BBC Radio 4’s The Archers is the world’s longest-running soap opera with an average of five million listeners each week. So it was both a surprise and a delight to hear Messy Church get a mention two minutes into a recent episode.
A new window or new people?
When wealthy widow Peggy offers to sponsor a new church window to mark the birth of her twin (grandchildren?), Revd Alan Franks puts an alternative suggestion to her daughter, Lillian:
‘The church isn’t just a building, it’s a living thing. I mean, what we really need is to get people through the doors. So Peggy could fund something that does that. Something that welcomes and invites children and young people into the church community… For example we’ve been looking at setting up a Messy Church at St Stephens, but we badly need funding. Do you think that’s something Peggy would be interested in supporting?’
New families coming to church
Whatever Peggy’s daughter Lillian thinks of his proposal, Alan’s vision for Messy Church bringing new people along and helping to regenerate local congregations is spot on: research has shown that 41% of families attending Messy Churches have no church background at all.
And what’s more: Messy Church isn’t just about children and young people – this creative, inclusive form of church is designed to take whole families further in their faith journey.
We hear stories all the time of new families becoming part of the Messy Church community. From pioneering leaders Alison and Paul, near Bristol, who’ve seen numerous parents come to faith. From Pip’s family who say Messy Church have enabled them to cope with their young son’s disabilities. From young mum Patricia, who found in Messy Church the ‘family’ she’d never had. And from Linda, who told us Messy Church helped her to ‘fall in love with church again’*.
*Stories recorded for fundraising appeals in 2018-19.
Giving churches a new lease of life
And the great news for Alan is – there’s actually no membership fee for churches wanting to access this life-changing ministry. What’s more, BRF’s Messy Church ministry team provides a range of low-cost resources and frequent training opportunities (many of which are free) and facilitates a hugely supportive Facebook Messy Church community.
If you’d like to help attract more families to church through our Messy Church ministry, please consider donating now.