LOTS of cake is an important part of keeping Messy Church running smoothly, suggests a two-year investigation into how to keep it running.
The report, A journey of discovery, released last month, produced a list of “clear actions” churches should consider if they want messy churches to be “churches that make disciples and grow deeper in discipleship.” It ends with the ironic injunction: “Oh. And cake. Eat a lot of cake.
More serious suggestions include:
- “Decide to be a reflective community of practice. Make room for reflection in all aspects of Messy Church. It is not about adding more activity, but about a change of attitude which values more and more the space of listening and reflection, and affirms it when it occurs.
- “Decide to notice God at work. Get in the habit of seeing what God is doing and talking to each other about what you notice. Doing this results in a culture change that underlies the new practice.
- “Decide to be at church all month. Make room to be Messy Church in different, perhaps smaller, ways during these weeks between major gatherings. “
- “Decide to value quality as much as quantity. . . Big numbers are important, but also value the importance of little ones or singles. “
- “Decide to give up something – even something you love – to prioritize Messy Church and make it a deeper and richer experience.”
- “Decide to travel together. . . These could be adults with children or side-by-side teams. Decide to be intentionally intergenerational, and to be hospitable to others.
- “Decide to take advantage of it. Notice what gives life, what makes people smile, what lights their eyes and follow that light.
- “Most of all, decide to be disciples and make disciples.”
Messy Church was established 17 years ago by the Bible Reading Fellowship to provide families and children with food, activities and worship. About 2,800 groups are registered in England.
The study was conducted by the Church of England’s evangelism and discipleship team with 24 groups in the dioceses of Bristol, Durham and Hereford. It covered a representative sample of urban and rural communities from various socio-economic groups. He reports: “The information generated from the experience of local leaders is specific to each context. However, there are a lot of gems discovered so far that we want to celebrate and share. “
He lists a series of approaches to deepening discipleship. They include: exploring questions of faith with all ages together; develop a solid thread of social action; the addition of an additional gathering in the monthly program; mentor team members to improve their leadership skills; and encourage under-18s to take part in team leadership.
The report concludes: “Our hope is that these findings can be shared widely and freely, that the initiatives they inspire will also be shared with the same extravagance, and that this virtuous circle of generosity will enrich all churches, not just those in disorder. .
“As the effects of the pandemic wane, it’s a chance to explore new ways of being a church. Our hope is that this research will help bring the Church of Jesus to life in all its fullness in its old and new forms.
Read the report here