A recent enquiry about falling numbers in a long-established Messy Church came up with this answer from the team which may help others too:
How odd to have this drop in numbers after having such steady numbers for so long, but don’t despair! You’ve got many years of fruitful mission under your belts and literally hundreds of brilliant relationships built up with your local community through what you’ve been doing. We all go through blips, and it may well just be a blip for you, with numbers rising again after the summer, so I wouldn’t be too concerned until, say, Christmas time. Part of being ‘church’ is a dogged determination to ‘be there’ even when things are going through an apparently less fruitful patch.
It certainly sounds as if your publicity is great, if the school is texting for you! Wow.
It’s worth asking as well, is there anything in the wider church or community that might have affected people’s attitude to the church, especially somewhere as close-knit as yours – have any of the key people in church had a falling-out with one of the parents or has a vital ‘person of peace’ moved away, kids grown up, moved school, or something like that?
In any case, the lull can be a useful excuse to review what you’re doing and how you’re doing it – perhaps reminding the whole church what you’re doing by having a Messy focus on a Sunday as Jane’s church has just done very successfully and getting people to pray for you in a renewed visionary sort of way; perhaps getting together as a team to use the Messy values to review what you’re doing and to check out whether you could ‘be more…. Christ-centred / all-age / creative / celebratory / hospitable’… Are the team there ‘just on a rota’ or are they really seeing this as church? Have you kept a record of the ‘God-moments’ – the times when the team’s seen God at work in families’ lives, to look back on and see how far you’ve come without even realising it? Could you draw families onto the team so that you have a though-flow of people growing as leaders and in discipleship? There are lots of ideas to deepen and widen what you do and a quieter season is a good time to carry some of them out.
Every blessing, there really is no need to feel soul-destroyed, though it’s tempting to. You’ll find where God’s taking you through this – it may be a valley time rather than a mountain top time, but that’s all part of the journey.