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Page last updated at 16:39 GMT, Tuesday, 9 March 2010
Rachel teams children and church
The Grace Project team
Three years in, the Grace Project team's set to grow even further

Rachel Coupe had a hunch, She'd been a teacher and a church administrator - children and faith were her fields.

The trouble was, she thought, that the two were drifting apart and fewer youngsters were remaining part of their congregations.

Rachel believed she knew why, so she designed The Grace Project to provide churches with trained children's workers and try to reverse the trend.

So, how to turn the tide?

A look at some key statistics showed Rachel that there'd been a steep decline in children's attendance at church since the sixties.

They also showed that Sunday schools at their height had some 80% of young people tripping through their doors.

Research took her to lots of different churches and wherever she went she found folk desperate for help and resources. They needed ideas and they needed people power.

The Grace Project was born.

The name?

Rachel gleaned it from further research which found that children who remained attendees had understood and been attracted by the unconditional love they experienced: love that was, in biblical terms, 'God's Grace'.

The aim?

That was simple: the aim was to provide churches with the help they needed in dealing with the young.

Currently in its third year, the project has 5 full-time and 2 part-time workers servicing 17 churches, giving each a weekday and a Sunday of their time.

It's proved a pleasing success, with Baptist, Anglican, Methodist and United Reform churches all joining in the mix, and several major Christian charities poised to endorse it and help it to expand beyond the East Midlands.

Workers are spilling out of churches into schools: taking assemblies, lunch and after school clubs, also toddlers groups are springing up.

For Rachel Coupe it's evidence that the right approach, tuned to 21st century appetites and attitudes can keep children engaged. She played her hunch. It seems to be a winning hand.


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