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Messy Church logo barnabas in churchI am still trying to figure this one out.

Yesterday, I had a conversation with a Postmodern Protestant (PP) about Messy Church.  He isn’t directly involved but promotes it locally.

Me: Messy Church — that’s part of [Anglican-led] Fresh Expressions, isn’t it?

PP: Well, not necessarily.  There are a number of initiatives under the banner Fresh Expressions.

Me: Yes, but Messy Church is one of them.

PP: Sometimes.  Well, maybe.  It’s about bringing people — especially children — with no church to church.

Me: I know what it is.  But I’m trying to comfirm whether it’s part of Fresh Expressions.

PP: It can be.

Me: One of the things I find disingenuous about it is that not all of the people involved in it are catechised.   

PP: Why would you have to be catechised to either run Messy Church or be a group leader?

Me: Surely, if you want to teach people about Christ, you should know the teachings of the denomination you belong to?

PP: I don’t understand.  Why is that so necessary?

Me: Well, you wouldn’t want to be in error when you’re teaching them, would you?

PP (laughs): ‘In error’ — that’s funny!  I hardly think anyone would be in error in teaching children about Jesus, do you?

Me: It depends.  It is possible.  What about answering questions their parents ask?  There’s definitely scope for error there.

PP: I wouldn’t worry about it.

Me: That seems like a nonchalant response to spreading the Gospel.  Let me ask you this, do you think that childminders running or working in a creche should be certified by the state?

PP: Yes.

Me: And do you think that primary school teachers should have the proper qualifications in order to teach?

PP: Yes, of course.

Me: Okay, now, back to church.  Would you agree that proper interpretation of the Bible is essential to teaching and preaching the Gospel message?

PP: It depends.

Me: Why wouldn’t we expect people leading a nationwide, interdenominational initiative involving unchurched children and adults to have proper religious training? 


He didn’t respond to that one.  But, you see what I’m getting at?  We are now looking at a generation of British people who somehow manage to get confirmed without knowing what their church teaches. How that happens is a mystery to me. These people think they know what their denomination is about but at some point it will get to the experiential: ‘I’m correct in my own mind.’ 

How many Anglicans, for example, know or have ever read the 39 Articles?  How many of them know that the Anglican church teaches justification by faith? What makes Anglicans different from Methodists or Baptists? Can they explain the importance of Baptism?  Why are there so many strands of Christianity?  Anyone reading this can run through similar questions for their denomination.  No one is exempt, regardless of which church we attend.  We all bear responsibility for what we teach people — young and old — who ask questions about our faith.  We should know the answers to the basic questions — not what we would like to think of as the answers, but the actual teachings.  It is not experiential or based on opinion.  It’s doctrinal.


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