Rachael Witheford, Kids Ministry Director at Village Baptist Church, Havelock North, tells us about an intergenerational style of church called 'Messy Church' that explores faith through hands-on activities. 

Messy Church at Village Baptist Church has been running for around ten years, going through several changes over time with new teams, ideas, and families. 

What has been consistent has been the sense of belonging that families encounter when they enter the Messy Church space. They are always welcomed and drawn into craft activities focusing on the day's theme. While the children are busy with their crafts, this is a perfect space for intentional conversations about Jesus' life and his living Word. 

It also allows freedom for parents to step back from their children and engage with other parents. It is a time to build relationships, relax, and feel like they are being seen and heard. 

Hospitality is a huge factor to Messy Church, and while Covid years have removed the meal portion of our gatherings, hot drinks and snacks are still offered. This has created a place for breaking bread together simply yet effectively. 

The devotion times are always relaxed – a mixture of songs, stories, chats, and celebrations. We've seen children thrive during this time and develop the confidence to share their craft creations or just let loose with some actions during a song. 

At Village Baptist Church, we view Messy Church as being like a home group. New families are always welcome and looked after. But once you become a regular, the children relax as they feel more comfortable, and pastoral care happens amidst the adult conversations. 

We don't view success at our Messy Church by numbers, as these constantly fluctuate. We look at the impact that an afternoon exploring God's Word together has on a family, and it is definitely a success. 

Messy Church is a valuable ministry within the life of Village Baptist Church and one that families treasure as part of their faith formation together. 

Messy Church Road Trip Trainings in Aotearoa, New Zealand 

In May 2024, the Messy Church National Team are doing a Training Road Trip from Auckland to Cromwell, bringing the following guests to somewhere in New Zealand near you. 

Dave Gregory, a Baptist Minister from the UK, is now the Baptist Missioner on Science and the Environment. He is also the editor of Messy Church Does Science and co-editor for Messy Adventures and many other publications. Greg Ross is a Uniting Church Minister in Bunbury, Regional Coordinator for Messy Church in Western Australia, and a writer of many articles for Messy Church publications. 

We will be visiting eight different centres and offering training for those running Messy Church or interested in finding out what Messy Church is all about. Come and be prepared to be surprised as you discover how to share aspects of God's story through science experiments and more. 

Workshops will help resource your Messy Church leaders to include projects on Care of Creation, science and the environment, and hope facing disaster in your next Messy Church event. We will also go deeper into the basics, such as Messy Church values and processes, supporting your teams going beyond Messy. To register your interest, contact us at messychurch.nz/contact.

Dates and locations

Tuesday 14 May

Church of the Saviour, Blockhouse Bay, Auckland 

Thursday 16 May

St Paul’s, Putaruru

Saturday 18 May

All Saints, Taradale, Hawkes Bay 

Monday 20 – Tuesday 21 May 

Home of Compasion, Island Bay, Wellington

Tuesday 21 May

St Christopher’s, Blenheim 

Wednesday 22 May

Richmond Baptist, Nelson 

Thursday 23 – Friday 24 May 

Presbyterian Church, Cromwell 

Saturday 25 May

St Barnabas, Fendalton, Christchurch 


Photo: Messy Church boat building at Castlecliff Beach. “Our theme was Jesus appearing to his disciples on the beach from John 21: 1-17”. Supplied by Jocelyn Czerwonka (member of Messy Church New Zealand).

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