The Centenary Project seeks to equip the local church to effectively engage, grow and disciple a new generation of young people, children and families.
In March 2014, Bishop’s Council agreed to commit £1m from its historical reserves to fund and support a step change in the work with children, families and young people in order to 'serve the common good, nurture faith and grow disciples'. The funding was primarily aimed at the most deprived parishes within the diocese.
In response to Anecdote to Evidence, and in line with what we believed to be essential to see growth, we shaped a project that would appoint many new youth or children’s and families workers across the poorer parts of the diocese. Our focus would be Doncaster and Rotherham, and the poorer churches in Sheffield. In May of 2015 – we appointed Helen Cockayne to be the Centenary Project Manager Helen further shaped the project and started the recruitment process.
Why did we decide to employ workers?
Over the last 15 years or so, we have all seen youth workers and children's workers leave their jobs for a number of reasons.
- Lack of objectives - unclear what to do
- Poor line management - incumbents unskilled in management
- Too inward looking - not enough mission-focus
- Overworked and underpaid - feeling unappreciated and unvalued
- No support or network to draw on
- Leave to explore ordination
- Money runs out - not forward thinking past the initial grant
The Centenary Project is tackling all these issues head on, and seeing workers commit for the long-term, happy in their work, feeling supported and encouraged by the network, seeing a future in youth or children's ministry and feeling secure in the funding arrangements. The network opperates like a family, helping each other out in their individual churches, sharing resources and working together.
What do we do?
- We help parishes write their application for a Children's and Families or Youth worker, deciding on the role and duties
- We put together the application packs and contracts
- We are involved in every interview and process DBS checks
- We employ the worker centrally, who is line-managed locally
- We pay 100% of the salary in the first year, reducing over three years
- The parish pick up salary in year 4, the diocese remains the employer
- Working strategically, we approach some parishes / mission partnerships to appoint workers as part of a bigger diocesan plan
- We set objectives with the local incumbent and worker
- We mentor every worker in 1:1 meet ups
- We gather all the workers together for monthly network meetings for prayer, support, training and envisioning
- We work across all traditions and churchmanships
- We run Hub events for Centenary Project youth groups and others to meet in a larger group
- We provide training and ministry review for all workers
- We coordinate an action learning network of workers and others from their parishes
Where are we today?
We currently have 17 Centenary Project Workers in post, some of whom are full-time, some part-time. All of them are committed to serving their communities and schools as they build relationships with children, families and young people. The early statistics show that the projects are already making positive differences in the local church.
At the start of 2018, we were awarded £1.8m from a Strategic Development Funding bid to the Church Commissioners. This is allowing us to grow the project by a further 10 FTE posts over the next 6 years, and increase our core team to support this growth.
We are also starting an internship programme to provide those with an interest in childrens, families or youth ministry to work alongside our existing workers and explore their own vocation while undertaking some formal training. Currently we have 5 interns in post, supporting our workers and gaining in confidence and experience.
We have also teamed up with Shine (St Thomas Crookes' youth and schools ministry) to kick-start relationships with secondary schools, leading to larger worship events where the gospel is shared, and young people have the opportunity to encounter Jesus and make a commitment.
 Child Average Sunday Attendance 0.8%, Average Weekly Attendance 1.04% (Statistics for Mission)