1 Woodfield Road, Harrogate, North Yorkshire. HG1 4LN

It’s Called Messy Church

You’ve seen the sign – big white word Messy embedded in a splosh of colour, like paint – could be red, yellow, orange, green or blue —- but what does it mean? You will probably have seen this logo on several local church buildings. It is a brand name but what does it conjure up in the minds of those who do not usually attend churches?Messy Church is a church event that helps people encounter Jesus as Lord and Saviour. Messy Church values are about being Christ-centered, for all ages, based on creativity, hospitality and celebration.It probably got the “Messy” tag from the creativity side of things. Participants are encouraged to use glue sticks and copious amounts of PVA glue to make interesting and educational knick-knacks from cardboard, paper of every sort, bits of plastic, paint, playdough, string and many other things that, all-in-all, could be classed as making a mess. However, the concept is far from messy. It is in fact a highly organised activity put on by churches hoping to pass on the good news of the gospel to younger people in the area. It is normally run on a Sunday afternoon but certainly does not supersede the old Sunday School idea because a great many churches also have Junior Church activities normally held within the Morning Worship Services. Here at Bilton Grange we have organised Messy Church over the last few years from 3:00 to 5:00pm on a Sunday afternoon roughly every two months. Last year we took a break to take stock of what we do and, more particularly, why and how we do it. Each session starts with welcoming children and their parents or other carers and explaining to them the activities on offer. They spend an hour trying different things which might include making various models, colouring, using playdough or Lego – all with a relevant theme. Then all are invited into the church where there is a short puppet show and a few songs (with actions) to get a small part of the Christian message across. This is followed by tea in the Hall. Not just a cuppa but good food provided by our helpers and supporters, which includes various sandwiches, cakes, biscuits, fruit, sausages and sausage rolls, crisps, carrot sticks and anything else that has been provided.After tea a few games might be arranged. The atmosphere is great – very friendly and encouraging – the children certainly enjoy it and the adults like to see the children participating as well as having a chance to talk to new people and to meet together.Last Sunday we had seven lovely children and a good lot of helpers. We had a great time decorating a paper Cross with handprints and painted flowers, then we fixed the paper cross to a big wooden one and it now stands in the church for all to see. We also stitched bookmarks (also in the shape of a cross) and put decoration on egg shapes. It was all good fun and certainly had a slight “messy” feel.If you have your own children or local children that you know, do please bring them along or invite them to come to the next one. All are most certainly welcome. Watch out for posters going up in May.
Jo Turnbull

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