Since today was my stepson Will's birthday, we were honored by a visit by his grandparents, who blessed us by staying around for church.
It must have been quite a contrast for them today, as they were unable to meet with their usual congregation, Austin Baptist Church, which has hundreds of members in far West Austin. Alex, Will's grandfather, is a Deacon. The church is only seven years old, and is already busting out the seams and raising funds for a building extension.
The irony was not lost on me: Church for them today was eight people (we had three sick and at home today), no nursery, a baby crawling to and fro, and grandma playing Legos at the table with Will within earshot of the "service." Getting up to chase after 20-month-old Charlie was common, and once I was interrupted by a singing elephant. I think I heard Tickle Me Elmo join in our singing, briefly.
All this reminded me about a development I read about in the British Evangelical world called "Messy Church." I thought I'd look it up after everyone left today.
No, not us. This is from across the pond.
According to the primary website of this movement, Messy Church is designed to be an all-age church meeting which "typically includes a welcome, a long creative time to explore the biblical theme through getting messy; a short celebration time involving story, prayer, song, games and similar; and a sit-down meal together at tables. All elements are for, and should include, people of all ages, adults and children."
And there doesn't seem to be any in the Austin area Hmmm ...
Either way, it's nice to know there are churches that celebrate the "messiness" of having young children around, rather than making efforts to compartmentalize them into children's areas or to continually "shh" them. Will investigate this further ... but will also proceed with caution as the concept seems to be trademarked.
(In the meantime, we have an excellent Sunday school separate from our main church meeting. More on that in a future post. My kids have spent their entire lives in nurseries and children's church programs, so getting them to pay attention in the main meeting may take some getting used to.)