When Church Gets Messy
messy Church is “a multigenerational, multisensory
form of learning focused on a story from the bible or
key Christian teaching,” says pastor Judy Paulsen.
Scissors, construction paperand glue, parents and children, community and celebration. They are all key
parts of the Messy Church experience.
“It’s a multigenerational, multisensory
form of learning focused on a story from
the Bible or key Christian teaching,” says
Judy Paulsen, pastor of the Christ Church
Anglican parish in Oshawa, Ont. Paulsen
started using Messy Church in 2009 as a
new way to reach those who were spiritu-
ally hungry, but not interested in church.
A typical Messy Church
takes place on a weeknight
between 5 and 7 p.m. It includes a meal, celebration (or
worship) and activities such
as crafts which reinforce that
day’s Bible lesson.
Sam Rose started Canada’s first Messy Church in St.
John’s, Nfld. His workshop at
a 2007 church planting conference caught the attention
of Paulsen and others. By
2009 there were three Messy
Churches running in Canada,
and soon a Messy Church co-ordinator, who works under
the auspices of Fresh Expressions Canada, an initiative
in church renewal from the
Institute of Evangelism at
Wycliffe College in Toronto.
Co-ordinator Sue Kalbf-
leisch keeps track of the approximately 150
Messy Churches in Canada. While most
using Messy Church come from the Angli-
can, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Can-
ada and United Church traditions, there are
a few Baptist and Salvation Army congrega-
tions also running the program. “We’re not
sure why we’re not seeing more evangelical
churches engaging in Messy Church,” Kal-
bfleisch says. “They may already be doing
things to reach those families.”
For Paulsen Messy Church has grown
Write what you know. That’s the advice aspiring writers are often given. And it’s an approach proven very suc- cessful for award-winning Canadian Christian author
Dorene Meyer, who writes about the lives of First Nations
people in the fictional community of Rabbit Lake in Northern
Manitoba. Meyer is the author of eight novels, two children’s
books and a reference guide to Manitoba’s authors.
Meyer grew up in northwestern Ontario, first in Lac Seul First
Nation, where her father was an Anglican priest, and then in Sioux
Lookout, where she moved with her mother and siblings after her
parents separated. Photos on her website show a young Meyer
child surrounded by many First Nations children. Her mother was
a foster parent to over 500 kids over the years, so the house was
always full. “I still can’t give a clear answer to the simple question:
How many brothers and sisters do you have?” she says. “I always
felt as if the foster children were my brothers and sisters.”
For the last five years Meyer has lived in Norway House, a
First Nation community over 800 kilometres north of Winnipeg.
Living in isolated places has been part of Meyer’s motivation to
write about the things she cares deeply about as a way of creating
change. Her first series, The Little Ones, began with a book written
out of a deep concern about abortion called Rachel’s Children.
Meyer continued to tackle tough issues in her subsequent
books. Her subjects have included First Nations residential
school syndrome, recovery from alcohol abuse, suicide and
depression, AIDS, racism and the sex trade. “My stories include
Canadian Author Sheds Light on Canada’s North