Serving our schools, children & young people

Young people are growing up searching for identity and meaning and purpose. The Diocese of Oxford works with 15,000 children and young people every week in our churches and we share in the education of 60,000 children at 282 church schools, and many more through 18 multi-academy trusts and independent schools.

With over 100 paid children, youth and families workers in the Diocese and thousands of volunteers, we have a fantastic opportunity: no other group of people in the Thames Valley is in a better position to help.

How can we build on what’s great and re-imagine our ministry with children and young people as we seek to become a more Christ-like Church? How can we meet their need for sanctuary and safe spaces, for contemplation and purpose, for acceptance and identity? The video case study below (scroll down) is a great example of what the Church already has to offer.

Case study: the contemplative toolkit

Goring CE Primary School is one of four of our Church schools currently taking part in a pilot of the contemplative toolkit. The contemplative toolkit is one of the many projects and tools supporting our common vision of a more Christ-like Church for the sake of God’s world. Alongside this primary school version of the contemplative toolkit, we are currently trialling different versions of the toolkit suitable for youth groups, families and adults. A full set of contemplative toolkit resources is scheduled for launch in September 2020.

In 2020…

A working group was commissioned in 2019 to discern together what the call to become more Christ-like might mean for our engagement with families, children and young people.

Their report, due to be published in June 2020 will argue for: a culture shift in the way that Churches understand and engage with young people; radical changes in faith transmission and discipleship, and the way that those who work with young people are formed, equipped and supported. The report will set out for the June Diocesan Synod a compelling, practical plan of action to enable the cultural shifts that are required across the Church.

Ahead of that report becoming available, why not read Children’s Everyday Faith published in issue 3 of Pathways magazine. It includes four ideas to get churches started in rediscovering the value of journeying together.

There are already great relationships between our church communities and local schools with clergy, foundation governors and other church volunteers playing an invaluable role in the education and support of our children. During 2020 we’ll be working on ways to create deeper connections still.

What you can do

Jesus’ words about little children are well known but need to be heard afresh: “Let the children come to me and do not stop them: for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it” (Luke 18.16-7).

Those of us who are adult members of the church are called to welcome children and young people and families into our communities. We need to make space in our lives and churches for children as fellow disciples. This has implications for every family and every part of our common life, and each of us has something to contribute. Foundation governors in particular are a key part of our church-school relationships, might you be willing to serve?