I was looking forward to last night’s Messy Meet-up in Southampton. Paul Woodman had signed up his Messy Church on the Directory so I’d been in touch to say hello, and as a result of that we’d agreed that a nice informal evening’s chat for local Messy Church leaders would be fun. I was bowling up the M27, thinking about having a laid-back cosy time, hearing stories and experiences, sharing issues and talking about the DVD with the 20 or so folk who had signed up the last time I’d heard.
But to our surprise, some 65 people turned up. Not really an opportunity for cosy chats, then, and more of a mini-Fiesta, as more than half the people there hadn’t started a Messy Church yet. The leaders who had started kindly shared their experience with those who hadn’t, and we covered the basics of what Messy Church is and isn’t and showed off the DVD.
Intriguing in several ways. That so many people had found out about the evening (good local networks?) That there were people there from such a wide variety of independent churches as well as longer-established ones. That so many people are still keen to find out about Messy Church. That Paul’s church does Messy Church weekly and the team is still upright! (I must put him in touch with our Australian friend who also leads a weekly one, despite my best attempts to be Pommie and defeatist about the prospect.)
One story was shared of a person with a strong sense of calling to children’s ministry, convinced that Messy Church was the way forward for her church, where there were only two families with children. But every time she tried to start something new to appeal to families, she was met with a resounding ‘no’ from the church who had no intention of ever changing anything about the way worship was. It was only when someone higher up in the church hierarchy encouraged her to go ahead that she could get going. Her first Messy Church attracted 40 children and 30 adults. I wonder, is it a mark of Christian maturity to be more prone to say ‘yes’ or to say ‘no’?