Uniting Church gets Messy in July and August 2011

Uniting Church gets Messy in July and August 2011

Messy Church is an important story for Australian churches because it is one way to faithfully express the generosity, care and welcome of God to those families in their communities with a hunger for connection and meaning.

This call to exercise hospitality has always been a strong part of Christian faith in all cultures. Families living in Australia are under pressure in ways that can be hard to understand for those who no longer battle with school fees, mortgages and the juggle of work and child care.

Lucy Moore’s church in the UK asked the question: How can we connect with local families and express God’s love and generosity to them in ways that would be appreciated by them?

The answer was what became Messy Church.

Using the talents and resources at their disposal in a small and aging congregation, they provided arts and crafts, fun and relationships, meaningful worship and a generous home cooked meal once a month.

This not only transformed their relationship to their community but also created energy and a greater sense of purpose within their congregation, an acknowledgement of their gifts and skills and built stronger relationships within their teams.

I believe the gift of Messy Church to the wider church is a replicable form of family ministry that deepens and widens connections, both the connection of local churches to their communities and connections within congregations.

It honours God’s call for us to demonstrate a counter-cultural hospitality and uses the resources we can offer to our communities — space, intergenerational life and ways to come closer to God.

Lucy Moore is an inspiring writer who has captured the imaginations of many leaders around the world with her descriptions of Messy Church in the UK and the journey her church has taken.

Her reflections on this and the theology that underpins Messy Church combined with her practical approach and helpful website mean that churches in Australia can explore this approach to family ministry and adapt it to their context, wherever they are located.

Lucy and Paul Moore are sharing their experiences to resource the Uniting Church in Australia. The South Australian Synod, VicTas Synod and Synod of New South Wales and the ACT are hosting Messy Church events in July and August.

Already there are Uniting Church congregations in the Synod of New South Wales and the ACT experimenting with the Messy Church model.

These include Engadine, Freshwater, Cromer, East Maitland, Dapto and Terrigal Uniting Churches.

The model is endlessly adaptable to the local context, but always includes a themed “messy” time of craft and chat and a time of worship using the theme followed by a sit-down meal.

The opportunity to be creative in a variety of ways, the chance to talk and have fun as a family and the provision of a nourishing meal helps build friendships and opens doors.

It is a long way from a traditional church worship service but it is a powerful way to reach the “messy edges” of your community.

The books Messy Church and Messy Church 2 provide detailed Messy Church programs, craft ideas, themes and even recipes, but also provide insights into the theology which underpins this approach to ministry.

The August In-service “Messy Ministry Context” for people involved in ministry is being provided by the ELM Centre, Children’s and Families Ministry and the Youth Unit. Lucy Moore and Duncan Macleod are the keynote speakers.

Judyth Roberts is Children and Families Ministry Consultant with the Uniting Church Synod of New South Wales and the ACT.

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