Lucy, Martyn and I were supporting the recent ‘Follow’ event, last week, with Messy activities and seminars. This Leicestershire event celebrated 150 years of the Church of England Readers. We rapidly realised that what folk wanted was a ‘pop in’ opportunity to chat about the Messy possibilities in their churches. So we set up an ongoing Messy Clinic so that we could listen, share and advise all day long (and engage all ages with activities on hospitality with clay, wood and marbling!). What a blessing for us! We met and chatted with many people who felt saddened as they witnessed their church congregations dwindling. We heard about rural churches with Sunday Schools with two children attending! We also heard about BIG churches with BIG youth groups and BIG overseas missions and BIG money to support it all! Imagine if this BIG church asked just half of one of it’s BIG congregations to worship at a church closest to their home or in a rural area? How would Church look then?
Our ‘Clinic’ conversations attracted some older individuals on this particular day. They came to sit with us and share how sad it was that they had ‘lost’ families and young people in their churches. But these weren’t conversations about the good old days, when Sunday Schools were bulging at the seams and churches were full of enthusiastic volunteers for God. We heard brave voices enquiring about doing church differently, asking when is the best time for families to engage with church, why do we consider eating together to be an important Messy Church and family value? We met Elizabeth, a septuagenarian, who is a natural networker but didn’t realise it! Elizabeth is now contacting local schools and clubs to see how the church can work with its community more. We met John who has persuaded his church to update their kitchen and ‘be ready for the younger generations who will come to church, however it looks.’ We met a brother and sister who had hardly ever agreed on anything all their long lives, but were united in thoughts of starting a Messy Church together. Brave ones. For they feel alone in their mission. They feel alone in their passion to make changes. They feel alone with their hope for the future of the church.
Please pray for those who are not ‘leaving it for the young to get on with it’. Often the young are long gone. They need our prayers as they understand the changing face of family life and worshipping. They need our prayers as God leads them to have conversations with their communities. My heart sings out loudly for these brave ones.