It takes a lot of time to prepare for three days of seminars and workshops at the Hand in Hand Children’s and Family Conference at Eastbourne each year, but the effort was made more than worthwhile last weekend. We heard so many stories of how God is at work in our Messy communities.
We were blown away by the numbers who attended our seminars as we shared hands-on Messy Prayer ideas with shaving foam, Trinity bubbles and tattoos. We were blown away by how many churches had still not heard about Messy Church and came to discover how to start a Messy Church; and we were literally nearly blown away by the wind on our Messy walk on the beach with Psalms, prayer cairn, sandcastle building (with moat!), bubbles and more. Delegates became adventurous with us and tried new activities!
I was blown away at Lucy’s Messy Hospitality seminar, which challenged us to consider whether Jesus is the host or the guest at our Messy Churches, and we thought about the theology and practicality of being hospitable. The BRF stand was packed with Messy Church, Who Let The Dads Out?, Faith in Homes, and more resources connected with our BRF ministries. Delegates flocked to the stand to both buy and share stories. We heard about churches wanting to start groups and Messy Churches. They asked about the best resources to get going. We heard about Messy Churches needing advice and support as they struggled with team numbers. We met two ladies who had been delegates two years previously and, while shaking butter jars in a Messy activity, they both heard God telling them to begin a Messy Church! They came back to tell us they have 150 each session and asked for advice on feeding them all.
We enjoyed conversations with many people from overseas too. We met Anke from Germany, who felt God telling her to prepare her heart for family ministry; nearly 100 delegates from Denmark repeatedly visited the stand looking for resources; a group from Taiwan asked lots of questions, and we met Suzana, Bobo and Matija from Croatia and Slovenia who told us about the growth of Messy Church in their countries and how it is now spreading to Albania. The Holy Spirit is working in so many countries with so many people, and our small BRF Messy Church team thank the Regional Coordinators, like Michelle O’Connor, who helped us so much over the weekend, and who give their voluntary time and love and support to this missional network.