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Messy Church

(28 Posts)
Italiangreyhound Wed 10-Apr-13 19:01:39

Hi, can anyone tell me if they have set up a 'Messy Church', why they did it, how the did it and how it worked out, please?

'If you don't want a big ling debate about it and just want to PM me, please do.


stressedHEmum Wed 10-Apr-13 19:17:03

we are in the middle of setting up Messy Church. A fair few churches round about here have done so in the last 2 or 3 years.


to spread the Gospel to people who otherwise wouldn't darken our door, because we are a very old fashioned church with traditional services which don't offer much to families and kids

to build links between our church and our community - for a very long time, our particular church has been very insular and opposed to change, some of us feel that this is not a good thing and that we should be reaching out more and making our message more relevant and accessible

how -

we are in the early stages, but I can tell you what we have done and what the church in the next town did.

First of all, we had to persuade our Session that it was a good idea - this took a LONG time, but they are beginning to come round to the idea. We have all the books etc and are trying to work out a plan. We are assembling materials etc for a pilot which is being advertised in our local paper. We are going into schools with leaflets. We are having an SU summer mission, so we will publicise it to all the kids at that. We are trying to get a team of volunteers together - this is quite heavy going, tbh.

Nearby church - had the same problems with Session, but managed to get some funding and a team together. They put out a questionnaire to every house in their Parish asking questions like - what day/time would people prefer? what they would be looking for from messy church? what age group/s would be involved? They got a lot of responses and frequently get 80 or 90 kids along to their Messy Church as well as their parents.

Italiangreyhound Wed 10-Apr-13 19:47:24

Thanks stressedHEmum that is great. We too have a summer mission and I wonder if that might be a way to kick something off.

stressedHEmum Thu 11-Apr-13 10:07:46

That's what we're hoping for, Italian. If the kids enjoy the Mission, they might want to take part in Messy Church. I think that, normally, the idea would be to invite them along to Sunday School but our SS is dead on it's feet. It hasn't changed for about 30 years, in fact some of the resources that they use have been getting recycled for 30 years. It has shrunk from about 40 kids ten years ago to my children, now. If kids come to the Mission, they will be looking for more of the same at Sunday School and ours just won't give them that. Sadly, there isn't the will to change within Sunday School staff.

This is a very long term project for me and my wee Outreach Committee. I started bringing it up 3 or 4 years ago and was repeatedly dismissed. But for the last couple of years, since we set up the committee, we have been slowly gaining some ground and now we have permission to have a pilot session. Hopefully God will bless us with some success and move people's hearts to support this new type of mission

May God bless your efforts, too.

madhairday Thu 11-Apr-13 10:45:39

Yes, I have been involved in setting up MC in the past and we are about to do a similar thing here (fresh expressions pioneer ministry)

It's such a positive thing, and a great way to engage with the community, and bring people into church who would not consider it. If done well it can be really great. I'd recommend going on a MC training day, we went on one and it helped a lot with ideas and with motivation, it also explained the background to MC, history etc.

You need a fairly good sized team of people. We did around 4 craft 'tables' so needed at least one person per table, to organize setting it up and to help the children with it, then you'd need kitchen people for tea, coffee and the meal, a leader person for the 'service', someone to lead music etc. Then bodies to do registration, be available, chat to people etc. It's not something to undertake lightly. You need to make sure they are all CRBd (I know some say they don't need to be as parents there, but I think it's important and gives you more integrity - esp for those co-ordinating craft tables)

With the meal, we always did something that was fairly easy as we never knew numbers etc - so hot dogs, jacket potatoes, pizza etc, and then a pudding like mousses that could be kept for another time.

We used the MC books as they were helpful - basically set out a whole session inc teaching and food - we did change bits but they're a very useful framework.

hth a bit - have more but have to go out.

Italiangreyhound Thu 11-Apr-13 11:49:08

Stresed and Mad, fab, thanks, great advice. We do currently do a similar thing already but I wondered about the idea of also doing Messy Church.

Can I ask, how did you decide when to do it, Saturday or Sunday, morning or afternoon or week days?

Do you get mums and dads and other family members as well as kids?

