How often do you find yourself complimenting a young girl on how pretty she looks, or how nice her dress is? Or telling a young boy how smart his outfit is? So often the messages we are giving in our encounters with children and young people collude with an over-emphasis placed on appearance.
The Bishop of Gloucester, the Right Revd Rachel Treweek said, “The intention is usually one of wanting to affirm and value the child or young adult, but so often that message of value is being focused on the external appearance and there is a lack of validation of internal character.”
As part of Bishop Rachel’s #liedentity campaign, which challenges the message that who you are, is all about how you look, she has been working in partnership with others to create ways of helping children and young people explore where their real value and identity comes from.
One of these partnerships has been with Messy Church, who create fun and interactive games and play sessions for young children and is a way of being church for families. The Real Me was produced, and provides lots of creative ways for children to explore their own identity and discover that it’s what’s on the inside that counts.
Bishop Rachel said, “This is a brilliant and exciting Messy Church session and enables the children to explore who they have been created to be. The challenge for adults is to ensure that our language and the words we use are validating the child and young person as a whole person. How are we speaking to their inner being? Their character? This is about focusing on the heart of who they are so that they can continue to grow in relationship with others and flourish in becoming who God calls them to be. Such a journey does not begin with external appearance.”
Watch a Real Me Messy Church session, which took place at Georges’ Tuffley in Gloucester
‘The Real Me’ is a free resource to base a Messy Church event around the values we discuss in the Liedentity Campaign, with activities that explore the message Who we are, is more than how we look.
Helen McGeoch, Pioneer in Tuffley says, “We don’t always understand who we are when we’re growing up. We think we need to look special, but actually it’s what’s on the inside that matters”. Speaking on the broader topic of Messy Church (which happens in Tuffley on a monthly basis) she says, “Messy Church is so good, it’s breaking down barriers that separate church from community and overlapping the two.”