“God doesn’t waste anything.”
Lucy is part of the team who founded Messy Church and has since worked as Team Leader whilst the movement has taken root and become a widely recognised model of Fresh Expressions with families and others. Based on five key values:
- being Christ-centred,
- offering hospitality,
- celebration and
- being accessible to all ages
Messy Church has become synonymous with contextual expressions of churches meeting the needs of local families. Through creating an environment where enjoying being in church together is at the heart of things, Messy Church has become a valued part of the faith journey for many people of all ages and stages – with well over 3,600 Messy Churches now registered worldwide.
Here’s an extract from an interview Andy Freeman from the fx team had with Lucy Moore:
What are the main changes that you’ve seen within the model of Messy Church since you started?
‘It’s surprising little the model of Messy Church has changed over the years. The basic shape and values seem robust, they work well and have been the same from the outset. The biggest change is pretty hard to articulate – but it’s something to do with confidence in knowing that Messy Church offers something special, something that works. There’s been an internal shift from seeing us as ‘an offering to church’, to actually realising ‘this is church!’ There’s a confidence in our identity –in all the risks of pioneering, we come to a better understanding of what God wants us to be.’
Risk, yes – the constant companion of pioneering. Where do you think the risky areas for Messy Church are now? What’s new that still feels ‘on the edge’?
‘I wonder if the biggest risk for Messy Church is that we stop taking risks. That’s always the danger of becoming ‘mainstream’ – so the challenge is to recognise that and stay light-hearted and open to change. Messy Church needs to stay like a child in the midst of the wider church – open to risk, and a bit messy.’
We know that we need to reinvent discipleship for the Messy Church context – and that’s a challenge. We don’t just want to grow the numbers, we need to break new ground for those who are journeying through Messy Church, to pilot new ways of discipling. We’ve also got to crack teenage work. Our model is built on families worshipping together, and it’s crucial that we work out how that looks as children grow up.
We all know that both highs-and-lows are part of the DNA of Fresh Expressions. Not wishing to kill the vibe, but can you tell us about something that you’ve found hard, or a particular area that is a challenge for Messy Church?
‘It is heart-breaking when we see lay leaders becoming empowered and a Messy Church growing, to then hear of the whole thing being closed down, maybe because of a lack of understanding by the team, or by the rest of the local church, or perhaps by one significant leader, lay or ordained. There’s also a challenge to pioneers in general – if we want to be represented by decision-making bodies then we need to get ourselves elected onto them. Lay people need to be movers and shakers on every level if we want non-ordained voices to be heard – we need to take our share of responsibility for the decisions that shape the church.’
Tell us about a heart-warming, joyful moment…
‘It’s those moments when I pause in the middle of everything– when I step back and look around Messy Church and see life, colours, laughter, conversations, and realise that this is the Kingdom of God happening around me. It’s those “wow” moments when we see a family become regular Messy Church members and then grow in their faith – some to the point of family baptism and becoming leaders. Seeing God at work in the middle of the noise and fun and food – that’s unbeatable.’
‘The challenge is to be faithful in each little moment, and trust that God has the big picture in hand.’
What have you learnt along the way that will help and inspire others?
‘I’ve learnt that God doesn’t waste anything. My own journey has taken me through studying languages, to teaching, to raising children and even being a thwarted actor! God hasn’t wasted any of it – everything has been part of the pathway to where I am now, even though at the time I may not have been able to see where the path was heading. The challenge is to be faithful in each little moment, and trust that God has the big picture in hand.’