Arts Creative Worship

Messy/Muddy Church

Creative Church Building

Here are some thoughts reflecting on the experience of running messy and muddy church activities in a seaside Scottish town. Our speaker couldn’t make it on the day, but she sent her thoughts for people to read.

You can download some sample running orders for the sessions here:

What are your aims?

Messy– To Share Jesus with families!

For the church to provide an activity and worship space that the community wanted.

A survey was taken at the primary school to see what activities were wanted. Overwhelmingly the response was something that families could do together.

Messy Church seemed to fit the bill – our very first meeting 100 turned up!

Numbers have fluctuated over the 12 years but now approx. 12 families come each time,  more than half are not in any church on Sunday mornings.

Kids are very keen to come.

The aims for Muddy

Muddy -To share Jesus with families!

To build on the experience of our outdoor holiday club which saw children who would usually struggle with indoor models of church engage in a deeper way

How do these activities contribute to the Church and wider community?

– Messy

The Messy Church idea nationwide is not to  boost numbers in the existing church congregations but that each Messy church would be a congregation in itself. Our Messy families support one another and feel a sense of belonging as they see one another in the playground or in the town. Several of them join the Sunday morning congregation for the family away day in June each year.

– Muddy

North Berwick Muddy church is run by a team of 3, representing 3 different congregations from the town. Our close working model fosters trust and sharing of resources and ideas across the congregations.

Numbers fluctuate greatly with Carol singing and Easter Saturday being our most popular events at the moment.

Any Surprises?

– Messy

We aimed it at p1-7s but increasingly our families  have younger children aged  0-9.

It can be a challenge to adapt teaching to really small children – best to have things to see, hear, touch and even smell and taste as the story goes on.

At Christmas we experimented with having the prayer tree in the middle of a double circle of chairs for  the celebration. The musical instruments were scattered under the tree. This worked really well and the children returned the instruments after each song.

We have not yet managed to keep families once the children grow out of it. This is a great sorrow and we are keeping exploring ideas to address this.

  • Muddy

After an initial boom of 5-6 families coming each time to different locations in our area, it has become a bit more random – sometimes no one comes, at other times we have 12 families.

We  are currently concentrating our efforts on the  wild space near the new housing estate which enables children to come without their parents, whilst being very visible and transparent. Whilst we can’t have campfires in this space, the advantage of being in the same place each time is gradually building a new muddy congregation.

Not everyone feels confident singing outdoors ( often in the rain!) but having worship songs sung in the background has created a  non threatening worshipful environment,  which has led children to ask for their favourites and even have a turn of the guitar.

More info:

You can find out more about Messy and Muddy Church of their websites.


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