A Clymping church leader wants to start up Messy Church in a bid to make going to church easier for families.
The child friendly format is ideal for parents and little ones, with a creative activity exploring a biblical theme followed by a celebration time of song or prayer and sometimes a sit-down meal.
The Rev Richard Hayes said St Mary’s in Clymping had seen a drop in attendance in recent months and he was conscious it needed to offer something suitable for those caring for children.
He said: “All the Sunday school retired and there was no B-team. For about 18 months we’ve not been able to run a Sunday School and naturally that has an effect, so we’re looking at Messy Church.
“Everybody uses Messy Church but we thought we’d give it a go.”
Messy Church can operate on a Sunday but typically runs on another day of the week as an alternative to traditional church and is designed to be as inclusive as possible of age groups and also welcomes individuals.
The Rev Hayes said a lady had moved into the area who had experience in running Messy Church and had offered to help out, and the idea had had a positive response so far.
“People are really picking up on Messy Church, which is encouraging,” he said.
“They do want to see more families in church, they do want to see new folks coming in because of what they have experienced in life in the church, both spiritually in Jesus but also through the community.”
He said that Clymping’s regular attendance was around 50 people of around 100 regular members and although a fluctuation in size was more keenly felt in a smaller group, the advantage was that people could really get to know each other.
The congregation is one of three in the ‘Benefice’, along with St Andrew’s in Ford and St Mary’s in Yapton and the Rev Hayes said learning to be authentic in faith and with each other was key.
“It’s a real strength for people to come along and experience, to meet Christ and to be part of a fellowship, but it’s a process,” he said.
“I think the thing for the church team is we have to be authentic, offering real relationships, honest, true stuff so we smile when others smile and we cry when others cry.”