- Begin with a one off event. This gives the opportunity to consider ‘where to from here?’ Depending on your reflections and the response may determine frequency, time & day from then on. A one off also allows members of the congregation to see messy church in action and to catch the vision. My experience is that you get more ‘buy in’ from potential team folk once they have seen it work.
- Where possible connect to a festival – e.g. Easter, Christmas, Father’s Day etc. that community families can relate to. This isn’t essential but I feel is worth considering.
- Choose a day & a time. Sunday 4pm – 6pm has always worked well for the messy churches I have run in different locations. Sunday afternoon is often a down time for families and with a shared tea the children go home having been fed and ready for school on Monday. I keep the event to within an hour, allowing 40 minutes for crafts. Lucy allows longer for this part, so it is flexible depending on your crafts and activities. I have consistently found that after around 35 minutes people have more or less done what they wanted. I check in with the craft team as we go and allow myself to float during this time. Good to stand back and observe. I reinforce a couple of times both immediately before the crafts and after that people can go back and finish things. We have a table set aside for finished crafts. We have tea around 5pm and folk go home when ready.
- Choose a theme, focus, crafts / activities. Remembering worship & prayer are part of what you will be doing together with a short message to tie it all together.
- Gather your team for briefing – welcome, (people always arrive late!!) crafts, kitchen, and an upfront leader. Let your team know of the commitment in terms of setting up and clearing away. For me that has been from around 3.15pm – 6.00pm.
- I usually do a very short welcome and what the theme is followed by the crafts. In that way people who arrive late can slot in and don’t feel awkward. You will need welcome people to be around to let late comers know what is happening.
- I do a small number of coloured posters (see under http://www.messychurch.org.uk/resources/logo for details of conditions of use for the messy church logo) – A4 & A3 for schools, libraries, wherever your key points of contact are. The same poster shrunk and duplicated in black and white as an A5 flyer to hand out. (see sample poster on our ‘Resources’ page)
- I introduce to Mainly Music and other community groups a couple of weeks before the event, not too far ahead otherwise they forget. They get a black & white flyer and a reminder at least twice.
- Put an article in your local free paper + / – an advert of your poster
- Following the event hold a de-brief with your team and consider ‘where to from here?’, together with some input / training to ensure that everyone is on track with the values of messy church and to keep the inter-generational focus. Many folk assume that it’s just for children as opposed to a missional, pioneering congregation in its own right. I have found the need to keep reinforcing the message that it isn’t only for children.
How to organise your team
There is no one best way of organising your team. All messy churches are different. Here are some approaches different churches have tried:
- You cannot run messy church yourself. You need to gather a team.
- When staring out gather those who express any interest and run a short meeting on what messy church is & isn’t and with just enough input for them to get going. Once you have run one messy church the team quickly catch the vision. When you de-brief you’ll get a better idea of who is on board.
- Have a core team. I have called this the ‘Ideas Team’ of two to four easy, competent, hassle-free people to work with and do all the planning and preparation with them.
- Have a leader responsible for each section of messy church and meet with them to get the overall picture, then leave them to organise their own areas of responsibility. You might have a welcome leader, a craft leader, a kitchen leader, a celebration leader and a discipleship leader, each of whom assembles a team of helpers. Planning meetings then simply involve the bigger picture rather than the details.
- Treat the need for a large team as an opportunity to grow disciples, and build a team from people who are not yet committed Christians, training them as you go along.
- Communicate with your whole church what is happening so that they come on board from the start. It can be helpful to invite them to come to a messy church so that they see it in action.
- Consider working with another church in your area to build an ecumenical team. This will need careful consideration and clear communication as to who is responsible for what.
Sustaining your messy church & team
There will be exciting positive months when everything goes well and you are encouraged by the response of those who come.
And there will be months where nobody comes except the faithful few and your own family. Some of the team can’t come, the children want to go to the beach because it’s so hot and the All Blacks are in town. There’s only so much you can do!!
Sometimes the crafts go ‘belly up’, the paint goes all over the newly upholstered chairs in the hall, you discover you’ve run out of glue and someone has waltz off with all the scissors.
Here are a few things that you can put in place beforehand to save you from hiding under the duvet:
- Remember that you are part of a network of people who want to support you.
- at this stage get in touch with Debbie – NZ National co-ordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org
- and share your story. Debbie is there for support and encouragement and ongoing training. She can put you in touch with others in your area as part of the messy church NZ network.
- Establish a regular training/reflection time for your team. The messy church DVD is a good starting point and has lots of material to help you look at the bigger picture. Debbie can also help guide you in your training needs.
- Prayer as a team. it’s easy to overlook this in all of the business and preparation of messy church.
- Remember that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness: he can and does redeem dire situations.
- Keep a record / journal of ‘God moments’ and things to be thankful for.
- Remind yourself of the bigger picture, that this is slow faithful work, not a quick fix.
adapted from: www.messychurch.org.uk, (used by permission)