It has been great to visit Messy Churches up and down the country and get a feel for what God is doing through Messy Church. Great things are happening and I am sure there are greater things to come! Some of these great things include what is going with the teenagers who are involved with Messy Churches. I have heard testimonies from young people who say that Messy Church is giving them the chance to share their faith with others. Messy Church is giving young people the chance to evangelise and draw people into a deeper faith in God. How fantastic is that?
Our Messy Church is always very popular, over 100 people on the register and families on a waiting list. The last few sessions were only attended by 20 or so people, where ususally we have 40-50. I decided (perhaps foolishly) that saving places for people who did not attend regularily was unfair to those on the waiting list. So for the September Messy Church I opened it to anyone who wanted to come. Disaster! We catered craft wise and food wise for 40-50 people. 74 came through the door.
OK so what do you do if TOO MANY people want to come to church? One of the Southampton Messy Churches had 201 folk arrive at Christmas plus the team. We were asked for our advice.
Gosh. Alleluia but...
Holy Trinity Claygate got huge and started a parallel one so they have two identical ones running per month. (They're on the Directory.) Jane Leadbetter's in Liverpool is big but not that big. Jane may have ideas too so have copied her in.
A story from Australia which shows Messy Church doesn't work everywhere, and we thank Jim for his honesty and wish them every blessing in their ongoing service to young families:
High numbers are neither here nor there, but they are encouraging, not just to Emma and her (obviously wonderful) team but to all of us who can share in the rejoicing.
An email recently from Emma, who wrote:
There are some interesting discussions going on about discipleship all over the world. Andrew Smith from New Zealand recommends a good book and has some good thoughts:
This is Andrew, chaplain to messy NZ !
'I've just completed a quick read of George Lings' 'Encounters on the Edge', no 46 Messy Church: Ideal for all ages? ... A very positive critique, I feel. George draws out the challenge of messy discipleship very fairly and squarely.
I've had a couple of emails recently from leaders with a BIG problem: they fear too many people coming to Messy Church! So put that in your 'church is dead' pipe and smoke it, oh people who say church attendance is dropping irredeemably.
But it is a problem, as nobody wants to turn folk away, but at the same time, you need to keep things safe and manageable and have some level of intimacy. I'll copy one of the emails below with my answer, but if you have any further inspiration, do email me and I'll share your wisdom around.
In a conversation about 'results' Colin and Angela Brown mentioned a letter by Thomas Merton to a young activist which makes good sense to all of us trying to 'do' in our Messy Churches.
One of the advantages of being in a network, rather than trying to go it alone, is the undeniable fact that talking to people about a mutual passion (Jesus, Messy Church, evangelism, chocolate...) takes you further and deeper than you'd go on your own. Chatting with Colin Blake, our Regional Coordinator for the Bristol area, and a GP / minister Gilly we covered a lot of ground, especially about the importance of the chance Messy Church gives you to play.
My cunning plot to save frantic ringing round the planning team at the last minute each month, saying desperately, 'We have to plan Messy Church tonight. Can you come?' has not got off to a good start.
It should have been simple! A little plan with the date of the Messy Church, the planning meeting and the subject for each month, all ready to be jotted down in diaries.
I should have been worried when D rang to ask if we had a meeting that night, as she hadn't heard anything.