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
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
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
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.