I was chatting to our Cathedral Dean the other day and we were struck by the unlikely similarities between a Cathedral ministry and Messy Church ministry. What I mean is, quite a few people go to cathedrals at a point in their life when they need ‘carrying’ for whatever reason, perhaps looking for a refuge from other forms of church or from the world. They can go to a cathedral service, enjoy the ambiance, the beauty, the music, the sense of being part of a worshipping community but detached from it. They can ‘taste and see’, take something away from the experience without being threatened by it. They can hide behind pillars. You could argue they may not be challenged to commit, that it’s selfish, that it’s all take and no give. A cathedral can demonstrate that there is more in its worshipping life on offer by making home groups, study sessions and other forms of learning and worship known and available through news sheets, websites and conversation, but a ‘guest’ can feel perfectly free to join these extras or not as it suits her or him.
Now substitute ‘Messy Church’ for ‘cathedral’, substitute ‘fun and activity’ for ‘beauty and music’ and ‘hiding behind children’ for ‘hiding behind pillars’ and see if it makes sense. We must go and talk to more cathedral mission strategists and learn from them how they build gently and respectfully but intentionally on the open door service they provide so effectively.