How did you publicise it?

Thanks so much.

stressedHEmum Thu 11-Apr-13 13:33:17

We are having ours on a Saturday morning, finishing off with lunch, just because of logistics and availability of helpers, really.

The church in the next town has their's on a Saturday between 4-6pm. They asked on their questionnaire when would the best time be for local families and that' the answer that they got. SO everyone who comes gets their main meal of the day at MC. They also get mums and dads coming along. The parent's all sit and drink tea and eat cake while the kids have a great time.

Churches in this area publicise their MC in the local press, in shops etc, in schools and also in the Life and Work which is the magazine of the CoS.

I agree with Mad. Everyone needs to be PVG'd (disclosed) and the folk involved with the meal need to have their food handling certificates. Church nearby has a team of 15 people which is the least that they can get away with, to be honest. It's getting a team together that is holding us back at the moment because people don't really want to get involved and the SS staff see it as a threat to their Sunday Schoolsad

Italiangreyhound Mon 22-Apr-13 00:39:38

I am very pleased we are looking into Messy churches in our area to see what they do. We do do a similar thing but the bit we don't exactly do is the celebration.

Can anyone who does Messy church tell me a bit about what they do in the celebration bit, please?

How is the celebration bit received generally?

Many thanks.

BrittaPie Mon 22-Apr-13 00:44:17

What on earth is messy church?

Italiangreyhound Mon 22-Apr-13 01:05:35

Hi BrittaPie

Messy Church is a way of doing church which is welcoming and open to families. Actually, maybe I should let someone else, who has experience of it, answer!

We do something similar but I wanted to find out more about it.

Italiangreyhound Mon 22-Apr-13 01:06:16

I should say that there are lots of ways of being and doing church that are welcoming to families, this is just one way.

thegreenheartofmanyroundabouts Mon 22-Apr-13 07:41:34

Yes we do something similar but don't call it messy church. It is our second largest congregation and we are aiming to grow it further.

I set a facebook page for it when I joined the church and I'm looking to improve our website so that it is more family friendly to get the word out as I live in a very big town and it is a different vibe to small leafy village where everyone knows everyone else and WoM can operate very well.

yellowhousewithareddoor Mon 22-Apr-13 07:52:31

We go to a midweek one and its fantastic. Its great not having to cook that night (they do shepherds pie, pasta and sausagey sauce, apple she etc) and all the craft activities (about 6-8 and a biscuit or cake to decorate.) mean my children are ready for bed afterwards. I honestly think not having to cook is one of its biggest draws.

However I wouldn't underestimate the work required. Its much more intensive than a toddler group. The one we go to gas a lovely team, often with retired folk on the tables.

Italiangreyhound Mon 22-Apr-13 20:37:45

Sounds great Yellow.

Italiangreyhound Mon 22-Apr-13 20:38:04

What happens in the celebration bit?

yellowhousewithareddoor Mon 22-Apr-13 20:51:06

We cross over into the church (traditional) and usually there is a short talk that ties into the theme of the crafts, adults and children sit in the pews but either volunteers come forwards or lots of the kids depending on talk. Some kids just play in pews. A guy with a guitar does a "kids song" (I think its cringy but they seem to like it) and then the vicar does a prayer (they sometimes kneel at the rail- well, some of them) and then everyone who knows it says grace before going back into the hall for tea.

HappySunflower Mon 22-Apr-13 21:00:45

We go to one at a local Church, and its the highlight of our month tbh!

It runs on a Sunday afternoon, for 2 hours.
It starts with a fifteen minute, very low key kids church with a few songs and an interactive story, then lots of FAB activities appropriate for all ages.
The session finishes with tea. Sometimes its jacket potatoes with different fillings, pizza and salad or pasta and garlic bread. Yoghurt and fruit for pudding.

My little girl and I love it smile

BeckyJoM Mon 22-Apr-13 21:23:14


It's great that you're looking at Messy Church, it is a fantastic way for families who want to experience church, but perhaps the idea of dressing up in your Sunday best for a traditional service doesn't appeal, to do so. As you say, there are other ideas out there too!

