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Placing young people at the heart of all we do

Growing Faith is the movement that exists to change the culture of the Church of England so that everyone instinctively puts children and young people at the heart of all we do as a church.

The Growing Faith Foundation began in 2022, building on work that had been developed across the dioceses to encourage churches, schools and households to work together to nurture the spirituality of children and young people. Every Diocese has appointed one or more Growing Faith Champion to take forward the Growing Faith mission locally. Nationally, the Foundation is also developing work in four main areas: Networks, Learning Hubs, Programmes and Research.

A Growing Faith approach might be a simple conversation between a church and a local school that says, ‘We’re your church, how can we help you?’ or a diocesan-wide programme that touches the lives of thousands of children, young people and families through the schools in its care. It could be a group of parents who gather to pray in the church for the school community, or a church that welcomes the school’s young people to help lead a service. 

Growing Faith is more a lens than a project, a way of seeing the opportunities in the local community and joining in with what God is already doing there. Growing Faith prioritises under-16s because we want every person of every age, including the young, to know how much God loves them, how important they are in the family of the church and for them too to have the opportunity to shape and lead the church for today and tomorrow. Simply put, research suggests that if that age group isn’t made a priority, they won’t find a place or a voice in the local church.

When Jesus wanted his followers to understand what discipleship was all about, he placed a child in the middle of the conversation. The Church and indeed the country needs children and young people to be at the centre of our thoughts and plans and hearts – for their sakes and for our own.

Growing Faith goes out to where those children and young people already are and meets them there. It involves making safe spaces where they can be listened to and responded to. It’s about creating lasting relationships of trust across the generations, about embracing the rhythms of school, home and church, about joining people of all ages together in a community filled with purpose. What’s important to Growing Faith is that children and young people, their carers and parents, the adults surrounding them in church and in school all help shape the church, flourish within it and work together to grow what Jesus called the kingdom of heaven in every community. 

If what you’ve read here inspires you, we would love for you to explore our work further, and think about what Growing Faith approaches you could implement in your context.

To find out more about our four work-steams, you might be interested in our introductory booklet, and our 2023 impact report. These can be found in the ‘About Us’ section of our website.

If your parish, community, church or school would like to pioneer a Growing Faith approach locally, with £20K to support you, you could apply to be one of our 2025 Growing Faith Learning Hubs. To learn more, visit the Learning Hubs section of the website, where you will find a handy application guidance brochure, and the link to the application form. Applications close on Sunday 14 July 2024.

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.