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Being and doing

Posted by Lucy Moore on 21 May 2009

Here's a big question I was discussing yesterday with our newest Regional Coordinator, Gill Noles: can a church really be facilitated by people who don't see it as their primary place of belonging? Will those leaders always remain in a state of 'doing' activities at it rather than 'being' themselves and building crucial relationships? To make Messy Church 'authentic', would we need to have a core of people who made it their primary church, rather like church planters do?

Messy Church is different from a church plant, in that it is built around the needs of people outside church, rather than around a core of mature disciples. The weighting might be just 20% mature Christians and 80% seekers, tourists, visitors, suck-it-and-see-ers or people who just enjoy belonging - people on the edge: it's a different animal from a church plant. So what we provide in Messy Church has to be accessible to the outsider: does this necessarily stop it fulfilling the needs of the mature Christian at the same time?

It is a weighty question, and I don't know the answer. The immediate question might be, 'How would a mature Christian be "fed" at Messy Church?' Yet for many of us who are also Sunday children's group leaders, Sunday church - our primary place of belonging - is hardly a place where we're 'fed' beyond 'having fellowship' (aka building relationships), as we're outside the main body of believers for most of the service. And where do those who are full-time ministers and actually lead the worship week in, week out find their food? If personal Bible study and prayer is food enough to enable these two groups of people to see church as a place primarily to give and not to receive, why shouldn't mature Christians come to Messy Church expecting to give out rather than to be fed? Or... maybe we are designed in such a way that we are best fed when we serve?

Here's a radical thought - and it is just that, not a conclusion: maybe we are gathered church best when we expect to put others first and serve God in them, rather than expecting to be fed meaty sermons and to be given liturgies we love ourselves. Perhaps we should all be coming to all church services, messy, Sunday or other to... well, to serve.