A blogpost by Rev. Dr. Andrew Scanlan-Holmes, Messy Church Regional Coordinator of Indiana
“Pastor, might I have a word?” My heart sank a little, it was one of the more senior members of the church who greeted me with those words at the rear of the sanctuary after worship, and that often meant it wasn’t good news! “Of course,” I said, “perhaps over coffee in the church hall in a couple of minutes?” She left, and I concluded greeting others. We met over coffee, “About this Messy Church” she began, “you have done a lot of talking about it, and I have heard from others in the church that you have quite a crowd of people at it?” “Yes, I replied, there is a good number attending for being a relatively new thing in the church.” “They play games,” she continued, “and eat a meal together.” “They do,” I replied, “and they share together in a time of worship. Perhaps you would like to join us; it is for all ages?” “It doesn’t sound like my thing,” she retorted, “and they never come to church on Sunday.”
I thought to myself ‘Oh this old argument again.’ “Well to be fair,” I said, “Messy Church is not about building the Sunday attendance, it is about creating a new way of being a church and engaging in different ways with people who are not currently connected with this church.” “Are we paying for all this?” she asked. “Well, the church budget didn’t have Messy Church in it when we created it because it wasn’t thought of back then. But to answer your question, yes the church is helping to fund it. We have had a small grant from Church Development who are encouraging this type of outreach.” She looked puzzled, “How much does it cost?” I had to confess that I was beginning to feel uneasy at how the conversation was going. “I’m not exactly sure, but the food and craft materials used do cost the church. We usually get between 40-50 children and adults, and everyone does the crafts and has a meal.”
“I see,” she replied, “Well as I have said, it is not my sort of thing and as a former church treasurer,” a point I had forgotten, “I am not happy that the current church budget is being stretched to fund this.” Here we go I thought. She continued, “I don’t have any desire to attend, but I do have an interest in growing our church and so I would like to sponsor a Messy Church. I plan to give $100 towards next months Messy Church. I know that there is another person who would like to do the same. Is it OK if we sponsor a Messy Church?
I hesitated before starting to speak. “Oh, I don’t want any recognition,” she said, “perhaps they could say thank you to a church member who provided the meal this time?” I thanked her and told that in some way Messy Church must be her thing! Since then each year we had more than half of the Messy Church gatherings ‘sponsored’ by people who want to support but not necessarily attend.
A note from Roberta-
I am in New England to facilitate two separate Messy Church training events. Questions that come up frequently in both the in person training and the ‘What is Messy Church’ webinar are…how much does each month to do Messy Church? Followed quickly by how do you fund it?
We would love to hear how you budget for your local Messy Church. What are the ideas that you have to share with the Messy Church USA? Please let us know. Contact your Regional Coordinator or you can send me a note at Roberta@messychurchusa.org.
Thanks Andrew for sharing this wonderful idea.
Grace and peace, Roberta