GALLERY & LESSONS
Rising Waters
The puppets today found themselves on the ark waiting to see what happened. The snake wasn't convinced that anything was going to happen—until the water started to rise. Giraffe and Lionel explained how Noah believes God and will be saved from the flood: not by his own plan, but by God's. This is a picture of how God will save us from judgement; not by our plan, but by God's: Jesus Christ.
Ark-in-a-Bottle
You may have heard of building a ship-in-a-bottle. That's nothing compared to an ark-in-a-tic-tac-box built by kids. We identified all the bits of the Genesis story: the inhabited land; the flood waters; the ark shown here floating (or a "whale" according to one heterodox kid); the rainbow of God's promise, and the verse Gen 9 v 15.
Animal Pairs
The running-around game today involved matching animals. Here shown is one set; there was another board with the other ones. The phrase "two-by-two" has always confused me because it suggests they arrived as quads in 2×2 formation, but it actually means "pairs". Did you know we should care for animals? God said: “For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine.” Jesus said God cares when every tiny sparrow falls to the ground... so imagine how much He cares for us!
Animal Masks
Yes... it is colouring! This time we were colouring in animal masks.
Ark Line-Up
Here are some of the children lined up in their animal masks made earlier. It was time to get into the ark.
Promise Rainbow I
For the past two years we have made two year-long communal crafts following a theme: a button cross and a set of "stained-glass" windows. See below. This year we are making a rainbow over seven sessions, each coloured stripe of which reminds us of a promise of God. The rainbow itself is a sign of promise from the story of Noah. Keep an eye out for the other promises we look at.
Christingle
For the first time at Messy Church we made Christingles. The orange is the world, and the candle gives light to the world as Jesus is the Light of the world. The red ribbon around the world reminds us of the Jesus' blood given for us, and the four sticks represent the four seasons and the food God provides us around the year.
Colouring
Colouring and drawing. Pretty straight-forward until you stop and think, "Isn't it amazing what God has made children able to do?"
Button Cross Completed!
Finished at last! This cross reminds us again of the seven times Jesus said, "I Am..." and then said who He was. Can you remember what they are? Were you at all the Messy Churches?
D.C. Talk
We still had some of these left over! (See below.) This tiny little light is driven by an AA battery. Jesus is the light of the whole world: He created the world and still lives and shines into the darkness of the world today. Keep that in mind when you see all the lights this Christmas.
Nativity
Puppet nativity. Can you recognise the different people and remember the Christmas story?
Back to the Future
So this wasn't an activity we did in 2019: we did it in a Christmas Messy Church years ago. But I found it this week buried in my house. Six things that were written down in the Bible many hundreds of years before Jesus detailing his birth and life. Yes, you read that right.
Light of the World
We finished of the central section of the year-long all-messy-church activity in white and yellow buttons. Jesus said: "I am the Light of the World."
Olly, Grandad & a Naked Flame*
Olly and Grandad also made a Christingle. Grandad explained to Olly as they were putting it together what all the different bits meant. We all lit our Christingles. Even though it was daytime, it was rubbish weather and the candles looked great shining in the dark.

* Don't worry we were 80% sure Olly was fire-retardant.

Jesus said, I AM:
Turn the plates to reveal the seven things Jesus said he was like. Click on the picture to see it magnified. Can you work out/remember what those seven things were?
Olly and Grandad
Olly has just come in from Messy Church and Grandad has been doing some painting. Why did Jesus call himself The Gate? Grandad explains that Jesus used to use explanations that were easy to remember and imagine: like a painting made with words.
Worship Time
Worship time at Messy Church. Actions are not pictured here but they included: walking, searching, and turning around. There's no-one like Jesus.
Crowded Field
The verse of the day was from John 10, when Jesus said, "I am the Gate for the Sheep." In this group craft, we made sheep from white paint fingerprints. This breed of sheep are slightly blue.
Making Masks
This man is an expert at making sheep masks from white card and cotton wool...
Wearing Masks
...and this lady is an expert at wearing them. The children took the masks home and wore them during the game.
Lung Power II
The aim of this game was to blow balls into the pens and shut the gate if the robber came along. The rules are pretty fluid. If it looks like the game "Lung Power", it's different, honest.
Shepherd and Robber
In the verse we looked at today, Jesus talked about robbers trying to steal sheep from the enclosure. Today's running around game involved a robber and a crook. See picture.
Button Cross III
The button cross is looking pretty good now and serves as a reminder of all the memory verses from 2019. The central section is ready for Christmas: I am The Light of the World.
Welcome!
