Discipleship under the radar
Helping people grow more like Christ - the Messy Church way
Messy Church boosts church growth... but that's not all
Independent research shows that Messy Church significantly boosts church growth. But that's not all; it's just as ambitious to grow disciples as to grow numbers.
We sometimes assume that the real measure for discipleship is whether someone comes to church every week. But is there more to it than this? Some would argue, ‘Messy Church families only come once a month, so this can’t be proper discipleship. They need to attend church more often’.
But people are coming closer to Christ through Messy Church. They are requesting baptisms and confirmations, asking questions and changing their attitude to church, God and the people around them. The Holy Spirit is evidently at work in their lives, despite the fact they may only come to ‘gathered’ church once a month.
So, if there’s more to discipleship than weekly church attendance, what might it look like in this peculiarly Messy context?
A different way to meet Jesus
Messy Church discipleship may look very different from traditional discipleship: it will be more family-based and happen in the home, out of sight. It may well be expressed in friendship or social action rather than increased church attendance. Like the child in the middle of the grown-ups who surrounded Jesus, it can be vulnerable to criticism, looked down on, unimpressive at first glance. But it is very real nonetheless.
When one couple started coming to Messy Church after having their son baptised in 2013, it led to a rekindling of faith in members of four generations of the family. Daughter, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother were all confirmed at the same time, four years later.
How BRF helps Messy Church grow disciples
With every craft idea, session plan, book or magazine resource, newsletter, social media post, training programme, consultation or presentation, BRF's Messy Church team have as their goal bringing people closer to Jesus - whatever their starting point. Recently they've been encouraging Messy Churches to place a special focus on discipleship by taking part in a six-month Discipleship Pilot and through a Self Review Toolkit developed by the Church of England Diocese of Bristol.
Did you know there's also a guide for Anglican churches wishing to explore Communion in a Messy Church setting? This is a collaboration between Messy Church BRF and the Liturgical Commission of the Church of England, with help from Hymns Ancient and Modern.
Granddaughter, great-grandmother, grandmother and mother at confirmation service © Keith Blundy, cropped
Bishop talking to granddaughter, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother at their confirmation © Keith Blundy, cropped
Woman washing boy's feet © Southwark Diocese Communications