Throughout 2013 the Messy Church Team in the UK has been exploring some of the challenges and advantages of running Messy Churches in schools. Early in the year a questionnaire was sent out to over 50 Messy Churches registered on the website who stated that they met in their local primary or secondary school. In addition, there have been visits to a number of Messy Churches which run in schools in order to talk to leaders, their teams and those who are part of the new congregations.
One of our (wonderful, innovative, generous, thoughtful, energetic, and so on ) regional coordinators emailed asking for advice today. She'd been visiting and found that some Messy Churches are really after school clubs. Please note that I don't say 'just after school clubs' - after school clubs are great. But they aren't Messy Churches. Her question was whether she should ask them to stop using the name 'Messy Church'.
Jane Leadbetter and her energetic team up in Liverpool were invited to take Messy Church, in the guise of Messy Families, into a local (non-church) primary school. She had asked for prayer as she was feeling rather nervous about the whole thing. Here's her email:
It was really good to spend a couple of hours today with Bishop Graham Cray, the CofE Bishop of Fresh Expressions. He is passionate about all God's doing through the movement and very supportive of Messy Church within the wider picture. For me personally, and for you too, I hope, it was great to be encouraged and affirmed in what we're doing in the Mess, and reassuring that the Church 'owns' and 'recognises' Messy Church to such an extent.
And a quick scoot over the Pennines towards Salford in the afternoon to act as a sounding board for a church in Worsley who are pondering starting a MC in the primary school where the church meets. Buildings, buildings: there are lots of issues around buildings. It irks me when a building created specifically to help people worship God actually stops them doing so, or when the building becomes more important than the people (but I accept that the people of previous and future generations are as important as those in the present).