- Begin with a one off event. As you plan, make sure you include components that reflect the five core values of Messy Church – Christ-centred, Intergenerational, Creativity, Hospitality and Celebration. 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. Our 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 or Christmas, that community families can relate to. This isn’t essential but we feel is worth considering.
- Choose a day & a time. Sunday 5pm – 7pm works well for a number Messy Churches. Sunday afternoon is often a down time for families and with a shared tea they go home having been fed.
- 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.
- People are welcomed as they arrive and are signed in, and go immediately to crafts or activities. We usually do a very short welcome about 15 mins in and say what the theme is. The activities and crafts continue for a further 40 mins or so, then it’s off to the focus time for worship, an interactive bible story and prayer time. This takes 15 to 20 mins. Meal time follows around tables where folk share conversation and food. Table talk questions on the theme are provided for discussion. A celebration time follows celebrating birthdays, anniversaries and other special family happenings. Those people who arrive late can be slotted in and not feel awkward if you provide welcome people to be around to let late comers know what is happening. Feel free to do what’s best for your situation.
- We have some advertising ideas on our ‘Resources’ page.
- 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. We 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. This is often called the ‘Ideas Team’ of four or more 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 waltzed 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.
- Register your Messy Church on our website and on the Messy Church UK website
- at this stage get in touch with Richard firstname.lastname@example.org
- and share your story. The Messy Church NZ Oversight Team is there for support and encouragement and ongoing training. They 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.
- Pray 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)