A story from Wendy Stringer which shows how God sends messengers of encouragement where they may be needed:
Dear Lucy & team
I had a happy time with Richard, my boss, at the BRF stand at the Church of England's General Synod last week. (I was disappointed not to be given a Women Bishop's tea towel but did come away with Book of Common Prayer mints, so the day was not in vain.) We caught up with several friends, who were kind enough to stop by the stand, made new acquaintances and were really chuffed to see a Messy Church question had been posted and answered:
We had our first Messy Church on Saturday 28th January and I still can’t quite believe what happened. Since taking on the role of part time families worker at our church we have discussed the possibilities of running one and we finally managed it.
I had an amazing team of 45 volunteers which was more than I thought I would need but I wasn’t going to turn anyone down who offered. They ranged form early teens to early 80s from our various services.
It was great to visit the Messy Church at Overton in Hampshire the other week and join in their session on a Sunday afternoon. I was struck by so many things: the way the silent church filled up with laughter and song and conversation; the way the stillness of the building changed to movement as everyone dashed round on treasure hunts and in pursuit of activities and back to stillness again as the whole community gathered and focused on song and prayer.
Actually 803 Messy Churches registered, with Selby Methodists in North Yorkshire claiming the proud place as our 800th. We are well chuffed to go into the autumn with 800 Messy congregations signed up. Picture all those families enjoying their local church who may never have set foot in it before: so exciting. Registrations are coming in at a rate of about one a day at the moment, with the latest group ranging from Adelaide to Spalding, and from Perth in Western Australia to Dalkeith in Scotland: keep 'em coming!
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:
I love my Inbox. This came recently via the website. I find it most poetic.
I love the idea of Messy Church.
This is what we need. I suppose we just need to get on with it.
Messy Churches are doing such a good job all round the world and dealing with some really big Bible stories and life issues, and being there for people in really tough situations. This isn't fluffy cuddly stuff - this is life-changing. Our team dealt with the hard-hitting question of material wealth yesterday - camels through the eyes of needles, lilies of the field, buried treasure and Jesus' apparently upside-down values. What do you value most in a silent auction - 'an iPad', 'a Ben 10 humungosaur', 'a spa experience' or 'happiness', 'clean water', 'peace'?
Last week I had a bit of a quiet day to reflect on discipleship in the messy context. This is what I shared with Jane and the rest of the BRF Messy Church team. As ever, work in progress rather than definitive answers:
Good job I don't set myself up as omniscient when I'm proved wrong at every turn. What is it about Messy Church that means it never follows the rules? Hmph. All very... messy. A while back the Revd Tim Waghorn from Victoria in Australia emailed asking for my wisdom (choke choke) on how often to run a Messy Church. I pontificated at length about the joys of monthliness and heard today what Tim and his team decided to do. The moral of the tale? Listen to God, not me!