Get Messy! Aussie Add-ons

From our friends in Australia -  Here it is! Full of great ideas for Messy worship, music and prayer, as well as some food for thought and reflections on the International Messy Church Conference.   

New Messy Regional Coordinators in Australia

Welcome to Greg Ross and Brenton Prigge in Western Australia! Also Welcome to Sue and Glen Taylor in Queensland, Australia! These enthusiastic people are our new Regional Coordinators in very large regions of Australia and we hope that they will attract even more RCs to help them build teams to support all of the growing number of Messy Churches. 

Australia trip diary

This is the diary I kept while in Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland recently. Friday 15 Feb I'm typing this in faith that I will get internet access eventually even if it’s playing silly beggars at the moment. Just back from a Dinner with a capital D to start off Summer Spirit, the weekend festival of spirituality. The keynote speaker couldn’t come so it was a replacement. And perhaps one who had been chosen to make us really wish the number one choice had been available.

Australia diary

Friday 17 August Why am I cursed with travel sickness? How can a grown person be sick seven times en an otherwise uneventful route from London to Sydney? The mercy was that I had three seats to myself from Singapore to Sydney, so I could stretch out for a bit in a lumpy sort of way, but oh, the ignominy of going greeny-grey in public... so many times... Praise the Lord for airsick bags! I shall take one with me everywhere.

Summer sportiness

My Google Alerts for Messy Church has been sending me a plethora of marvellous links over the summer, with Messy Churches enthusiastically embracing summer sport in all its guises. Amazing to think of all those families enjoying themselves in church together!


Off to Australia tonight for an event-packed fortnight with the Anglican diocese of Newcastle and Grafton in New South Wales (between Sydney and Brisbane) and a final day in Melbourne with the Uniting Church, which is sheer self-indulgence, to catch up with Messy friends there. I don't think there'll be much time for sightseeing but there will be plenty of opportunity to share the Messy story of what God's doing over here and to listen to what he's doing over there.

August 23 Aussie on reflection

We visited the Blue Mountains just before we left Sydney and were suitably wowed by the vast acres of forest stretching out below Katoomba's Echo Point. As we ambled down a path there between eucalyptus trees, I noticed the bark. It looks as if someone's scribbled on it or done some crazy modern machine stitching embroidery. This particular tree was very near the sandstone cliff on the other side of the path, where tourists over the years have graffitied their names.

Aussie 17 August Ozmesses

More multicultural joy this morning first thing as a Tongan youthworker led the opening worship on Exodus 2, with the encouragement to see our ministries like Jochabed putting Moses in a basket and letting him go in faith. That's certainly how it feels, sharing the idea of Messy Church with so many people and having no idea where it will end up or whether it will be 'safe'. If Moses had been born here, he could have been Ozmoses. The prodigal returns during the talk.

Aussie 16 August All round time and space

Duncan Macleod is the other keynote speaker at the conference - a relaxed, wise, funny, godly, comfortable Uniting Church minister, who explained his job to my Anglican ears as being (sort of) the equivalent of a bishop in the Canberra area and who in his spare time writes blogs using different advertising clips to stimulate thought.

Aussie 15 August on with the show

The conference here in Parramatta starts and my contribution for the day is an evening's Messy 'Masterclass'. (Not my title. Sounds terribly impressive, though...). We welcomed about 75 people to the Centre for Ministry to hear the basics about Messy Church and think about the issues around starting one. Funny how the material expands to fill the time available and despite jumping quickly over the core values, so that we could look at them in detail later in the week, there was still so much to say.

Aussie 14 August Awfully messy

Messy Church Aussie-style: we took over a local church called Chaos, who kindly allowed us their anchoring presence and community and some of whom threw themselves into helping out with an afternoon Messy Church. The teenagers were fabulous and moved furniture, led a craft and welcomed people with huge glee. The children made a great welcoming team. ('Were you made welcome?' I asked one visitor nervously as we hadn't had much time to sort out roles. 'Oh yes!' she said.

Aussie 13 August Amazingness

A much sunnier day with the Opera House displaying itself much more appropriately against blue sky, then a dark night sky and nearly full moon, and a trip on the Manly Ferry (there used to be a Manly Girls' School but it no longer exists, can't think why). We bought enormous ice creams and ate them as we marvelled at the surfers doing their amazing Manly thing on the waves. It would take more than the promise of adrenalin to get me in the sea in this season.

Aussie 12 August Angst

We are tourists! Drove into Sydney (aaargh), for which act alone I deserve an OBE, and spent the day viewing Sydney 'sous la pluie' - not how it should be seen, so we saved ferry trips for a sunnier day. The Opera House is still impressive, but a white building seen against a white, cloudy sky lacks that postcard je ne sais quoi. In fact, it was very well camouflaged.

Aussie 11 August And so to Sydney

A hop over from Sunny Brisbane to sunny but chilly Sydney, where we met the wonderful Judyth Roberts, instigator of this trip, and settled happily into our new and last home for our trip. Couldn't face the drive into town in the dark so plumped in a cowardly manner for a dial-up pizza in front of Bondi Bay Coastguards on the TV being very hunky on the beach.

