The Archbishop of Canterbury says some very helpful stuff in a filmed interview with Barry ‘Subtle Shirts’ Hill for the Fresh Expressions gathering. One phrase which stood out for me is the encouragement to take risks: ‘Safety First doesn’t work these days.’ He’s not talking about leaving the hot glue gun out for the toddlers to play with, but rather an encouragement to try new things and not get our knickers in a twist if – when – we fail. It’s a real permission to be brave and say, ‘What if we….?’
I love the way that Messy Church stays right on the edge as well as snuggling right into the heart of a local church’s life. Being on the edge, fragile and vulnerable, groaning if just one person drops out of your tiny team, wondering how long you can keep going without a key minister’s support, listening patiently to the complaints about glitter clogging up the hoover yet again: every Messy Church session matters infinitely much and, at the same time, really doesn’t matter at all in the glorious plan of God. He chooses to use us, but doesn’t need to. Putting on a Messy Church session is an act of faith, a miracle of something beautiful out of nothing, a triumph of imagination over complacency.
Let’s take more risks, let’s try out new things and share the joys and disasters and wobble forwards happily together. If people shake their heads, say you’ve got permission from the Archbishop. Try asking at your next team meeting, ‘What if we…?’
After all, if this is God’s work, not ours, what’s the worst thing that could possibly happen?