I was about to write about our 13th birthday but first took a quick glance across the Messy Church website and was pleased to find that BRF’s Martyn Payne had been writing about holiday clubs:

‘I have been involved with huge numbers of Holiday Clubs over the years and there is no doubt that God has used them in their time and in their way…. ‘

‘We live in a time when traditional separate children’s work still exists alongside new inter-age models of evangelism and faith nurture. But the tide is definitely turning. In contrast to the Holiday Club, Messy Church is, or at least should be, very distinctive from children’s work, and as such is part of a vital sea change in the church’s mission and ministry as we move forward into the new messy world of 21st century church.’

Martyn Payne

Why was I so pleased to read it? Well… that was our starting point a little over 13 years ago, when we began meeting to talk about what to do next. We’d loved our holiday clubs and had tried to involve parents by inviting them to our final celebration of the week, but reluctantly had to admit that holiday clubs were not effective in supporting families to find a path towards faith. We needed something new.

Photo: Craft activities at our 13th Birthday Party!

Lucy Moore was excited by the wealth of creative gifts and skills that God had encouraged our church family to use, and she was sure that he was calling us to use these as an expression of worship in our work with families. We talked about the broad spectrum of people that are familiar with St Wilfrid’s church no matter how tenuous their links might be, and concluded that St Wilfrid’s serves a very ‘messy’ community. It was unlikely that many of these people were going to come to Sunday church and even if they did, they would be unlikely to find it relevant.

But what would stop families coming to a Thursday after school time “Messy Church”? Cooking dinner probably! Messy Church plans suddenly got very ambitious as we added a meal into the mix. Little did we know that God’s plans for Messy Church were more ambitious than we could have imagined. In April 2004, Messy Church was born and before long other churches were visiting to see Messy Church for themselves and were starting their own.

Photo: Clive serving drinks at our 13th birthday party

God blessed the work and led BRF to adopt Messy Church and enable it to flourish to its full potential. Before long Messy Church had become a worldwide ministry, and Christians throughout the world became passionate about this fresh expression of worship that was revitalising their work with all ages.

So here we are in 2017 and Messy Church is firmly defined by its five core values of being Christ centred, all-age, creative, hospitable and celebratory. Without exception, every one of those boxes must be ticked.  Our teenager continues to challenge and surprise us as the Holy Spirit moves within it. Happy birthday Messy Church!


For more information please visit our page at http://www.stwilfridscowplain.co.uk/messy-church/

Messy Church Turns Teenage by Lesley Baker