A GRANT of £100,000 has been awarded to the Church of England’s Evangelism and Discipleship Team to study Messy Church groups.
The study will explore them in Bristol, Durham, and Hereford dioceses. The team will work alongside the Messy Church Team at Bible Reading Fellowship (BRF) to “invest in, and investigate, deepening Messy Church discipleship”.
The money has been provided by the Strategic Investment Board, a nine-member body created by the Archbishops’ Council.
The Messy Church movement was set up by BRF 15 years ago, offering families and children food, activities, and worship. There are currently more than 2800 Messy Churches registered in England.
The Archbishops’ Council has previously funded a two-year research project conducted by the Church Army’s research unit. Published this year, it found that Messy Churches “can find creating a culture of discipleship demanding”, and needed to be “intentional about discipleship” (News, 22 February).
Among the 174 congregations studied, leaders estimated that 40 per cent of those involved were non-churched families, and 21 per cent de-churched. A fifth (21 per cent) held baptisms, and 13 per cent held child or adult confirmations.
“We’re looking forward to working together with the pioneering teams in each diocese to find out what approaches make the most difference in coming closer to Christ, walking in his way, and growing the Kingdom of heaven,” Lucy Moore, the founder of Messy Church, said this week.
The Church’s head of development for Fresh Expressions, Heather Cracknell, said that Messy Church was “an excellent way to strengthen parish mission by reaching those that traditional church finds it hard to connect with. It is also a great way for people who wouldn’t call themselves pioneers to start something new, with confidence in the materials they can draw on and the supportive community they can be part of.
“And how encouraging the research findings are: so many people discovering faith with their families.”