Discipleship

Discipleship Pilot: the 'just do it better' bit

Discipleship Pilot: ‘Doing what we do even better’ As the third of three blogs on our Discipleship Pilot, this blog explores what we mean by just ‘doing what we do better’.

Discipleship Pilot: the ‘Messy Extras’ bit

The second blog post of three expanding a little on the Messy Church Discipleship Pilot. Yes, we’re hoping to tempt you into giving the Pilot a try in your Messy Church and sending us the results. That way we can gradually help the wider network know which are the most helpful ways to do discipleship in our marvellously Messy context.

Messy Discipleship Pilot

Here’s a helpful tool to get your team discussing what you might do to help your Messy Church grow disciples. You’ll find lots of background details in the May-August 2018 issue of Get Messy! It’s very simple to use:

Messy Science

Tom Donoghue leads the Messy Church team at Loughton Methodist Church in north-east London. He kindly came to help at one our Messy Church Does Science road shows this year and was so inspired that he ran a holiday club in the summer based on the book! Here in his own words is what they got up to: Our Messy Science Convention was an action-packed week! The children (delegates) met special guest ‘expert scientists’ and biblical characters, who of whom were all here to help us test our hypothesis ‘Does God keep his promises?’

A story from Messy Church Canada

On the last day of the Messy Church conference in Canada, we heard this story from Neil Mancor, who is minister of the Anglican Parish of St George, Ste Anne-de-Bellevue, QC. Neil is also Regional Coordinator for Messy Church in Quebec, Ottawa, Maritimes.

Lindsey's Story

Thank you to Lindsey at Community United Methodist Church Messy Church, Huntington Beach, California, USA for allowing us to publish her story.

Thoughts from New Zealand

Since the Messy Church forum held in November last year, I continue to reflect on the issues raised by centre/edge tension. This is something that we all face, to a greater or lesser extent. Here are my musings!

Messy Baptism joy

Standish Methodist Messy Church recently held its first Messy baptisms. Tracey Fitzsimmons, the Family Worker at Standish nr Wigan, also our new Regional Coordinator for Wigan, was delighted with how it went and the baptism family were even more delighted.

A Messy weekend camp

A growing number of Messy Churches are daring to take their Messy families away for a weekend. It's proving a great way to deepen friendships made at Messy Church and to help young and old on their discipleship journeys. Aike Kennett-Brown is our Regional Coordinator in south-east London, working as a Messy pioneer out of St John's, Blackheath. Those of you who were at the Messy Church International Conference in May will have heard her speak briefly about her plans for 'Messy munches' as a way of establishing all-age discipleship groups for her Messy Church families.

'Maximising the Mess' Mondays: Discipleship

Round 6: 'Maximising the Mess' - How can we encourage discipleship in Messy Church? Messy Churches are learning about discipleship and how to do it in this Messy context, with families who have never been part of a church before. It's an ongoing process and we haven't yet reached an ultimate solution: we don't think we ever will! But we are learning lots, thanks to the wisdom and generosity of teams around the world who are so pleased to share, and we want to share some tips with you. 

How do we encourage discipleship in Messy Church?

Here are ways of exploring and growing discipleship that make sense in a Messy setting. How do we encourage discipleship? Jesus said, ‘... go and make disciples of all nations…’ Matthew 28:18–19, NIV

An hospitable church

Reflections from a recent Messy Church visit No doubt it was because I was deep into Lucy's Messy Hospitality as I travelled to a Messy Church recently that I couldn't help experiencing the visit through the lens of how welcoming everything and everybody was. I was pleased to say this Messy Church scored highly!

Messy Church and me

Is it just me or do you find that your involvement with Messy Church is beginning to have more of an impact than you could ever imagine? I suppose more than most I've had the opportunity of being part of lots of Messy Churches up and down the country in my role within the BRF Messy Church team, and maybe this is why I am feeling the impact more, but I don't think I'm alone. Certainly Jane and Lucy in our team feel the same.

