Hoorah and thank you for so many responses to the all-age part of the recent newsletter - here are some so far.
Anthony Oram writes from Beverley in a self-confessed rant:
So you're saying that MC is just another all-age service?? When, oh when, will there be something for the children?? Short-changed yet again by a church that has to be all inclusive without being child specific. You don't have teachers, child carers or social workers worrying about how they can bend their child-centred stuff to include adults - it wouldn't be appropriate, helpful or achieve what they are aiming for, which is education, care or services for children.
It sounds to me like we think children can't do church without adults 'helping' them. Because no one would ever think of starting a service for adults that's termed 'messy', it's just a non-starter, so it has to be about children. Yes, of course, adults can gain hugely from understanding children's faith. But then it sounds a lot like therapy for adults to me, with the children performing or working for the adults and not just enjoying themselves by doing and learning.
What worries me is that when you start to push the 'this is all age' pedal, the balance lurches away from children and settles more towards family, which entails compromise for child -centred activities, leading to mediocrity.
What I like about MC is that we say no child without an adult - that means the parents/carers come because the kids love it and want to come. Of course the adults should be engaged - chatted to, have worship explained to them (kids just join in and love it), be able to follow the talk (you'd be surprised...) but not at the expense of making it less accessible for the kids because - let's face it - most all-age services are pretty boring for children.
The problem I'd love to have is catering for the adults who find an interest in faith in Christ because of MC involvement and want something more for them. Sadly the answer in our church is not in the (very un-family-and-child-friendly) morning service.
Alison Tuddenham writes from Haslemere:
I love your multiple choice questionnaire. It made me chuckle!
Just a thought on the 'All-ageness' of Messy Church.
I am sure that a lot of adults bring their children to Messy Church as a way to provide some church input for them without having to commit to coming to church each week - 'a great introduction to church'.
But, once there, the adults are as much a captive audience as the children, whether they know it or not!
A mum from my parent & toddler group brought her two-year-old along to Messy Church for the first time last month. When I next met her she was telling me how much her daughter had enjoyed the whole thing whilst repeating back to me almost verbatim the little chatty bit I had done about prayer before we prayed. A message which she imagined was for her child had hit the mark with her, whether she knew it or not!
Messy Church is naturally an all-age affair, but what we need to do is educate our teams during planning and presentation to 'think' all age, then adults who attend with their children will also catch on to the fact that Messy Church is as much about them as it is about their children.
Thanks for your Messy Church ideas and resources - we couldn't do it without your inspiration!
Messy Church has been such a fantastic all age-experience for our church - we only have a handful of 'Sunday morning' families but are welcoming up to ten or more families from our local community to our monthly Messy Church Sunday afternoon times. We have our first Messy Vhurch attendee on an Alpha course this month, we have been able to pray for families and situations and financially support a family experiencing challenging times in the current financial climate, plus a family beginning to attend Sunday mornings on a fairly regular basis.
Messy Church is such a blessing to all who come - visitors and helpers (who are beginning to build relationships with local families whom they would never have met otherwise).
Mary Lee writes from Wotton under Edge
I think Messy Church is the most exciting thing to happen in the church for many years.
I'm 78 years old and I really enjoy being part of the large group of people who help to make this such a happy time for all ages. It encourages families who haven't been involved with our church, as well as those who are. I really enjoy watching the children and chatting with the families.
Best wishes and may God continue to bless his work, through you.