Messy Church in Schools
Extracts from 'Research into Messy Churches in Schools in the UK' document
Throughout 2013 the Messy Church Team in the UK has been exploring some of the challenges and advantages of running Messy Churches in schools. Early in the year a questionnaire was sent out to over 50 Messy Churches registered on the website who stated that they met in their local primary or secondary school. In addition, there have been visits to a number of Messy Churches which run in schools in order to talk to leaders, their teams and those who are part of the new congregations. Later in the year a small number of key Messy Church leaders and schools advisers came to a consultation in order to consider the findings and draw up advice and guidelines for those thinking of setting up a Messy Church in a local school.
Why run a Messy Church in a school?
At first glance, there are a number of positive arguments in favour of holding Messy Church on school premises. The facilities are already geared for activity-based learning, with access to toilets and usually a large meeting area or auditorium for the celebration as well as a canteen and kitchens for the meal.
Another factor in the UK is that about one thirds of primary schools and a smaller proportion of secondary schools in England and Wales are Church of England schools/academies with some Methodist and a few other independent church-founded schools. As part of the mission of the Church, these schools are being encouraged not only to provide an excellent education for children but also to be an environment within which to introduce children to a lively and relevant experience of the Christian faith. This current renewal of vision with regard to the mission of church schools in the UK includes a drive towards finding ways in which the school's Christian distinctiveness can be more visible and effective within the local community. Here are some quotes from a recent church schools report:
The Church of England clearly reaffirms that church schools stand at the centre of its mission. It educates approximately one million of the nation's children in primary and secondary schools, which enables more direct engagement with children and their families than any other contact, including regular Sunday worship... The drive for excellence and effectiveness in church schools is paramount, but not merely because
the government says so. The enabling of every child to flourish in their potential as a child of God, is a sign and expression of the kingdom and is at the heart of the Church's distinctive mission.
In response to parental demand, there may be opportunities for new church schools to be established to offer that distinctiveness within an inclusive community framework.
New approaches are needed to ensure that the Church's mission is more widely known through schools and is fully understood.
(Extracts from the Executive Summary in 'The Church School of the Future' report, March 2012)
Regularly in the questionnaire responses and in conversations with leaders, the team have noted that church schools in particular have expressed a desire to embrace Messy Church as one way in which they can promote and demonstrate their Christian mission within community.
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