It was a delight to receive this email from Yvonne in Southwick. If there are any Messy Churches which are similarly large, do get in touch. We’re trying to collect a supportive group of biiiiig Messy Churches as the issues are quite distinct for you. Drop us an email via the website enquiries, clearly marked ‘large Messy Church’. And meanwhile, rejoice with Yvonne and her team in what God’s doing in Southwick.
We have just held our third Messy Church, the first was in October – Messy Harvest, very successful with 87 guests, the second was in November – Messy Christmas, again very successful with 115 guests. This time we did Winter Warmers and had 145 guests – how we show the warmth of the love of Jesus in a cold climate. We made snowmen out of socks, did cornflour gloop, Messy Diaries, Heart and Hand biscuits, clay jewellery hearts, ichthus fish and crosses, colouring in, potato print hearts and hands and fish and crosses, junk modelling making something to keep you warm (ended up with a microwave, penguin?, woolly head warmers, fire, stove), heart prayers and a huge footprints path made of painted feet! and paper plate sheep. Our Celebrations have been well received and we have kept them sturdy as we don’t want to water down what we are. We had a harvest message in October, we read the Nativity story and the children helped us to construct the nativity scene in November and we had Big Bear, Little Bear and Footprints with what will you do on your journey with God to bring the warmth of Jesus into people’s lives this month. Next month is “Fishers of Men”.
We are not sure what we will do if we get any bigger….it’s a lovely problem to have but we never know how many will come each month. We are very close to the Co-op so have someone ready to go buy more food if we go over catered numbers. We keep our catering very simple, in view of our numbers, so we’ve had Spaghetti bolognaise in October with ice cream (which all proved far too difficult) soup and rolls for adults and Christmas party food boxes for children in November (which was manageable) and we just did sausages in rolls followed by ice cream with hot chocolate sauce and cakes which was much easier to manage this month.
We have to serve to tables due to the sheer chaos but we have 40 helpers so manage this fine. (The donations given by our visitors adequately cover our food costs.)
We really need (and we have all your Messy books and magazines already) ideas from bigger groups (sorry but I don’t do Facebook because of safety issues) on what we can feed people this year and also some ideas for low cost crafts and items that are easily and readily available. We live near “The Range” so we get a lot of materials from there and “The Works” too, we also use Baker Ross (but for our numbers this proves expensive) and W H Smiths and Tesco’s. Are there any larger groups that you can put us in touch with to give us ideas and support please? We have not come across a group our size yet, we are this size because the group is run by members, ecumenically, from 6 churches so our advertising reaches 6 churches, 10 schools, local shops and it’s in the local free paper.
We are seeing great success community-wise. The feedback we get (and we have done forms ourselves) is that we are reaching out as community churches; some children have joined our Girls and Boys Brigade Companies; some have joined one of the churches involved for their other activities and so we know we are moving in the right direction. Our intention is to move the way God wants us to so we do pray and wait for guidance and look for signs that we are still doing ok.
Messy Churches Together in Southwick