Playfully Serious - how Messy Churches create new space for faith

First published 19th March 2019

A new report by Church Army has revealed how Messy Churches create new space for faith.

The report found that Messy Churches are reaching families who are new to church; 61% of attenders at Messy Churches in the research were from non-churched or de-churched families. In the Diocese of Bristol, more than 1,500 people regularly attend a Messy Church.

Messy Churches are growing disciples and helping people to follow Jesus. Many, including those in our diocese, hold baptisms, reported confirmations or run adult or family small groups and 81% saw evidence of lives changed in some way through people being part of a Messy Church.

Believing parents are taking another family under their wings, doing things together and growing discipleship organically Messy Church leader.

Messy Churches are developing and maturing as church, 50% are established as Fresh Expressions of church, whilst 50% are outreach initiatives drawing people into the church community and other expressions of church. "Messy Churches with explicit intentions to be Fresh Expressions of Church had high statistics in many areas" that the research explored.

Two-thirds of Messy Churches are lay-led; however, there are challenges as many Messy Church leaders reported feeling over-stretched, vulnerable and under-supported.

The reports advice to Messy Church leaders is that being intentional about discipleship is important, as in fact it is in any church congregation; that meeting more frequently is not necessarily the answer; and that real community is messy. Creating deliberate space for spiritual conversations and being clear about what discipleship is and what it means to be church is also important. 

The Diocese of Bristol has produced a Self-Review toolkit for Messy Churches which contains many ideas and resources to support development in each of the Messy Church values, it is available here.

In the Diocese of Bristol, more than 80% of parishes are involved in running a Creative Family Focused Expression of Church.

A range of support is available to Messy Churches, including a free subscription to the Get Messy magazine.

If a parish would like to start a family focused Fresh Expression, the Diocese has produced a new resource to support this: Creative Family Focused Expressions of Church Made Simple!

You can read the full Playfully Messy report here.

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