At the start of a New Year, it’s good practice to pause for a moment and reflect on the year that’s past, giving thanks to God for both the opportunities and challenges. Noticing where we see God at work in our ministry serves as a good reminder of God’s faithfulness in all we do, as we prayerfully ask the questions: What went well? Even better if? Where is God at work?
In December, Sally, Jane and I met online and took time to notice God at work through the ministry of the BRF ministries Messy Church team, in 2023. Here are our highlights:
We thank God for…
- 2 full years of working together!
- Messy Church Goes Wild – release of Messy Adventures multi-author resource, both online and in print. Stories of how the resource is enabling churches to get outside and reach a new group of people.
- Messy Church Goes Wild roadshows in Stockport (Chester Diocese) and 2 locations on the same day at Bath & Wells Diocese. Whilst ‘on the move’ around the farm, we paused at a small pond. One girl piped up, ‘So who wants to get baptised?’, the perfect segway to a group discussion about baptism.
- New partnerships to create resources: ‘Christmas around the Fire’ with Hazelnut Community Farm; Christian Aid Harvest session and repurposing the Bin twinning session to become a Tearfund ‘Rubbish Messy Church’
- Our volunteer writer’s team’s Coronation session (1300 downloads).
- Our Support Teams and all their wisdom, advice, prayer, and coaching skills they’ve freely given to those starting and continuing their Messy Church journeys.
- Greenbelt – we enjoyed being festival makers, bringing Messy Church Goes Wild to a new audience with our ‘In darkness and light’ and ‘On the move’
- Glorious weather again for our 24-hour team retreat in June – an opportunity to pause, prayer walk, listen to God, and plan for the Messy Church season ahead.
- Momentum of the masterclasses – 31 masterclasses delivered by BRF ministries Messy Church team and 5 volunteer trainers, with 363 attendees.
- Launch of ‘How to…’ short training videos and accompanying ‘top tips’ downloads covering topics: building a team; advertising your Messy Church; and welcoming those with special educational needs.
- Reconfiguration of Get Messy! magazine to become an annual publication of 12 sessions, with continued commitment to encourage new session writers from a variety of backgrounds.
- Online Messy Meetup’s – the chance to connect and hear from individual Messy Churches.
- Our Messy Church Key International Leaders Group Online (MCKILGO!) – opportunities to connect, pray and learn from Messy Church leaders around the world.
- For new partnerships with Christian charities in both Norway and Finland, who will be the ‘home of Messy Church’, helping to develop and support the movement in their regions.
- Growing Faith Foundation Strategic Leaders Programme – fantastic professional development for both Aike and Jane.
- BRF ministries and all the people within the charity that support our team.
- People who financially support BRF ministries Messy Church team, enabling our roles.
- 1667 Messy Churches on the directory, of which 140 were new during 2023, representing an amazing bunch of people involved in Messy Church, with a heart for bringing God’s kingdom to our local communities.
- Our Messy young leaders Erin, Jonathan and Cameron, who host the young leaders zoom, and for the increased number of young leaders that have joined.
- A new Messy Church website.
Like any ministry, we’ve had our challenges. Our most significant is the continued cost of living crises, which has resulted in a decrease in donations to BRF ministries and the work of our Messy Church team. As a result, (and with much sadness), we closed the year with a number of staff redundancies across the departments at BRF ministries, including our admin support. Aike, along with other senior management staff, have dropped down to a 4-day week, to save money.
Last week, Aike, Jane, Sally met with others at the Abingdon office, to re-assess our work. Our vision and values for Messy Church remain the same, but what and how we deliver the ministry needs to be tweaked. Our most obvious change is that, except for our ‘Starting a Messy Church’ masterclass, we have introduced a small charge to our online Masterclasses. For now, we hope to keep our online Messy Meetups cost-free, but will continue to invite donations. Our team is hopeful that we can still provide training, resources and support for our Messy Church network, but it might take us just a little longer to respond to requests, as we get used to reduced hours and take on different responsibilities.
However, I’m reminded of Philippians 4:4-7, where Paul encourages us to:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
So, we rejoice and celebrate all the good things (or God things) that have happened during 2023, both for the BRF ministries Messy Church team and in the lives of Messy Churches around the world. We continue to rejoice, even though we are challenged, confident that God is walking alongside us.
As we launch into 2024, we continue to commit the ministry to prayer, and invite you to do the same.
May you know the peace of God in all you do. The Lord is near!
what are your 2023 highlights and challenges?
where have you noticed God at work?
where has God been faithful?
what do you need to commit to our loving God in prayer?
BRF ministries Messy Church Ministry Lead