This is a book that helps church leaders think through how to go about creating long-term communities for those who go along to Messy Church. It gives church leaders the theology and practical steps for a longer-term strategy to ensure that Messy Church and those who come along are given the right nurturing environment to grow and flourish.
Messy Church is a gift from God, one of the Holy Spirit's wonderful surprises, where a step of faith by one very ordinary church has opened the way for more than a thousand others to engage with families who had no serious connection to a church. No one anticipated that the story publicised in the first Fresh Expressions DVD in 2006 would take on such a life of its own. Messy Church is now a movement in its own right, within the wider Fresh Expressions movement. This book, from Paul Moore, the vicar of that church, presents insights from the oldest member of this young family of churches. They are insights from which all who are committed to disciple-making can benefit. Those who have been unsure of Messy Church, who would like it to be less messy, and who wonder if it really is church, have frequently raised the question of discipleship. How can you possibly make disciples among all that mess, especially if you meet just once per month? On the contrary, I have always believed that Messy Church is as valid a fresh expression of church as any of the many other models and examples. Because of this, I have always been convinced that the secrets of making disciples through Messy Church lay within the gift itself, in the DNA of the original idea given by the Holy Spirit, and that they would emerge over time. The temptation to bolt on ideas from a different model in order to answer questions or solve apparent problems about disciple-making has always been misguided. It is also evidence of impatience. As the gift of Messy Church has been unwrapped during its early years, the secrets have begun to be revealed. The Messy Church world is not closed to learning from other sources. Paul draws helpfully from Scripture, from ancient tradition, from other mission practitioners and researchers, from educational theory and from the worldwide Messy family. But, above all, he draws from the underlying values of Messy Church. He tells us not so much how to make disciples through Messy Church as how to create Messy Church as a disciple-making culture, which is much more important. He sets realistic expectations about the time it takes to journey from no church connection to active faith. He robustly defends intergenerational learning. He wants parents equipped to take responsibility for their children's spiritual development, and team members to see Messy Church as their church, not just the place where they volunteer once a month. I suspect that there may be even more to be unpacked from this surprising gift over the coming years, but for now this will do very well. Bishop Graham Cray Archbishops' Missioner and Leader of the Fresh Expressions Team Written with clarity and conviction, Making Disciples in Messy Church is a timely and helpful book for a movement that is deeply serious about discipleship. Drawing on biblical, monastic and catechetical approaches, the book contains much wisdom and inspiration for those seeking to make disciples in all forms of church, not just the phenomenon that is Messy Church. The affirmation of the places of family and community in discipleship formation is especially welcome. I warmly and wholeheartedly commend this book. Andrew Roberts, Methodist Minister and Director of Training for Fresh Expressions Discipleship is probably the biggest single issue the Church needs to grapple with in our present times. This book has some vital things to say on this central issue, not only to those interested in Messy Church but to all churches. My advice would be: read it, think about what you read and then apply it in your own situation. David Male, Director of the Centre for Pioneer Learning, Cambridge Messy Church is growing from a single fresh expression of church into a whole movement of mission. Making Disciples in Messy Church brings vital wisdom culled from scripture and from experience to all involved in making disciples. Its lessons are vital for all those engaged in Messy Church and for all those involved in making disciples. Steven Croft, Bishop of Sheffield The Messy Church movement is fantastic, helping connect people to Christ and his church through community and creativity. Paul has been on the journey with Messy Church since the start, and in this fascinating book shows how Messy Church is not only reaching people with the Gospel, it is raising up disciples across the world. Canon Mark Russell, CEO Church Army A joy to read and a contemporary Epistle from a Paul of our time, Making Disciples in Messy Church is a timely and essential read for all who are serious about building upon the good connections to the local community made through Messy Church and seeking how to making disciples in our contemporary age. Stephen Lindridge, Fresh Expressions Methodist Connexional Missioner Paul Moore writes out of first-hand experience. To this he brings deeper and wider thought. The book brings disparate things together in one place: various frameworks to assess progress in discipleship, lively material from a wide range of Scripture, some ecumenical perspectives and sensible questions to ponder. It ends with solid practical suggestions and knocks on the head the critique that Messy Church has no answers to questions of discipleship. It deserves to be read and applied. George Lings, Director of the Sheffield Centre