First belonging, then believing

The Messy Church that’s bringing the gospel to a whole community

Making it easy to show the love of Jesus

'There wasn’t anybody really reaching out with the good news of the gospel to this community,' says Revd Sue Nicholls, explaining her sense of calling to the estate in the small West Yorkshire city where she’s pastor of an Elim Pentecostal church. When she found out about Messy Church, she felt, 'This is something we need to do. It was something new, something vibrant, involving all the family. It's so easy to show families the love of Jesus in such a non-threatening environment – and it's fun!'

With the Messy Church formula appealing to all ages, Sue (right) has seen transformation take place in entire families. 'The parents love it and the children love it. We’ve seen parents coming through the door and impacted with the love of Jesus, and then down the line they've committed their lives to Christ.'

That’s thanks in no small measure to Sue’s own commitment to her Messy Church: she chose to hold hers weekly, rather than monthly, so people would get to know each other quickly and build trust.

Reverend Sue Nicholls
Messy Church craft session

To her surprise, Sue found parents who had never been to church before lining up to get involved. 'We have some who willingly just come and prepare the meal, help serve it, and do all the washing up. We have other parents who are happy to attend one of the craft tables or just to sit and cut out. It’s about the parents and children just getting involved and helping together.'

'Quite often they belong before they believe, and they take ownership.'

Revd Sue Nicholls

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Bringing whole families to Christ

The Messy Church creative activities do more than simply reinforce the Bible themes. Sometimes it’s children taking crafts home that gets parents taking an interest. One mum went online to find out about Easter when her daughter won a school award for a picture of Jesus on the cross she’d drawn at Messy Church. Then she came along to Messy Church herself to find out more.

'Whole families come,' says Sue, remarking on how rare it is nowadays to see parents and children spend quality time having fun together.


Messy Church 100 Appeal graphic


Recent research reveals that 61% of all families going to Messy Church in the UK wouldn’t otherwise be at church (40% have never gone regularly to church and 21% have stopped going to church).

Support the Messy Church £100 Appeal

It might be a grandma that comes with grandchildren, it might be a mum, it might be an auntie or a dad. We've seen parents come through and being baptised.

Revd Sue Nicholls

A place of acceptance at a time of need

Take Patricia's family. For a while, complex PTSD had affected the young mum’s ability to look after her own children. When they returned from foster care, she needed somewhere welcoming and non-judgemental to take them. 'I've spent a lot of my life looking for love,' Patricia told us, adding that at Messy Church, 'I found love. God has given me a lot of love from this place. It's come in friendships. It's allowed me to build relationships with my children. It's just been amazing. I found a family.'

Patricia is now baptised. She told us how being a Christian has changed her family.

We’re more conscious of how we behave… we think of how we can be kind to one another – how we can curb our tongues.

Patricia, a Messy Church mum

Hear Patricia tell her story

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Bringing the gospel to the wider community

And it’s not just families who are impacted. When the local primary school approached Sue about a school visit to her church, she decided to organise a Messy Church-style session. 'What I didn't expect was that they were actually bringing down a hundred children at a time!' This was soon followed by further special whole-day school visits, including at Christmas and Easter. This year the whole school will be coming to experience the Messy Church-style approach.

'The children are telling their families but also all the staff are getting to know about Jesus. We're reaching out to a school who then impacts more families. We love Messy Church and so do the school!'

Revd Sue Nicholls

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Messy Church 100 Appeal graphic

Sue’s dedication is typical of many thousands of Messy Church leaders around the world. They tell us they couldn’t carry out their ministry without BRF’s help.

It costs BRF around £300,000 a year to support the Messy Church network. Would you like to support this UK and worldwide mission, that’s helping more families find their way to church?

The BRF Messy Church team...

  • supports a worldwide network of almost 4,000 Messy Churches, nurturing and training volunteers at national, regional and local level
  • at denominational level, works strategically to develop the ministry and its impact on evangelism and discipleship
  • provides a regular magazine packed with detailed new session plans and much more
  • supports an online community through digital communications.

Could you donate today to help fund this vital ministry?

Each year we ask Messy Churches to contribute £100 as part of our Messy Church £100 Appeal. Not all are able to – especially if they’re small,  new or in a tough area.

Could you make a personal donation to The Messy Church £100 Appeal?

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Could your church support the Messy Church mission?

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I'm always browsing the website and getting ideas… just knowing that there's that support there. I want to say thank you.

Messy Church leader

The best thing about Messy Church is when you see what you're teaching impact either a child or an adult.

Revd Sue Nicholls

Thank you for your support