Messy Church

Fresh ideas for building a Christ-centred community

Ideas

If you're short of funds, why not pop round to your local supermarket and see if they'll include your Messy Church on their local community funding scheme? Your Messy Church might go and help pack bags wearing team T-shirts, as Jane's team in Liverpool did in their local Asda - it turned out to be a huge witness and started growing great relationships with the store and with the customers as well as earning money.

Jenny Board and Curtis, a teenager on her Messy Church team, were discussing how teenagers and Messy Church might work even better. Jenny kindly sent me this summary of their conversation:

We discussed the possibility of the youngsters staying on after Messy Church, but recognised problems: parents, having gone home, wouldn't be too keen to turn out again. Messy Church helpers would be too tired to give of their best.

This is a very exciting and significant development of the Messy Church idea for teenagers and for mission. Revd Julie Coleman writes from the Diocese of Canterbury:

Trashy Church for older children, teenagers and families:

I have held Trashy Church at Adisham Village Hall for the past six months. The pioneer project Trashy Church is aimed towards young people and families who are marginalised from society/church or feel too old to attend Messy Church or seek to move on from Messy Church.

This made Jane smile: Sue Thomas and her messy team in Wigan held 'Messy Missing Person' this month, based on Jesus lost in the temple. The older ones were invited to make a 68-mile trail (apparently the approximate walking distance between Nazareth and Jerusalem) along roads on road maps. One of the team is a compulsive 'saver' and had loads of full size Ordinance Survey maps of Epping Forest available. There are still 80 going begging if anyone wants some!

It was great to meet face to face at last (after many emails and phone calls) with the wonderful people from Sweaty Church in York, Ian and Johnny, and to hear about all God's doing for families through their very active expression of church.

Jane visited a 24-hour Messtival in Childwall, Liverpool, with the sun shining and happy campers! There were messy tents everywhere with stalls, picnics, crafts, food, prayer, story times, messy rope walk and lots more. The church grounds incorporated a tent area for families camping overnight and Saturday's programme had a Messy Church in the afternoon and worship band in the evening. This 24-hour event ended on the Sunday with a messy pasta lunch. Well done to Debbie and co. A brilliant idea!

Yes, I have been onlineally silent for a week or so, but in real life haven't stopped talking for the last week as it was our long-awaited International Forum at the BRF office in Abingdon. It was of course great fun and a huge privilege to spend time with four dynamic people from Canada and Australia and to discover those little things that add colour to a previously email-only relationship, an Aussie addiction to CocoPops being but one.

As you know, we're pondering what Messy discipleship is all about, if indeed there is such an animal. The best thing is getting stories like this one from Jo Birkby in Knaphill to throw into the melting pot. To me it says something about steps towards discipleship - they can mean sensitively and imaginatively responding to a lead from your own messy congregation and to a prod from God. This could be different for every Messy Church. Jo emails:

Well obviously it's plagiarism but with any luck, blatant enough to be acceptable. We're going to try out a series of 60-second 'testiomonies' in our Messy Church, based around physical objects, with the idea that personal stories give the congregation something easy to respond to and ponder on and relate faith to everyday life.

A wonderful group of Messy Church enthusiasts came to Lee Abbey last year to find out more about Messy Church. One was Alison Thurlow from Yate near Bristol. She emailed with some very good ideas right from the coalface:

Working with people from outside the church

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