,000 new volunteer CYP workers
    • You may have seen the 30K Project resources to help churches recruit new volunteers in work with CYP that came out in April:
  • The Flourish Project is working on piloting new worshipping communities through 40 school/church partnerships

We are starting to see real change
Initial figures in our Statistics for Mission 2023 show growth in church attendance, building on the 2022 stats. This takes us beyond covid recovery as it marks three years consecutive growth, something not seen for decades. 

We are hugely encouraged by these statistics, and galvanised to keep going, keep praying, keep working together to change the narrative of the Church from decline to growth and from ageing to multigenerational. 

We love to see children and young people discovering faith in Jesus for themselves. 

We love to see them becoming faithful disciples of Christ. 

We love to see them given opportunities to discover and use their gifts in the whole Church and in their daily lives. 

We believe God is on the move
The early signs are that God is on the move in churches of all styles, and we want to be faithful servants of all that the Holy Spirit is doing. 

Our cry is for much, much more, and we hope that you will join in. 

How can you get involved?
1) Ensure that ministry with children, young people and families is constantly at the top of your agenda in your church or churches 

2) Start praying individually and together for God to do a great work among younger generations. (Join us to pray on Tuesdays, 1.00 pm – 1.20 pm GMT, with the link

3) Find stories of hope, creativity and encouragement in the Doubling the number of children and young people pages of the Church of England website

4) Share with us what God is doing so that we can encourage others to join in. Please contact

This article was printed in Multiply 2024: The Manual, a publication that accompanied the programme of Multiply 2024, which explored multiplying a younger church. You can find related content below.