Here is the front line of the Messy Church welcome team.
Family Tree
Here is a story told by Grandad to Olly to explain Jesus' picture. Bert Branch wants to strike out on his own and leave the tree. His friend in the vine, Carl Branch, warns him not to. How is he supposed to stay nice and leafy and green if he can't draw any water and goodness from the vine? In the end, Bert realises he doesn't want to dry up and stays where he is.
Plants Draw Up From Their Roots
Plants draw up water through their stems and what they draw up becomes part of the flower. Here we tested this using dyed water and carnations. A flower left in blue water will turn blue. A person who draws their life from Jesus will become like Jesus.
Grape Run
This was the running about bit. The red grape and white grape team went head to head here and ran the slalom before crushing the grapes into the bucket. It was a draw, with both teams getting 2.4 cm of "wine" (I think). It was surprisingly splashy game. Just when we were starting to worry that we weren't messy enough to keep our name.
I Am The Vine Sketchboard
Jason took the time to explain Jesus' statement about Himself—"I am the True Vine"—in a little more depth.
Water on the Move
At the start of the morning there were four cups with red, blue, yellow and green water. In between them were four empty cups, and these were connected with paper towels. The water moved along the towel during the Messy Church and by the end the empty cups were full of coloured water. Jesus says that, if we remain joined to Him, we will become like Him.
Jesus says: "I Am The True Vine"
Jesus' disciple, John, wrote his book that Jesus said, "I am the True Vine". As one of the activities today, we had a vine on a trellis, and the family members were invited to attach paper grapes with their names written in, in a way that shows how Jesus can join us all together.
Sweet Vines
Continuing with the fruit on vines again, only this time it was possible to take it home and eat it. In fairness, it is possible to eat fruit from real vines, too.
Sheep Biscuits
We were learning about Jesus' story about being the shepherd taking care of the sheep. These sheep are made of gingerbread and marshmallow, and I expect they got taken care of when the children got home.
Pompom Verses
Continuing the sheep theme... these pom-pom bookmarks carried the memory verse, which are Jesus' own words: "I am the Good Shepherd".
Lung Power
Everyone knows it is important to include sport as part of life. So we included a game of blow-the-sheeps-into-the-pens. I watched grown men be repeatedly defeated by their seven-year-old daughters and sons, showing that raw determination can beat age. No-one (quite) passed out, which was good; but there was a lot of spit on the pitch by the end, which was unpleasant.
Sheep Amongst Wild Animals...
Jesus said that he is like a shepherd that keeps his followers safe from wolves and brings them back home to the pen. Sylvester the sheep finds himself lost, having wandered off. He is now surrounded by many exotic animals. The fox and the lion discuss possible accompaniments for their takeaway ...
...Rescued by Shepherd
... but suddenly he hears a voice he recognises. It's the shepherd! The shepherd shows up and smacks the fox and lion with his crook. Now the sheep is safe and they can go home together.
The Good Shepherd
Jason explains how the devil has a mission opposite to God's: he wants to kill, steal and destroy. But Jesus came to give Life—even giving His own life for us and to bring us back to God. Jesus says: "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." (John 10:11)
Grandad Needs New Glasses
It's breakfast-time and Grandad can't find his newspaper, or his breakfast, or Olly. Perhaps he needs new glasses? Olly is reluctant to get a lift from grandad to school before he's been to Specsavers. Grandad needs to be able to read the road signs properly to know where he is going. Just as we need to keep our eyes open to follow Jesus—who is the Way.
Road Signs
Jason painting road signs and testing both children's and drivers' memories. The Bible teaches that, without following Jesus as the way, there only no entry and dead ends. We all find ourselves at a crossroads in life deciding which way to go. The wonderful place represented by six blanks that Jason revealed to be Heaven had us wondering in the audience for a moment if it could be Slough.
Track
Combining the themes of Jesus being the "Way" and the "Truth" in this quiz two teams answered questions to get a piece of the puzzle track and then laid them end to end. Click to see the video and the full message.
Freesia Frenzy
Speaks for itself. Jesus is The Life. There was no-one at the table when I took this photo so it was just freesias without the frenzy. The hotdogs did generate a queue.
Jesus is The Way
Finding our way through life can be tricky when there are many different routes. For instance there are lots of ways to get from Loughborough to Derby. Jesus said, "I am the Way". We should follow Him.
Button Cross II
Some more of this done today. See below.
Maze
Is life like a maze? These kids know where they want the marble to get to, but there are lots of twists and turns to get there. We learned today that Jesus said, "I am the way to the Father."
