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Messy questions on the threshold

Posted by Lucy Moore on 04 Jun 2020

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A summary of the Facebook Lives on 3 June 2020:

Acts 3:1-10

  • The man went to temple, but not to worship.
  • He was right at the threshold of worship but either didn’t want to enter or couldn’t – physically?… self-worth?… only interested in money?…maybe religious regulations stopped him?
  • Peter and John noticed him… made him look at them… they saw each other as human beings not as a financial transaction between needer and provider (though the man did need money – but that needed to come second to his need for God, for relationship, for healing)
  • Peter invokes Jesus’ name as Messiah and it’s the power of Jesus’ name that propels the man across the threshold into worship. Not just limping but ‘walking and jumping and praising God’ – very Messy Church.
  • Everyone was filled with wonder and amazement, Peter preaches Jesus – and they end up in trouble with the authorities.
  • The courage of Peter and John…They were ‘ordinary unschooled men’ (4:13). We don’t need to do more than know Jesus and his power and act it, speak it. Not all of us are called into ordained leadership – God also wants ordinary unschooled people to share the story of Jesus.

As an imperfect person, hesitant to step across any threshold at the moment in case I get it oh so wrong, I need help from the Messy Family: your prayers and your wisdom and your insights. I’m trying to do a lot of listening to friends and sympathetic experts, who are being very generous. 

  • Given that we are very unlikely to be able to meet face to face as Messy Church until 2021 realistically, and thus that what we had imagined to be a crisis short-term period where we throw our all into emergency ‘holding’ measures has in fact turned into a much longer mid-term stretch…
  • And given that many of the strengths of Messy Church are currently impossible to provide (e.g. togetherness, grounded spirituality around tangible materials, extended family, missional outreach and gentle hand-holding through the fragile first steps of following Jesus)…
  • And given that many Messy Church families’ faith is too fragile to want to thrive on a ‘let’s do faith at home’ basis…
  • And given that BRF will need to cut back even further to survive the financial crisis it’s facing, along with all charities and many dioceses, districts and denominations…

Given all this, here are some questions:

  • Is it just too early to decide on a course of action or strategy for the next seven months? Should we just do all we can to listen to families, leaders of Messy Churches, wise people?
  • Should we keep pushing the ‘Keep contact, keep caring, keep serving, keep reaching out even if nobody seems to respond, keep offering Messy Church at home resources, keep doing Messy Church on Zoom and Facebook Live’ message for a much longer stretch than we’d imagined, or is that a waste of effort?
  • Should we see this as a fallow/sabbatical/Jubilee period and give Messy Churches permission/encouragement to stop rushing about with inadequate (though very well-meaning) temporary crisis measures and use the time to think and pray and listen to God?
  • Or is this an opportunity to leave the garden to its own devices to recover or not after the storm and we reimagine everything from scratch and break the ground in the new field we now find ourselves in?
  • Wilding principle: is it an opportunity to effectively leave mechanical solutions, understand the land, reintroduce keystone species, sit back and just let whatever emerge that emerges? See pioneer.churchmissionsociety.org/2019/06/wilding-the-church.
  • Does it make sense to use this time to invest in a smaller number of our families or individuals in whom God’s Holy Spirit seems to be at work? And keep up contact and care with the rest, but accept that we can’t invest hugely in every single person?
  • Does BRF say, ‘The job of Messy Church is done; 16 years of seeds have been sown; it’s time to copy Jesus’ actions at the Ascension and leave local MC leaders/dioceses/districts/countries to get on with it with no central earthly support but relying on the Holy Spirit’? 

Please will you do that looking hard that Peter and John did: ask God, ask your team, ask your families, your children, your young people, ask your minister, ask your missioners, bishops, elders: What does Messy Church have that we can give to you? (adapted from Acts 3:6).

Email me on lucy.moore@brf.org.uk.

Thank you, dear friends!

Read some responses here