Lesley Cox and Martyn Payne led the first South Wales Messy Meet up recently. It sounds like a hugely successful and encouraging time. As Martyn ruefully reflected: ‘Oh that there could be this sort of openness between all churches in a district or deanery and how important it will be to work hard at safeguarding and guaranteeing that this continues to be the case within the Messy Church network.’
He sent the team a list of the main challenges and responses/ideas from the people gathered there, which has such practical grounded wisdom, I think it needs to be available to all of us:
Here were the main areas of challenge – you will recognise them all:
• How do we reach out to more local families?
• How do we get Sunday church members more on board?
• How do we avoid becoming stale with our activities and our worship songs?
• How do we get the parents to participate?
• How do we get more men involved?
• How do we get more helpers?
There were so many helpful suggestions that developed into really useful conversations on the back of these questions and included wisdom such as:
Beware seeing Messy Church as a way to revitalise Sunday church
Get out into the community and start making friendships
Get onto Facebook
Use songs from CDs, Children’s Hillsong, Fischy, YouTube and the Family Friendly Churches Trust website
Choose your times of meeting to suit the community, not yourselves
Choose activities that need parents to help the children
Messy Church only grows out of the relationships it purposefully develops within the local community
Messy Church needs to be championed by the leadership of the church
Look out for ways to include everyone in all aspects of the worship
The MC team are the ones who set the tone and the ethos of it being all age by being the good example to follow
Messy Church is church
Your greatest evangelists for Messy Church are your not-yet Christian congregation
Everyone needs to develop a ‘going-out’ mindset
Everyone has a network of mission, so use it
Seeing Messy Church as mission is key