Nancy Rowe from St George’s Church, Canada and her church have been growing people from their Messy Church using ‘A Spirited Study’. Nancy writes:
The pub group is called ‘A Spirited Study’ and meets on a weekday evening once a month in the local pub. Some have coffee, some beer/wine, some a late supper. The group chooses the topic at the previous Spirited Study and I will often find some reflective piece to start the conversation. It was started to give people an opportunity to explore spiritual/faith issues in an informal, non-churchy setting. This was one of the ways in which I am trying to give people, including the Messy Church people, a chance to go ‘deeper’ in an ‘anything goes’ setting. We have had some really profound conversations and it is intriguing to see how the group can take the conversation into a personnel exploration of their faith, or a social justice/political discussion of being Christian in the world. People are really comfortable expressing their doubts and asking questions to the group.
A Spirited Study is open to anyone. We have people not associated with St George’s or in fact any church who attend. There are some Messy Church folk who attend as well. We have spouses of parishioners, whom I have never seen in church, attending regularly. They are quite up front in saying that church is not for them, but that does not mean that they are not spiritual. In a way, Spirited Study is their ‘church’. We have had as few as three and as many as 14 (actually, that was too many and fragmented into groups). It is extremely interesting to see how the conversation twists and turn, but it never strays from the basic fact that we are Christians wrestling with how to be what we are called to be in a confusing and power-centered world. The informality of sitting in the pub with a wine/beer lends itself to people sharing and exploring freely and not looking to the ‘experts’ for a set answer.