What is Messy Church?

Messy Church happens on the first Sunday of the month in our church – you can’t have missed the signs as you come into town. It doesn’t just happen in North Berwick though.

Messy Church began in 2004 in St Wilfrid’s Church, Cowplain, near Portsmouth. It was the brainchild of Lucy Moore. Her husband, Paul, is the Vicar of that church. It was an idea for a new way of being church, which would connect to a group of people who don’t usually go to church. It was an instant success. It has been running in that church ever since. It’s been infectious too. More and more people have given it a try and found it works in their community too. One study reckons that in August 2012, 360,000 attended a Messy Church in England. Of course it’s not just found in England and it’s grown a lot since then.

Messy Church looks and feels very different from Sunday morning church. Its DNA is made up of four elements: hospitality, creativity, all age and celebration. The four combine in different ways in each different place. So no two are the same.

If you popped into Messy Church at St Andrew Blackadder, you’d be welcomed as you come into the building. You’d go through to the hall where different crafts and activities are set out. You’d spot lots of children and their parents making things and doing things that relate to the Bible story for the day. The next part takes place in the sanctuary. It’s a short service - a couple of songs, prayers and the Bible story. By the time that has finished the hall has been cleared of crafts and set out for food. A simple meal is served. In February, it was sausages, mashed potatoes and peas. Most months, about 100 people come. Most of them are not people who come to church on Sunday mornings.

So what is Messy Church? In a recent book about Messy Church, George Lings wrote:

  • Messy Church is for all ages; it is not merely a children’s activity.
  • Messy Church is all about creativity; it is not narrowly about craft.
  • Messy Church is about worship and community; it is not a bridge back to ‘real church’.
  • Messy Church aims for transformation of family life; it is not simply fun for kids.
  • Messy Church hospitality is a conscious missional value; it is not merely easy access.

Messy Church requires a lot of hard work from a large team of people. But it’s worth it. We are finding (just as people are in other places) that it works. There is a group of people in North Berwick who want to be part of a Christian community but the format of Sunday morning worship isn’t attractive to them. There are people locally who want to worship with their family but Sunday morning isn’t a convenient time for them. They are coming to Messy Church because it offers a way for them to engage with God.

If you’d like to see more, please come. It’s the first Sunday of the month from 4 pm to 6 pm. All children need to be accompanied by an adult. All adults do not need to be accompanied by a child. If you’d like to roll up your sleeves and do some crafts, if you’d like to mix with other people, if you like something that’s not meticulously packaged but is a little, messy, please come.

Or if you think you could help, please get in touch. Some people help during the event. No particular skills are required, just a willingness to serve. Other people help afterwards. They’re known as Messy Angels. They arrive at 6 pm, when the first team are ready to drop. The Messy Angels do the clearing up. There’s always room for more hands.

Whether or not you do these things, please pray. Thank God that he’s opened this door for us. Pray that through it many people locally might meet Jesus Christ and discover the richness of life he offers.

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