Tom wrote an enquiry to the website about single people and Messy Church. Might be worth jotting down our correspondence here for others:
I'm doing some reading about Messy Church as it may be something which could work very well at our church. I have a question I can't seem to find the answer to in the literature...
Has your Messy Church been going on for five years or more? Could you help Claire Dalpra, a researcher at the Sheffield Centre and a good friend to Messy Church? She writes:
'Are there any Messy Churches that have going longer than five years that wouldn't mind me turning up and asking them lots of questions?
I may have mentioned this to you already but for my MA dissertation, I'm planning to look at lay, volunteer- led fresh expressions and learn from those who have made it work longer term to help other fresh expressions in the future.
Just back from the National Children's Advisers' Conference, bulging with food for thought (and the other sort too - cooked breakfasts etc). It was all about the Five Marks of Mission:
- to proclaim the the Good News of the Kingdom
- to teach, baptise and nurture new believers
- to respond to human need by loving service
- to seek to transform unjust structures of society
- to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.
Questions for messy people:
It was a very significant day: our first meeting of the Messy Church regional coordinators. Getting twelve busy people from around the UK, as far afield as Cornwall and Preston, Weston and Maidstone is no mean achievement. To have a Canadian as well was mere icing on the cake. Meeting round a table gave us a sense of belonging to a team with a common purpose.
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.
I wasn't expecting to be there, but unfortunately my torn disc in my back means I can't travel, so I wasn't in Bristol as I had planned. This also meant I wasn't responsible for a craft but spent my time 'doing a Jan' and floating round talking to people. And meant I was able to be on the door to welcome people, too, which was nice.
We set up a 'Quiet Corner' for the first time. Here's what it looked like:
At the end of next week, Paul (my combined husband and vicar) and I are heading up to meet the Fresh Expressions thinktank team in Sheffield, at the Church Army HQ.
Claire Dalpra, George Lings, Andrew Wooding and Colin Brown will be there and it's our chance to chew over these big questions and to try to find a fruitful way forward for Messy Churches.
What questions to chew over, though? Here are some of my initial thoughts:
There's a wonderful Fresh Expression of church called Open Doors in Calne in Wiltshire, who are far-sighted enough not just to get on with their own thing but to share it with others as well, and they invited me to talk about Messy Church at an open evening to encourage other churches who were interested as well as their own.
This was a jolly one, as we weren't sure who was coming or from where, and as far as I knew, nobody present would have any idea what Messy Church is or why they should do it.