Column: Getting messy at church

Messy Church is a modern phenomenon, the brain child of Lucy Moore.

Thursday, 1st June 2017, 9:30 am
Updated Sunday, 4th June 2017, 9:36 pm
Rt Rev Geoff Pearson, Bishop of Lancaster

Almost 4,000 Messy Churches are now registered across the world and that number is growing rapidly. It’s not hard to see why.

Messy Church is a relaxed way of being church for families involving fun. Its values are about being Christ-centred, for all ages, and based on welcome, creativity, hospitality and celebration. I came away recently from a local Messy Church seeing all the above and more. Yes all ages were involved, children, parents and grandparents, but the great thing was the way they were involved together.

This inter-generational mix was evident at nearly every craft table, in the celebration time and then at the meal time. At some tables parents were helping children and at times it was the other way around. At tea-time little ones were talking to and relating to adults other than their own parents. The table fellowship added to the friendly atmosphere.

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The theme taken up on this occasion was about Jesus stilling the storm. I was bowled over by the creativity of the home team. During the time together they made a boat out of cardboard boxes which seated 13 children.

Others made small, painted wooden boats, as well as edible boats from bananas with jelly baby disciples and melon sails; storms in a bottle and wind streamers. The craft leaders not only demonstrated how to make things but they also chatted easily about the bible story and how Jesus helps us in our own storms of life. The celebration time started with Rembrandt’s famous painting of the ship in the storm and there was an interactive telling of the story and songs with the children in the boat. I watched the adults and could see how they were engaged with all the leader was doing.

After the families had left with a spring in their step, I congratulated the team who had worked so well together and obviously enjoyed putting on this Messy Church. We still need the best of traditional church but some of these new forms are here to stay. They have so much to offer and there is an obvious appetite for this fresh way of being church.