Building on more than sand: Scripture Union celebrates 150 years of mission to young people

Aug 19, 2017 by

By Pat Ashworth, Church Times.

[…] THE original vision remains un­­altered: to see a new generation of children and young people come to a vibrant, personal faith in Jesus. The 150th anniversary has been the launchpad for the 95 campaign, initiated by the widely accepted statistic that only five per cent of children go to church — a figure described as “alarming” by the national director, Tim Hastie-Smith. The campaign, he says, is about “gathering, equipping and en­­couraging” those with a heart for the 95 per cent.

A former head teacher, and a team vicar in the South Cotswolds Team Ministry in Gloucestershire, he offers a vignette that, he suggests, will be familiar to many. A couple in their late seventies are regular churchgoers. Neither their children nor their grandchildren are in­­volved in church. It is the two great-grandchildren who are now reconnecting via school and holi­day clubs. Whether the general discon­nection is due to loss of belief or simple lifestyle change, the Church, he says, “represents some­thing that doesn’t touch their personal ex­­peri­ence. It’s an alien concept.”

The end result of the 95 cam­paign may not be children in church, he acknowledges: the out­come of engaging children and young people with the gospel may be further down the line, and “seeing this as a simple recruitment drive for people under the age of 18 is the wrong starting-place. It’s about trying to open eyes to the presence and reality of God.”

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