As you know, we’re pondering what Messy discipleship is all about, if indeed there is such an animal. The best thing is getting stories like this one from Jo Birkby in Knaphill to throw into the melting pot. To me it says something about steps towards discipleship – they can mean sensitively and imaginatively responding to a lead from your own messy congregation and to a prod from God. This could be different for every Messy Church. Jo emails:
‘Regarding your request for strategies for Messy Discipleship: during one Messy Church Session in the church, a mother turned to me and said, “My children are asking me so many questions and I don’t have a clue how to answer any of them.” The very next words uttered by the person at the front who was giving the talk were, “So, if your children are asking you lots of questions and you don’t know how to answer them, you might like to consider doing an Alpha Course.”
‘We sensed, because of the timing, that God was asking us to do something, however, we weren’t convinced that Alpha was the right “tool” for this particular mum. We therefore devised a series of evenings (that could be “one-off”) called “Questions Children Ask”. We provided a meal, an informal and relaxed atmosphere (very similar to Alpha) and asked people to bring questions their children had posed. It soon became clear that the parents had lots of questions of their own! As well as talking over some of the thornier issues, we were able to share children’s books that we’d found really helpful, looking at topics such as death and disability.
‘Whilst not a strategy for long-term discipleship and it only being for parents it would perhaps not fit in with the ethos of whole-family discipleship, however, it was blessed by God as he’d asked us to do it and some may find this a good way of engaging with parents and deepening relationships, as we’ve found.
Jo Birkby Children & Families Worker Holy Trinity & St Saviour’s in the Parish of Knaphill with Brookwood’