[Ask two junior-aged boys and one girl to help present this first-person report.]
Leader: “Please!” Nine-year-old Thomas* stood just inside the church door, tears streaming down his face. “I’ve tried everything I know to get my parents to come to Messy Church, but they won’t come. Please—may I come without them?”
The woman at the registration desk gave Thomas a hug. “Of course, you can come,” she said. She motioned for a church member standing nearby to come and introduced Thomas to her. Thomas smiled gratefully and led the way to the craft room, where Messy Church was about to begin.
A 9-year-old begs to attend church? Yes, if it’s Messy Church. What exactly is Messy Church? It’s a fun—and sometimes messy—worship service for kids and their parents or grandparents who don’t usually attend church. When the program first started, mostly Adventist kids came. Today so many families want to come to Messy Church that Adventist children are asked—nicely—to stay home so that non-Adventist children can attend and learn to love Jesus.
Let’s invite three children to tell us what they like most about Messy Church.
Ben: Messy Church can get messy, but it’s fun! It’s an outreach program for kids, but parents come too.
I belong to the “Hub,” the oldest group. Instead of crafts, we work on Pathfinder honors such as stars, lighthouses, candle making, and nutrition. I love astronomy, so the star honor was my favorite so far.
Most of the children who attend Messy Church are not from Adventist homes. I come because my parents are leaders. We try to be good examples to the other kids and help them want to know more about Jesus.
Abigail: My favorite part of Messy Church is the crafts. Last time we learned the story of the 10 virgins. Then we made lanterns to remind us to be prepared when Jesus comes.
Another time we talked about the sower and the seeds. For craft we filled a nylon stocking with soil and put grass seed inside to make it look like a caterpillar. We tied it shut and put googly eyes and pipe-cleaner antennae on it. We took them home and watered them. Mine’s still growing. When I see my caterpillar I remember the story of the sower and the seeds.
I invited two girls from my school who don’t go to any church. I sit with them when they come. I want to invite some of my neighbors who I think would enjoy the program. But right now we don’t have room for more children. We have more than 200 kids, and we’re bursting at the seams!
Luca: Luke, my friend from school, invited me to Messy Church. I thought it would be boring, because I thought any church would be boring. But Luke told me it was cool, so I came. I was little nervous, but when we arrived there were so many kids, and they were all excited, so I decided this could be fun. We did a craft and listened to a Bible story. Then we sang a bunch of songs. I didn’t know them, but they were fun. Finally, we all had dinner together.
I told my mom how much fun we had, and I asked if I could go again. The next time we went, my mom went with me. She helped out in the kitchen. She enjoyed talking with the other adults.
I’ve been coming ever since, and so has my mom. Luke was right. Messy Church is cool.
Leader: Messy Church is a fun, messy, happy way to share God’s love with our friends. Churches in other countries want to learn how to have Messy Church for their families. Part of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help other churches learn how to hold Messy Church so more kids and their families can learn that God is loving and loves to have fun with us. ⎭
*Name has been changed.