Aussie 10 August amusement

A last day to blob around Brisbane. I don't know any other major city that can boast a mangrove swamp boardwalk. We waddled around the Botanical Gardens, admiring palm trees and the lack of lilies in the lily ponds, fended off marauding cuckoos (or similar... my ornithological knowledge is limited - might have been kookaburras or possibly emus) over lunch and to Arthur's glee got a Magnum with a lolly stick that won him another Magnum for free. Afternoon wondering how tacky we can really go on the souvenir front and deciding that kangaroo scrotum corkscrews were beyond the pale.

Aussie 9 August animalia

A trip to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary - a completely fun day owing to the marked similarity of koalas to teenagers: they eat vast quantities of unhealthy food and they sleep 19 hours out of every 24. They just blob around in eucalyptus trees in a ‘whateva’ type coma. How did they ever survive the rigours of evolution when they eat only 50 of the 800 species of eucalyptus leaves and even then need to do very unsavoury things to make their offspring impervious to the toxins in them?

Aussie 8 August anniversary

Brisbane! Sunshine! Warmth! Holiday! Wedding anniversary! And this is midwinter: lunch outside by the waterfall of the art gallery. It just doesn't get better. In the evening we were taken to have a meal with a Messy Church team from a local Anglican church, who had come across the concept when their curate, Jeanette Jamieson, was asking a Fresh Expressions adviser how to build on their Mainly Music successes. They've done four Messy Churches and welcome between 100 and 180 people at each one: formidable.

Aussie 7 August airport again

A day of rain as we left Adelaide. Having the cases meant we kept our expectations low and did very little but write postcards and trundle ourselves to the airport, where we had a superb view of the Adelaide hills from the departure lounge. Although I really relished meeting so many people here, I don't feel I saw much of Adelaide city centre and would like to get to know it better, perhaps in the warmer weather. Arrived after a 2000-mile flight to Brisbane's tangible change of climate: if this is winter, I'd never cope with summer here!

Aussie 6 August Adelaide adieu

The last day of the 'Church &...' Conference with a few different people as well as - by now - old friends to grin at and laugh with. I had a couple of keynotes to give on discipleship and all-age worship. It's been fascinating to see how much people appear to have appreciated the storytelling side of what I had to offer. On sober reflection, this is probably because scripture is far more informative and life-changing than my own limited experience and wisdom.

Aussie 5 August enculturalisation

A second keynote today while Paul (my husband) and Arthur (my son) prowled round Adelaide. It's fun to spot the cultural changes. To my astonishment, the 'Stone the crows!' line in my version of The Sower got a huge cheer. I hadn't twigged the Crows are the local footie team. Very serendipitous. And I did proudly manage to make Zacchaeus climb the tree 'like a possum' instead of 'like a squirrel', while Mrs Littlebottom earned dollars and cents when she went busking, not pounds and pence.

Aussie 4 August: Adelaide

As the Uniting Church's 'Church &...' conference began with a rerun of last night's Messy Church, hosted by the Lefevre team, we felt simply part of the team, which was perfect. Alas, I had been given the activity of the Smelly Plague Pots (rotten fish, old socks, blue cheese - you get the picture), so, far from having the chance to chat to people, I noticed they got as far from me as possible. At least I hope that was the reason.

Aussie 3 August

The last half of the journey to Adelaide across big big countryside between Mt Gambier and South Australia (SA): a moment of panic seeing threatening signs up wanting us to get rid of all fruit into quarantine bins before we hit the state. We dutifully disposed of an orange, feeling rather silly and 'surely it can't mean an orange'-ish. But as, when I later reported the incident during one of my talks, it got a resounding cheer, we obviously did the right thing.

Aussie blog ctd

A pause in our Odyssey round Oz to reflect a little on what’s been happening. We’ve been in this vast and amazing country a week now – unbelievable as it’s shot past so quickly. The Melbourne leg of our trip finished yesterday and we’re in a sort of no-man’s land between Melbourne and Adelaide, having driven along the Great Ocean Road as far as Mt Gambier, where we have just settled into a very fine b&b complete with Guard Lambs, a King Charles spaniel, a herd of cows and assorted ducks and chickens. And a guinea pig but I haven’t yet made its acquaintance.

Aussie 2 August onwards and upwards

 Chris Barnett wowing the crowd in Melbourne

An Australia Hoorah!

We've had a really great day doing a full day of Messy Church for the 155 people, who had come from all over Oz - folk have FLOWN here from Western Australia and from the Northern Territory! It all feels very surreal and humbling. They were a lovely, warm, generous crowd, who gave a huge amount of support and positive vibes, and it does feel as if lots will happen as a result of their hearing for themselves what Messy Church is and can be.


First confirmed sightings of a Messy Church starting up in Australia! I'm very excited. Jane and I met Karen Mitchell-Lambert back in the summer in a series of coffee shops on the Strand (unintentionally - the one we planned online to meet at had no seats, so Spooks-like, armed with mobile phones, we bolted from cafe to cafe in search of each other).