A NEW version of Messy Church for children who prefer sport to
crafts is spreading under the banner "Sweaty Church". It began
at St Paul's, Holgate, in York, where it was found that many
families did not attend church because of their children's sports
The session is held once a month, and offers high-energy games,
team games, and skills, such as tight-rope walking, and indoor
hockey. It is run by two fathers, one of whom is an associate lay
minister at the church. Once a year there is also a "sweaty camp"
weekend. Though originally aimed at boys and their fathers, whole
Many other churches are adopting the idea: there are similar
groups elsewhere in Yorkshire, and in Chorleywood. Researchers from
the Church Army have studied the set-up of the Sweaty Church as
part of their examination of Fresh Expressions.
The researchers said it was not hard to see why it was already
drawing numbers, and spreading, since it connected easily with a
wide variety of males. "Just as important, Sweaty Church's
'learning by doing' approach reminds us how rare it is that the
wider Church caters for kinaesthetic learners.
"Sweaty Church is misunder-stood if it is seen as just a kids'
club, or a monthly holiday club, or even a new form of un-uniformed
organisation. It is Church with an aim to grow families - not least
fathers and sons - as committed followers of Christ. It is
different, also, from the camps that were one source in the flow
inwards to Sweaty Church. At those camps, varied and interesting
activities filled the day, but the trade-off was sitting quietly
for the evening talks, or a God spot. Here, the two are integrated,
on the principle that people learn a great deal by doing."