How messy is your church?

Conversation | Karen Mitchell Lambert | 20th February 2020

I recently attended the Messy Church round table meeting in Adelaide. It was a gathering of all of the regional coordinators for Messy Church in Australia.

 Messy Church has been going for about 15 years and started in the UK, and has been here in Australia for about 10 years. This is a fresh expression initiative which at the time was one of the only ones in the world that took children and families seriously. 

Lucy Moore who set up the first Messy Church was able to set it up in a way that has made it very easy for Churches to have a go. You literally can pick up a book and have the whole session laid out for you. With this in mind the movement has grown very quickly. Many churches were keen and enthusiastic because you just needed people to have a go because you didn’t have to know a lot. In Australia this has also been the case. For a movement with very little resources it has spread across the world in an amazing fashion.

So what is Messy Church? It has 5 core values:

  • All-age;
  • Creative;
  • Christ-centred;
  • Full of hospitality; and
  • Delights in celebration.

The books and the sessions follow a fairly set format, starting with intentional welcoming, developing creative spaces for people to participate in, all couched in a time of celebration which can include singing, story telling, prayer and sharing a meal together. Saying that, most people involved don’t see that this is the only way to do Messy Church – more that it has to reflect the core values.

How it has grown and developed in different places is unique to that community, and reflective of their gifts and what works best for them.

Messy Church is worship; it isn’t a vessel to get people to come to “proper church”, rather it is how people worship in that community. It is intentionally seeking to engage people of all ages and cultures through interactive worship who have not been part of Church before.

If this is the first time you have heard about Messy Church we will be running a session on Messy Church at the Healthy Churches Expo in September 2020.  If your congregation has been running Messy Church for a while I am excited to let you know we are having  the Pacifica Messy Church Conference in South Australia (in the glorious Barossa Valley) in February 2021. I am hoping we can have a strong contingent attending from NSW/ACT.

Either way, if you want to know more, check out the website or sign up to the Messy Church Australia Facebook page to get updates and hear what other churches are doing. By registering your Messy Church we are able to support you in your ministry, keep you in the loop of what is happening around Australia and receive the national newsletter.  It also means we can advertise your location on the database where people search for Messy Churches.

In the next 12 months we are planning how we will work with Messy Churches in NSW/ACT, so we would love to hear from you if you have ideas or want to be part of the team that supports this. If you are already running a Messy Church we would love to hear about it send me an email or reach out on the PULSE Facebook page.

This is an amazing movement of God and there is a small, dedicated team that are trying to help support that growth. We would love it if you could be part of it!



Karen Mitchell-Lambert is ordained in the ministry of Deacon and is the team leader of PULSE.