Messy Nativity

How to run your very own Messy Nativity Advent project

Jane Leadbetter

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Mayhem, madness and magnificence... Messy Nativity!
Rev Jean Flood, Mission in the Economy, Liverpool

Content

In this book I share a story of hope. Jesus said to his disciples, 'Go throughout the whole world and preach the gospel to the whole human race.' So why, even at Christmas, is this becoming so hard to do, when the story of Jesus' birth is gradually being squeezed out of our towns and cities, amongst the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping, during the season of Advent? When the Real meaning of Christmas is being replaced with Santa's Magical Kingdom and WinterFests? How can we bring Jesus back into our communities during Advent?

Find out about a new project uniting communities around the Nativity story at Christmas time!

  • The Messy Nativity Sheep Trail (spot the knitted sheep in shops);
  • The Messy Nativity Set Journey (the Posada idea with added knitted sheep);
  • The Messy Street Nativity (tell the Nativity story in the street using drama/script).

Featuring in all three parts of the project are sheep!

This book describes how Messy Nativity started in Liverpool in 2010, and gives a step-by-step guide to how other churches can embark on their own local Messy Nativity Advent project.

Knit-i-vity! How knitted sheep can bring Jesus baaaaa...ck into your shopping centre!

Jane Leadbetter

Together with Liverpool Mothers' Union and the newly formed pioneer ministry River in the City, Jane came up with the idea of a Nativity trail for shoppers to hunt down cuddly lost sheep hiding in department stores in Liverpool ONE, the city's major shopping and leisure centre. She took the idea to the Centre management team and they loved it, quickly recognising the trail's potential to increase the numbers of customers visiting the centre's stores and creating a sense of theatre for shoppers.

Twelve large, knitted sheep were placed in twelve stores, including GAP, Debenhams, Waterstones and John Lewis, along with trail leaflets that invited families to help Liverpool ONE's shepherd to find his sheep so he could go and see baby Jesus and tell the real story of Christmas. The leaflet also narrated the full traditional story of Christmas.

Sheila the sheep

'I never imagined how all ages could get so excited about knitted sheep! Store staff had competitions to choose a name for their sheep; some sheep "travelled" around stores daily. Many store staff bonded with their sheep and were very sad when the trail was over.'
Jane Leadbetter

'The messy sheep trail worked very well in Waterstones. It created fun for the children to try and find our sheep, "Sheila". It is always good for business to try new things and create as much theatre as possible within the store. We would be more than happy to be a part of this next year.'
Waterstones Liverpool ONE Branch Manager Andrew Campbell

The trail culminated in a prize draw for all completed trail entries.

The success in Liverpool demonstrates that UK city and town centres are interested in new and fun ways to attract customers and offer them an experience they will not find online.

So now over to knitters and churches nationwide. Here's your chance to get started on changing your shopping centre this Christmas.

All you need to get started is a copy of Jane's essential guide to all things woolly. Messy Nativity is available from all good Christian bookstores and online at www.brfonline.org.uk/9780857460554/. Jane gives you all the information, those essential knitting patterns, how to get your shopping centre involved and additional ideas on engaging the community around your local church with the passing from home to home of a Nativity set and how to arrange a street Nativity play.

So, yes, talking about Christmas now at the start of summer is a little unusual but if you want to be ready, it's time to get those needles clicking and those meetings happening.

No baaaaaa... humbugs please!

Download free template downloads of the leaflet and other resource sheets in the book

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Endorsements

Mayhem, madness and magnificence... Messy Nativity!
Rev Jean Flood, Mission in the Economy, Liverpool

Author info

Jane Leadbetter is part of the BRF Messy Church Team, has worked as a primary school teacher and was Children's Work Adviser in the Diocese of Liverpool for twelve years. She runs L19: Messy Church once a month.

Reviews

Reviewed by The Church Times - 2 November 2012

Messy Nativity narrates the story of a successful city-centre project to use the Christmas story evangelistically. The book includes three possible projects that worked well together in Liverpool: a shop-window treasure hunt for knitted sheep; a nativity-set journey similar to Posada; and a street nativity. With good community links and enough enthusiasm, this could work in any town or city, and will draw different agencies and communities together.

Reviewed by Dana Delap


From The Good Bookstall - September 2012

This book details three really exciting possibilities for Advent or Christmas community outreach projects. Although obviously these projects were done under the Messy Church umbrella, the title is somewhat misleading. This is not a book that will help you to do your normal Messy Church sessions at Christmas!

The three projects are as follows:

A sheep trail in your town utilising shop windows.

A posada journey of nativity figures around your church, Messy Church, or school families

A street nativity (script not included)

If you are looking for an exciting Christmas project to help you engage with your local community then this book might help! The most detail is given for the sheep trail including knitting instructions for the sheep.

The nativity journey is also well explained and detailed.

The street nativity leaves much to your own imagination!
Well worth buying if you would like to explore either of the first two ideas. The sheep trail has obviously been very successful in South Liverpool and reading all about how they did it is quite inspiring.

Messy Christmas is on its way, so hopefully that will help with Messy Church session planning!

Reviewed by Kathy Bland

Book details

  • ISBN: 9780857460554
  • Published: 22 June 2012
  • Status:
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 64
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