AS the countdown begins to the Diocesan Day of Prayer at the end of the month, churches are staging a variety of opportunities.
The November 30th Day of Prayer is aimed at cementing the foundations to the new youth strategy document, endorsed by Diocesan Synod last month.
'Reaching New Generations' (children and young people 0-18) is viewed as a focal point in identifying the reasons behind the decline in the numbers of young people and children attending church on a Sunday, while offering ideas to help attract them back.
The Revd Barry Wilson, vicar of Betley and Madeley, who chaired the working party that drew up the document said:
'We have asked diocesan officers, Rural Deans, clergy and lay leaders who work with children and young people, to read the document with openness and honesty so that they can prayerfully identify those areas of ministry which can be developed in the short, medium and longer term. These can then become the basis of mission actin planning which, over time, will bring a new generation of children and young people into a relationship with God and fellowship with His Church.
After its adoption by Diocesan Synod on October 20th a small team has taken on responsibility for the implementing the strategy over the next three years.
Statistics show that in 2000 approximately 5203 children attended an act of worship each Sunday. In 2010 the figure fell to 3440, a loss of 33.9 per cent. However weekday attendance rose from 3100 in 2004 to 3887 in 2010, contributing to an overall gain of 2.2 per cent in the same period.
Now Christians throughout the Diocese have the chance of putting the focus on the young with the Day of Prayer.
'We hope as many people as possible will join in prayer praying especially for children and young people as we seek as a Diocese to Reach New Generations, said the Rev Philip Swan, Director of World Mission and one of the leaders of the Community of St Chads. A wealth of resources have been made available on the website (www.lichfield.anglican.org/ourdiocese/world-mission/) and already churches are preparing for the day.
One of the Wolverhampton churches is leading the way by offering a worship space for the parish schools.
St Bars in Penn has asked schools to bring a candle to the opening of the 24/7 prayer room.
'I am really excited about our weekend of prayer on the 30th November - 2nd December as we once again welcome everyone to join us to experience the Love of God through prayer,' Treena Larkin one of the organisers at St Barts, Penn, Wolverhampton.
At St Matthews in Walsall the family and children's worker Liz Burley is working with other church leaders on a special day.
'The idea has been taken up with great enthusiasm so we are working on it together,' said a church spokesperson.
At Checkley the school worship is being held in the church followed by an hour of prayer and at St Leonards in Telford there will be an hour of prayer on from 1-2pm. Pheasey Beacon Church is also opening its doors for an hour during the day for prayer.
St Martins Church Bradley the church is being made available for people to pray throughout the day from 9am until approx. 9pm with practical prayer stations being available to use as well as the opportunity to pray quietly in the chapel. Examples of prayers and other resources will be made available on the day.
'There will be various community and church groups meeting throughout the day who we will be encouraging to get involved in the Diocesan Day of Prayer,' said a spokesperson. From approximately. 3:00pm until 6:00pm although there will be no groups meeting the church will remain open for people who want to pop in and pray with us and we are actively encouraging local schools to get involved too.'