Lesley Cox’s Meet-up attracted about 36 people from ten Messy Churches. The format of last Saturday worked well, allowing people to get to know each other, share news, celebrate joys, unpack and troubleshoot challenges, be informed of the big picture and have fun! Here are a few highlights and observations:
The children-only issue emerged again. It seems that some churches in Wales are still pursuing children’s events thinking that this is Messy Church.
Jane from Pontypool told the story of a dad who came to their Messy Church for the first time and left, saying, ‘If this is church, then I’m definitely coming again.’
There were a number of leaves of celebration that talked about people feeling at home and safe in Messy Church and also about families wanting to return because they felt happy there and said that the atmosphere was so positive.
The celebration time was one cause of concern – bring on Lucy’s book Messy Celebration! ‘Leaders go on too long’… ‘the worship songs aren’t appropriate’… and ‘there are too many distractions’. We shared some possible solutions together but the truth is that I don’t think people have quite got the fact that the traditional family-service style of worship needs to be rethought for the mission context of Messy Church.
There was discussion about how busy teams got, leaving them little time to sit and make friends at Messy Church. There was also concern that leaders didn’t even sit down to eat with the rest. Again, it felt that the importance of the meal (and all that goes with it) is hugely underestimated by many who put their energies instead into trying to get the crafts and worship ‘right’.
St Catherine’s MC in Caerphilly is experimenting with table talk cards as one of the activities to draw in parents and others who choose not to engage in the crafts.
Unsurprisingly, there were a number of churches under pressure to get their Messy congregations to come to the Sunday services. Angela, the family worker at Chepstow Methodist, spent a long time tackling this head-on before she began her Messy Church over five years ago. An understanding that Messy Church is a parallel, self-contained, mission-focussed congregation is vital for the whole church.
Finally, there was also, inevitably, talk about making sure the crafts and activities included some that were more adventurous, challenging and even dangerous!