Encouragement

Messy Men at HM Prison Haverigg

Messy Men meets monthly on a Sunday morning in HM Prison Haverigg, Cumbria. Cumbria Messy Church Regional Coordinator, Syl Hunt, and her team, share their December 2017 session: Firstly, we thought about Advent and how God wants us to get ready for the birth of his son; to cast aside our worries and our fears; to open our hearts to Jesus and trust him. We had three Messy activities for the men to engage with.

Messy Giving and Receiving

Last month I was invited to visit a Messy Church near Epsom in south London. Liz Townsend is the Messy Church team leader here, and she is so grateful for all the Messy Church advice and ideas available from The Bible Reading Fellowship (BRF) that she has encouraged her church to join in with our Messy Church £100 Appeal.

Team prayer talk

I love teams. I love working with teams. Today was so much more enjoyable because of teamwork. This morning my L19 Who Let The Dads Out? team welcomed the dads and young children back to St Mary's Grassendale after a short break, due to church hall roof repairs, and cooked bacon baps and offered delicious sponsored coffee. Not only did the dads come back but we welcomed three new babies for the first time too.

Taking a risk

Messy Church at All Saints Church, Hoole, met for years on a Thursday after school. It was successful in that they averaged around 50 each month but there was something missing. Helen Ellis, Messy coordinator, prayed for men to come along, to play and interact with their children and perhaps to join the small leadership team. Helen decided to take a risk and change the day that their Messy Church met.

Why I'm looking forward to the Messy Church Conference in 2016

I think back to 10 years ago, when there was just one church doing Messy Church… BRF hadn’t even taken it on as one of its ‘programmes’… churches were just starting to ask about it, wonder about starting one too… but basically all the training on offer was me telling my church’s story and all of us making it up as we went along. It was a little lonely at times.

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. 

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:

Birthday Treat

I asked God for a birthday treat yesterday as I was away from home and out of reach of my pile of presents waiting there (though to my joy, my cooked breakfast arrived with a birthday candle stuck into the sausage!)

Bishop visits Messy Church

Bishop Tim of Grantham in Lincolnshire had his first visit to a Messy Church recently. Sources at Quadring Messy Church said the Bishop was amazed by his experience and would certainly go and tell others about Messy Church! Have you invited your Bishop / Chair of District / Eldership Team or whatever leaders your denomination has? Perhaps they're just waiting for the invitation...

Canonisation

Alison Thurlow emailed with a funny anecdote:

Australian Catholic Messiness

It's great fun to be part of a network that includes so many churches of so many traditions. Have a read through Frances Miley's honest, moving and hilarious emails to us from her Catholic church in Canberra. We're all on tenterhooks to see what happens next. Hi Lucy

Gentle witness

You will know of our dear friends and colleagues in Who Let The Dads Out? Tony passed on this very significant email from one such group. I think it's worth putting up on the Messy Church blog as well because it says something about the value of what we're all doing when we reach out to people with love, gentleness and food. Look at the unthreatening power of the witness of this group, so much appreciated by the person who writes the email.

Messy Weekend

A real privilege and joy to share last weekend with 30-odd fellow Messy enthusiasts and to have another fun time exploring Messy themes and enjoying learning from and with each other. We had a Father's Day theme this year and enjoyed the Prodigal Son story for our final Messy Church session. As before, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive and included these comments:

General Synod

I had a happy time with Richard, my boss, at the BRF stand at the Church of England's General Synod last week. (I was disappointed not to be given a Women Bishop's tea towel but did come away with Book of Common Prayer mints, so the day was not in vain.) We caught up with several friends, who were kind enough to stop by the stand, made new acquaintances and were really chuffed to see a Messy Church question had been posted and answered:

Overton Messy Church

It was great to visit the Messy Church at Overton in Hampshire the other week and join in their session on a Sunday afternoon. I was struck by so many things: the way the silent church filled up with laughter and song and conversation; the way the stillness of the building changed to movement as everyone dashed round on treasure hunts and in pursuit of activities and back to stillness again as the whole community gathered and focused on song and prayer.

800 Messy Churches registered

Actually 803 Messy Churches registered, with Selby Methodists in North Yorkshire claiming the proud place as our 800th. We are well chuffed to go into the autumn with 800 Messy congregations signed up. Picture all those families enjoying their local church who may never have set foot in it before: so exciting. Registrations are coming in at a rate of about one a day at the moment, with the latest group ranging from Adelaide to Spalding, and from Perth in Western Australia to Dalkeith in Scotland: keep 'em coming!

