How can congregations engage in the Messy experiences of life?

Conversation | Karen Mitchell Lambert | 8th July 2020

Messy Church is a fun and engaging ways to connect with families that are unlikely to turn up to traditional styles of worship. With the issues around Covid it has been difficult to know how to connect with families, the hope was that face to face was going to be back on track soon but this may not be our reality. Messy Church has provided a number of resources that you can use at home but it also gives us an interesting lens to explore what we are doing as a congregation.

Messy Church has 5 main components to what it offers, Christ-centred, all-age, hospitality, celebration and creativity. These are normally engaged in how people gather together, making sure there is space and engagement with everyone, it is creative, there is time to sit and eat together making room for relationships, it celebrates the great gifts of God and the life of Jesus.

These key concepts could be a really good framework as you think about how you want to engage with families as a church moving forward. How do you make space to just celebrate the awesomeness of God? I know for some people it is singing powerful hymns, or dancing to their favourite music, how can you get creative in how you do this in your gathering experience that can touch into different ways of being able to celebrate?

When things are hard and we have had to adapt so much, as we have in COVID we can tend to draw back into old habits. There are many reasons for this, it brings us comfort and it is easy because at least we know how to do something right! How could you bring a little bit of creativity into what you do? Sometimes it could mean just getting someone else to do the readings, or sharing something about their story about how they connect with God. Just imagine, or even ask a younger person about how they are experiencing what you are doing at the moment? Do they have any ideas of what else you could do?

We know that loneliness is a big issue particularly as we have to go back to limiting our engagement as a community, how can you still offer hospitality? Having food together is about making time to be together, listening to each other, sharing a common experience, but mostly taking the time to show the unconditional love of God. It is about saying to someone you matter enough to me that I am willing to make time for you and provide for you. I do this because this is who God is and what God does for you. How is your congregation working towards this? What could be some community challenges you could put in place to encourage people to make time for each other and bless each other with food? It is only through genuine relationship that we get to hear when people are really struggling and hear the heart cries of God.

People often think that Messy Church is about being Messy but I heard a great line that Messy Church gives space to reflect on our Messy lives. Things are not simple and it can all get a bit overwhelming at times, how do we share that still quiet voice that cuts through the chaos? How do we hear it ourselves; but also how do we share it with others?

Pulse would love to hear what you are doing so we can share your story with others, in doing so we all can see the amazing things God is in inspiring and are encouraged to go with Christ into new places.

To start you off, here are some of the great resources that Messy Church has created for families at home.

There are some great resources for helping families to do Messy Church at Home. The Messy Church UK website has regular options for families to engage in. You can check them out here. Messy Church UK

Beth Nichols who is a Uniting Church Minister in Queensland has also contributed a number of options as well. You can check them out here: Faith filled Families.



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