Published 18th September 2013 by lucy moore

Richard White from Liverpool sent us this fascinating report of Zone2, which may well have resources you’d find useful in your Messy work and in any case is interesting to consider as a way of getting slightly messy!
Richard writes: If you visit Liverpool Cathedral on a Sunday morning, you’ll discover two worship services in very different styles happening at the same time. Alongside the traditional choral service, there is Zone2, an all-age, cafe-style congregation.
Zone2 began in March 2011 with a team of nine adults and nine children. It grew quickly, attracting people on the fringe and then others who weren’t churchgoers. Within 18 months the room we meet in was becoming too cramped with 55+ attending most weeks. Having grown a vibrant and very relational community, we agonised and prayed over the next step. Relocating to a larger space was a very attractive option but we were concerned that it would quickly lose the informal social style and become intimidating for new people to take part at the front. So in April 2013 we multiplied to two congregations with 10.30 am and 4 pm services led by different teams.
An Old Oak and lots of daffodils
There is an oak tree in Calderstones Park, Liverpool, which is thought to be 1000 years old. Each Spring hundreds of daffodils bloom in the shade of the Old Oak, protected by the fence around it, and spread into the rest of the park.
It’s a great picture of our vision for Liverpool Cathedral, the biggest Anglican cathedral in the world, with lots of oak panelling! We don’t only want to plant our own new, small, fragile, colourful, life-filled Zone2 congregations, but also help similar initiatives to spread far across the Diocese of Liverpool and beyond.
A key part of that has been setting up, a resource library with tons of the resources we have used and new ones added every month. Seven of the ten poorest parishes in the country are in Liverpool Diocese, so we’re also supporting parishes with very few resources who want to dare to try something similar. In May 2013, Holy Trinity, St Helens changed their Sunday service to this model. It’s not called Zone2 – that would be silly – it’s called Holy Trinity! The second partnership is underway with plans to launch in Autumn 2013 at St Hilda’s Hunts Cross. In this case it will be a parallel service in their church hall on Sunday mornings called ‘Space’.
A bit less messy and a bit more churchy?
Our experience has been that those who come to a ‘service’ on a Sunday are comfortable with something a little less messy and a little more churchy. Three of our ‘distinctives’ are:
Weekly worship: we’ve met weekly from the start though we did stop in main school holidays for the first year as the team grew. We’ve found that this has enabled some aspects of community to grow and deepen much more quickly. In a society where many can only make it to one out of every two or three services, we see them every few weeks instead of every few months. Meeting weekly has forced us to stay simple and keep growing the team with plenty of roles for people to step into.
All Age: it has been wonderful to work to build a congregation in which the ‘default’ setting is all age. Zone2 is not a family-oriented service. Around a third attending each week are children and many come without children. We work very hard to try to ensure there is something in the worship for teenagers, young adults, those who come alone, and so on. It’s a challenge and we often get it wrong, but the core ethos is that this is church as family in the very broadest sense.
Cafe Style: there are some amazing groups doing ‘cafe church’. We really admire them, but that isn’t what we mean by cafe style. We serve drinks and snacks only at the beginning. But we have found that simply welcoming people in that way and then being seated around round tables of seven to ten people creates the atmosphere for getting to know one another and taking part.
Messy Church has had a huge impact in this region. Many groups connect with far more non-church people than Zone2. We think there’s incredible potential for the two models to work together!

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