Taking a risk
Messy Church at All Saints Church, Hoole, met for years on a Thursday after school. It was successful in that they averaged around 50 each month but there was something missing. Helen Ellis, Messy coordinator, prayed for men to come along, to play and interact with their children and perhaps to join the small leadership team. Helen decided to take a risk and change the day that their Messy Church met. A couple of men had suggested that Sunday afternoon was appealing to them (and they could help run sports then) and so we prayed that this was encouragement enough to try it differently. First they tried a Messy Camp on the church field, which was very much thinking 'out of the box' for them yet successful, then this month they went for a Messy Church on a Sunday 4 pm-6 pm. Helen says:
'We had a lot of our previous MC congregation but also four families from church (two of whom have dads who don't come to church) and a number of new families who had heard about the sports "stream" as we called it. We had well over 80 people and there were others I know will be coming to the next one. We used the main hall for the sports which meant they had lots of space to practice a variety of ball skills and it was just lovely watching the parents playing with their children. Neil and John, who have stepped into this role, were great leaders and had bought some great new equipment at a minimal cost, including a badminton/volleyball net that raised or lowered, according to the age of the players. There were some huge balls that the youngest children loved playing with too. We then had six activities (plus playdough) in the smaller room where we also served drinks and it seemed to be much calmer and more focused. Board and table top games were in the creche room and that was a great space too and gradually people worked out that was a great place to be. Our theme was "Healthy Body, Healthy Soul" and during the Celebration Time I had a huge body outline taped on the floor (hot tip, don't use cheap masking tape!). Our meal time was spent devouring pasta dishes and fresh fruit.
'I received a lovely phone message from a ten-year-old who used to come to the previous MC: "I really liked Messy Church and I thought it was much better because of all the sports in one room. People can run around and play and it didn't take up the space in the activity room. And all the things in the craft room were good and there was more space. I'd like to come back." In a text, his mum thought the sports room kept the craft room calmer and she could see an awful lot of effort went into it. "It looked very professional! It really had something for everyone." She also loved the "random members of different families all playing board games together".
'Considering we finished at 6 pm, we were packed away by 6.15 pm, apart from a bit of washing up!! There was a new sense of team ownership. God is good and allowed my random ideas to take root and blossom!'