Messy Church. Church for Church. Church for everyone.

First International Messy Church ConferenceNancy Clague (R) with Jane Leadbetter of Messy Church.  Photo thanks to Manx Radio Praise


Nancy Clague, Isle of Man Messy Church Champion and Diocesan Children’s Adviser, has just attended the first Messy Church International Conference.


Photo of Nancy Clague [R] with Jane Leadbetter of Messy Church, thanks to Manx Radio Praise


The Bible Reading Fellowship (BRF) hosted its first Messy Church conference at High Leigh in Hertfordshire with 220 delegates from 12 countries representing a wide range of denominations attending the conference.

The organisers described it as a celebration of all that God is doing through Messy Churches around the world with a programme that was interactive, fun, full of worship, and prayers from around the world.   

The Archbishop of Canterbury welcomed the conference delegates via a video message.

He talked about “stuff happening … the Holy Spirit happening … God happening”, and Messy Church helping to pass on the Gospel afresh in each generation.  He used a metaphor of queuing, saying that “Messy Church breaks all the queuing down.  It turns things into a circle” and encouraged them to “go on pushing out the boundaries” and continue doing church differently:

This is not church for children. It's church for church. It’s church for everyone … it’s a circle of all ages meeting together to engage in who God is in a way that works for them … I want to encourage you to never be bound by the way we've always done it.

BRF’s Messy Church team was encouraged by the stories shared of how God is at work globally, and for the hope for the future of the church with so many churches engaging in Messy Church and intergenerational congregations.

Nancy Clague describes a session on communion and lots of activities, as there would be in any Messy Church.  “We sang some worship songs, courtesy of Fishcy folk and a prayer of blessing, then all of us joined a messy circle - several people deep - and shared gluten free bread rolls and blackcurrant juice. About 10 people started sharing the bread and then we passed on to the next person, letting us all share relatively quickly while we sang ‘Be still for the presence of the Lord’.


All the tables – including woodwork, Passover table, decorating wine bottle, bread picture – were directly linked to the service of Holy Communion.  The music by Fischymusic often used sign language.

George Lings, Director of Church Army’s Research Unit, was keynote speaker for the conference. He inspired everyone and acknowledged the impact that Messy Church is making, referring to ‘Messy Church showing the way’ and ‘Messy Church finding the way’:

Messy Church is about mission, worship and community; not just a bridge back to 'real' church... You [Messy Church] are still finding ways but draw on the wisdom of the past and stretch yourselves out of present boundaries… you are part of reasserting that messy is normal in Christianity.

A short video summary of the event is on YouTube.  The BRF Messy Church team said:

The many exciting conversations can only be captured in one word – awesome!

Nancy valued the conference:

“All I can say is how much of a privilege it was being present and representing the Isle of Man and all of the Messy Churches here.” 

Nancy has copies of the latest books. Messy Hospitality is not about the food, but the whole welcome experience, and Messy Togetherness, Nancy says, she is still reading!

Posted 12:51 PM | Permalink