L19 Messy Church was BIG this month! Big in numbers, with over 150 turning up, and big on surprise! We have no idea why so many turned up and the surprise came in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the creativity hour.
Alison Dare is a Salvation Army minister from Blaydon in Tyne and Wear (north-east England). Recently she sent us the following Messy baptism story that is so encouraging:
'The baptism came about with a mother asking if we could 'touch' her boys as she wanted them to belong to the church. Her partner's family (the boy's dad's family) are Roman Catholic but Clare was concerned that the children wouldn't sit still in church and that they would be made to feel awkward. She asked if they could be baptised at Messy Church because that's their Christian church!
A reflection on the results of a survey showing church decline suggests that helping people know they belong is one way to help them know they're Christian. Mark Woods writes: 'But evangelicalism has to ask itself whether it's entirely helpful to remove people's sense of belonging by confronting them with a choice they might not be ready to make.
This is a really interesting blog post from a parent who has just visited a Messy Church because of the fascinating reasons she gives for taking her child to church:
... and triple oof. Just finished our May Messy Church on the theme of how special each of us is to God - many sparrows glued (the most lurid you've ever seen), many fingerprints printed, biscuit faces iced, balloon men assembled (with much popping and shrieking), prayers prayed, friends made, troubles shared, eyes opened... just another Messy Church.
Here's a big question I was discussing yesterday with our newest Regional Coordinator, Gill Noles: can a church really be facilitated by people who don't see it as their primary place of belonging? Will those leaders always remain in a state of 'doing' activities at it rather than 'being' themselves and building crucial relationships? To make Messy Church 'authentic', would we need to have a core of people who made it their primary church, rather like church planters do?
What is the way forward? As the marbling inks clog up the hall ready for Messy Church this afternoon, a particularly sticky cake's icing dries in the kitchen, and a dustbin bag full of empty shoeboxes threatens to trip up the unwary visitor, I wonder: how do we go on from here?
Paul reckons we need to get together a group of people who might be interested in belonging primarily to MC and seeing it eventually as their main spiritual home, and get praying with them, just as you would if you were thinking about a church plant.
We got a very warm welcome and felt most honoured to be taken seriously. It's very reassuring that the C of E is employing this team to be thinkers and reflectors - very useful for people like us in our situation.
Perhaps the most poignant moment for me was when I expressed something along the lines of, 'We're not sure whether it would just be a bit of a pity if Messy Church closed down, or whether it's more important than that.' And George replied after some thought, 'I think it would be as if your child was knocked over and killed by a car on the way home from school.'