I've been involved in running a Messy Church at my home church for the last year. We've recently moved to be part of a new church in a new community and we will be starting a Messy Church there next week! I'm also a regional coordinator. It's a voluntary role which basically exists to help communication between local Messy Churches and helps new Messy Churches as they set up. It's worth having a look on the Messy Church website to see if you have a regional coordinator in your area who may be able to help you. There is also a DVD which helps to share the vision for Messy Church and really helped us when we were setting up to see what we were looking at.

In response to the questions I've picked up from the stream:

Messy Churches meet at all times of the week, Sunday mornings, afternoons, Saturday mornings and afternoons, weekdays after school too. To work out the best time to run yours, you really need to find out when works best for the families in your area and find out what your volunteers can commit to too. Most Messy Churches take place once a month and last for about 2 hours. A 'typical' session looks something like the following:

15 mins - registration, welcome and introduction, can include refreshments and a 'teaser' as to what will follow during the course of the session.

45 mins - activity time, including but not exclusively crafts. Typically, there will be about 10 activities which relate to the story or theme. These should be designed to enable everyone to get stuck in, parents too! As well as the crafts, food based activities, such as biscuit icing etc. work well and some kind of challenges, games or competitions which will particularly engage the boys. There are lots of ideas in the books to get you started, but take ideas from your team!

15 mins - celebration. This usually includes a song or two, the telling of the story in a creative way along with some kind of explanation, and concludes with a pray. Many groups use this as an opportunity to say grace, before sitting down together for the...

45 mins - meal. For some churches, this is a spread of sandwiches and cakes, for others, a cooked meal, depending on the day and time you meet as well as the team and facilities you have. This is a great time to sit down together though and to build community.

I hope this helps. Do find out if you have a regional coordinator, they can put you in touch with some local Messy Churches you can visit and answer any further questions you may have. Please let me know if I can help in any way at all.

Have fun getting Messy!

Italiangreyhound Mon 22-Apr-13 21:56:49

Yellow and Sunflower sounds wonderful, thanks.

Is the food important, does it add to the whole thing?

HappySunflower Mon 22-Apr-13 22:02:48

The food bit is great. Its lovely to sit down all together and eat and I've made friends with other parents because of the social aspect of sitting enjoying a meal together. when I say's very simple and basic.

At the one we go to, there are 8 volunteers plus the vicar. 5+ vicar are active within the session, with 3 in the kitchen prepping food.
It all finishes around 6 which means we go straight home for bath, story, bed as we've both eaten.

Italiangreyhound Mon 22-Apr-13 22:08:17

Sunflower did you go to church before Messy Church?

AnnaBegins Mon 22-Apr-13 22:15:32

Our church has messy church on a saturday, I've not been yet as I assumed it was for kids but it sounds brill from what you are saying! Apparently our very small village church gets about 25 people regularly.

ThreeBeeOneGee Mon 22-Apr-13 22:25:12

I have been to Messy Church at two different churches. Both were after school on a weekday. Both were for children aged about 5-9 with their parents. The formats were as follows:

1. Arrive, chat, tea/squash, crafts are explained, along with the 'theme'. Move to craft room, chance to do three to four activities, each activity based on a different table. Move back to eating room, hot meal served. Prayer. Collect crafts (named paper bags). Home time.

2. Arrive, chat, tea/squash, cake. 2-3 worship songs, story, crafts are explained along with 'theme'. Chance to do three to four activities, each activity based on different table. 2 more worship songs. Prayer. Collect crafts. Home time.

Both were fine. Obviously the meal was appreciated, but it required large numbers of volunteers, whereas the one without the meal could be run with half the number of helpers.

mercibucket Mon 22-Apr-13 22:26:14

Home made cakes are v important!!

You need a small core team and a large group of volunteers for behind the scenes and on the day. Some people are willing to help make crafts etc beforehand but don't want to help on the day, for instance

Good luck with it, I love ours

HappySunflower Mon 22-Apr-13 22:39:40

Yes, but we go to regular Morning services at a different church.
Ours doesn't run a Messy Church unfortunately, but since finding the lovely one that does, we are spending more time there and less at our home church, basically because I'm finding the newer one more child-friendly.

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