New research reveals how Messy Church is more than craft and a bit of Jesus

Published on: 6th May 2021

New research offers hope for the future of church through fresh expressions of worship at Messy Church.


Across Hereford Diocese (the Church of England in Herefordshire and South Shropshire), seven Messy Church groups have led the way, exploring different models of research which set out to deepen people’s faith and grow leaders.


Of the six themes, Leominster Priory in Herefordshire chose to explore social action, which meant the team intentionally introduced and developed an approach, which included activities, events and opportunities aimed at helping people to grow closer to Jesus as they serve others.


Kathy Bland, Messy Church leader at Leominster Priory, explained: “We have been running a monthly Messy Church at Leominster for the last ten years.  Before lockdown we had between 40-60 people coming each month.


“In the last few years we’ve had six baptisms, one child confirmation and two agape meals (A communal meal shared among Christians. The name comes from agape, a Greek term for 'love' in its broadest sense) - this is deeply encouraging for the group leaders.”


The approach the team followed promoted social action as a way for people to see how they can live out their faith every day.  Leaders encouraged and supported the group with toilet twinning, packing shoeboxes for Teams4u, a food bank collection, cooking for Calais refugees and organising a visit to their nearest recycling processing centre.


Last year, Messy Church in Lent worked well as a time to make junk crosses out of recycled materials and introduced 40 acts of kindness. After the first lockdown in April 2020, the team offered a variety of ways to stay connected including Facebook Live, daily videos for Holy Week and 50 x ‘Messy Church in a bag’ with an invitation to Zoom meetings (around nine families engaging).


Through the local food bank work run by local churches, a further opportunity arose for leader Kathy Bland to deliver 200 school holiday food bags to local families.


One mum reflected, ‘there are lots more we could be doing in the world, looking after each other, other countries, and the planet … everything. I’ve seen some parents say, “I haven’t thought about that before” and it’s made them think.’


A core team, headed by people who are not clergy, runs the Messy Church. The parish also offers The Messy Church meets on Saturday in the afternoon – offering a distinctive form of worship.


‘Leominster Messy Church is one of 24 case studies featured in research published today into deepening the faith of people attending Messy Churches – non-traditional church gatherings which attract tens of thousands of worshippers across the country and in more than 30 countries worldwide. The report A Voyage of Discovery focused on Messy Churches in Bristol, Durham and Hereford Dioceses and can be read here  


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