It was fun to speak in the Synod debate on Mission-Shaped Church 15 years on.
Here are the notes for my speech, which you can view on YouTube here. A big shout-out to Sharon Pritchard, who pointed out the Tesco correlation!
Wave if there’s a branch of Tesco in your parish. Wave if there’s a Messy Church in your parish. It’s rather fun that after just 15 years, there are more Messy Churches than the 3,400 branches of Tesco in the UK. Admittedly, our stat of 3,915 is worldwide, but it’s still something to smile about.
Messy Church is a story of God smiling, working through extraordinary ordinary people to bring new life to local churches but mostly helping new people of all ages find the joy of belonging to their local church and to set out on an adventure with Jesus.
Fifteen years ago, my husband peered at the brand-new Fresh Expressions of Church website and said, ‘I think our new Messy Church might be a fresh expression. I’ll sign us up on the directory.’ Next thing, we’re being filmed by the then organisation Fresh Expressions and our work in progress is being shared around the world.
Supported and resourced by BRF, 15 years on and families in 20-30 countries are setting off on that adventure with their local church
61% of people coming to Messy Churches are unchurched or de churched. 61%.
Research this year through the Church Army has found it is growing disciples, modelling new patterns of leadership and maturing as church. And it’s cost the Church of England precisely nothing. Does it get any better than that?
This year we’re working with the Evangelism and Discipleship team to discover even more about Messy discipleship in three dioceses, Bristol, Durham and Hereford. Do encourage churches to join in this unmissable opportunity. Maybe next year we’ll be in a position to work closely with your diocese to support and enrich your Messy Churches.
What can you do to encourage this work of God?
Check that Messy Churches and their leaders in your deanery or diocese are being treasured and valued. The Bishop of Hereford recently held a Messy Commissioning Tea in his house for Messy leaders, who went away reinspired. But it might just mean thanking and encouraging the Messy team in your church.
Express abject horror if you hear anyone say, ‘But when are they going to start coming to church?’ Instead, rejoice that people are coming to church: it might look very messy, but then, so did much of Jesus’ own ministry.
One of my favourite photos is of an eight-year-old finding a hidden golden coin in a lucky dip. His joy is infectious. I’ve always thought Messy Church has a lot in common with cathedral ministry and now we can share piracy and buried treasure too. Thank God for the joy of discovering the buried treasure of the kingdom hidden in our own parishes.
Watch Lucy talk at Synod