Messy Church

Fresh ideas for building a Christ-centred community

Messy Nativity

Jo Birkby is the Children and Families Worker at Holy Trinity & St Saviour's Churches, Knaphill with Brookwood in Woking, Surrey. Jo has recently had a God-inspired moment, leading to a family community activity, similar to the Messy Nativity Sheep Trail but with a trendy twist! Messy creativity at it's best! Jo says:

What a brilliant idea, St Mary's Wotton under Edge in Gloucestershire! Sunday 17 April is Good Shepherd Sunday, this year, and after trying a Messy Nativity Sheep Trail in the past, St Mary's are holding a Messy Sheep Trail leading up to Good Shepherd Sunday this week!

An alternative Messy Nativity Sheep Trail idea when you don’t have any shops!

St Lawrence Seal Chart Lost Sheep Trail

Congratulations to Canford Parish Church, Wimborne, Dorset, Breakfast@9 group and St Catherine’s Church, Crook, County Durham! Both churches were inspired by Renita Boyle's Gingerbread Nativity book and baked, decorated and displayed their Nativity sets at crib festivals and services. Churches Together in Crook linked the idea with their Messy Nativity Sheep Trail.

Inspired by other stories of Messy Nativity Sheep Trails, we thought it would be good to have a go in Chard. I approached our Chard Town Team who organize our Christmas Lights switch on ceremony and suggested that we might run it in conjunction with them. Next I appealed for people to knit sheep and over some weeks several of us have been frantically knitting!

How many sheep can one congregation make? The answer for ours was over 40. Despite having given out the pattern sheep came in all shapes and sizes from tiny lambs to a long-legged specimen immediately named Leggy Lulu. We sounded out the shops in the village and all agreed to take one - in the end many took two. We just had too many sheep. They were displayed in house windows, propped up on shelves in the supermarket, there were a small flock around the Church - named after the priest in charge, the wardens, the bishop, archbishop (new and old) and a few others. We had sheep everywhere.

by Jane Leadbetter

How to run your very own Messy Nativity Advent project

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Sample pages

Mayhem, madness and magnificence... Messy Nativity!
Rev Jean Flood, Mission in the Economy, Liverpool

We've heard so many wonderful stories about Messy Nativity Sheep Trails happening over Advent. Marilyn Thomson wrote from Scotland to let us know about the way their church is making stronger links with the community through Messy Church and the sheep trail:

Hi Jane

We held our first Messy Church in Galston, Ayrshire in Scotland in May 2012 and have had varying degrees of success but, on the whole, we feel we have reached out to people in our community who previously had no connection with our church before.

We are praying for all of the Messy Nativity Sheep Trails starting this weekend. Please do take photos of where your knitted sheep are 'flocking' to and send them to us. We know of lots of trails happening around the world and this week we've heard about Sheep Trails in the Falkland Islands, Harrow, Durham, Morecambe, Newcastle, Kent, Aberystwyth, Newcastle and more. What a fun way to tell people about the real meaning of Christmas! Ewe are very creative Messy people!

Baaa... those woolly sheep are breeding all over the place for Jane's Messy Nativity sheep trail. Diane Nicholson emailed us: