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The Sophia Network

Posted by Lucy Moore on 22 Jul 2009

A thatched pub in the New Forest in the sunshine: there are worse places to meet, and it was excellent to find out about the Sophia Network from one of its founders, Sharon Prior. You can read all about Sophia here. It's an organisation that exists to connect women in youth work and ministry to access training, develop skills and share wisdom. It's open to men as well and is a very positive, helpful, well-resourced organisation: well worth joining up (especially as it's free). Messy Church opens up so many leadership possibilities for both women and men and we haven't begun to tap into their potential.

Talking of leadership, it was in another conversation, this time with Andrew Cowie, one of our Regional Coordinators, that I had a glimmer of one of those God-moments - you know the feeling, when for a fraction of a second, things slot into place in perfect logic and rightness.

We were talking about the eternal question of how to move people on, once they're coming to Messy Church: how do you 'do discipleship' in this Fresh Expression? The discussion started out with the great goodwill and desire to contribute that has developed among the parents at Andrew's Messy Churches. It struck us that equipping people to serve in the specific context of Messy Church would be a great counter-cultural basis for developing discipleship. Not going on a discipleship course in order to become a better person or find a spiritual purpose for oneself, something which implies it's all about me and Jesus in a bubble, but deliberately putting service (or, in MC terms, 'helping') at the heart of a way forward and helping people develop specific skills within a wider framework of understanding and faith, all centred around serving Christ in other people.

Of all the ideas I've wondered about, this is one that I could actually picture working with the people I know at Messy Church, children, teens and adults: just ad hoc sessions, perhaps, over a meal, based on a skill needed at Messy Church: 'We need to build a team to welcome people who are coming for the first time: who would like to be part of that?' 'We need people who can run this enamelling kiln: who would like to learn?' 'We'd love to have some dancers in the celebration: who would like to put something together?' We must get to work on some ideas. Why aren't there more hours in the day?