Although many churches nowadays are offering a warm welcome to children and working hard to create an interactive, sensory-rich environment, there are still those with a very traditional or somber service with some members of the congregation who believe that children in church should be reverent, quiet and well-behaved. If you happen to be the parent of an average kid (one who isn’t reverent, quiet, and well-behaved) then you may have had the anxiety-provoking experience of having your child fidgeting, talking, or even completely losing it in church and attracting glares from those in nearby pews. This experience can lead to a parent refusing to ever bring their child to church again.
Enter Messy Church to the rescue, a way of doing church for families based around welcome, crafts and art, celebration and eating together. It’s fun, creative, sometimes loud, and often messy. It’s a program which seeks to reach out to people who don’t ordinarily attend church services.
The Messy Church movement started in England but is spreading around the world; it’s presently in twelve other countries including the United States. Messy Church gatherings aren’t usually on Sunday mornings. Their time and place is determined by what is best for families.
For those who might argue that the Messy Church experience is not truly worship, I would argue that the experience of people of all ages getting together to sing, pray, share joys and concerns, as well as a meal, is a lot closer to worship in the early church than a typical 21st century worship service.
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