Is Messy Church - Church?

Messy Church
It is a half-way meeting point between the church and local people?
Is it a stepping-stone for the non-churched to church?
It is church? What is church? Emmm - ecclesiology definitions?
Do people hope attendees will 'graduate' to Sunday church or to Alpha, Christianity Explored etc?
Can this work? Are they available at 10:30 on a Sunday? Can they adapt from 'Messy' culture to defined shape/liturgy?
Do they sense the ownership on a Sunday that they have experienced on a Saturday or mid-week or do they feel dis-empowered?
Are people concerned that this is just a way to get them to attend church 'real'?

Surely, we are to develop messy church as church in its own right, rather than as a precursor to Sunday church?
Develop and disciple people there, link on to other events, small groups etc.
It is not a bridge but it is church in another style.

Is it a Fresh expression of church, in effect?
It is outward-focussed.
It is another congregation - there will be messy overspill into other aspects of church life.

Is it a related but fully-functioning church with its own leadership team and festivals and gatherings and even its own 'Mass'. Where can it go? The possibilities are endless and very exciting! Discipling can go on. Encounters with Jesus are happening!

It is indeed post-modern, it will start where people are at. It will look at where God is already at work in their lives. What does discipleship and nurturing look like in this context?

In Lichfield, they are working out where they might take Messy Church, pulling on the energies and expertise of current Messy Church workers and theologians.

Messy church is constantly evolving. The Holy Spirit is in this. Can we keep up? What's next for children who out-grow the crafts - what might Messy Youth look like? How is it all financed? What about timings/food etc?


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Anonymous said...

Some really good questions, and ones that anyonethinking about staring Messy church needs to get clear before they actually start. I think that any venture like this is starting from the wrong place if it is seen only as a stepping stone to "real" church. That in itself begs the question of what and who defines "real" church.

In a sense I think the key question relates to "ownership", which you identify above. "Real church" people tend to want to define and control, to channel others into something they are already comfortable with, b ut the others may not be. Who do they expect to adapt to whom? To me, Messy Church and other Fresh expressions are about being willing to let the whole community explore and discover for themselves. Yes, it involves giving power away and becoming servants and facilitators of others rather than being directors.

David Ould said...

Hi Rachel,

I'd not even heard of "messay church" until the phrase started popping up over the last few days on a number of blogs. Is there any summary anywhere of what it actually is?

As for your question, I think it needs another question first, "what is Church?" Once you've worked that one out you have a framework with which to critique "messy church". What do you think Church is?

Anita Mathias said...

Church is always messy. How interesting to have messy as part of its definition.


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