Messy Church - seven years on

Monday, 19 September, 2011

Lucy Moore reflects on Messy Church - seven years on and explores the challenges of reinventing discipleship through building ongoing relationships and 'what to do' with people who come to faith through Messy Church.

Duration: 6:17   | Download Download mp3

Transcript

Interviewer: Messy Church has been going for some while now, so can you just give us an update on where you are and any particular challenges that you feel that you're facing at the moment.

Lucy Moore: Yes. We've been going for seven years this month and we're in twelve countries. I think in terms of challenges the big one that we're facing at the moment is the question everybody asks, how do we do discipleship in Messy Church. And it's a huge one, much bigger than we thought it would be, because I think what we're being challenged to do is to reinvent how we do discipleship with this group of people, and rather than just looking to the old models of putting people onto a discipleship course and expecting them to pop out the other end as fully-fledged disciples, is actually to look at what discipleship is and to try to rediscover what it really means. And the sort of answers that we're coming to, without by any stretch of the imagination having all the answers already, is something about relationships. A lot of the work being done in Messy Church depends on a really good relationship between the team members and the people who are coming and because we haven't got a background of church with this people they haven't got that to draw on as a default setting. We're having to gain an awful lot of trust, so the relationships that are being formed are hugely hugely important and out of that we can introduce people to Jesus – but it's only when the relationships are in place that we have any sort of right, if that's the word, to do that. And also I think it's something about discipleship being an ongoing thing in the way that they develop as a person, in the choices that they are making as they go on, and that's something that the team are involved in as well as the people who are belonging to the congregations. And a huge thing is the team – a huge thing – it's not that the team and the leadership of Messy Church is, you know, we've got it sussed and it's all sorted and we know we're right and we've come to the end of our journey, it's much more about saying ooh, we're all in this together, let's just walk alongside each other and model the Christian way of life and see what you think. Very experiential, very participative.

So that's the sort of direction that we're going in at the moment. And it's now at the point where we'd really really like the denominations to come alongside us in this in a much more recognisable way than they have been up to now. I think the denominations have allowed Messy Church to happen, which has been very gracious and we're deeply appreciative of the permissions that we've had, but it's now getting so big we can't deal with this on our own, we need the help of our inherited churches. I can just say, how can we take this forward, how can we grow church so that we're not being a threat, we're not being in competition, we're just learning from each other, growing together. It would be terrible for Messy Church to go off as some sort of cult or sect or separate denomination, we want to grow Methodist Messy Churches and Anglican Messy Churches and Baptist Messy Churches and help people to feel that they belong to something that's not just this little fresh expressions but is something that's safe and sure and steady and something that they can really trust.

Interviewer: So Lucy, obviously looking at the future, if people feel that people are coming to faith through Messy Church then what you do with them then is an ongoing question, isn't it. Because sometimes people can feel then they're going to end up back in an inherited church model when they've actually come to faith in a way that's very different.

Lucy Moore: Yes. So what it leaves is with is, if Messy Church is really church then it should have everything in it to be church in an ongoing way for these people – for all of us, not just the congregations but for the leadership teams as well. And that means that we really have to look at what we're doing, make the most of every single opportunity in Messy Church to be church for everybody. So we can't take an easy option and say oh this is just 'little frothy light it doesn't matter' church, because one day they'll go on to real church, they're not going to – a lot of them, and so we have to work on ways of making sure that Messy Church gives them all that they need for the journey of discipleship, for being Christians in their life outside church and inside church. And that's going to be different, I think, for every single Messy Church. There's now one answer, it's a very messy process, and I think we're going to find that this messy situation needs messy solutions to it. There's a lot going on very organically, from Messy Churches running quiet days for their parents, some are thinking about a model where you do Messy Church one week and then a social the next week and then some form of service to the community the next week and a Bible study the next week – and then Messy Church again. But lots and lots of things going on, and I think at the moment we're just throwing the doors open and saying yes we can be church and we need to take it seriously that we should be church, let's see where we can go with it. We haven't got the answers – the definitive answers – yet, we're just at the start of this whole exploration.

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