Messy Church

Fresh ideas for building a Christ-centred community


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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

 Chris Barnett wowing the crowd in Melbourne

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.

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.

The website is a marvellous point of contact across the globe, isn't it? Here's one from Brisbane with some interesting ideas to follow up:

Hi there Lucy and all the Messy Church Team,

Hi, Lucy and all conected with Messy Church.

My name is Sue Taylor, I live in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, and I'm delighted to tell you that we, at St. Matthew's Anglican Church in Sherwood, are doing Messy Church.

It is a bit of an adventure as we are an 'Older' parish, and some of our faithful oldies just don't understand that without an initiative like this, there won't be an Anglican church in Sherwood in 30 years time, which is sad.