The ‘Youth Catalyst’ initiative will place youth ministers in three Church of England secondary schools and one state secondary school, recruit and train four church-based apprentice youth ministers and train four existing youth ministers.

A team to lead youth worship gatherings across the diocese will also be recruited.

Programme Lead, Alastair Etheridge, said: “The number of young people in our churches do not reflect the communities they are in.

“We talked with young people, churches and other organisations working with young people. We found that the way many young people found safe spaces to gather and explore faith in our churches in the past doesn’t work for this generation. A different approach was needed…

“Youth Catalyst puts the needs and wants of young people at the centre. We’ll be building a team, working with and in schools, putting on big events for everyone and creating smaller groups for young people who want to explore faith.”

The programme is one of five projects across the nation to have received funding from the Strategic Mission and Ministry Investment Board.

Rev Ben Beecroft, Vicar at St Paul’s Church Addlestone, said: “I’m really excited about how this project will help to create a church that welcomes and empowers young people today.

“We want them to feel confident and courageous in sharing their faith with their school communities, their families and friends. We’re inspired by a Bible verse (Philippians 1:14) that says we should dare to live and tell others about Jesus when filled with God’s love and power. That’s our dream and goal!”