Messy Hospitality

Changing communities through fun, food, friendship and faith

Lucy Moore

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A practical exploration of the Christian principle of hospitality from the founder of Messy Church

In Messy Hospitality Lucy Moore demonstrates how hospitality can be practised in Messy Church and other church contexts to promote mission and faith formation, addressing the theology of hospitality and how it can be expressed at the welcome table, the activity table, the Lord's Table, the meal table, and in the home.

Also included are insights from the secular hospitality industry, how to train Messy Church teams in hospitality, audit - style questions for the reader to apply in their own context, and five complete session outlines for Messy Churches.

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Author info

Lucy Moore is the founder of Messy Church, a rapidly-growing ministry that is now in over 20 countries worldwide. She is responsible for developing the work of Messy Church nationally and internationally - writing, speaking, reflecting and developing Messy projects. Before working full-time with Messy Church, Lucy was a member of BRF's Barnabas children's ministry team, offering training for those wanting to bring the Bible to life for children in churches and schools across the UK, and using drama and storytelling to explore the Bible with children herself. Her books include titles in the Messy Church series, as well as AllAge Worship, Colourful Creation, Bethlehem Carols Unpacked, The Lord's Prayer Unplugged and The Gospels Unplugged. She also presents Messy Church: the DVD. A secondary-school teacher by training, she enjoys acting, walking Minnie the dog, marvelling at the alien world of her two teenage children and guiltily watching unimproving television programmes. She is a Lay Canon of Portsmouth Cathedral.


Church Times 23 September 2016

LUCY MOORE, author of Messy Hospitality , is the founder of the Messy Church movement. Not all churches do Messy Church or even like its concept (I write as an impartial bystander, knowing about it, but never having partaken); but all practise hospitality in their own context. This book is as much about the how and why of hospitality as it is about Messy Church itself, and in places is very challenging about the status quo, rightly so.

Theology sits alongside practical suggestions and personal observations with an initial focus on the biblical basis for hospitality: "We as individuals or as church should
always be the crossover place, being great hosts and great guests in our dealings with each other and with the world around us. We see this interplay in the overarching mission of Jesus that Paul describes in Philippians 2.6-11. . ."

The author reflects that in churches often the longstanding congregation see themselves as the host, with everything to give and nothing to take. Yet she points to Jesus as the ultimate host: being so sure of who he was, he could let go of everything. We read the familiar tale of the "welcoming" church, where the congregation are so concerned about preparing for the service and laying out the right books that the arrival of a newcomer is completely overlooked.

The book does focus in parts on how hospitality fits into the four pillars of Messy Church - the welcome, the activities, the celebration, and the meal, with a chapter about hospitality in the home, and a focus on how to train and nurture teams finishing with five complete session outlines.

But the most pertinent points are those that affect us all, and not just the Messy-Church initiated. The welcome at the church door may seem like "the trivial froth of hospitality", but the attitude that it symbolises is far harder to change, writes the author. At the end of this section is a practical check list with questions to consider right down to "What type of biscuits do you offer?" This may sound silly, but in fact makes a fair point; what do your refreshments say about your church? After all, no one enjoys a soft rich tea.

There are also examples from the world of business, and a management consultant is quoted on how a good host makes the best leader. His observations are insightful. He concludes that a host wants to give everyone the best experience, but, knowing that he or she will not make everyone happy, always acts with both maturity and passion. There is also a well-written chapter on learning from the hospitality industry.

Looking at hospitality in the home, the author points out that the traits of hospitality which a church should demonstrate can and should be replicated on a personal level.
There are challenging examples from those who have opened up their homes with far more than the odd offer of Sunday lunch; but also the healthy perspective of personal
experience that we must know our own tipping-points.

Messy Church is not everyone's thing. My only criticism of the book is the title, as it may put readers off before they have started; but every church could benefit from a Messy Hospitality health check.

Rachel Harden

STAR News - Diocese of Peterborough - late June 2016

'True hospitality means risk.' This slightly provocative statement from the introduction sets out Lucy's view. Welcoming people who do not look the 'us' of the existing congregation is a challenge. The rest of the book explains why we need to face the risk - whether we lead Messy or any other kind of church. She points out that the role of guest and host is blurred in the Gospels and that Christians and churches must 'waltz happily' between the two roles. There is helpful checklist (on p43) for the key features of a good welcome.

This book should be read by leaders in every parish - not just those who run a Messy Church. You will be challenged to re-think how you welcome people to church and how you share Jesus' hospitality with your community. A good read!

Rona Orme

Child in the Midst - Church of England June 2016

Don't read Messy Hospitality unless you are prepared to be challenged! Lucy Moore doesn't pull her punches about the way we often limit the welcome we offer, and urges us to reconsider God's outrageous generosity as we reach out to our communities. Practical help, rooted in reality, offers churches a way to move towards becoming more hospitable spaces for all. Whether you are part of a Messy Church or not, this is well worth reading.

Mary Hawes

STAR News - Diocese of Peterborough April 2016

What is hospitality? It is not just about the refreshments we serve nor the way we welcome people at the door. It is about being generously open-hearted - as God is with us. Whilst written primarily for the Messy Church movement (it includes 5 Messy Church sessions), this book has much to say to traditional Sunday and mid-week congregations. This is not an 'add-on' for what we think church is about but something that should permeate our congregations, our planning, what we offer and how we view what we are about. Don't read this book unless you are willing to be challenged in your thinking and your practice! A fabulous book that forces us to consider the outrageous hospitality of God - and then to join in! You have been warned...

Rona Orme - Diocesan Children's Missioner

It's like church, but for everyone. Fr Richard Peers on his blog: Quodcumque

'What's Messy Church?' I asked one of my pupil guides, 'It's like church, but for everyone.' Was the telling response. I didn't get the opportunity to ask more.

Messy Church, a brand run through the Bible Reading Fellowship is creating quite a library of books. I reviewed one here. The latest that I have read is Messy Hospitality by Lucy Moore the founder of Messy Church.

Lucy writes in an engaging style which is never dull. She uses rich, poetic language and imagery, this is a deceptive book. It needs mulling over, perhaps a bit like Messy Church itself which can appear deceptively simple.

I loved Lucy's opening lines:

'Hospitality is where it's at. Hospitality is where God's at. It's a key that opens the door to the kingdom.'

For full review click here.

Book details

  • ISBN: 9780857464156
  • Published: 22 April 2016
  • Status:
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 224
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