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The story of Multiply 2024

Multiply 2024, the annual church planting conference of CCX, saw over 800 church leaders and members gather together in Leeds, Birmingham and London to explore how we can multiply a Younger Church.

‘Jesus told a story of a shepherd who had 100 sheep. One wandered off. The shepherd loved the lost sheep so much he left the 99 to find the one. We are the church of the good shepherd, yet sometimes – and forgive the caricature – but it seems that in our day the story is reversed. The 99 have wandered off and we are left concerned with keeping the one.’

This was the powerful reflection of Chris Russell, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s advisor on evangelism and witness, whose opening talk set out the relevance of the ‘Younger Church’ theme of Multiply 2024 for over 800 delegates gathered in Leeds, Birmingham and London. 

Russell’s thoughts built on the insights of the latest research of Youthscape, whose partnership was vital to shaping this year’s church planting conference. Rachel Gardner, Youthscape’s director of partnerships, presented the organisation’s latest research findings, sharing first hand accounts of how young people engage with and question the story of Zaccheaus in unexpected ways; they raise questions about trust, about change, and about Jesus that would not crop up in the usual Sunday sermon – and yet they still grasp that the salvation Christ offers is shocking and transformative.

Multiply 2024’s seminars explored practical steps as to how we can multiply a younger church, drawing together local practitioners and members of the Church of England’s Vision & Strategy team to provide wisdom and inspiration. 

The morning saw delegates dig deeper into ideas of how to shape the mission and culture of our churches with children at the table, examining how we communicate our messages, renew our culture with young people and centre our mission on families. Afternoon seminars were formed around the context and size of our churches, with ‘Get Going’ exploring the unique opportunities that smaller numbers present, ‘Get Growing’ encouraging those with 10-25 young people looking to move from ‘going well’ to ‘growing well’, and ‘Get Multiplying’ asking how we can engage with young people beyond those circles our churches naturally reach. 

Prayers, reflections and stories were given by leaders local to each region – our thanks goes to all those who lent their energy and time to Multiply 2024, and all those delegates who contributed their experiences and questions to proceedings. You helped shape the day, fuelling a week of enthusiasm and strategic insight. 

‘When we focus on growing younger, it’s instantly not about us,’ said Eleanor Sanderson,
Bishop of Hull, leading a reflection on the day’s events in Leeds. ‘To actually be a generation of people that will say, “My eyes aren’t on me, what do I need to do now for the people who are coming?” How do we change things for the
next generation, how can my generation add value to the next generation, rather than just past the buck down the road?’ 

With the largest numbers gathering for Multiply since the Covid pandemic, each location carried an atmosphere of anticipation and energy, to respond to Jesus’s call to seek the lost sheep, multiplying a younger church that reaches new people in new ways. You can continue to explore the topics touched on at Multiply 2024 in the articles that made up The Manual, a take-home magazine given to all delegates.

The day drew to a close with a time of prayer and commissioning, as delegates were sent out with the words of a prayer written by Youthscape that we continue to pray.

We hold in our hearts young people in the church.

Made in Your image, known to You and loved by You.

We hold in our hearts young people in our communities.

Made in Your image, known to You and loved by You.

We hold in our hearts young people living in pain or need.

Made in Your image, known to You and loved by You.

May your Church be a place for young people to experience Your life, Your purpose and Your love.

May they encounter You in us.

May we encounter You in them, and may it transform us both.