Under-fives key to significant church growth 

First published 22nd May 2020

New research shows that young families with children under five could be a vital element for church growth. 

The Talking Toddlers report, using research by Savanta ComRes*, released on Monday 18 May, shows that 74% of all parents with children under the age of five have attended a church-run activity in the past year.

This new research was commissioned by HOPE Together, the Church of England, and the Evangelical Alliance to highlight the potential for sustained church growth if the church nurtures the faith of under-fives and their parents. 

Click here to read the report.

Talking Toddlers research origins

In the 2017 Mapping Practising Christians research, commissioned by HOPE Together and the Church of England, 40% of practising Christians said that they came to faith before the age of five. In fact, of all generations, the under-fives were the generation where the church has the biggest impact. This statistic led to the commissioning of our Talking Toddlers research.

Dr Rachel Jordan-Wolf, assistant director of HOPE Together said of the Talking Toddlers report, ‘We so often hear about an aging church, but here is something new – very young church. Can the church reach a generation of under-fives and their parents? Could they be the missing link for church growth?

‘The church has the most extraordinary reach and a huge opportunity to help a generation begin in faith if they start with the under-fives and their parents – they are already in touch with us, many are open and questioning and the opportunity is now.’

74% of parents have contact with a church

The Talking Toddlers research shows that churches are already in contact with nearly three-quarters of all parents of under-fives in Great Britain:

  • 74% of all parents with children under the age of five have attended a church activity in the past 12 months
  • 12% of all parents of under-fives are practising Christians, double the number of practising Christians in the population
  • 62% of all parents of under-fives are not active Christians, but they have attended a church activity for this age group in the past year
  • Over half of these parents, 55%, say that they have explored their own beliefs because of attending these activities
  • Only 25% of all parents of children aged 0-4 are currently not in contact with a church, but 35% of them would welcome an invite to a church-led activity for them and their children

Revd Canon David Male, Director of Evangelism and Discipleship for the Church of England, said, ‘This important research offers complimentary data to the ‘The Toddler Group Research’ in 2017  and should ensure that every church leader is considering how they are helping faith to grow both for parents and their children.’

You can purchase a copy of the resource booklet 'Toddler Groups and Mission', produced by the Diocese, here.

Talking Toddlers from HOPE Together on Vimeo.

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