30 March 2011

Messy Church - an analogy

Proposed analogy:
Godly Play is the Mr Rogers to Messy Church's Sesame Street.

Yeah, ok, so I haven't watched children's television in America since about 1973. But I'm kind pleased with the analogy. So much so that I was tempted just to end the post here...
but I don't want to pit these two programs against each other.

Before I say anything else, I have to admit that I know even less about Messy Church than I do about recent developments in children's television. But it seems to me that comparing MC and GP is like comparing apples and oranges, because they start from very different premises. Crucially, Messy Church isn't a way of getting people to come to church on SundayWhereas one of my goals in using Godly Play is to prepare people to join traditional worship services. (Jerome Berryman would say that goal of GP is to teach the "Christian language system".)

I think this difference in goals and emphases explains one of the most obvious differences between MC and GP: MC places a huge emphasis on fun, while GP has a lot of emphasis on getting ready (calming down). The detractors say that MC is raising up children who expect church leaders to entertain them, and that GP is all about making children "sit down and shut up". I hope the detractors are wrong on both counts.

Although I'm interested in exploring their differences a bit more, and although I do have a lot of unease about certain aspects of MC, I hope that GP and MC don't have to be seen as rivals or opposing camps, just like I'm sure lots of folks my age grew up watching both Sesame Street and Mr Rogers. One summary said that Messy Church has five main characteristics:

  • creative
  • hospitable
  • all-age
  • Christ-centred
  • worshipping

Although GP's worship tradition is more liturgical than MC's, I'd say these five characteristics are also true of good GP, which shows how much GP and MC have in common. 

photo source: Toughpigs
Let's acknowledge that we share the same goal of welcoming people (especially children) into a faith community.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for conversing with me about Godly Play®! I do moderate some comments for the sake of the children I write about. Please be polite: to quote the Velveteen Rabbi, Whatever you're going to say in response to my posts, consider whether it's the sort of thing you would say to your host or their children if you'd been invited to someone's home for tea. If it isn't, then please don't say it here.

If you're new to commenting on blogs, I recommend that you "Comment as" Name/URL. You can use your real first name or a nickname. URL is the address of a website that you want to be linked with your name - feel free to leave it blank. Before your comment is accepted, you have to pass a spam filter. After clicking on 'post comment' or 'preview', just type in the sequence of letters you will then see (or click on the wheelchair for a recording of characters to type). Thanks for reading and commenting!