Spent last week at Lee Abbey in beautiful North Devon, leading a stream on Messy Church for about 20 people who varied between those already running a Messy Church to those who had never heard of it and just fancied a week at Lee Abbey. It’s a great place to think about all the Messy Church themes, as the community puts so many of them into practice. It was good to see ‘professional’ hospitality in action, with the warm, genuine welcome given by the host team, their unstinting attention to detail and consistency of care throughout the whole week – and the never-ending supply of food from morning to night!
The whole atmosphere feels very creative, especially in the worship sessions, which were dense with ideas but light in touch and displayed a depth of creative understanding in music, Dave Hopwood’s ever-marvellous mime, and skill working with imagination on the AV side. There was also a series of optional workshops that gave people the opportunity to learn new skills or just to enjoy.
In terms of relaxation, the week was a gentle mixture of input and time out: most people really appreciated the balance of providing food for thought and for the soul, and space for God, relationships, enjoying the countryside and just crashing out. There is no sense of trying to cram as much into a programme as possible, just of making the most of the time out and the beautiful place: something we can continue to learn from in Messy Church, where it’s always a challenge to make space in the busyness.