Just back from the National Children’s Advisers’ Conference, bulging with food for thought (and the other sort too – cooked breakfasts etc). It was all about the Five Marks of Mission:
- to proclaim the the Good News of the Kingdom
- to teach, baptise and nurture new believers
- to respond to human need by loving service
- to seek to transform unjust structures of society
- to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.
Questions for messy people:
Proclamation – in our Messy Church are we tempted to dumb down or water down the Good News, which is for adults as well as children? Do we expect to learn from our congregations and hear God in what they say and do? Do we expect the outsiders to challenge us and transform us into more godly people? (Do we ‘do’ pain as well as joy? How might someone bring their everyday concerns into Messy Church for God to meet? Who listens in your Messy Church?)
Teaching – are we learning from the children and adults who belong to our Messy Churches? Do we think we have all the answers? Are we baptising new believers in Messy Church and encouraging them to journey on in their faith as families? (Are we praying about how to help the people we have here and now, in this place, at the age they’re at, people we know, towards a deeper discipleship?)
Service – do we ‘do’ Messy Church just to get bums on seats for our own satisfaction or to serve our community by putting its needs first? Do we remain open-eared to listen to new needs that will transform what we do in the future in Messy Church? Do we hold on to the power by seeing ‘them’ as the needy ones and ‘us’ as the providers, or are ‘we’ open to receive from ‘them’ too? (If the local school put on a popular club at the Messy Church time, would we be prepared to change day or time? If lots of local people eat unhealthy diets, would we think about running cooking sessions for them during Messy Church, or sharing our recipes? What would we say if someone ‘from outside’ wanted to lead the celebration?)
Justice – do we equip our congregations to see their local and global world through God’s eyes? Do we try to see church through their eyes? Do they know more about justice than we do? (When did we last mention God in school during Messy Church? When did we last include an activity about another country?)
The Earth – do we do what we can to expose people to God’s creation and give them ways of expressing their love for it and wonder at it? Do we use resources responsibly and combine lavish generosity with good stewardship? (What happens to the leftover jacket potatoes? How much reverence do we demonstrate towards the art materials we use? Have we asked children how much they know about the planet and the way it works? Most of us would be amazed at the extent and depth of the average primary-aged child’s knowledge about how trees work, for example.)
Lots more to ponder on, but it’ll have to come out later.