We were delighted to be asked by the organisers of the CRE to host a contained stream within the Exhibition on the theme of Messy Church last week. I have to be honest and admit that I had no idea how it would work out and pictured the team miserably twiddling their thumbs in a large, echoing, empty hall. But no - we had well over 100 people signed up to come and well over 100 came and stayed for the whole day!
A 'next step' day for Messy Church leaders in our area, that's what we wanted it to be. And as we thought about what to do, we became more and more clear that we wanted to reflect our Messy values in what we offered. So instead of an 'adults only' training day, we put our thinking caps on and worked out how to make it a day that all ages could enjoy and benefit from. That way, all the Messy Church team, young and old could come together and be sure of an entertaining and worthwhile day out.
Martyn and I did some Barnabas work in and around Aberdeen last year. I was delighted to receive notice of this blog which shows how one evening's training can result in a huge impact on a community: Mountain Tops and Monday Mornings
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.
Discipleship? Training? I'm not sure what Messy Tea would best fit into - it's such early days that it might be better not to pigeonhole it yet. It's our attempt to grow Messy Church here in Cowplain.
One discussion the regional coordinators had at the Round Table in September was about the value of small talk at Messy Church. One person even went so far as to say it can be sacramental and should be valued as such.
A thatched pub in the New Forest in the sunshine: there are worse places to meet, and it was excellent to find out about the Sophia Network from one of its founders, Sharon Prior. You can read all about Sophia here. It's an organisation that exists to connect women in youth work and ministry to access training, develop skills and share wisdom. It's open to men as well and is a very positive, helpful, well-resourced organisation: well worth joining up (especially as it's free).
On Sunday I was privileged to take part in a day of activities with Christ Church Methodist Church in Chichester - a blissfully short distance from home. The morning was a mini-Fiesta for their own church and a church in Worthing who are thinking of starting one, making use of their newly rebuilt hall. The afternoon was an actual Messy Church for local people on the theme of the prodigal son. There were about 30 people at the event - numbers were lower than expected at the Messy Church but that might have been because it was a beautiful day outside!