On Saturday 26th May at around 4pm it was part way through our David and Goliath themed Messy Church at Wollaton Road Methodist. I had a moment between helping different children making crowns to glance around our Messy Church. In front of me were a table full of children constructing and decorating crowns (because David became king). On the table to my right, someone was helping a young child spread paint over a sheet of paper to add to the massive Goliath. On my left there was a table where adults and children diligently decorated rocks. Through the door into the church people were helping each other make sling shots before they got to practise shooting ping-pong balls at Goliath.
The atmosphere was great. People of different ages were talking to each other and helping each other. There was a sense of fun, but also of purpose. One activity was finished before going on to the next. Children and adults alike were concentrating on their creations.
This is how Messy Church generally starts. There are a series of activities, mostly craft but some other things, like crawling into the belly of a pretend fish, shooting Goliath or a prayer station. People can choose which they go to and when. There’s time for conversations about what we’re doing, about God and about things going on. The different activities are then tied together with a time of celebration. This takes the form of a bible story and talk with song and prayer. We then wrap up our time with a meal together.
The main aim of Messy Church is open up the church to families that don’t otherwise go to church. Obviously families are very welcome at our Sunday services and here at Chilwell Road we are blessed with many children. As much as churches can make families welcome in Sunday services, still many people don’t come for a whole host of reasons. Some may be unable, due to work. Some may not view coming to church as important as other activities. Others may perceive church as a boring place with odd customs where you need to know when to stand or sit, where they sing boring, long hymns and someone stands at the front and tells them what they should and shouldn’t do. Messy Church offers something different that these people may find more appealing.
So far it has been very successful. Up and down the country there are stories of churches with almost no children that have started Messy Churches and have reached many people with whom they’d previously had no contact. They are a great opportunity to reach new people with the gospel message. I pray that our Messy Church is successful in reaching many families in Beeston that otherwise wouldn’t come to church.
Don’t expect Messy Church to increase the numbers of families in Sunday worship. That generally doesn’t happen, but I know of no church where it has led to a decrease in the number of Sunday worshippers.
Messy Church is exciting though. It’s an area of growth, where new people are being welcomed into the church. We share in fellowship and faith. People are interested. Families are worshipping together.
I would encourage anyone interested or curious about Messy Church to visit our next one (30th June 3:30-5:30pm at Wollaton Road Methodist Church). They are fantastic events to invite families that don’t normally attend church. Also extra help would be appreciated, ranging from helping in the kitchen, assisting children with a craft activity, welcoming and chatting to people or helping move furniture. If you’re interested in coming or helping or just would like more information, please contact me!