I recently heard that Faith United Methodist Church in North Canton, OH was holding a “Messy Church” service. I was instantly drawn to it because of the name even though I didn’t know what all was involved.
Messiness, or real life, seems to be intentionally programmed out of most church services. Churches want to remove any possible distractions so that the Holy Spirit can move.
But what if it is in those distractions that the Holy Spirit could move? I had to see for myself, so my family and I attended Faith United Methodist Church last week for their Messy Church service.
My family experience was in fact messy. We left covered in glue and glitter. Despite that our messy experience drew us together as a family. We interacted over multiple hands on activities which helped the story come alive. My children participated in the Epiphany story during the corporate gathering time. Afterward we had an opportunity to fellowship with other families around a meal. I’d say the Holy Spirit was actively moving in our messiness!
We left feeling like this messy experience felt more like what church was intended to be.
After a little more digging I found out that Messy Church is a movement that started in the United Kingdom. “Messy Church is a way of being church for families involving fun. Messy Church is a church, not a craft club, that helps people encounter Jesus as Lord and Saviour. Messy Church is found across the world. Messy Church values are about being Christ-centered, for all ages, based on creativity, hospitality and celebration.” *
Because Messy Church embraces a free-flowing environment that is open to ALL it makes for an ideal place for families affected by disability. Too often families affected by disability don’t feel like they fit into a traditional church setting.
Any church that has a Messy Church service would be a great place for families affected by disability to try church again. Maybe having a positive experience could help families see church in a new light. Over time as relationships are built families can experience being embraced for who they are and not who they feel they need to pretend to be. Finding a place of belonging is such a beautiful thing. Messy Church may just be the place to find that.
I’d encourage anyone who has an opportunity to experience a Messy Church to do so. Thank you to the leadership of Faith United Methodist Church for taking a chance and reaching their community in a unique way.