Report from Lisieux Way Messy Church: Reporting back to the Parish Church

Published 10th March 2015 by lucy moore

Lisieux Way Messy Church wrote a report to their ‘sending’ church and have kindly given permission for us to reproduce it here. It might be a useful pattern for others to use and is certainly inspirational. Thank you Lilian Gill! The Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/LisieuxWayMessyChurch
Report Messy Church (February 2015)
Messy Church values are:
Christ-centred
Messy Church is a church, not a craft club, that helps people encounter Jesus as Lord and Saviour.
All-age
It is for adults and children to enjoy together – every element should be relevant and accessible to all ages.
Creativity
It uses hands-on activities to explore Bible stories, to reflect a God of creativity and to give people a chance to play together.
Hospitality*
It reflects a God of unconditional love and is a church for people outside church, providing an oasis of welcome and a safe space in which to thrive. Messy Church is about hospitality, expressed most evidently by eating together – whether it’s a plate of sandwiches to share, or sausage and mash.
Celebration
It reflects a God of joy who wants his people to have life in all its fullness
Messy Church was started in January 2010.
What do we do?
We meet once a month from after school until five O’clock. We begin with refreshments and general play such as word searches, activity sheets and Lego until most have arrived and eaten. Then there are songs to sing, a DVD or story followed by about six crafts related to the story. The crafts are ideas that are not peculiar to Messy Church but have been successful in other situations. After the children and adults have had a chance to do these things we come together for a short time to show what has been made and finish with prayer. There can be games. In January 2014 seventeen children used scrapbooks to make a diary (with Messy Church dates) and in January 2015 they made calendars.
How many come?
In the first six months we have had between sixteen and twenty children a month plus the adults. In the last year we have a core of regular families including grandparents that bring the children. One Mum Emma has consistently brought many new families and children into Messy Church. In January she brought her own two plus four other boys but some of those came with their Mum’s last year.
We need eight to twelve volunteers and it is hard if we are short as the tables need an adult there in addition to people to kitchen and those that circulate to talk to the adults.
We have between ten and twenty children and often a total of thirty five to forty if we counted everyone as we would on a Sunday.
Why do they come?
 They enjoy the activities especially the food craft each month- adults have commented in the past on how well run it is with plenty of volunteers although we have been short recently. We are clear about using Bible stories and some of the children enjoy the crafts so much they want their parents to come. One family are on the cradle roll. There are young siblings that have grown up with us and younger children have never been a problem. This makes it more accessible in the same way that another Messy Church in Chard has what looks much like an older version of parent and toddler with many children under eight years old.
Why is this so important?
It is clear that adults are really watching and listening, possibly hearing these Bible stories for the first time. It can also be an introduction to what we believe as much as the children
The school next door
The links with the school are very important and would be in any situation as we seek to reach out to our community. In the autumn term of 2009 we (Debbie Borda and I) went in to do an assembly and in December explained the Christingle. We were able to do an assembly in the week before Messy Church in January and February 2010. This helped us to get established. Over the years we have put flyers into school which acted as a reminder. Then we could not go into school for a long period. Andrew and I did an assembly last November.
Contact
Keeping in touch is important. Since I did sheets in the autumn of 2013 I have been able to e mail and put reminders in their letter boxes as many are local to this estate. 
However we do need the dates of birth of the children- remembering birthdays may appear to be an extra. But any after school club keeps a record to know which school year the children are in and when they change schools. Older children do have many after school clubs and when they move to a bigger school they will have further to travel to reach us. If they don’t want to miss half a session it is a good reason to stop coming.We have been able to put flyers into school in recent months. This has brought new families in to try us. The pink notices we put up each Sunday help people to remember which Thursday we meet as they pass on their way to school or shops. One grandparent saw our notices when she came to the hall for a flu jab and came once.
Do these families have any other contact with a church?
Since adults do not always feel confident about writing prayers I get the impression that many have no contact with a church as in Sunday worship. However Mums do want the best and will go to other churches for groups that will keep their children occupied. One single parent I know goes occasionally to Riverside but her child finds that the worship sessions before Sunday school are long. Another Mum talks to a town chaplain at her workplace. One Mum has brought her son to Monday club at Rowbarton since it is closer to where she lives.
Our input is just a part but God can fit all the pieces together. One Mum asked for prayer in November 2013 and did say in January that it helped.
Conclusion
We are building a midweek form of church that may be a different community in some ways to our worship on Sundays- however we do keep them informed of special services at Christmas and Easter so that they can choose to attend if they wish. However since Sunday church is clearly not part of their routine we have introduced Messy Carols on the first Thursday in December. This has grown so that last year we had fifteen children and  of the thirty five or so attending many made an effort even though they has been unable to get to regular Messy Church in the previous three months. We do not expect this community to transfer to Sunday but we do want to help them in their own journey of faith. We have given them books at Christmas and highlighted what we believe at Easter and Halloween.
Challenges
We have tried various ways to show that our stories are from the Bible using welcome sheets or putting it on song sheets. The challenge is to keep it Christ centred. We have used the material from the Messy Magazine although in 2015 we have planned six sessions on Joseph from the Old Testament.
We want to use one song for a few months and also a prayer that we can encourage them to take home
Do we help people encounter Jesus as Lord?
Do we reflect a God of unconditional love and is a church for people outside church, providing an oasis of welcome and a safe space in which to thrive?
Thank you prayers from Messy Church September 2014
Adults:
Thank you for all the crazy children
Thank you for health and happiness
Thank you for grandchildren
Thank you for family and friends
Thank you for my two healthy children
Thank you for having Samuel as my grandson
Children:
Thank you for my family and my football skills
Compoter (computer)
Thank you for the friends
Thank you for my good goalkeeping
It was interesting that a boy that came for the first time really grasped the idea of giving thanks and asked all the adults around to add their thank you when we were saying them out loud at the end.
Prayer
When I touch my head I think of you Father God,
when I put my hand on my heart 
I say that I love you,
when I touch my mouth
 I ask you to give me the food that I need,
when I bow my head I say sorry for the wrong things I have done,
when I lift my head I know you have forgiven me
and when I open my arms I ask you to help me be friends with everyone. Amen

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