Spicing up church learning to appeal to youth of today

The pioneer of the worldwide creative Messy Church has told delegates at a Blackburn conference that church learning needs to be a family activity.

Lucy Moore said traditional Sunday schools struggle to engage today's youngsters.

"A lot of parents have lost trust in the church as an institution and so wouldn't send them to it without going themselves," said Ms Moore.

Image caption Lucy Moore set up the Messy Church which is now global

The address was at Redeemer Church of the Saviour, Ewood, to teachers.

Participating not authority

She continued: "If children do go on their own for an hour a week then they can be left thinking church finishes when they are 11.

"Also, they won't encourage their parents to go on a faith journey with them and parents would encourage their children to do the same."

Messy Church was born out of the Diocese of Portsmouth when Ms Moore, an actress, began craft, art and cookery sessions that encouraged families to do fun activities whilst at the same time leaving space for worship, discussing relevant religious stories and issues.

The initial numbers who turned up to get creative with God surprised the organisers. It grew and grew and other diocese began to see the sense of Messy Church.

She explained: "I can only think it got big because God wanted it to."

The church is now in every diocese in the UK and has become global.

There are now over 500 expressions of Messy Church in the world with countries like the United States, Canada, Australia and South Africa taking part.

On her first visit to Lancashire, the founder was preparing to demonstrate Messy Church to the conference with crepe paper, scissors, glue sticks and a Blue Peter type approach to religious learning.

One size fits all

Ms Moore feels that people must get away from the one size fits all approach that some churches use and she says churches must realise that times have changed.

Messy Church is aimed at absolutely anyone, young, old, families, single parents and it isn't just a Sunday activity.

Lucy says churches need to remember that "what works really well for the people who go to church today may not work for people with no church background at all".

Messy Church is an all age church developing in all areas of the Christian faith. By holding Messy Church sessions when people can get to church, rather than at traditional times, Messy Church is capitalising on people's availability and attempting to produce diverse activities which resonate with life in the 21st Century.

"Across the denominations, in towns and in rural settings, Messy Church is working because it is the team from Sunday church who are doing it and they are making church an enjoyable activity.

"People are getting involved because it is active."

She added: "It's participating, it's not authority, it's joining in and doing. It's really exciting."

Joe Wilson presents the faith programme on BBC Radio Lancashire from 6am each Sunday.

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