What Messy Church is doing

I found myself waxing lyrical in a recent email about the oddness of what we're doing in Messy Church. It's a funny time to be a Christian - as to some, this description of church sounds old hat, and to others, it’s incomprehensible.

Messy Links in a Chain

Great example of God using individuals and various forms of church to draw someone closer to him and to bless them. Thank you to Charles Sugden from Locks Heath for sending it in: I would just like to encourage you further with a phone call I received yesterday from one of my parish community. Through St John's School he had come with his young daughter to Messy Church and we had got chatting several times as the crafts took place.

4 O'Clock Church

Emma Coy is Children and Families Minister at Holy Trinity Claygate. She has been on the leadership team of 4 O'Clock Church since its inception and is enthusiastic about finding creative ways for God's people to learn and worship together. She writes about the extra weekly service that has come from their Messy Church ministry.

Martyn gets mathematical

Martyn got mathematically poetic recently about discipleship. This is thought-provoking:

Messy discipleship survey in Lichfield Diocese

Really interesting piece of work by Lichfield Diocese on discipleship in Messy Churches across their diocese. It would be good to read your comments on the results of the survey so do comment below. You can read the review at http://www.lichfield.anglican.org/assets/downloads/Messy_Church_Disciple...

Messy Chrch eXtra

Laura Meleleu writes: I have been running Messy Church at St Paul's Church, Woking since January 2011 and we have had loads of families come along and join in the fun! Last year, we started to think about what we could do for some of these families in order to take them deeper in their faith and take them a step further in their relationship with God.

Messy Discipleship

Messy Churches are trying out different ways of adding on extras to the actual Messy Church they run in order to help people grow in their discipleship. We need to share these stories so that together we can find the best ways forward for our Messy congregations and teams. It's not about showing off or one-upmanship - it's about trying to enrich the network and give more families the best possible chance of coming closer to Jesus. Your idea might be just what another church has been looking for. Syl Hunt in Seascale is running Messy Moments as just such an 'extra':

Messy Church 2

Ideas for discipling a Christ-centred community by Lucy Moore. Alongside the usual mix of creativity, fun, Christian hospitality and thanksgiving Messy Church 2 explores the importance of discipleship, faith development and training for leadership.

'Softly, softly' discipleship

Ruth Burrows and her team at Chichester St Pancras Messy Church have been treading grapes and bottling the wine! Definitely a team to go and visit when it tastes better. It takes time for wine to mature, but the new wine of families in this Messy Church is bubbling away in an exciting vintage all of its own, and it's good to see the church is happy to sew new wineskins to contain it. Ruth shared her thoughts on a year of Messy Church. She writes:

Discipleship in Alstonville

Alstonville Messy Church, Australia Trent Minton, a Messy friend in New South Wales wrote an encouraging email recently and in it mused on his Messy Church's efforts towards discipleship:

Messy Church 3

Fifteen sessions for exploring the Christian life with families by Lucy Moore. A new resource for Messy Churches, providing a further 15 sessions focused around key 'Christian basics' themes such as prayer and reading the Bible. There is also an introduction exploring and addressing situations that have arisen in different Messy Churches.

Discipleship idea from Canada

Nancy Rowe from St George's Church, Canada and her church have been growing people from their Messy Church using 'A Spirited Study'. Nancy writes:

Messy Cafe

Cerys Hughes in Lichfield Diocese and her team have held their first Family Cafe, and Cerys has kindly written about it. If you're thinking about a follow-on from Messy Church, it could be a great inspiration.

Discipleship in Canada

Nancy Rowe in Georgetown, Canada, writes about her church's group formed to help people go deeper in faith:

Discipleship input

More ideas for Messy discipleship, published resources from Jo Gill, a Messy Church leader, and Paul Griffiths, a missioner, author and evangelist. Jo Gill writes: 'It was good to see you and Messy Church at the Big Church Day out!

