In the United Kingdom the church has embraced the reality that there need to be new and fresh expressions of the church. It is interesting to see what directions these new expressions have gone—today I spent much of the day reading and learning about the many fresh expression of church being birthed by the Holy Spirit—you can read more at: http://www.freshexpressions.org.uk
One I keep going back to is…Messy Church.
Here is what a Messy Church is (taken from their website, http://www.messychurch.org.uk)
- A church for adults and children to enjoy together.
- It’s primarily for people who don’t belong to another form of church already
- It’s all-age.
- It’s fun.
- Its aim is to introduce Jesus, to give an opportunity to encounter him and to grow closer to him.
- It usually includes some creative time to explore the biblical theme through getting messy; a celebration time which might involve story, prayer, song, games and similar; and a meal together.
- Its values are those of hospitality, creativity and celebration.
- It models and promotes good ways of growing as a family: a nuclear family, an extended family and a global and local church family.
- It meets any time during the week, at a time most convenient for people locally.
- It usually meets once a month.
- The first one started in Hampshire in 2004 and the idea has spread so that there are now many Messy Churches.
Here is the basic format
3.30 – welcome
4.00 – crafts
5.00 – celebration
5.15 – meal
The aims are:
to provide an opportunity for people of all ages to worship together
to help people of all ages feel they belong in church and to each other
to help people have fun and be creative together
to introduce Jesus through hospitality, friendship, stories and worship
Maybe even more helpful is what it isn’t (also from their website)
- Just for children
- A club
- A way of getting people to come to church on Sunday
- Just for church families
- Just for families
- A quick fix
- An easy option
- A drain on church resources
- Set in stone
One thing I am learning is that a “house church network” might not only be a network of more “traditional” house churches but also Messy Churches. Yesterday I emailed those responsible for the movement and they gave me permission to start Messy Churches (so I ordered the materials today).
The easiest way to link to this might be working with churches with preschools, afterschool programs and childcare centers inviting these families (families plus also extended families, so single folks and grandparents too) to start a Messy Church for these families that might never come on Sunday.
As preschoolers are my favorite people, I just love all this….
What do you think?