Messy Church Theology is a collection of essays reflecting on different aspects of Messy Church, from its role in mission, 'to church or not to church' and inclusivity amongst others.
The second chapter written by Steve Hollinghurst is titled, 'When is Messy Church not church?' which together with the first chapter by Claire Dalpra discerning when it is church, wrestle with an interesting challenge. Messy Church can be a fresh expression of church, OR an outreach OR even a new expression of worship for an existing church community. Having established that all can exist appropriately in different contexts, Hollinghurst makes a valid point which anyone involved in missonal projects may do well to heed.
He writes, 'When fresh expressions of Church start with worship [as opposed to starting with living and spending time in the culture, building community and discerning what worship may look like in that culture], it is likely that the worship will be what Christians think is an appropriate expression in that culture, when, as yet, they know far too little to be sure that is true.'
This warning is not solely aimed at those engaging in Messy Church, but to any who are thinking of starting a missional 'something' to reach an area or group. We are perhaps in danger of projecting our own styles and expressions onto projects which, if given more time, may have develop their own characteristics and flavours that reflect the culture of the group being reached in the first place.
He goes on to remind us though of the impact that being in a worshiping and believing community can have. Being plunged into an innately Christian culture of worship can in itself be a missional experience. Somewhere a balance needs to be struck to allow different groups of people, or geographical areas to find an expression of worship that is their own, and not prescribed by a pre-existing church, but at the same time, be given a chance to experience an authentic worshiping community, something that will only be achieved if already practising Christians, hence with a pre-existing style create for them to experience.
An interesting dichotomy. Well worth a read.
Click the link below to read a great blog post about why, and whether we should be thinking again about our space and how it looks and feels. All the time I was reading it, I was thinking about children, young people and their families... What are we doing to provide an amazing, fun and comfortable place for them to come together - during our services AND otherwise....
CLICK HERE TO READ THE BLOG BY ONE BEAT.... 'FEELS LIKE HOME'
A lot of my work with Youth With A Mission is about mobilising young people, children and families into cross cultural mission, usually, due to life stages involving schools and colleges, for the short term of between two weeks and three months.
Such short-term missions teams come under fire for being a waste of money, better spent on people in need and not a flight, 'flash in the pan' ministry that has no bearing on long term change in a given area, and largely about the young person or child having a great experience. While these criticisms are understandable, they are also perhaps based on misunderstanding, and done well, the fruit, influence and impact of such trips can be vast and significant.
Firstly, it is true that it will be significant for the young person on the trip. For them, there is a significant discipleship element to the trip. They will encounter God's love for others in a new way and they will perhaps be forced to rely on God in a way they never have before. Not only that, but when under pressure in a new, sometimes uncomfortable place, with a team of people, your character is put under a magnifying glass and a whole lot of ugly is exposed some of which you can't ignore!
My musings. Opinions my own, and potentially not that thought through!