Discipleship latest

Our thoughts on discipleship continue. Here is the summing-up that I wrote after recent discussions with people wiser than I am. By no means the end of the story but another step on it. We are coming to see that discipleship in the Messy Church context is about some of the following:

Discipleship continued

It's been a brain-wringing time for Jane, me and the rest of the BRF Messy Church Team as we've had two events recently to focus on the question of discipleship in Messy Church. The first was a gathering of Messy Church leaders and church growth / discipleship course experts at St John's College Nottingham for a full day's discussion. The second was a morning with the Church Army Sheffield Centre Research Team in Sheffield.

Discipleship - can you help us?

In March 2011 we're holding a consultation on Messy Discipleship and we need your help. We'd like to hear what strategies you have put in place to try to grow discipleship among your messy families and what the results have been - stories of failure are even more helpful than success stories.

Discipleship - NZ thoughts

There are some interesting discussions going on about discipleship all over the world. Andrew Smith from New Zealand recommends a good book and has some good thoughts: This is Andrew, chaplain to messy NZ ! 'I've just completed a quick read of George Lings' 'Encounters on the Edge', no 46 Messy Church: Ideal for all ages? ... A very positive critique, I feel. George draws out the challenge of messy discipleship very fairly and squarely.

The Big Silence

A Messy Church leader near Swansea made this imaginative suggestion for those teams looking for ways to connect life and TV outside Messy Church with God-talk within it: Don't know if you're aware of the programme The Big Silence which is being broadcast on BBC2 in the UK on Fridays at 7pm. Also on BBC2 Wales 7pm. Note also available on iPlayer.

Discipleship ponderings continue

Last week I had a bit of a quiet day to reflect on discipleship in the messy context. This is what I shared with Jane and the rest of the BRF Messy Church team. As ever, work in progress rather than definitive answers:

Discipleship develops....

As you know, we're pondering what Messy discipleship is all about, if indeed there is such an animal. The best thing is getting stories like this one from Jo Birkby in Knaphill to throw into the melting pot. To me it says something about steps towards discipleship - they can mean sensitively and imaginatively responding to a lead from your own messy congregation and to a prod from God. This could be different for every Messy Church. Jo emails:

Messy Chaplain

One team was asked whether they needed a chaplain for their Messy Church. They came up with the following jobs that a chaplain could do for them. It's an interesting list as it seems to demonstrate how far removed Messy Church is from a craft club or social circle: In response to the questions 'Do we need a chaplain?' 'What would we want this person to do?'

Messy Discipleship - some thoughts

These are some ongoing thoughts springing from our discussions about discipleship in a messy context at the regional coordinators' Round Table. Discipleship is a huge issue and will carry on being one. We’re all learners and what feels right at the moment may not be in the long run, but we need to be faithful to what we think God is revealing to us in our context at the present time.

Follow-up course ideas?

Lots of queries at the moment: anyone any thoughts on Cara's question below? Do let us know at messychurch@brf.org.uk. I can only say unhelpfully that when we offered an Alpha Course in the early days we had zero response and felt rather stupid and pushy for offering it at all. But we weren't very imaginative and hadn't suggested doing it as a family. I know the Youth Alpha material is good, though we haven't tried it in an all-age context. Any wisdom? Cara writes:

Matlock Fiesta

Jane Butcher (Regional Coordinator in the Midlands) and Chris Rees (Regional Coordinator South Yorkshire), together with our dear friend Helen Proudfoot (Children's Adviser in Derby Diocese) had a great time on Saturday. Jane writes: 'The beautiful town of Matlock in Derbyshire was the location for the first steps and next steps Messy Fiesta. We were joined by twelve people which included one man all keen either to learn about starting a Messy Church or how to develop an existing one.

A blog on Messiness

Janet Tredrea, our Cornwall regional coordinator, brought this to my attention and you might also find it interesting: a blog page in which Jonathan Creber from near Truro is trying to work out more about messy discipleship. You can find it here if you scroll down to his entry for 21 December.

Messy Tea

Discipleship? Training? I'm not sure what Messy Tea would best fit into - it's such early days that it might be better not to pigeonhole it yet. It's our attempt to grow Messy Church here in Cowplain.

