Messy Church started in 2004 in Portsmouth and now there are about 4,000 registered Messy Churches, with new ones starting all the time, even during lockdown. This week Cyber Messy Church was launched.
There are Messy Churches worldwide from Albania and Australia to Ukraine and the USA, with regional coordinators for support.
Messy Church is all about being Christ-centred, for all ages, creativity, hospitality and celebration, and these five values are at the heart of what makes this way of being church work.
It is primarily aimed for people who don’t already belong to another form of church. Its motto is ‘Church but not as you know it’.
A research study by the Church Army has shown that Messy Church is not ‘just a bit of fun’. It is reaching people that would not otherwise go to church, making disciples and modelling new patterns of leadership, and it is doing so across a wide range of economic and social contexts.
Messy Vintage is a missional offshoot of Messy Church, a movement that takes Messy Church values and good practice to older people, mainly in residential homes.
Messy Men is for men in prison, again with activities to engage them. For example a pack of broken biscuits illustrated how Jesus came for those who are broken inside when their outside seems ok.
Rochester Prison hosts Messy Church in the family visiting area where families can make crafts to take to their loved ones inside, so strengthening family ties.
Get Messy! is a magazine with helpful articles from around the world and monthly themes with suggested activities. There are also ideas online for Messy Church at Home, and advice on how we should safely return to Messy Church in person.
During the pandemic, Messy Church has a weekly Facebook Live on Wednesdays, 9am and 8pm, when someone speaks for half an hour about their experiences. We add comments which makes a conversation. It makes us realise that Messy Church is worldwide when we see someone from New Zealand in summer clothes while we had snow last week. A comment from this morning, ‘Gathered church should be the occasional expression of the true church which is at home, church in the family, church in the community, church on the streets, church at work…etc’. What do you think?
Colin and I have taken part in Messy Meetups in a Bromley Café, and online during lockdown, when we can exchange ideas and encourage others, again with insights from far and near.
Here at Emmanuel we have shared with Ruth in hosting Messy Church on Zoom with bags of related activities delivered to families. It has been good that David has been able to join in before he leads worship for everyone at 11, and also that he was able to host the Crib Service on Zoom from the manse. We are all missing being Messy Church in person and hope that we can be Messy again soon.