This week David Constantine and I attended a “Messy Church” workshop hosted by the BUV. Started in 2004 in the UK, Messy Church has seen much growth and has spread interdenominationally around the world.
It was a fascinating and exciting insight into an amazing mission movement aimed at helping people connect to God through radically different forms of church. Here’s how they describe it:
Messy Church is church for families who may not find other forms of church appealing and who don’t yet belong to a church. It is typically held once a month, includes hands-on creative experiences, a celebration and a meal. It does not prioritise either the needs of children or adults but intentionally welcomes and provides for all ages. Messy Church is Christ-centred and available and welcoming to all ages. There is a strong emphasis on hospitality from the invitation, the welcome at the door, the knowing of people’s names, the offer of conversation and drinks to sharing worship and a sit-down meal for all. The celebration is an invitation to worship through song, prayers and story. Creativity in many forms is encouraged, nurtured and explored by people of all ages, together.
At the heart of Messy Church is a profound truth: a Messy God. Now, pick yourself up off the ground and let me explain. The Gospel of Jesus is breathtakingly beautiful and unique. God, eternal, uncreated, and spirit, becomes a human being. Born in an obscure village and then placed in a manger – a feeding trough from which sheep, horses or cattle feed. The gospel could be defined like this: God became messy and dirty so that human beings could be made whole and clean. If our God did this, then what does that mean for churches? Are we prepared to change, set aside traditions, let things get a bit messy in order to reach out to people who may never darken a church door? If it’s what God did to reach us, then I’m not sure we have a choice!
Most churches and Christians want to reach out to others with the good news of Jesus. But are we prepared for change, mess, and not having everything go the way we like it? For the gospel is not people getting themselves cleaned up and sorted out and then coming to God for approval. The gospel is God rolling up his sleeves, stepping into our world, getting dirty and welcoming us as we are and where he finds us. Will we do the same for those who don’t yet know Jesus?
As David Constantine, Felicity Krelle, Michael Nguyen, Karen Doan and myself continue to meet as the Family Ministry group, Messy Church will be on the table for exploration and potential into 2016. Please pray for us as we meet.