I've just been reading a summary (sorry, edited highlights) of the review that the Church in Wales did on it's life and health. Of particular interest to me was the paragraph on young people, below:
"Young people and outreach to those outside the church
We met a delegation of young people who impressed us by the work they were doing trying to reach other people of their age group. From what they said and gave us to read there is imaginative work going on in some places.
However, what they conveyed to us underlined the dire seriousness of the situation facing the Church in Wales.
In addition to congregations declining, a high percentage of the clergy retiring and a shortage of ordinands,
the number of young people with whom the church is in contact is miniscule.
Those parishes that do have any serious work with young people are tiny compared to the number that do not.
This situation cannot be addressed as the church is organised now.
There need to be far more trained and full time people to work with young people.
We recognise that as the finance is organised at the moment money is not available to employ the staff needed. However, one of the consequences of our other recommendations is that there will be money available in provincial funds to finance new priority work such as this. If the work is going to develop in the long run, however, then some of the extra money will have to come out of the share system.
It is not only the majority of young people who are outside the church.
The population as a whole is now very unfamiliar with the church, finding its language and services strange.
Therefore we think there should in due course be one person in each Ministry Area leadership team with the gifts and training to relate to such people, many of whom but not all, will be young. It might be appropriate, for example, to appoint someone able to focus full time on families, working with a local school"
I was impressed with the recommendation, "This situation cannot be addressed as the church is organised now. There need to be far more trained and full time people to work with young people"
I would want to go beyond the word 'training' though. A lot of what I see believes that it is just better methodology that is required. I want to see a great recognition of the ministry of those (currently or who will be) engaging with young people and a corresponding commitment to ministerial/faith development alongside youth work skills.
We need growing disciples who can think theologically. The call for more lay ministry could be a great opportunity to work in this way. I don't see much work with young people that is recognised, equipped and trained ... as a key lay ministry.
If you want to see the full report: Church in Wales Review July 2012 Huws edited highlighted text.docx