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Growth-seeking Birmingham recruits family missioners

05 June 2015

A TEAM of workers dedicated to bringing children and families into the Church is being established in the Birmingham diocese as part of a multi-million-pound project to help congregations to grow.

Up to 16 Children's and Families' Missioners are being recruited this summer to go into selected parishes, to help them to develop new strategies aimed at families with children up to the age of 11.

The 21-hour-a-week posts, paying up to £18,000 a year, are being funded for the next three years from a £3-million "war chest" set up by the Church Commissioners and the diocese to run its campaign Growing Younger, in the hope that, if successful, the parishes will want to turn the positions into permanent appointments.

"We have never done anything like this before," the diocese's head of mission, the Revd Rhiannon King, said. "Senior staff are all very focused, and it's all very intentional. We are putting a lot of eggs into one basket to ensure we do make a difference and pass our faith on to future generations."

The city of Birmingham has one of the youngest populations in Europe: about 40 per cent of its population is under 25. But, while the average age of the population is about 34, the average age of church congregations is more than 60 years. Mrs King said: "We thought we had to do something to bridge the gap. We wanted to encourage the older people in our church to pass on the faith to younger people, to children and families."

The part played by the missioners will be different from existing children's and family workers' jobs, as they are strategic senior posts rather than on the front line. "This role is much more about liaising with head teachers, clergy, parents and grandparents, toddler-group leaders, and PCCs," Mrs King said.

"It's about inspiring and shaping ideas rather than having the time to put them all into practice yourself. This job is 100 per cent about empowering others rather than doing everything yourself. They will also be evangelists, reaching out to parts of the parish where the church doesn't have contact already.

"We are looking for really high-calibre people - possibly a retired head teacher, or a strategist with experience of working with children."

Interviewing for the 16 missioners will take place in July, and they should be in place soon after that. They will be allocated to parishes where work on growing congregations is ongoing. "We are starting with the best possible potential, looking for places where there is real vision," Mrs King said.

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