Messy Church and working families
A new report on working families in the UK has just been published. It is based on a survey of 1000 families. You can read it here (opens as PDF).
The report highlights the finding that more parents are working full-time and the ‘typical’ family arrangement, where a father works full-time and a mother works part-time, is receding. The Director of Bright Horizons, which commissioned this report, writes in her introduction: ‘It is clear that balancing work and family life is an ongoing challenge for more and more families in the UK.’
The survey also shows that much of working parents’ annual leave is being used to cover childcare emergencies, to the detriment of time for family bonding and wellbeing. This is of course also linked to the dramatic increase in ‘grandparent childcare’, and these grandparents are themselves often still in work. The report observes that ‘on a typical working day many parents struggle to go home on time – and even if they do, they are likely to take work home with them and continue to be available via email and mobile. Working parents are trying to “do it all” and are often reluctant – or fearful – to ask for help’. In this context providing quality ‘family together time’, a warm meal and a safe community space for all ages is a huge service that Messy Church is providing for today’s stressed parents. The two hours of a Messy Church service offers a vital intergenerational moment for families who are mostly torn apart by the demands of 21st-century living. Traditional church services still tend to separate up families, even if the families do manage to struggle to get there on a Sunday morning. Rather than being segregated for worship and learning, the new wine skin of Messy Church allows families to stay together, play together and explore faith together so that they can better face the working weeks ahead.
Once again the Messy Church approach is not only proving prophetic about the way ahead for creating healthy Christian community but it is also providing a much needed haven for today’s often money-rich but time-poor generation of working parents.