June 25, 2015

Europeans Embrace a Messy Church

, tedNEWS

Messy Church is spreading like wildfire across Europe.

Messy Church is time where once a month families come to enjoy being together, making things together, eating together, and celebrating God together through His word, music and prayer.

The program is an effective and innovative way of engaging with the local community and getting to know the people who live around your church, said the Adventist Church’s Trans-European Division, who includes Britain in the west, Scandinavia in the north, and former Soviet bloc countries in the east.

Children participating in a Messy Church in Scotland in March 2015. (TED)

The concept was created by a group of people in St. Wilfrid’s, near Portsmouth, Britain, several years ago. As a church, the group felt that it was hardly reaching any children with God’s story.

“They had wonderful buildings and facilities, which, unfortunately, weren’t being used to their full potential,” the Trans-European Division said in a statement.

“The church had a wonderful group of creative people who wanted to reach out to the local community by creating something that would be for all ages,” it said. “That is how a team came up with the idea of Messy Church.”

The principles of Messy Church are:

  • To provide an opportunity for people of all ages to worship
  • To help people of all ages to feel that they belong in church and to each other
  • To help people have fun together
  • To give people a chance to express their God-given creativity
  • To invite people into an experience of Christian community
  • To introduce people to Jesus through hospitality, friendship, stories and worship

A typical Messy Church starts by welcoming everyone who comes through open doors with a beverage and a cookie around half an hour before it starts. An hour of crafts related to the theme of the day follows. This leads up to the celebration time, when everyone joins together to sing, pray, and watch a Bible story come to life.

The proceedings close with a meal, which acts as a time to bond and to get to know new people.

Currently, Messy Church takes place in the following countries within the Trans-European Division: Albania, Britain, Croatia, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Slovenia, and Sweden. Teams are ready to be trained in Hungary and Serbia.

“The stories which are coming from these countries are truly amazing,” the division said. “Already there has been a baptism in one of the churches and in another, members confess that they have never seen so many people from the community attend a program.”

Messy Church, it said, exemplifies a familiar quote from Adventist Church cofounder Ellen G. White that Christians need to reach out as Christ did, mingling with men as one who desired their good, ministering to their needs, and winning their confidence (Ministry of Healing, p. 143).

A version of this story appeared on the website of the Trans-European Division.