7 Reasons to be thankful for Messy Church

August holidays can be a good time to step back from the push and shove of routines and do a little reflecting. It’s also for many of us in Messy Church a month off without the urgency of a new session to plan, crafts and activities to prepare, a story to write, a meal to buy for. So, before these lazy days disappear, here are my messy summer reflections - some of the reasons I want to say thank you for Messy Church:

Top Tips for being all-age in Messy Church

  Kliederkirk is the name given to Messy Church by our friends in the Netherlands.In their recent newsletter to their own 'Messy Church' family of churches they included some top tips on becoming and staying all-age.We thought you might like to read them, especially number 8 with its recommendations for making adults feel welcome at the meal!

If Messy Church really is church...

This blog explores what 'church' really is.

Exploring celebration

Celebration is the name we've given to the most traditional worship part of Messy Church - the 15 minutes of story, song, prayer and whatever else we bring into the gathered worship of the whole session. It's also a broader term for marking with joy or sorrow a significant event, for making that event count in our community's life. Celebration can be engaging, fun, joyful: where people's perception of church is that it is boring, we need to show them that the church worships a God who is totally engaging.

All-age responses

Hoorah and thank you for so many responses to the all-age part of the recent newsletter - here are some so far. Anthony Oram writes from Beverley in a self-confessed rant:

Hospitality thoughts

Great to have feedback from the newsletter musings. Thank you to Margaret for her email: Hi,

Messy values - creativity

It's great to get thoughtful responses to the E-News- you may remember that this month's includes some questions about the activity time of a Messy Church and the value of 'creativity'. Dermot Wynne from St Francis of Assisi in Welwyn Garden City was kind enough to send his thoughts. I don't think he has any doubts that the activity time is much more than a bit of fun. Is the activity time in Messy Church just a crowd-puller, crowd-pleaser and time filler?

Table sheets

At teatime at Messy Church today we put out a scribble sheet on each table with a pencil. Here are the two questions and the answers. I wonder what you would conclude from the answers?

Is Messy Church church?

We had a challenging email through recently regarding school attendance: I am hoping you might be able to help with a quick question: does Messy Church count as a 'church attendance'? I have attended a Sunday service for many years as well as a midweek home group. Since my local church started a Messy Church service (which is amazing by the way) and my son has started rugby, I have now changed to attending the Messy Church and my regular midweek group and not going to so many Sunday services.

What's in a name?

Someone emailed us recently asking for advice about the name of their Messy Church to-be. I found the question raised a lot of issues, so I've anonymised the reply I sent and copied it below in case you're interested. Names... it's an interesting one, and you've obviously taken on board some of the 'finer nuances' of the term 'messy', so I won't run through those again. The short answer is you must call it whatever you feel is best for your community.

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.

Church-lite? I don't think so

Our own Messy Church is enjoying the sessions of Authorised Mess this year, with brief excursions to celebrate Christian festivals in season, and on Thursday we arrived at Leviticus. Now, one issue that some people seem to have with Messy Church is that we're just church-lite, spooning out easy meat and ignoring the tough stuff in Christianity, making it all fluffy and frothy and fun. And I'm sure there are some Messy Churches who do so. Ours isn't one of them.

All age or age limits?

One of our regional coordinators recently wrote that she was thinking of having the words 'IT'S ALL AGE!' tattooed across her forehead as she was so fed up of explaining that Messy Church isn't a children's event. I enjoyed some recent correspondence with a Messy Church about this very subject, and it might be useful to others.

Query about funding

A query has come in that highlights the relationship between the establishd body of the church and the emerging Messy Church: We are charged for the costs of the hall in which we hold Messy Church each month. The hall belongs to the church but is a separate building. As an outreach of church I personally think we shouldn't be charged. Especially as we have to get by on donations. What are others' views on this ? My - as usual - inadequate answer:

Real church?

An interesting query on the website and I found myself writing at length, probably incoherently but here we go: 'Hi, and congratulations on an innovative idea. I understand the ethos of Messy Church but wondered whether the broader longer-term aim was to integrate the members of Messy Church into the mainstream activities of the 'mother' church, i.e. Sunday school for the children and Sunday worship and midweek Bible study etc. for the adults. If not, how will those that attend Messy Church develop and grow their understanding of Church and being a Christian?'

How do you welcome newcomers?

Traditionally a warm welcome in church might mean a smile and polite handshake. Jane reflects on the welcome of the Messy Church in Smethwick: I wonder if getting newcomers running relays within minutes of arrival could catch on in Sunday church? Jane writes: 'Today's long-awaited visit to see my local MC in Smethwick was one worth waiting for. Having first met with the vicar some 18 months ago, it was good to go and see what has been developing since starting last September. I was warmly welcomed by a team of MC aprons to discover more about the Last Supper.

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?

Genes and Sheep

I was privileged to join Dave Male and many pioneer ministers at Ridley Hall recently, for a stimulating conference about Pioneer Ministry. If nothing else, do have a think about your team of leaders in Messy Church: it may be that you are growing some people for whom lay or ordained pioneer ministry might be the next step.

Five Marks of Mission

Just back from the National Children's Advisers' Conference, bulging with food for thought (and the other sort too - cooked breakfasts etc). It was all about the Five Marks of Mission: to proclaim the the Good News of the Kingdom to teach, baptise and nurture new believers to respond to human need by loving service to seek to transform unjust structures of society to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth. Questions for messy people:

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.


Today's collect was a prayer for a sort of tidiness: Almighty God, who alone can bring order to the unruly wills and passions of sinful humanity: give your people grace so to love what you command and to desire what you promise, that, among the many changes of this world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found