A new phenomenon
Messy Churches continue to pop up all over the Diocese of London. Making use of a grant and resources paid for by Capital Vision, as well as ongoing support from me, having been seconded to the diocese from BRF, almost 20 new Messy Churches have started over these last three years.
Messy Church is a fresh expression of church for all ages, meeting at a time that suits the community and offering an accessible format of creativity and celebration around a Bible story with a meal together. It has proved to be a very successful style of church planting within a parish and there are now well over 3,000 across the UK with a growing number in other countries too.
Last month St Barnabas, Ealing held its first Messy Church and Fiona Jack the leader wrote this:
“Our first Messy Church went well. We had 40 or so adults and children, including three new families. Everyone seemed to enjoy it. I think there are a few things I will change for next time. We had set up large tables, and I think it would be better to have had smaller tables as well…. and I think we probably needed one more activity, and more helpers to clear up! I am working on this. I am going to take a few leaflets to the local Playcentre in the park to see if we can get a few more people. Our theme next time is the Good Shepherd, so we will be doing lots of sheepy activities!”
There are now over 50 Messy Churches across the London Diocese, some of which have been established for as many as five years, although the majority are still very new. The Bible Reading Fellowship (BRF) hosts Messy Church, providing resources and national support through a nationwide team of Regional Coordinators. The Revd Tessa Rust, who is also part of the Diocesan team with a brief for early years, is one of these coordinators for north London alongside me.
The growing number of Messy Churches both in London and across the country has led to a phenomenon – the Messy Meet-up! These are opportunities for Messy Church teams to come together and share ideas and encouragement. On Saturday 4th March at St John’s Ealing, one such Messy Meet-up is taking place and we will be looking in particular at the all-age challenge of Messy Church alongside that of Bible storytelling in the celebration. This Meet-up is open to all Messy Churches and also those who are interested in finding out more.
In the meantime, I continue to be available to meet up with any churches who are considering Messy Church as a way forward in its mission and ministry and you can find out more about Messy Church in general from the Messy Church website. After 13 years of Messy Church, it is clear that this re-imagined style of church is making a big difference and reaching many children and young adults who have often never been near a church before.
Finally, a date for your diary. St Paul’s Cathedral will be hosting a Messy Cathedral again on Monday, the 29 May in the morning. This will be an opportunity to enjoy Messy Church style worship along with Messy Church teams from across London and in the grandeur of our very own cathedral.
Martyn Payne supports Messy Churches across the Diocese of London. He is part of the Messy Church team with BRF.