Rooted in the church – a November 2016 #CofE 44 page summary report on what helps #young people stay rooted in their faith & church

The report 

​was publicised via t
his tumblr post.  

The headlines that struck me are the listed below.


1) The diagram above (from page 5 of report) When do young people drop out of church? The average response was 14.5 years old, with peaks of dropping-out at age 13, 16 and 18 – ages which broadly correspond to the beginning of secondary school, the end of Key Stage 4 (GCSEs) and the end of Key Stage 5 (A-levels or the equivalent). 

​2) Young Anglicans rooted in their church show very high levels of commitment to volunteering with over 90% giving their time freely to voluntary organisations (compared to the national average of 42%). 

3) Page 6 & 7 of the report covers the wider patterns of youth disengagement – in para 2.1.2 “A key environmental factor which became apparent during the course of our research is that the issue of youth attendance and affiliation is not confined to churches.  Evidence shows that other types of membership clubs,sports organisations and voluntary associations also struggle to retain young people beyond the age of 16”

4) While young people value age-specific leadership and activities, they do not want to be artificially separated from the main church.  (page 16)

5) The top 4 influencers on young people’s church attendance are: My personal faith; Sense of community; Sense of belonging to a church; Christian teachings and belief (page 16)

6) Young People’s top 4 “Perfect church” descriptors: Friendly; Non-judgemental; Passionate; Social. (page 17) 

7) Most of the literature highlights the importance of an “intergenerational” approach to church congregations and leadership. Most congregations are multi generational in that they have more than one generation engaged in worship and ministry activities. However, inter generational congregations “empower the various generations to communicate in meaningful ways, interact on a regular basis, and serve together regularly”.   5 ways to achieve this are: a) Partnering with parents; b) Strategic mentoring; c) Blended services; d) Faith-building stories; e) Serving opportunities (page 19)


Having digested the research, the tumblr post says there are four simple questions church communities can ask themselves in order to encourage more young people to feel connected to church:

1. How genuine is our welcome? Young people told us that they value church communities which welcome them and offer a safe space for asking questions. They told us that their engagement with faith can’t simply be equated with church attendance and they value a non-judgemental welcome when they have been absent for a period.
2. Do we actively seek to include young people in every aspect of our church life, including leadership and serving? Young people can spot ‘tokenism’ a mile off – so just being included in a Youth Service doesn’t cut it. We need to consider how their gifts are being nurtured and how their voices are being listened to in the decision-making processes of our church life.
3. Are we seeking to be inter-generational? The research showed that young people value peer groups, but not to the exclusion of being part of an intergenerational, worshipping community. Building up relationships across generations through worship, mentoring and service can allow space for real dialogue to take place and relationships to be transformed.
4. Have we considered admitting baptised children to Communion before Confirmation? Nearly 50% of our respondents had been admitted to Communion before Confirmation and felt that had played a significant role in rooting and nurturing their faith.

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