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7 Reasons to be thankful for Messy Church

Posted by Martyn Payne on 24 Aug 2016

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August holidays can be a good time to step back from the push and shove of routines and do a little reflecting. It’s also for many of us in Messy Church a month off without the urgency of a new session to plan, crafts and activities to prepare, a story to write, a meal to buy for. So, before these lazy days disappear, here are my messy summer reflections - some of the reasons I want to say thank you for Messy Church:

1. Thank you, Messy Church, that you have put evangelism back at the top of our church’s agenda. We have had plenty of teaching about sharing the gospel; there have been plenty of papers written about how to do it; we’ve all heard plenty of good advice about where to start; but that’s just it…too often it's just been words. In contrast Messy Church has put everyday evangelism - that is, simply talking about God’s love for us in everyday conversation - within the reach of everyone at church. For this, I say thank you for Messy Church.

2. Thank you, Messy Church, that you have rescued church from the hands of the professionals. For too long it has seemed to some of us that running a church service has been something that only the trained and talented can do. Messy Church has opened up so many new possibilities for us all to have an equal stake in being church for our community. This is the body of Christ at its best with every part needing every other part and with no part unnecessary. It is a church to which we can all contribute, from the youngest to the oldest, whether we are theological experts or enthusiastic amateurs. For this, I say thank you for Messy Church.

3. Thank you, Messy Church, that the role of worship leader does not exist in your vocabulary; in fact that the very word worship has been thankfully reclaimed. Worship is not just what we do when we stand to sing, led by a professional at the front, but it is about all our life offered to God every day. It is worship when we sit and make Zacchaeus catapults with others at an activity table; it is worship when we laugh and learn as a family from the story of Samson’s exploits for God in the celebration; it is worship as we share our fish and chips along with our faith stories at the meal table. This is worship that is understood as serving one another and which is translated into walking with God in the ordinary stuff of life. For this, I say thank you for Messy Church.

4. Thank you, Messy Church, that you have reminded us that church is a community experience and not simply a place for an individual’s own private walk with God. It is church together where we move at the pace of the slowest, waiting for each other, even though the journey will therefore take much longer. It is a church that reminds us by its very nature that we can’t be Christian on our own and that we become church by being Christian together. For this, I say thank you for Messy Church.

5. Thank you, Messy Church, that you are a church with children in the midst, just as Jesus placed a child among his disciples. It doesn’t mean that this is therefore a church just for children nor that it must be childish. But it is about taking us back to the true meaning of becoming a follower of Jesus, whatever our age, with his call to be born again and grow up again and see the world afresh with the eyes of a child. For this, I say thank you for Messy Church.

6. Thank you, Messy Church, that you offer us a church with a real life discipleship programme that doesn’t depend on a series of courses or study groups, nor seminars, nor sermons, but living relationships that give us the opportunity to watch and learn from each other and meet Jesus in each other as we create, chat, learn and eat together. A discipleship that holds us accountable to each other as we learn from our neighbour whatever stage on the journey they are and they from us wherever we have reached. For this, I say thank you for Messy Church.

7. And finally thank you, Messy Church, that you teach us to be a true family that connects the oldest with the youngest on our long messy journeys of faith; a holy place, where the young need the old and the adult needs the child; where we can get to know each other as spiritual grandparents and grandchildren, as spiritual nephews and nieces, aunts and uncles to the other; where each child is our godchild and every adult our godparent; where faith is proved to be the treasure it is, one that will last and carry us through all of life’s challenges.

For this, and all these and other special insights, I say thank you for Messy Church… or rather I thank the God of Messy Church who has inspired this fresh expression of doing church for our generation. And it is with this thankful spirit, I look forward with hope to the new messy year ahead - a year of shared discoveries, new experiences of God together and even more reasons to be thankful!