Round Table

What a fantastic time we had - 18-20 of us, regional coordinators and sympathetic friends - gathered together to talk 'mess' for 24 hours. It was such fun, such a luxury to be able to concentrate on some of the big issues and to glean each other's wisdom thereupon. I came away thinking how privileged we are to have such thoughtful, wise and experienced people taking an interest in Messy Church.

The Sophia Network

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.

Mothers' Union and Mess

It was a privilege to be invited to speak at the Mothers' Union Faith and Spirituality Conference. Not often do I get a Bishop as a warm-up act, either. There are so many links between what we're trying to do in Messy Church and the aims of the MU! And what a resource, what a huge pool of committed people across the UK and overseas, all with a concern for supporting families.

Messy Fields

Chatting with Ben Mizen, our Diocesan Children and Youth Advisor, we were both struck by the importance of the parable of the wheat and the weeds (Matthew 13:24-30) in the context of Messy Church. It picked up on what was said at the Regional Coordinators' Day -someone commented there that we often want to 'harvest' too quickly (that is, reap the benefits of our church systems, evangelistic efforts and discipleship courses). Actually in the natural world, the sowing and the growing take a long time.

Regional Coordinators

It was a very significant day: our first meeting of the Messy Church regional coordinators. Getting twelve busy people from around the UK, as far afield as Cornwall and Preston, Weston and Maidstone is no mean achievement. To have a Canadian as well was mere icing on the cake. Meeting round a table gave us a sense of belonging to a team with a common purpose.

Thoughts on home discipleship

Beryl Tillin has been thinking about home discipleship. She sent some useful insights in an email. I wonder what you think about the proposition that family traditions are more valuable than daily Bible notes? I came to the Messy Fiesta in Oxford last weekend, which was really helpful and inspiring. I just wanted to let you know of a couple of things that our family do, following on from the discussion on discipleship at home. I identify totally with you on the 'what makes us a Christian family at home' question.

Messy Fiesta in Paddock Wood

After several large Messy Fiestas, it was good to have a cosy intimate gathering at St Andrew's in Paddock Wood near Tonbridge on Saturday. I thought the smaller numbers would mean that we galloped through all the material and would be left twiddling our thumbs at the end of the day - but no, interestingly, the relaxed nature of the day meant that we dwelt more on each part of the programme, not less, and that there was much more opportunity to listen to each other as a whole group, not just in segregated smaller groups.

Back from Lee Abbey

Happy days... just back from a course at Lee Abbey focusing on Messy Church with about 20 wonderful people, ranging from those who were already running their own Messy Church to those who were really there for a nice time by the sea, and why not? It was a lovely group of enthusiastic generous people and we had some very interesting discussions.

Back from the Sheffield Centre

We got a very warm welcome and felt most honoured to be taken seriously. It's very reassuring that the C of E is employing this team to be thinkers and reflectors - very useful for people like us in our situation. Perhaps the most poignant moment for me was when I expressed something along the lines of, 'We're not sure whether it would just be a bit of a pity if Messy Church closed down, or whether it's more important than that.' And George replied after some thought, 'I think it would be as if your child was knocked over and killed by a car on the way home from school.'

Collecting questions

At the end of next week, Paul (my combined husband and vicar) and I are heading up to meet the Fresh Expressions thinktank team in Sheffield, at the Church Army HQ. Claire Dalpra, George Lings, Andrew Wooding and Colin Brown will be there and it's our chance to chew over these big questions and to try to find a fruitful way forward for Messy Churches. What questions to chew over, though? Here are some of my initial thoughts:

Our programme for 2008

If discipleship is about learning to ask the right questions, then in teaching and discipleship terms, this means putting solid foundation stones in place right from the start, not fake blocks of polystyrene that wobble when you try to stand on them in a storm.

Discipleship in programme planning

Planning meeting last week: lots of time saved, I hope, by having had time over the summer to plan a programme longer than just one term. We now have themes in place until Christmas 2008. Huzzah!