With the thick snow outside as I write, I feel closer than usual to our colleagues in colder climes. Thomas Brauer, our regional coordinator for large chunks of Canada, sent news of the Messy Church picture over there as it unfolds, and some very juicy thoughts about the dangers of being a brand:
Messy Church certainly is taking off. Even in my small neck of the woods, I have another Fiesta coming up this month downtown Edmonton. This will be Fiesta the Third in less than twelve months. There are some faux MCs happening, too, which is certainly a form a flattery. People are using your language, and some of your ideas for their own stuff. I don’t always like what they’re doing, and I always try to correct where I can, but as I know you know, that’s not always possible…
I’d had a moan to Thomas about the difficulty of balancing ‘going with the flow’ of God’s Spirit against strategic planning, and he went on to reply:
As for discerning spirits versus strategic planning, I think God uses both, and I think God is using both with MC, but I do sometimes fear MC is coming perilously close to being a ‘brand’ as opposed to an approach. The disadvantage I see in the brand is that people will think that they have franchised into the brand by buying the books, and now can just go ahead with it without doing the necessary and appropriate research. That’s a challenge I’ve faced here. A lot of churches just jump in and do without figuring out if it meets that locations needs, etc.
That having been said, the MC approach is very effective, it is repeatable and reproducable, and can be adjusted to meet needs in many different cultures and settings, and for those reasons, I believe it is very much needed, and very much helpful. It is also a great bridge into missional thinking for many, as it is recognisable, and easily understood, and primes the pump, as it were, on missional thought.
So useful to be able to bounce ideas around like this. Makes the world seem very small. Was that a moose in my snow-covered garden…?