In my previous blog I mentioned Lindsey who's working with me for five weeks as part of her course at Moorlands Bible College. I don't know what the rest of her colleagues are doing, but I suspect Lindsey's Friday in Lincoln might have been slightly different from the experiences of many of them.
Hand in Hand - an excellent title for a conference on children's and family ministry, as it's all about partnership with churches, supportive organisations like S.U. and Barnabas, the children's and family workers and the children and families themselves. We had a great time over the weekend, meeting so many friends old and new. I was worried that no-one would come to the Messy Church seminar as everyone knows about it already, but about a hundred people came and very few fell asleep.
The Poole Messy Church leaders had arranged a meeting over morning coffee to chat and find out how to support each other, and very kindly invited me along. Leaders from Parkstone URC / St Peter's, Longfleet Baptist and Parkstone Baptist told their stories and shared their joys and sorrows, and I listened and filled in a little about how we at BRF can support them in all the brilliant stuff they're doing.
It was a great privilege to be invited to join in the Christingle service at Westminster Abbey, organised for local school children by the Children's Society. I had a fabulous time, warmly welcomed by the Children's Society staff, who are an amazing group of people.
There are many pictures of the Holy Spirit, but I've never seen one of him bouncing about like a puppy, gleefully springing around to get people to play with him. But that's what it feels like on the Messy scene in Liverpool. There is so much going on and it's so vibrant and full of life! The latest event was a Messy Forum for Messy Church leaders, organised by Jane Leadbetter, the regional coordinator for Liverpool and Liverpool Diocesan Children's Adviser, and David Bell, the Diocesan Children's Adviser for Chester Diocese.
Just a quick note on how the research into Messy Church is panning out. As you know, we very much want to reflect on all that's happening in Messy Church so that we practitioners and the Church as a whole learn from it, have solid cause for rejoicing, can discern helpful ways forward and generally continue to grow the kingdom in wonderful ways.
Spent last week at Lee Abbey in beautiful North Devon, leading a stream on Messy Church for about 20 people who varied between those already running a Messy Church to those who had never heard of it and just fancied a week at Lee Abbey. It's a great place to think about all the Messy Church themes, as the community puts so many of them into practice.
What a fantastic time we had - 18-20 of us, regional coordinators and sympathetic friends - gathered together to talk 'mess' for 24 hours. It was such fun, such a luxury to be able to concentrate on some of the big issues and to glean each other's wisdom thereupon. I came away thinking how privileged we are to have such thoughtful, wise and experienced people taking an interest in Messy Church.
Where do I start? The fun of coming together as an all-age team from across the UK armed with bags and crates of sparkles and cardboard, flowers and snacks, pitta bread and candle wax? The excitement of seeing the queue form outside the marquee and the Messy Church Full Up sign go out? The rather sheepish admission from the stewards that there were probably around 250 people squeezed in, on and off, during the hour?
Telford is Jane's stamping ground, rather than mine, but I'd been asked up by the group running the local Mission-Shaped Ministry course to lead an evening session on 'Children and All Age', so to make use of the time, we added a Messy Church session the following morning: to our surprise, especially given that 60 people were already signed up for a Fiesta with Jane on the Saturday, over 80 people booked for this session, with another 40 having to be turned away. Who says midweek isn't a good time to have events?