On Saturday I ventured along the road to St Philip’s CofS to see Messy Church and how it works. St P’s have just started doing it (this was their 2nd) with the help of Reuben and Rosie who are passionate about it. Messy Church is one of those things that you keep hearing about and think you know what it is but are just not quite sure. So now I know. Shall I tell you?
Messy Church is not about your existing church and children. It is about new people coming in to church that doesn’t happen on Sunday morning. You might need your existing children and parents to kick-start it but ideally it is about getting new folk to come to church and finding out that it needn’t be stuffy and regimented like it may be on Sunday mornings with tutting when kids make a noise. St P’s are doing it monthly on a Saturday afternoon.
We began with a welcome in the hall (paying £1) and the kids ran off to paint on the grafitti wall, or play giant floor Ludo, or make a train set up, or draw and stencil. There was juice and healthy snacks too (and hot stuff for grown-ups). The hall was partioned off so this all happened in one third. Parents were joining in or chatting to one another. The theme was Harvest. After a while we got into 2 teams and played a game, and then had to guess how far some fruit had travelled. (Our team won!) Then someone told us a story about food miles. I met a nice CofS candidate from St Christopher’s whose name I forget but she was helping too.
Then we all moved to the other part of the hall where the Crafts were. There were a few stations that children could choose: making pics from seeds, beans etc; making fruit and veg with readyrolled icing; making flans with custard, toffee sauce and fruit; and fishing with a magnet. All the time the Harvest theme popped up. Children moved around at will and had a go at everything.
After about an hour we all moved through to church for some quiet time. First we had a Fischy music song and then Rev Stewart sat us all in a circle on the floor and asked the kids what they’d enjoyed most. Lots of highlights. Then he told us a story in Godly Play style and then we had some chill out time with more music and a prayer.
Back to the hall and the pixies had been busy and set the tables for a shared meal. I didn’t stay but I think it was soup and the flans that the kids had made.
My observations were that it was an exciting way of being church for children and parents. No worries about kids making a mess or making a noise. It was a good way of getting to know other parents in the area and for kids too. The ‘religion’ was gentle and not threatening too. I can see that non-church goers might find this surprising but really warm to it. Someone said that ‘Sunday people’ kept asking when they were going to come to proper church but of course Messy Church is proper church for them. They may feed in to trad church but they may not, and that’s fine.
Issues are: lots of resources in terms of people (musical, crafty, confident to tell stories) and finance needed; whole church needs to be committed to it; works well with a hall and church so not sure how we would manage. Need to pray and think about it.
It was excellent though and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Thanks St P’s and Rosie and Reuben.