Background to Rossendale
Rossendale Valley roughly corresponds to a Methodist circuit and an Anglican deanery at the northern end of the Manchester Diocese. Most church and chapel attendances are falling as elsewhere, but an exciting youth fresh expression exists across the denominations and across the valley. It’s called “Vision” and at the core is the “Life Team”. This includes four young adults who moved into a redundant vicarage provided rent-free by the diocese. With others, they mounted the recent two-week impact mission into all the valley schools. They plan to continue this work with assemblies, classes and after-school clubs. There are three youth bands, and an open-air event in the summer drew nearly 1500!
Three times recently we have heard of the openness of schools to take on clearly Christian values into their programs. In one case two schools in an urban area had both funded part-time Christian councillors to work with pupils. This has led to all sorts of openings, relationships and programs leading to a fresh expression of church.
An integrated strategy for a Diocese?
One rural diocese we visited recently is clustering parishes to create viable mission units. This includes plans already going ahead to employ regional youth workers to plant youth congregations in these clusters of parishes. There will then be sufficient youth across the villages and small towns to generate viable youth congregation developments. Our suggestion was that to make this even more strategic, the diocese recruit someone with 5-10 years experience of youth congregations and deploy them half-time as a mentor-coach to the network of regional/cluster youth congregation planters and half-time to plant a young adult/student church in the cathedral city.