Messy Church: It’s Church, but not as you Know it

Contributed by: Cathy Brackin

On a recent Tuesday evening in Laurel Springs, Abraham and Sarah paid a visit to a Messy Church gathering at Holy Family Church. After the couple shared their story, a congregation of 34 children and adults responded with song, crafts, prayer, and a homily. What is Messy Church? It’s a movement that started in the Church of England in 2004. It has spread to 30 other countries and dozens of denominations. Holy Family, Laurel Springs is the only Episcopal church in New Jersey to be part of this global organization, along with a half million other worshippers.

Messy Church is gentle evangelization. Each child attends with an adult, whether it’s a parent, grandparent, or other caring grown up. In this relaxed atmosphere, all have the opportunity to meet God in a supportive Christian community. The idea is to create an alternate congregation, to make disciples while meeting folks where they are. For many of our participants, Messy Church is their only church experience.

There are five values for which every Messy Church strives:

  1. Hospitality – In sharing a meal, we welcome all to enjoy God’s unconditional
  2. Creativity – We reflect the God’s creativity in our hands-on crafts and games.
  3. Celebration – In our worship time, we reflect a God of joy.
  4. All age – Adults and children engage in all activities together.
  5. Christ-centered – We are a church that helps people encounter Jesus as
    Lord and Savior.

The intergenerational aspect of the program was evident at our recent gathering. The ages ranged from 11 month old twins to a 90-year-old team member!

Our Messy fun did not stop for the pandemic. We recorded videos of the Bible story along with craft instruction. Team members delivered “Messy Church in a Bag” to the doorsteps of each family, complete with craft supplies, games, and snacks. We had wonderful feedback on our bags. One of our homebound parishioners was able to lead her three great-grandsons in the lessons which brought joy to them all.

If you want to learn more about Messy Church or possibly get started with your own Messy Church, feel free to contact Cathy Brackin, team leader and senior warden of Holy Family, Laurel Springs ( Please follow us on Facebook. You may also visit Messy Church on the web.