Messy Church - update Jul10

Friday, 30 July, 2010

Lucy MooreSince the original Messy Church got off the ground at Cowplain, Portsmouth, in 2004, founder Lucy Moore has seen huge growth in this model of fresh expression of church. She describes what has happened in the past six years.

God has gone before us all the time and got us ready to go on safari without a map.

It has been quite a journey but looking back, we can see that God had already put in place many elements for Messy Church long before we started. They were:

  • A sense of frustration with the traditional way of doing children's work in church because a group of us found that we were failing in that. It was also frustrating that we heavily invested in that children’s work but it seemed to be in isolation as parents didn't appear to be supporting those children by encouraging them at home in their faith;
  • A lot of people who were good at artwork and crafts. We found that God had provided a creative team of people who were passionate about children's work and confident in dealing with children;
  • Our church, St Wilfrid's. This was a very important factor because it has a great sense of being hospitable and looking outwards rather than inwards. It also had a very useful building that offered all the facilities required to get something going;
  • A small group of four or five children coming on a Sunday. They gave us an inroad into the local schools and it was from those children that we built up our first invitations to Messy Church.

It has become increasingly apparent over the years that families face meltdown in our society and they need more support and help than ever before. In saying that, there was still an element of panic among our group at the prospect of doing children's work in the current climate, facing issues such as CRB checks, discipline, health and safety, and so on.

So what has shaped Messy Church so far?

  • Generosity. Our church has been very hospitable and also generous in saying Bible Reading Fellowship (BRF) could take on the Messy Church model and take it out to the wider church. Messy Church has since become a core part of BRF's children’s ministry, Barnabas, which assists churches who have caught the vision and need help in running Messy Church;
  • BRF itself. The team that I work with are very supportive and generous;
  • The funders
  • Fresh Expressions. They have shared their wisdom, their help, their time, their website. Various individuals have also made a huge difference, including Bishop Graham Cray, Bishop Steven Croft, and George Lings;
  • The growing Messy Church team of regional co-ordinators;
  • My family.

There has been a lot of growth; I still feel we are on this surfboard and we are riding a wave of energy. We now have about 330 Messy Churches registered on the website from all sorts of denominations.

In terms of attendances at individual Messy Churches they can range from 15-20 to 180. The variety of contexts include Anglican, Methodist and Assemblies of God, urban, rural, north, south, east, and west. This gives us huge breadth.

There is now geographical spread all over the world with the Canadians taking on Messy Church wholeheartedly. Also going great guns are Australia, South Africa, Finland, Germany, and New Zealand.

Thanks to the increasing number of regional co-ordinators, we can also have a more localised output. There is a growing depth of experience and ideas; growing ownership by church structures; and growing numbers of stories of transformation. The challenge, as ever, to go just a little bit deeper with people and help them explore discipleship. On with the journey...

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