Thursday, October 11, 2007

Messy Church

One of the holy grails of the emerging church/fresh expressions movement is the search for a new form of church that can be reproduced in many contexts. Yes, part of the ethos of having a mission-shaped church is that you don't predetermine the form that church will take, but allow it to emerge from the process of mission. However, given that we still have some cultural common ground as a nation, it shouldn't be a surprise to find that some things work in several places, not just one. Lets face it, its really hard work to come up with something brand new from scratch, so if there are models which work in other places, then why not try them?

'Cafe church' seems to be one of these - it even has a Wikepedia entry now, and there are now quite a few examples in England and elsewhere. Many other churches (like ours) have a 'cafe service' as part of the normal worship pattern - ours is monthly, and though I wouldn't ever call it 'cafe church' there is an increasing number for whom it's their main diet of Christian worship and teaching for the month.

'Messy Church' is another - it's the title of a book by Lucy Moore, and there's a decent-sized extract here to give you a flavour of it. There is also a clip on the first Fresh Expressions DVD and I'm aware of several churches who already do this, or are thinking about it. The model is based around a semi-structured craft/play time, followed by a 15-20m act of worship, then a meal together, so it can work in churches and in secular buildings. It also works better if done in an afternoon, either during the week or on Sat/Sun, which makes it ideal for reaching people who can't make church on a Sunday morning, or who need an entry point to faith that isn't Sunday-morning shaped.

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