A church stepping out on the Messy Church journey

Published 18th September 2007 by lucy moore

What an interesting afternoon on Saturday. The URC church in Brixham, Devon, had kindly invited me to come and help them out with their thinking on Messy Church. They’ve done three MCs now and are getting lots of new families and unaccompanied children in.
It’s been in the diary for many moons, and I was looking forward to it, so I zoomed down the A303 to join them for a great lunch (sausage casserole plus bring and share: best of both worlds – I just wish I wasn’t so nervous on these occasions that I can’t do full justice to other people’s puddings.)
We had a really fun afternoon. What did I take away from it?
The comforting fact that the team members weren’t all completely clear on their aims. I had thought we were the only ones who had team members in some confusion as to what we’re trying to do. This, I agree, shouldn’t be comforting but it is, in a ‘Phew, everybody else is not more professional than us’ sort of way.
The encouraging fact that one person can make such a difference. There was a lady called Barbara there, a very quiet, unassuming person, whose craft is always to run ‘The Candle Corner’. This is a niche in church where families come to make or decorate candles, and they talk and always pray using candles: not the candles they’ve made as they want to take them home, but Barbara’s extra ones.
I think this is most excellent: a combination of craft and quiet space, overtly Christian and completely accessible – a natural part of the process, not something tagged on as a Spiritual Extra. I don’t see how we can do it here, as we don’t have a set-apart safe space in which to light candles, but as a way of making the most of their building, it’s fab.
The challenging fact that it is so good to TALK. The C of E has historically leaned towards the macho ‘Get on and DO it, never admit weakness or the other chaps will sneer’ sort of attitude, but we’ve lost out on what is often seen as a feminine trait: the desire and ability to meet and natter about things together, swapping ideas in a spirit of generosity and cooperation.
I know what it reminds me of: that bit in The Future of Parish Ministry where it talks about new churches needing to be neither dependent nor independent but interdependent. Certainly I got loads out of bouncing ideas off Brixham and hearing all that they’re discovering, and I hope they got something out of talking to each other and out of me being there, too. I hope the Messy Fiestas will be such meeting places.
And lots more besides. Here’s the result of some of the group work we did on spirituality and on outreach through the various components of MC:
Group work responses from Brixham, September 2007 (pdf)

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