A Fresh Start in Jesus – Zacchaeus


We had this theme in September, and as our Messy Church is on the 1st Sunday of the Month it was before a lot of the kids went back to school and parents back to work after the summer holiday, so we were thinking of a fresh start, new school year and even a new school! This would also work really well as a January theme.

We focused on the story of Zacchaeus as he’s a great example of someone who’s started afresh with Jesus!

Welcome – 10 minutes

Sometimes our welcome activity is lots of a3 colouring sheets for people to do together whilst we welcome everyone in. We often have 4 year olds sat next to 80 year olds colouring together, which a great sign of just what Messy Church is! Here are some good Zacchaeus colourings.

Crafts and activities – 50 minutes

Junk Tree

We LOVE junk activities and we have 3 men in their 60s that LOVE to run them! They are very good at running with any idea I put their way, and are very resourceful in finding junk. These trees were made out of old carpet tubes and branches they had cut off of their trees at home!


News Paper Hearts

We thought about the GOOD NEWS that Jesus brought to Zacchaeus, that he was LOVED. We wanted to share that Good news with our families too. All you need is some news paper, card to back it on, a heart shape template, craft supplies, and you could stick a magnet on the back to stick it a fridge!



Paper Plate Tree

For this craft all you need is a paper plate, lollypop sticks, and some pens! You can chose any verse from the bible to stick to the plate and use it as a reminder of the story. Related image



We made butterflies as reminder of a new start in creation. To remind us we can be made new in Jesus. All you need is paper cut into butterfly shapes, and paint. Splodge the paint on to one side of the template and then fold in half to create beautiful butterflies!


Pyrography – He knows my name

We bought a pyrography set from Hobby Craft for £10 and one of our helpers had one already. With this craft you MUST have protective gloves to wear, we used gardening gloves, and we also made this craft an 8+ craft with Parental advisory. We were worried we might have some grumbles but everyone was very sensible about it! We got some wood from a local handyman who was doing up one of our helpers kitchens at the time and we sawed it into smaller pieces. I wrote on one side ‘Jesus Knows my name’ and the families just had to write their name on the other side. SIMPLE, but very popular!


Rice Crispy trees

We ALWAYS have a food craft at our Messy Church, and this month is no different! I found this idea, like a lot of ideas, on Pinterest. All you need is some rice crispies, green food colouring mixed into melted white chocolate or melted marshmallows (we made this just before the families arrived) some chocolate fingers, and a helper who promises not to eat it all!


Bible station – The story of the 10 lepers

Each month we have a Bible station, this is a table with lots of different types of bibles laid out with the story on. We have one lovely helper on it who talks through the story with the families, we always have questions to answer and give them the freedom to explore the story either through making a poster, a video on an ipad, making a powerpoint slide on a laptop, or just discussing it with other people on the table.

The questions this month are:

  • What had Zacchaeus done wrong?
  • How did he change?
  • Can God forgive anything?

Celebration – 20 minutes

After our Welcome and Crafts and Activities we go into a time of worship, which we call the ‘Celebration’.

As people are coming in we always have a song playing. We usually use Fischy Music – Build up One Another. We sometimes have a different song if we can think of something relevant!

Welcome – We start by welcoming everyone, asking people what they’ve done today in Messy church and what they’ve enjoyed.

Worship – We like to start with a worship song, to get people going!

Our God is a good God – we did this without a video as I couldn’t find one!

Story –

We like to tell our stories in lots of different ways, sometimes its a video, sometimes we get a few people to act it out, sometimes we get EVERYONE to act it out.

Here was my little preamble to the video: As we start a new year of messy church, school, perhaps jobs, it is good for us to remember that God longs to give us all a fresh start. We read stories in the bible about people who make mistakes. God always forgives them, and helps them to start again. Here’s a story about a guy called Zacchaeus.

Zacchaeus Video Here’s another great video we didn’t use as it was quite long.

Prayer Activity

Get the families to sit in groups, give everyone (including parents and helpers) a 1p piece coin. Encourage the families to move into this activity quietly. Tell them that they need to do this activity alone and within their group.

  • Ask them to find a coin that is clean – ask them to each quietly think of the good things that they do, then pray to ask God to help us to do more.
  • Ask them to find a coin that is not so clean – ask them to think about the times when we do things wrong ask them to say sorry to God for those things
  • Ask them to put their coin underneath their foot – ask them to think about when we are selfish with our time, money and love.
  • Ask them to lift their coin in the air – ask god to help you know where to give your time, money and love.
  • Ask them to stand in a pair, one of them pass their coin to the other so one person has both coins – ask them think about how some people have so much whilst others have so little. Pray that we will be able to be fair and selfless in sharing our love, time and money with those who have little.
  • Ask them to put the coin between their hands and put their hands together – thank God for the time, love and money that we receive from others and the love we receive from him and pray that we will use it well.

Invite them all to take their coins home with us, and pray that God will help us to continue to pray for wise thoughts in using time, money and love.


King of Love – Doug Horley  – This is the action video. I easily created my own lyrics video of this on movie maker, but cannot share as I don’t have the correct copyright.

We always finish our messy celebration with the Messy Grace with actions which can be found in the Messy Church books.

Food – 30 minutes

Then we come together for food! We always do party food as we meet on a Sunday afternoon. Families generally help us tidy away which is great!


This theme was used at Grangewood in September 2017

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