What is the way forward? As the marbling inks clog up the hall ready for Messy Church this afternoon, a particularly sticky cake’s icing dries in the kitchen, and a dustbin bag full of empty shoeboxes threatens to trip up the unwary visitor, I wonder: how do we go on from here?
Paul reckons we need to get together a group of people who might be interested in belonging primarily to MC and seeing it eventually as their main spiritual home, and get praying with them, just as you would if you were thinking about a church plant.
It’s something about investing / risking – if we always feel that we could shut down MC and go back to 11.15 Sunday service for all we need, we’ll always treat it as a thing we go to, not a church we belong to.
Obviously, we can’t hoick everyone out of 11.15 and 9.30 and expect them to thrive on once a month MC, but we do need to learn how we can chill, create, chomp and celebrate in a way that feeds us all, not just the people who come once a month.
I just cringe at the thought of suggesting to already-overstretched people that they add a fortnightly prayer meeting to their to do list. Maybe if we could work it out so that we commit to it for, say, a term, then stop and review what God’s changed in that time?
Maybe if we really go with our values – chill, create, chomp, celebrate – even in these prayer meetings, so that they are times people actively want to come to (Michele Guinness’ memory-making times, lots of candles, crisps, sweets, nice meal) as relaxed catchy-up times, time to eat, time to pray and study the Bible creatively through drawing, making, music (don’t think we’re quite at dance or drama level), but certainly as much creativity as could happen in a lounge or round a camp fire in the garden.
The children and teens and the members of the families who aren’t (yet) Christians could come and be part of as much as they wanted to: they might just chill and chomp with us, then watch a DVD upstairs, or they might join in the whole whack if it’s engaging enough the first time.
Who might be interested?
When you look at the possible people, several things strike you: that there are a lot of husbands or wives or children of helpers who don’t come to church. Might they want to come to this? Might they come occasionally, for the sake of being with their spouse and getting a decent meal?
Would it mean that we’d have to water down the prayer time or would it mean that we were forced to make the prayer time more creative and engaging than sitting round on our backsides?
Also, that the potential numbers mean that we would have to hold it in the hall, not in a home, though not everyone will come by any means.
Also, that having young children there will dictate what time we hold whatever it is. But too early and you run into the ‘working people can’t come’ syndrome. If it was 5.30-7.00, on a Friday perhaps, or a Saturday (though Paul and I work so many Saturdays) might that cover all bases?
Meal at 5.45, done by 7.00, the whole evening to spend clubbing or at the Hampshire Naturalist Society or doing homework or in front of the telly… People could just donate money like they do for Alpha to cover food costs. It has potential. Something people WANT to come to, WANT to invite friends to…
Hmmm. I need to talk to Lesley and Denise. I need to talk to God.
Lord, we need guiding here, please. It is such a risk to let go of the secure and to tiptoe off into the unknown. Please show us the next step of the way, the next stepping stone, even if we don’t get to see the whole way across the river. Sermons in church recently have been about risk. The slogan on my coffee mug just jumped out at me, ‘Dreamtime’, a time for dreams, for gestating some new life, a time of darkness and secrecy and enfoldedness, of visions and whispers in the night. Help us dream your dreams, God of Joseph.
Have decided to rewrite the questionnaire – I fear it will never be issued as there’s always a better question to ask…
Questionnaire / Survey about Messy Church take two (pdf)