01 August 2017

Messy Church

By Lydia, a local preacher from the York Circuit. 

I'm a voluntary Messy Church Coordinator (I was going to write just volunteer but been told off at church council for saying that, they see volunteers as very important and crucial to all of Church life!). In my day job I work with adults with learning difficulties, which is varied and challenging, and I love it!

Our Messy Church started on the 22nd March 2013, I remember this date as it was two days after my birthday! We started it because we wanted to reach out to new (to us) families. We started by borrowing resources from other churches in the circuit, but now I write our own to tailor it to the people we get. As with all Messy Churches, we've had our ups and downs, on one occasion nobody came at all, which was disheartening. At this point the church asked, why are we doing this, is it worth it? But I urged them to carry on and since then we have managed to get a core of people coming each time. One gentleman said to me just after Messy Church in January, "I feel that God is now rewarding our faithfulness". This was a turning point, and I feel that since then each messy church has become easier. 

Our most recent Messy Church was on the 12th June, themed around the Queen's birthday. Because of this, a small part of the elderly generation from our church came, which was really unusual. They had a brilliant time and said that they would come again. Until this point they hadn't really given much thought to what it was like other than it was for children, they decided at the end that they were wrong!

We also had some families come, two of which had been before, and two families I shipped in from Grimsby (my Goddaughter and her friend came!) this was really good. 

There was a real sense of excitement and fun throughout the messy church. We had 3 crafts, crown making, bun decorating and prayer paperchains, and a game, which was pin the crown on the Queen. The celebration started with pass the parcel, which had bible verses inside. Our Minister did a short talk, asking people what they would change about the world if they were King or Queen, and then about the Queen's role in society and her relationship with God. The meal this time was party food and on the tables were the following questions, which people seemed to engage with:

 Mealtime Musings

  • How easy do you find it to wait for things?
  • What are the best and worst things about getting older?
  • Who is the wisest person you know?

Feedback from the families was really positive they enjoyed it and felt that there was a great atmosphere, describing it like a mini street party as the meal table was set out in one long line across the hall.

The main joy of our Messy Church is being able to do something completely different from traditional worship. It seems to release gifts and skills in people they didn't even realise they had! It's also more informal and seems to free people up to be themselves.

One of our biggest challenges is that we never know how many people we're going to get! This makes it difficult to know how much food or craft items are needed.  We're getting better at guessing each time, each messy church feels easier than the last!

If you're looking to start Messy Church I'd recommend doing your research first. Check what else is going on in the area, see if you're going to be duplicating the work another church is doing. Ask people you hope will come if they're interested.

It's also a good idea to talk with the congregation and ask them to consider helping, whether its practical help on the day, money gifts, or food. We now produce a list of the food items we will need and get the "Sunday" congregation sign up to bring them. This gets them involved and also spreads the cost of messy church.

Most importantly just relax and enjoy it! It can be difficult and stressful at times, but try as much as possible to trust that God knows what he is doing!

If you'd like to find out more about Messy Church click here

There is a wealth of resources and creative ideas available here.

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