A growing number of Messy Churches are daring to take their Messy families away for a weekend. It’s proving a great way to deepen friendships made at Messy Church and to help young and old on their discipleship journeys.
Aike Kennett-Brown is our Regional Coordinator in south-east London, working as a Messy pioneer out of St John’s, Blackheath. Those of you who were at the Messy Church International Conference in May will have heard her speak briefly about her plans for ‘Messy munches’ as a way of establishing all-age discipleship groups for her Messy Church families.
For several years now she has also organised with her team a Messy camp, taking away the families for a weekend of Messy fun and fellowship together. We thought you’d like to hear what happened on the most recent camp only two weeks ago.
Aike wrote to us:
‘Messy camp was brilliant… Thanks for your prayers! It was our student youth worker’s first time on Messy camp and he described it as one big family – which is one of my Messy Church intergenerational aims.
‘Once again we defied the heavy rain that was forecast on Friday and Saturday and basked in sunshine on the Sunday (always helpful when taking down tents!) – praise the Lord! The theme of the Loving Father (Lost Son) worked really well. The parable was retold frequently throughout the weekend through the different activities: a treasure hunt on the Friday night (each team had to find tins around the campsite with a jigsaw piece in; when they got back, they had to stick their jigsaw together to reveal different picture scenes from the parable, which we then told); an early morning Godly Play retelling of the story; den building in the wood (the son trying to build a new home far from home); a Saturday afternoon Generation Game (with each round relating to a different part of the story); story time around the campfire; and finally the celebration on the Sunday morning, in which our young leaders did a contemporary drama of the parable.
‘We also included different families saying grace at each meal time, followed by a short “share from the chair”. One mother shared what it was like to travel to a far off land to live (they are from USA and came to the UK seven years ago) but how travelling with God made a difference. Another grandfather shared what it was like to be a father when his son went to live in New Zealand. Then on the Sunday morning we shared the experience of what it was like to be the grumpy elder brother outside the party. Let me explain: we had silence on the campsite from 10.30 pm, whereas a party down the road went on until 1.45 am with the full DJ Ibiza experience! As we lay in our tents listening to the music, we were reminded of that part of the story, so all the adults (the kids slept through it!) had literally experienced what it was like to be on the outside of a party.
‘Finally, we fussed over our fathers on Sunday with a film we had put together the day before, in which we had got the children to talk about their dads and what’s special about them. My own husband Neil shared about his earthly dad (who died 13 years ago) and what it means to have a heavenly Father. While none of our not-yet Christian adults took up the offer to chat about what it means to have a relationship with our heavenly Father, two of our young leaders (from Messy Church only families) are well on the way in their faith journey, and have asked for Bibles and are turning up to all the other youth activities our church offers.
‘My personal highlights were watching our young leaders really grow in their roles and leadership, while still taking part and mixing with all ages. For example, Daniel (eleven years old) stood up at the front and led the singing and actions with me as well as putting together a street dance that the teams had to copy during the Generation Game activity; and Jasmine brought along her school friend who is asking so many God-questions.
‘We also had two Messy Church only families sign up at last minute after I bumped into them in the park. Both families had a great time, and I feel we have earned the right to have deeper conversations in the future.
In the busyness of it all, I forgot to talk about Messy Church small groups from the front but I did have conversations with families informally. One mum is happy to be part of the test group and says she would be prepared to host it at her house. So slowly and prayerfully we will get there. I just need to set a date for the first one. Do keep praying about this.’