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?