Numbers again

High numbers are neither here nor there, but they are encouraging, not just to Emma and her (obviously wonderful) team but to all of us who can share in the rejoicing. An email recently from Emma, who wrote:

Just get on with it

I love my Inbox. This came recently via the website. I find it most poetic. Hi there, I love the idea of Messy Church. This is what we need. I suppose we just need to get on with it. Blessings Cliff

Encouragement

Messy Churches are doing such a good job all round the world and dealing with some really big Bible stories and life issues, and being there for people in really tough situations. This isn't fluffy cuddly stuff - this is life-changing. Our team dealt with the hard-hitting question of material wealth yesterday - camels through the eyes of needles, lilies of the field, buried treasure and Jesus' apparently upside-down values. What do you value most in a silent auction - 'an iPad', 'a Ben 10 humungosaur', 'a spa experience' or 'happiness', 'clean water', 'peace'?

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:

Wrong again!

Good job I don't set myself up as omniscient when I'm proved wrong at every turn. What is it about Messy Church that means it never follows the rules? Hmph. All very... messy. A while back the Revd Tim Waghorn from Victoria in Australia emailed asking for my wisdom (choke choke) on how often to run a Messy Church. I pontificated at length about the joys of monthliness and heard today what Tim and his team decided to do. The moral of the tale? Listen to God, not me!

Oof

... and triple oof. Just finished our May Messy Church on the theme of how special each of us is to God - many sparrows glued (the most lurid you've ever seen), many fingerprints printed, biscuit faces iced, balloon men assembled (with much popping and shrieking), prayers prayed, friends made, troubles shared, eyes opened... just another Messy Church.

Greenbelt - mess in the long now

Where do I start? The fun of coming together as an all-age team from across the UK armed with bags and crates of sparkles and cardboard, flowers and snacks, pitta bread and candle wax? The excitement of seeing the queue form outside the marquee and the Messy Church Full Up sign go out? The rather sheepish admission from the stewards that there were probably around 250 people squeezed in, on and off, during the hour?

Scottish Episcopalia

While Messy Church is popular among all sorts of people, I was still rather nervous about placing it for discussion before the students on the summer school of the Theological Institute of the Scottish Episcopalian Church. Not being a theologian or an ecclesiologist, I panic when the depth of my ignorance is revealed. (QED I spend much of my time panicking.)

Messy Cathedral

Let me tell you about my Saturday!

Messy goings on in Petersfield...

Just off the phone from Helen Mason, who is part of the Messy Church leadership team in Petersfield - a churches together venture. I only rang to see if she could help out with an event... and have emerged with a head full of praise of God and all he's doing through Messy Church in the town.

Money!

Back on 28 November 2007 I wrote about applying for money from the Diocese to do some pioneer work on discipleship with Messy Church families. We've been granted it! This is very wonderful and completely terrifying. No excuse now to put off doing anything about developments, so the whole area of 'But it might not work / it could all go horribly wrong / what if no-one wants to do it? / we might FAIL' suddenly rears its ugly head like a mythological monster.

The Directory

I'm well chuffed with the steady trickle of Messy Churches coming on to the Directory. This will be really useful, both so that we can pray for each other and as people try to find one near them to visit... ... especially as I foolishly didn't write down the addresses of the Messy Churches I found by googling a while back, and when asked actually to send details of one I'd mentioned in Coventry, couldn't find it again.

A church stepping out on the Messy Church journey

What an interesting afternoon on Saturday. The URC church in Brixham, Devon, had kindly invited me to come and help them out with their thinking on Messy Church. They've done three MCs now and are getting lots of new families and unaccompanied children in. It's been in the diary for many moons, and I was looking forward to it, so I zoomed down the A303 to join them for a great lunch (sausage casserole plus bring and share: best of both worlds - I just wish I wasn't so nervous on these occasions that I can't do full justice to other people's puddings.)

Dinner with Jo

Have decided to do what I should have done three years ago, if I had a brain or the vision of a small wombat, which is to keep a journal of what's going on with Messy Church so that it will help me reflect on what God's doing with us, let other people see the mistakes we make and the journey we're on for Encouragement and Edification in case they want to do something similar.