One discussion the regional coordinators had at the Round Table in September was about the value of small talk at Messy Church. One person even went so far as to say it can be sacramental and should be valued as such.
Small talk, or taking time to chat and to listen, to ‘gossip’ – which shares a root with ‘gospel’ and ‘godparent’ – is an undervalued art: I sometimes wonder how much the ministry of the Church is held back by our lack of social skills alone. How can we possibly expect people to trust us if we don’t take time to listen to their concerns about schoolwork, girl friends, Internet safety, unemployment, what Hubert did in the playground, and create some common ground, some threshold space where both sides have something to give.
So at Messy Church, where we have so much opportunity to gossip, to share news, especially good news, let’s not be so busy that we allow the jobs to take the place of relationships. The day I hear myself saying, ‘Now be quiet so I can show you how to do this craft’ is the day to run away to sea.
Small talk can include or lead on to God talk too, of course. Martyn’s summary of the Round Table discussions include this:
‘It was difficult to find people confident enough to talk about God naturally. However, any small talk is good and building a relationship is the first step to further talk. Prompt question cards linked to the craft activity sometimes work. A prayer craft station is always popular. But how do we train our teams to talk about God?’