Reaching out to families in the community and parish, appealing to young and old alike, celebrating our God-given creativity, Messy Church is the most successful form of Fresh Expressions of Church. Since the first Messy Church started in 2004, there are now more than 2,000 Messy Churches world-wide.
Messy Church offers a Christ-centred experience for all-ages, based on creativity, hospitality and celebration. It is a way of being church for families, especially those on the fringes, involving fun and fellowship.
Several parishes in George, Johannesburg and Cape Town have contextualized Messy Church for their parish and community, and success stories abound. If you are interested in finding out how Messy Church is breathing new life into churches and communities, please read the testimonies below. To get even more details or to seek advice about starting a Messy Church in your parish, please contact the appropriate person below in the parish nearest you:
Jean Pienaar, Messy Church Regional Co-ordinator, Johannesburg
Revd Calvin Frans, Simon of Cyrene, George
Revd Marcus Slingers, St. Philip's Kenwyn, Cape Town
Messy Church - St Philip's Kenwyn : Our Story
Every fourth Sunday, our main service takes the form of a “family service”, in which the liturgy of Morning Prayer is used and in which refreshments are served after the service so that families can grow relationships. For the past two years, we have constantly been looking for creative ways to enhance our family services; so I was encouraged when our youth leader came back from Anglicans Ablaze 2014 excited about Messy Church. Thus, our journey with Messy Church and building a team began. Was it easy? No. We leaned on God for guidance, but prayer, hard work and planning followed. On the 4th Sunday of August, our church was transformed into a "Messy Church". As folks arrived, I met them at the door; some of their reactions and comments were priceless: What's happening this morning? Is there church today? Is this church? What a wonderful "Messy Church" we experienced that Sunday as young and old played, prayed and worshipped together around the tables. The same people who had been sceptical at the start of our service asked me at the end of our service when the next "Messy Church" would be. Our wonderful experience of “Messy Church” has sparked interest from many of my colleagues as I have begun to share our St Philip's story. This too has given us the opportunity to present a workshop at the Fan the Flame event (mini AA conference held in Cape Town) in October. Again, we were surprised at the large group, especially the young people, who opted to attend the Messy Church workshop. Because of the great interest shown at the event, we have been invited to share “Messy Church” at other churches.
--Rev Marcus Slingers
Being Messy in George
For the last two years, the Anglican Parish of Simon of Cyrene has opened its doors to run a Messy Church, and we have seen how children find a love for the church and just being messy. We have also seen how Messy Church has affected our normal attendance as well. Families who don’t normally attend church are in Messy Church, and adults have started enjoying church again. We have seen over 100 children, plus adults, attend Messy Church on a particular day. We were also invited to introduce Messy Church to another parish in George, and the children and adults were very excited to attend and participate. When we left, we were invited to come again, and we are looking forward to returning soon. In 2015, we will see Messy Church taking place on a more regular basis, as currently we are able only to meet every second month. We give a special thanks to our Parish Council who will take partial financial responsibility for Messy Church. Let’s keep on being messy.
--Rev. Calvin S. Frans
“Church Was Lekker Today’
On Sunday 12th of October, Emmanuel Anglican Church in Wynberg had their first ever “Messy Church” service. I don’t think anyone would have guessed how much fun we would have and what an incredible blessing it would be to young and old alike. After the service, we heard teenagers saying, “church must always be like this” and “church was lekker today”. To set up, we moved out all the pews and moved in round tables, placing 10 chairs around each one. It was a thrill to see people connecting and communicating at the tables. Young and old participated in a books of the Bible game in which, I think, the young came out on top. People engaged with one another over the scripture and then displayed their artistic skills as they explained their understanding of the passage through drawings and diagrams. The little ones enjoyed decorating two dry branches with our shredded confessions. Putting the Messy Church all together was hard and time-consuming work; but will we do it again? Most definitely! We should be doing all we can to make church exciting, meaningful and uplifting for all, both young and old.
--Revd Sam Beukes
For more information about Messy Church, please visit the UK Messy Church website.