In June the Messy Church leaders met together at Mount Merrion Church for an informal time together to chat, drink coffee, learn some things from the Messy Church team in England and most importantly share our own ideas of what works in our own contexts in Northern Ireland.
Thanks to Angela Megarry who hosted us for her generosity in lending out the church venue and giving us unrestricted use of her coffee machine!!
If you haven’t been along to one of these get-togethers before and would be interested in coming along in the future, this is what we did:
7:30 Tea and Coffee on arrival
7:45 Ideas from Messy Church conference
8:00 Song resources
8:20 Ways to build up your team
8:45 The help slot
9:10 The good ideas slot
Jill Hamilton (N.I. Regional Messy Church coordinator) attended the Messy Church International Conference which was held in May 2016 and she shared a few ideas from the conference. The key note speaker was George Lings and his talks have been recorded and are available via the Messy Church website.
Showing the Way – George Lings
Finding the Way – George Lings
They provide a fascinating in depth analysis of Messy Church’s development, how it is growing, what it is doing well and what are issues that are proving challenging.
Fischy Music led a seminar at the conference entitled “Worship that Works for all Ages.” Here are a few ideas they passed on:
- Create safe environments- Is the sound system loud enough? – A good loud sound system means that individual singers can’t be heard- drowns out chatter etc.
- Give people a reason why we stand up when singing, or sit down for quieter song.
- It is ok not to do the actions – don’t insist everyone joins in- it might be someone’s worst nightmare.
- Recognise that many people may not be familiar with singing in a group or may feel they have no singing ability and feel embarrassed.
- Start with a few percussion beats, claps, slap knees, stamp feet- get people to copy
- Take the pressure off and tell people that they can join in if they want to.
- Ask people from the Messy Church congregation to get involved – trust them!
- Use British sign language as actions
Recommended Resources for Messy Church/All Age worship
Fischy Music – “Bring it all to Me” album, “Down to earth album” + others
Heather Price – I am loved album – written for Messy church
Nicky and Becky Drake –The Worship for Everyone website features songs written by Nicky and Becky Drake from their Albums “Unique” and “City on a Hill” etc. with links to sheet and chord music, action videos etc.
Big Ministries – The All Age Thing – Book and CD
We looked together at ways to build up your Messy Church team. This subject was also tackled in a seminar at the Messy Church International conference and for those ideas click on the link below.
Another good resource from the Messy Church website is Messy Church volunteer role descriptions
The following ideas came from our own N. I. leaders.
- Information evening /taster to begin with – congregation invited along + key people approached- team formed from that
- Sunday congregation kept informed about Messy church – photos shown on screens- congregation asked to provide what is needed for the Messy Church e.g. food, craft materials etc.
- A Messy Church night for the church members – so they can come and experience a full Messy Church – used as a fundraiser.
- For the meal everyone in the team is asked to bring a dish along which is already cooked and the kitchen team reheats/keeps it warm. This means there’s nothing too complicated to do on the day.
- Key people are picked to be in a planning team so that planning can take place with a smaller group- other volunteers are then informed about their task.
- Specific tasks are given on sign- up sheets – distributed to the volunteers at Sunday church/via email.
- In church, announcements are made asking for volunteers to cut out piles of crafts and bring back completed the following week
- Overall team is divided up into smaller teams and each person concentrates on their specific task –e.g. Core team, welcome team, IT team, food team, etc.
Next of all we shared some of the issues we face and also some good ideas that have worked well in our own Messy Churches. There was a variety of issues. Some Messy Churches were finding they had plenty of volunteers but not many people coming along. A couple of others had very large numbers coming -200-250 plus and that in itself was a challenge though a good one to have!
A couple of helpful resources from the Messy Church website on these issues can be found by clicking on the links below
The following ideas came from our own N. I. leaders.
- Do something over the summer to keep the momentum going – it can be different to the regular Messy Church – a simpler format that doesn’t take as much preparation
- Have a mums and tots facility – an area where it’s safe to let tots crawl around and where mums can sit and chat.
- One Messy Church applies for funding from the local council and has been successful at getting small community grants of around £500. This money was used to help fund Messy Church trips and Messy Church games days over the summer.
- Another Messy Church incorporated some ideas from the “Live Life Love Lent” resources. This included a “Grace Jar” the idea being “Be more giving: Get a jar and put your small change into it each day. At the end of Lent give it to a charity.” The church youth group was involved in a project to raise money for toilets for a third world country and the Messy Church family were able to support them.
Thanks to everyone who came along to the get together and shared their friendship and ideas.