The second blog post of three expanding a little on the Messy Church Discipleship Pilot. Yes, we’re hoping to tempt you into giving the Pilot a try in your Messy Church and sending us the results. That way we can gradually help the wider network know which are the most helpful ways to do discipleship in our marvellously Messy context.
A previous blog thought about the ‘faith at home’ bit. The second suggestion we’re making is to ‘do something extra in the month’. The thinking is that once a month is a great start but not an ideal end if we’re serious about living out faith in community day by day. Adding an extra opportunity to meet during the month means one more opportunity in each month to live life together and let the kingdom of heaven rub off on each other.
This approach really appeals to me. Perhaps not for the right reasons – of all the options, it’s the most obvious and the easiest to ‘control’, so I’m a little wary of satisfying my need to be in control rather than doing what’s best for the families. However! I like the idea of simply putting on something simpler, smaller and more in-depth, working with the people of all ages who come to go deeper into faith myself and make space for them to. It’s easy to measure (whether people are coming or not) and easier to be overt about being a group that has opted into taking the next step. I’ve visited one or two ‘Messy Extras’ and seen how a smaller number of families focusing on a Bible story or theme in a quieter space with more opportunity to chat and be vulnerable is a very valuable approach. Small groups create a safe space for families to grow in.
One Messy Church in the USA has started Messy Home Groups – and has seven all-age groups up and running! Most of us would be thrilled to have one! They have a Messy Rule of Life based on the five Messy Church values and have committed to meeting once a month for a year. Exciting and pioneering stuff. A Messy Church in Hampshire has a monthly group simply called Messy Extras, where families come, watch a short film together, then divide up with the adults staying to hear a talk about the subject matter of the film while the children do Messy activities with leaders next door, then they all gather for a meal. Another Messy Church keeps the families together once a month for a Messy Breakfast – a nice breakfast followed by reading through the story covered at the last Messy Church in a meditative way, with younger children playing in the middle of the circle of older folk so they hear and see what’s going on and can join in when they’re ready. Then there’s a short time of discussion, prayer based on the newspaper stories of the day and everyone’s off ready for the rest of the day.
‘Doing life together’ is a good touchstone for ‘extras’, when it’s an already busy team that needs to make them happen. And creating something very simple and sustainable just once a month is far better than something unwieldy and draining of time and resources. A meal together. A walk together. A picnic. A coffee! Make space for God to work and you might even enjoy it.
Download the Discipleship Pilot for free for 15 lively suggestions and give it a prayerful whirl.