I have so enjoyed my many Messy Church visits during these last years with the team… over 200 Messy Church meals, celebrations and journeys all round the UK, alongside at least 100 more opportunities to meet teams and leaders at training events and Messy Meet-ups. What amazing pioneer ministers you all are! I shall miss this so much when I step back from this role in December. But these final months do, I suppose, give me even more excuse to reflect on what God is doing in and through Messy Church, while I am still in the midst of the Mess.
So, if I were pushed to identify one crucial ‘success’ factor for a Messy Church, then I would have to say it is the willingness of the Messy team to be true reflective practitioners. Prayerful and thoughtful leaders, who aren’t just in the business of ‘delivering Messy Church’, however efficiently or even creatively, but rather committed and passionate Christians who are also learners after every Messy session, both from their new congregation and from each other. Sensitive and humble servants of mess, who sincerely want to do it better and who are willing never to give up being risk takers, unafraid of failure. I wonder how your teams and, indeed my own team, measure up to this challenging description.
So, to help us become better reflective practitioners, perhaps you might like use some of the following starter questions at your next messy team meeting before you get into who is doing which activity and who is buying the pasta?!
I wonder what made our last Messy Church service memorable. Why was that and what did God say to us through this?
I wonder how God surprised us last time – maybe by providing all we needed to run Messy Church when we felt we were out of ideas, resources, team and energy! How can we record this special moment in some way as a time when God came very close?
I wonder how well we managed to welcome any new children and adults last time. How can we remember their names and encourage them to move from first-time or occasional attenders to regulars?
I wonder how last month’s Messy Church Bible story impacted our own discipleship. What did the story have to say to us?
I wonder who at Messy Church taught us most about trusting God the last time we met.
I wonder what needs to be done differently next time.
I wonder how our Messy Church ‘challenges’ have changed over time.
I wonder how we are intentionally pursuing Messy discipleship with our Messy congregation, recognising that there are no simple answers to how we help people on a journey of faith in Messy Church. Indeed, some routes may prove to be dead ends, but God can often teach us more from wrong turnings than from ‘success’. So, how can we help our guests on in their faith journey through Messy extras or developing ‘faith at home’ or by deepening what we do in our Messy Church?
I wonder how connected we have stayed to the wider messy family through BRF, the Messy Facebook page, the Messy website or Regional Coordinator newsletters. (There’s so much love and support out there, please don’t miss it! And how about reading a Messy book – Being Messy Being Church is a seriously cracking read!)
I wonder how close we have stayed to the five values of Messy Church. They are proven formula for God’s blessing, if observed. So, how extreme has our hospitality been; how joyful our celebration; how varied our creativity; how intentional have we been at remaining all age; and how prayerful and Christ-centred have we been in every aspect of our Messy Church?
And finally, I wonder if we should try and visit another Messy Church somewhere nearby this next term.
I would, of course, thoroughly recommend this last reflection! I have learned so much from my visits that not only help the team at BRF, but they have also shaped and inspired what we do in our own Messy Church. I may be stepping back, but I am glad that I still have a few more months of exciting Messy visits to look forward to!