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The importance/impossibility of clear communication

Posted by Lucy Moore on 13 Jul 2007

Last night was the last Messy Church of the term, the last of the three on 'Love your God / neighbour / world, and was a typical Messy Church chaos in so many ways.

For a start, one of the team rang up in the morning in a panic that she'd got the dates muddled and had thought it was next week and had booked up to go out all day and evening… So a frantic bit of rethinking and I printed out the pledges from the Live Earth concert about global warming, then made up some Messy Church pledges that are more do-able if you're only 7, and did some quick work with the notice board and the paint and handprints before everyone arrived. The result wasn't as beautiful as it usually is, but on 20 minutes planning, you can't expect perfection.

What else was a tad frenetic? Ah, the kitchen. It turned out that neither of our regular kitchen leaders could be there (the lure of bowling), so I had intended to arrive early and do as much prepping as possible to make it easier for the kitchen helpers later on. But I hadn't communicated this to Sarah, who arrived serenely with the food after 3.00… not much time for chopping before 3.30. My fault. It would only have taken a phone call.

By the grace of God we had planned a Ploughman's (or is that Ploughperson's? Do women plough?) so there was no cooking involved, just nifty work with cucumbers and French sticks. Three of the teenagers mucked in and, bless them, slaved away with the adults and got it all sorted, thereby saving the day.

I think K enjoyed the responsibility. She's too old for the crafts really, but her mum brings her little brother and sister so it was good for her to be on the leadership team for a change. She's also quite easily led astray if her friends are there, but mercifully there were only responsible teenagers there and she was led unto the paths of righteousness thereby.

Bird tables. Oh yes. That was another source of miscommunication. What a saga. Our idea: to ask the Men's Group to make simple hanging bird tables with the children as part of caring for creation. Result: the dear (I do mean this, they are lovely) Men's Group buying a bird table for Messy Church. Then after another explanation, them deciding to make one bird table in front of the children and to let them watch. Fortunately, Tony who came to do it is a Scout leader of many years and understands that it's the doing that matters for the children. Even though the families didn't have a bird table to take home, at least it was hands-on to some extent. I didn't have the chance to go out and see how it was going, nor have I seen the finished bird table hanging in the church garden, but I think they had fun. Communication again!

Being July, we had a craft or two outside: Tony making bird tables and Denise chalking-in the car park squares for the creation story. I had no idea how much traffic cones weigh. Lumping all 8 of them out to cone off that part of the car park was a job and a half.

The celebration was ok: one of the ten-year-olds had been in a school production in a theatre and had made a DVD of the dance about forests and the destruction thereof, and asked if he could show it as part of the celebration.

He introduced it beautifully - all good skill-learning there, and good sense of community / belonging / valuing each other. And the DVD provided the bulk of the teaching of necessity as it was 8m long.

Paul did well in Christianising what was essentially a fairly bland pagan message (don't chop trees down and build cities but nature heals in the end) by including Psalm 8 read together chorally. DVDs are so church-y, aren't they? Sit down quietly and watch the oracle at the front in silence with no participation.