Lazarus Story
A historically-accurate re-enactment of the Lazarus tomb scene recorded in John. (Click to zoom.) Act I: bearded disciples see a stone rolled across the entrance of Lazarus' tomb. Act II: at Jesus' instruction, the tomb is rolled away. Act III: Lazarus—who was dead—emerges from the tomb, alive and well! Act IV: Jason explains to Olly how this shows Jesus has power of life and death.
Praise and Worship
Worship times are a normal part of church life, no less so at messy church. (The music is just a bit more messy.)
Mummie's Day
Sunday was Mother's day, but Saturday was mummie's day as we played a game to remember Lazarus coming out all wrapped up in cloth. There are really no winners in a game like this.
Lazarus Cubes
Remember those wooden cube puzzles that can be put together to build six scenes? We made those for the story of Lazarus. • Lazarus sick • Fetching Jesus • Jesus on his way • Mary and Martha crying • Tomb across entrance • Lazarus back to life.
Salt Bread City
Jesus said, "I am the Bread of Life". Today we made some salt-dough bread shapes to remind us of this. You can't eat it, but you can take it home and cook it, then paint it.
Toast Countdown
I'll have a consonant please, Carol. Only it wasn't Carol it was Pam, and it wasn't a consonant it was a crust. Straight from the toaster (nearly) to the board, we had a race to see which team of kids could unscramble the toasts AMFLBREIFHEADITOE. It turns out the team with loads of older kids who could read won.
Button Cross
This year we are looking at Jesus famous "I am" sayings, starting with, "I am the Bread of Life". A small section of the cross is filled in, the other sections will get finished in 2019. Click on the picture (on any picture) to take a closer look.
Not-So Stable Stables
At Christmas Messy Church this year we had a game to build a stable out of marshmallows and Lidl pasta. This impressive effort looks more like an organic molecule found in the stable. (OK, so I am making fun. I guess the point is, it didn't fall down. And our table's did.)
Puppet Mary and Joseph
The puppet versions of Mary and Joseph usually make an appearance at Messy Church Christmas. As do puppet-Angel, puppet-Donkey, puppet-Wise Man or Herod—depending on how we deploy the king puppet. (He is also King David as it happens.) The delivery of these puppet sketches is astoundingly slick.
Jesus Light of the World
This week we were talking about Jesus: Light of the World. Much fun was had by all making DC lamp circuits.
Peter Walks on Water
A reconstruction of Jesus and the disciples down at the edge of the sea of Galilee. After the disciples had escaped from the crowd they saw who they thought was a ghost, approaching on the water... but it was Jesus! Peter came walking to Jesus on the water, but when he saw the wind and waves, he took his eyes off Jesus and started to sink! Jesus reached out His hand and caught him.
Making Boats
We built our own little boats to take home with figures of Jesus and Peter, and a reminder of the memory verse. Here they are walking on the water. Careful to keep your eyes on Jesus and off the waves, Peter!
November Windows
In November, we had five windows finished from the previous weeks in 2018. Somewhere around people were getting sticky working on the sixth... . Can you work out which stories about Peter are shown in the windows?
Boat-Building Teams
Sometimes you've lots of bits and pieces lying around and you just gotta build a boat and see if it floats. That's what we did today. Most of them did.
Peter Escaping From Jail
Do you know angels rescued Peter from jail? You can read all about it in Acts. We made these two-frame sequences to take home, to remind us about the bit where Peter's chains fell off all by themselves.
Languages at Pentecost
In Acts 2, we read about when the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit and everyone there heard Peter speak in their own language! A few older kids had a go at matching languages against the words—and we listened to mp3! Can you match all these? Click the picture to get a better look :-)
Balanced Diet
At Messy Church we enjoy a balanced diet as this photo shows. (Balanced part not shown.) We also have sandwiches sometimes, fishfingers, pizza. Always something vegetarian of course.
Carnival
We usually have a stall at the St. Ives Carnival during summer. Keep an eye out for us. Here the puppets are relaxing during their time off.
A People Not A Building
This week we were learning about how the church is the people, not the building. However, you can sometimes stick people on a church building (or stick them in a church building).
Olly and Grandad
Olly and his friends are an inquisitive bunch and have a lot of questions about life, God, Jesus and the church. Granddad is there for answers.
Stable Craft
In 2018 the different characters of the nativity scene gathered together in these take-home stand-up wooden stables. Later on we were learning about how these characters' lives were changed by the news of Jesus' birth.
Dangling Christmas
In 2017 we made these ceiling decorations featuring wise men, sheep, Mary and an angel. In the centre is the star that led the wise men from the East to Bethlehem.