Last week I noticed that our local United Church was advertising a new service for families called “Messy Church.” I was intrigued by the name, so I did some research.
Messy Church began 8 years ago in an Anglican church near Portsmouth England. It is a church for families who find it hard to go to services on a Sunday. It includes crafts and games activities, a short worship celebration and a meal. The Church usually meets once a month at a time most suitable for the local community. The website explains that Messy Church is not an after school club rather
“one church’s attempt to be church for families who might want to meet Jesus, belong to their local church and bring up their children as Christians, but can’t cope with traditional Sunday morning church services.”
You can watch a short video about Messy Church here
There were several things that impressed me about this concept
- The Anglican community that started Messy Church recognized that what they were offering families wasn’t working very well any more. That can be a hard and painful thing to acknowledge.
- They were concerned about this.
- They took the time to discern the needs of the families in their community and created something to address those needs. Messy Church doesn’t look like any service I have ever seen and I think it is wonderful.
I am so encouraged that this community of faithful people had the vision and willingness to do what it took to reach out to the families in their town.
I’ll be the first to admit that it isn’t always easy to make changes in the church. We Anglicans tend to hold onto our traditions tenaciously. It takes courage to step out and try something completely new. Still when we see that something isn’t working the way it once did, maybe we need to take a deep breath and consider changing. Perhaps it is time to ask some important questions
- What are the needs of the families in our community?
- Is our children’s ministry significantly addressing those needs?
- What could we change in order to better meet those needs? (Consider time, location, format, content.)
- What gifts and talents does our church community have to offer that could help meet some of those needs?
- What kind of support do we need to go ahead?
Now I’m not saying that you need to start a Messy Church. Perhaps that approach won’t meet the needs in your community. Still if you have a strong sense that what you offer is no longer relevant to those in your community, perhaps God is calling you to do something new and completely different.
What do you think?