Desperate Church of England turns to cradle-snatching to boost falling numbers
TODDLERS as young as TWO are to be targeted by an increasingly desperate and irrelevant Church of England in a bid to save the church from almost certain extinction.
The C of E, according to this report, is planning its first concerted drive to engage under-18s after admitting that it is comprehensively failing to connect with children and teenagers.
Proposals will be put before the general synod in February that include a blueprint to set up breakfast, homework and sports clubs in schools as well as working in publicly funded toddler playgroups to spread the Christian word.
Going for Growth, a document outlining the proposals says urgent action is needed to shore up the number of children in church:
We need to reconsider how we engage with and express God’s love to this generation of children and young people, whoever and wherever they may be.
Using frank language, it suggests the church is failing young people by being out of touch with their lives:
The tragedy is that we appear to be failing even those with whom we have already connected. The challenge is how to creatively offer children and young people encounters with the Christian faith and the person of Jesus Christ.
The document sets out a plan devised by the Church of England’s education division that promises to make churches more “child-friendly” and to work towards every child – regardless of their faith – having a “life-enhancing encounter with the Christian faith and the person of Jesus Christ”.
â€¢ An information campaign to supply schools with materials to fulfil their legal duty to conduct a daily act of worship amid reports that many schools have dropped it.
â€¢ Creating a new “social, moral, spiritual and cultural curriculum” for further education colleges.
â€¢ Working in youth clubs and children’s playcentres to re-establish links outside of church.
The plans suggest the church intends to go beyond schools into the community in an attempt to engage people from an even earlier age. They will be debated at the general synod, the Anglican governing body, in February. If backed, the programme will be rolled out nationally.
The Church lost more than one in ten of its regular worshippers between 1996 and 2006, with a fall from more than one million to 880,000. Within 30 years it could be extinct, according to a warning sounded earlier this year by Bishop Paul Richardson.
Keith Porteous Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society, said:
For most people the church is an irrelevance and it is abusing its privilege by intruding into taxpayer-funded secular places in order to recruit the next generation of churchgoers. Parents should not be forced to have their children endure religious proselytising as a captive audience as the price of receiving public service.
But the Rev Jan Ainsworth, the Church of England’s chief education officer, said there was no compulsion on anyone taking part in a church-run group to become Christian and the emphasis in training would avoid the use of heavy-handed tactics.
We do not endorse high-pressure techniques, we would not endorse anything that places psychological pressure on someone.
Nevertheless, the church would target all children, not just those in Christian families, she said. The primary purpose of Going for Growth was:
Making sure every child does encounter the Christian faith and the Christian story.