Messy Church Does Science project updates

Lucy's updates and news about the progress of the Messy Church Does Science project

March 2017

I’m the wrong person to be writing this particular update: our long-suffering editor Rachel has been deluged with a torrent of emails, photos and videos as the field-testers have fed back their experiences, and is spending swathes of her time sorting through them to add to the book text or to the online resources bank: a real feat of organisation. The field-testers have been amazingly generous in their speedy feedback and many have organised a totally separate event in order to test their batch of activities: we’re very grateful to them for turning things around so quickly. 16 of the 48 are now in; 4 have had changes in situations and now can’t test theirs and the remainder should be coming in late over the month of March. Their feedback may be too late but their photos and films will be very helpful. We have many videos of Coke and Mentoes, but I always say you can never have too much of a good thing.

One of the authors of the chapters pulled out, leaving Dr Dave and me to pick up the pieces, but we rose to the occasion. 

We need to start creating a set of activities from which a different set of churches will select one activity about which to provide in-depth feedback to assess how effective the activities are in a Messy Church setting: this will be collated shortly and sent out to around 50 Messy Churches to be trialled during April / May. We hope to use the Regional Coordinator network to collect some of this data.

We are planning additional Messy Science input through Dr Dave at the Christian Resources Exhibition on 17 Oct and are looking at an additional launch event with a site visit planned to the Rutherford-Appleton Lab at the end of the month. We’re enquiring about an event at InTech in Winchester. I also want to run a launch in the north and will be speaking to SiC about possibilities.

The BRF Messy Church team meets next month and will be discussing what Messy Science – the next step might look like, given that there is a growing swell of energy around this first stage and we don’t want to fall off the wave.

In the meantime, we’re all enjoying the Dr Dave avatar who will pop up in the magazine and online to keep it all fun.


January 2017

The chapter writers haven’t slowed down over the Christmas break, and we now have nine of the ten chapters in draft form in a Dropbox folder. Behind the scenes, the BRF Content Creation team is working on creating ‘packages’ for field testing.

We have had about 30 offers of Messy Churches to field test the materials, so will be able to send around five activities to each church - just what we were hoping. These volunteers have been emailed to let them know the samples will be released to them in early February and that their feedback will be needed by 21 February - a very tight turnaround. We’ve suggested trialling them in a one-off special with a few invited families to make it easier to achieve. We’ve also asked for photos and videos to make the online resource as rich as possible.

Despite a problem with the first proposed venue, we are still going ahead with a preliminary roadshow on 23 April at the Cheltenham Christian Arts Festival at Charlton Kings Baptist Church. Dorchester Abbey is probably using a few of the activities in a 1 May bank holiday event for families. The official launch of the resource in Ely Cathedral is still a firm fixture. BRF is also planning a book/project launch in Oxfordshire, possibly involving Culham/Harwell.

People are so excited about this project. Emailed phrases include:

  • Brill!!! We can trial some at our Messy Baptism on 12 Feb!!!!!!!!
  • I tried some stuff on my grandchildren in the form of the science roadshow at Christmas. They loved it. I have set up a Science Cafe in my church on 21 Jan and in February I shall be ministering in the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd (in Peru) which may include some Messy Science in the Cathedral or in Shanty town churches.
  • I would absolutely love to do this!
  • Hi, as an ex-head of science and now involved in Messy Church, I am always keen to include science and would be keen to try things out and develop them.
  • We would love to volunteer to help too, Lucy. We often have science activities and challenges and our families love them.
  • Being an ex-chemistry teacher, I have tried a few science activities at our Messy Church in the past and would love some new ideas to add to my repertoire.
  • If I can be of any help, I lecture/present to church groups, schools etc. on science and religion, am an ex-theological college principal and also ex university lecture in physics.
  • More to the point, my wife runs our Messy Church and I help out at times!

December 2016

With Christmas only a couple of weeks away, we are fairly well on track for the project, given its complexity and the busyness of the time of year. Of the ten chapter writers, we have full draft sessions from five of them, partial chapters from two and requests for extensions from two, plus an ominous silence from one. A polite reminder has been sent out to those still with material to add, so that everyone can comment on each other’s work before the full deadline at the end of January.

The Science Story Writers have mostly been very prompt and we have just two of the ten left to come in by 15 December. Reminders have gone out and, of course, thanks to all who have submitted their work. These stories are very passionate and very moving… we even have a video filmed from an MRI scanner!

The BRF Content Creation team is already busy turning the available material into a ‘sample’ that can be sent out to churches to trial and comment on in the spring. The book cover has been designed. The Sales team will be starting to promote it shortly and an article is planned for inclusion in the Get Messy! May 2017 issue.

Offers to trial the material keep coming in in a steady trickle, the most recent being from a Warwickshire Messy leader who runs a deanery-wide Messy Day in March and wants to feature the material there.

The Cheltenham Festival has changed venue to a different church, so we are waiting to see whether the Messy Science bit will go ahead. The Edinburgh possibility is proving slightly difficult to crystallise into a way forward, so we may suggest putting it on ice till 2018. The team will discuss it this week.