Have you heard about Messy Church?
Messy Church is a new kind of church held on a day other than Sunday which is for children and adults and aimed at all ages and all families. Churches which have organized Messy Church have found that it is a good way to do something new for people without any connection with a church or people who have never been to church before.
What is Messy Church?
Messy Church is a church in its own right. It doesn’t follow the format of traditional church because it provides something which is tailored for families who have no previous experience of church. It shouldn’t be done to attract more people to services on Sunday; although this could be a consequence it shouldn’t be the main aim. It is usually a monthly or seasonal event, but this may vary from Messy Church to Messy Church.
If you have some of the aims outlined below, Messy Church could be for you:
- you want to make disciples of Jesus Christ;
- you want to form a church for people on various points of their faith journey;
- you want to reach families without a connection to chapel or church;
- you want to show who Jesus is to families through craft, fellowship and informal learning.
What happens in Messy Church?
There are four elements to the event. Messy Church will last around an hour and a half to two hours. An appropriate location must be identified – a vestry or hall with plenty of space will be good but you must ensure that it is safe and secure for children. These are the four elements which make up Messy Church:
- Welcome – welcoming people is very important and an opportunity to explain what will be happening to make everyone feel comfortable. There may be a small fee for Messy Church but that is to the church’s discretion.
- Craft – there should be various tables around the room with different crafts on them – all associated with the theme or story from the Bible. There should be something for a variety of ages. Children and parents will be participating together. This is a very important time to get to know people, build relationships while learning informally at the same time.
- Celebration – a short time of 10-15 minutes at most – to sing a song, tell the story connected to the craft and for a short prayer. The story will link to the craft activities. This is an opportunity to celebrate God, the saving work of Jesus on the cross, and life as a Messy Church community and family.
- Food – the type of meal provided will depend on your resources. People will be encouraged to sit together around tables/on picnic blankets and socialize as they eat – a picture of the kingdom of God where everyone is family.
Through these four elements, the aim is to build bridges and for the Messy Church team to show who God is through word and deed. It’s also a way of celebrating God and to reflect His creativity. As people from the edges and outside of the church are welcomed, hospitality is very important and a willingness to be gracious and adapt according to different needs.
If the idea appeals to you, there is quite a lot to think about before starting. The first thing is to introduce the idea to your church asking people to be part of the team and using their skills appropriately; Messy Church is an event which thrives on working together so it would be good to consider working with other small churches or churches who have a heart for reaching families.
For more information about Messy Church visit the Messy Church website: www.messychurch.org.uk