It’s been a brain-wringing time for Jane, me and the rest of the BRF Messy Church Team as we’ve had two events recently to focus on the question of discipleship in Messy Church. The first was a gathering of Messy Church leaders and church growth / discipleship course experts at St John’s College Nottingham for a full day’s discussion. The second was a morning with the Church Army Sheffield Centre Research Team in Sheffield.
I think one point that needs saying is how privileged we felt that little Messy Church had got the undivided attention of these busy and important people and huge thanks go to all of them for their time and input.
As you can imagine, a huge amount of possible ways forward have come out of these meetings as we bounced our ideas off such experienced and wise people from inside and outside the Messy world. We need to process them (the ideas, not the wise people as this would be painful and inappropriate); we need to see if we can find cash in order to take them further; we need to seek God’s wisdom on the whole way forward and discern where he’s prodding us to take action and where he’s happy for us to wait and see.
A few points to ponder and threads that came out of the two days:
These questions of ‘What is church?’ ‘What is discipleship?’ apply to the whole church, not just Messy Church. And nobody has a definitive answer! Not even when Augsburg Confessions come into play! (I find this strangely reassuring.)
The whole team of a Messy Church has a hugely important part to play in any way forward with discipleship. There are no easy options on the table. If you’re a team member, do gird your loins, as God might be soon asking you to move on in your relationship with him as you serve his people at Messy Church. It will be fun and something of an adventure.
We need to start taking seriously the strengths of Messy Church: the different sorts of learning that are each as valuable as each other – not just formal learning but apprenticeship and social learning too. And we need to start taking ‘family’ seriously as a gift God has given us for an arena in which discipleship can happen successfully.
We at BRF need to make sure Messy leaders have opportunities to meet and talk (and eat cake).
We need to combine imagination, confidence and humility in our ways forward.
We need to value both intentional discipleship and unintentional discipleship!
We need to be alert to God’s timing, his work in people’s lives and the opportunities he provides.
And we need to want people to meet Jesus and we need to want to meet him more ourselves.
Loads of exciting stuff, of which this is a badly expressed fraction. We’re chatting about it as we go forward, and as ever value your input hugely as we both tiptoe and slash with machetes through the wilderness on our exciting pioneer exploration. (Oh dear, that was a very laboured image: I mean as we faff about wondering which way to go and bounce forward with jollity… oh, you know what I mean.)