Bouncy Church: Bringing the Families Back to Paisley Central Hall

20 July 2023

Located near Glasgow, Paisley Central Hall is a small but active church offering new activities to its community, including Bouncy Church, an intergenerational day for local families.

Excited cries and delighted laughs can be heard from the entrance of Paisley Central Hall. The surprise of seeing two bouncy castles inside the main room on the ground floor is soon washed away by the enthusiasm of the children, their parents and the volunteers. This is the messy side of Bouncy Church with bouncy castles and leaflets on each table with some activities, descriptions and wonder questions, such as “I wonder what it feels like being listened to”. Lorraine Darlow, National Coordinator for Scotland & Shetland, commented, “We use questions like that to make them start a conversation and keep the theme with the story we are exploring – it is Samuel this time. We want the conversation to go where people want to take it, the questions are just some prompts.”

Drawing from their experience of Messy Church, the team changed the format: there is a messy room and a quiet room on the ground floor, as well as a creative room and a space for toddlers on the first floor. Playtime is for about an hour before worship. The aim is for children to engage through words, emotions, symbols and activities, and give some quality time to every member of the family. “They want somewhere they can all come together, mixing ages and enjoying their time in each other's company,” explains Lorraine.

June is only the third month of Bouncy Church, but seven new families joined in May, making a total of 12 new families. “It’s a success story for us to see new families coming through the church and finding a welcoming space where children can play and parents can take part in other activities. This is a great place for families to come,” adds Revd Imran Malik, Superintendent Minister of the Ayrshire and Renfrewshire Circuit.

With so many new people coming into Paisley Central Hall, one key aspect is to make them not only feel welcome but also for them to feel that they belong. Once the worship is over, kids do not run downstairs for the food but to the fish tank on the first floor to feed their fish, where Leo, Balloon, Nemo and Ollie 2.0 are impatiently waiting. “We want to make them feel that it is their pet, they give them names and they can feed their fish,” says Imran.

The next Bouncy Church is on Sunday 23 July from 3 to 5 pm in Paisley Central Hall.

If reading this has inspired you to take your children and young people to a Methodist event, the conference 3Generate will occur in Birmingham on 6 to 8 October 2023.

Learn more about 3Generate