Numbers again

Published 12th April 2011 by lucy moore

High numbers are neither here nor there, but they are encouraging, not just to Emma and her (obviously wonderful) team but to all of us who can share in the rejoicing.
An email recently from Emma, who wrote:
‘We have recently started Messy Church half-termly, on a Wednesday at our church. We have established toddler groups and many families in our local area are in and out of the building midweek, so to do Messy Church for us was a fantastic opportunity. We have just run our second service, which was on the Easter story and we found the ideas in your book extremely useful. There is one problem through, and it is a fantastic one: we had too many people! For our first MC we had 120 people, which we were thrilled about, and this Wednesday it grew to over 180. God blessed us with good weather and some of the messier crafts, i.e. stone rolling, took place outside. The church was wonderfully packed out with local families and the atmosphere was fantastic. Some amazing ladies took on the task of producing dinner for all these people and made it look effortless. However; we ended up with people sitting outside and on each other’s laps and, although we coped with this and everyone went away with smiles on their faces, we cannot sustain this amount of people (and the thought of more tunring up!) in the long run. I hate the thought of turning people away but do you have any advice or experience on how to manage or limit numbers in such situations.’
For what it’s worth, I replied
‘Thanks for getting in touch, and of course we’re all shouting, “What a lovely problem to have!” but that doesn’t stop it being a problem!
‘If I were you I should give it six months and you’ll probably see it settle down to a fairly regular number that you can cope with. If it settles at an enormous number, however, you might want to think about running two in parallel, not so that people go to both but so that you can put on the same crafts and meal and celebration but on two different days of the week and with two different teams. The MC in Claygate in Surrey did just that and it works well for them. Another solution would be to invite another local church to work with you in putting one on on another day so that it’s an ecumenical venture and shares the burden, trains up a larger team on the job and makes the most of the mission opportunities.
‘For my own nosiness, I’d love to know why they’re coming, if you ever manage to find out.
‘But brace yourselves for the short term, send regular boxes of chocolates to your cooks’ team for the duration and I think you’ll find it does settle to something manageable.
Hope that’s helpful. Much praising of God and alleluias that you and your team are obviously doing such a fantastic job!’

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