TGIF…Messy Logo News

TGIF…Messy Logo News

Roberta J. Egli

Time to Change your Messy Church Logo

Did you know that Messy Church has a new logo? You will love the new options available to download in high resolution from the Messy Church BRF website. You can also request a customized logo that has your own church name in the logo itself. Six months ago, the new logo was rolled out for all of the global community minus the United States. We received news this week that the logo is now trademarked in the United States and we can now use it. Be sure to go to the Messy Church BRF website to download and not google images!

Purchase Logo Products

Looking for a way to generate excitement in your neighborhood families about Messy Church? Many Messy Churches around the world have found that Messy Church logo products like T shirts, aprons, sweat shirts, coffee mugs, and banners help to get the word out.

Example– (yes we know we need to update the logo!)

Messy Church USA has developed an exclusive relationship with Triangle Graphics in Eugene, Oregon to provide you with a selection of logo products at an affordable price. Prices per item are lower when larger quantities are ordered. Check out the page on our website.

Have a great weekend!  I am looking forward to spending a weekend with relatives from all over the United States on the beautiful Oregon Coast.  Be on the look out for a new blog post next week from Lindsey Goodyear on parachute prayers! Messy Blessings, Roberta

All Age Messy Activity

Robin Cannon from Deep Creek United Methodist Church, Chesapeake,VA

Wondering how to engage those teens and adults in Messy Church?  Robin shared their experience of creating all-age experiences at their Messy Church in Chesapeake, VA.  Thanks Robin for sharing your story!

Messy Stained Glass created by Deep Creek UMC, Chesapeake VA 

Messy Church Stained Glass 

Our mid-sized church launched Messy Church this past September. Our hope was that we would be able to make connections with the many families who are a part of our church’s preschool and day care ministries and who are not a part of a faith community. We have been thrilled by the response. We average around 80 people and every month we have new, young families join us! Our goal was to reach out to young families and provide for them a non-intimating faith building experience and we have seen that happening each month.

Teenagers inviting friends to join them for Messy Church – it is such a beautiful thing!

We have also experienced some results that we did not anticipate. In our Messy Church planning, we have tried to be intentional about planning activities and stations that teens and adults would also enjoy such as our “stained glass window” painting project. The result has been that we now also have a group of adults and teens that love Messy Church! Each month many of our activities are planned and led by teens. This has produced some very enthusiastic teenagers who love what they are doing and are regularly inviting their friends to join us! Teenagers inviting friends to join them for Messy Church – it is such a beautiful thing!

We have also been intentional about planning a missions/serving activity each month. Our adults really enjoy the opportunities to be doing things for others each month. Thus far we have decorated cookies that were given to teachers at a nearby school, packaged rice and beans for our Food Pantry, packed goodie bags that everyone took to hand out to people who are rarely thanked for what they do, made Christmas cards for sick children, and helped make shoes for children in Uganda through Sole Hope. It has been wonderful to see all ages working together to share the Light and Love of Jesus with others!

We love Messy Church and are so thankful for all the wonderful ideas that come from other Messy Churches all around the world!

How to Make Messy Stained Glass

  • We cut sheets of clear of cellophane (you can buy it in rolls like wrapping paper at Michael’s) the size of our glass doors and taped them over the glass using painters tape.
  • We projected the image we wanted and traced with a black sharpie.
  • We sectioned off the images using black electrical tape – to create sections and give it a stained glass feel.
  • We covered the floor with tarps and prayed that this project didn’t go very badly – what could go wrong painting the doors with acrylic paint in the church gathering space!?!
  • At our Let your Light Shine Messy Church, everyone painted! We used good acrylic paint (the artist kind that comes in tubes at Michael’s). I think this is key to bright colors and paint thick enough not dribble and make a big mess. All 8 of these doors got nearly finished at our Messy Church and they are big hit – we’ve had them up for nearly a month now. We did a little bit of touch up the day after Messy Church to finish a few spots up – but this truly was an inter-generational project with kids, teens and adults all working together!

June 2018 Messy Church USA

Roberta J. Egli

Messy Togetherness

” If church is about loving God and loving each other and transforming the world in partnership with (God) and with each other, can we achieve that best by splitting up or learning to live together…an all-age church reflects the very nature of a diverse yet unified God. It demonstrates the integration of generations to which society as a whole can aspire, thus challenging the worldview that splits off generations from each other in fear and hostility. It is the way that Christians have celebrated their faith for centuries. It is the best way of growing disciples.” 

Lucy Moore

Thousand Oaks Fiesta Church 

Six years ago, I was perusing the internet, looking for ways for the church I served to more actively engage with our neighbors, when I first discovered a Messy Church video. I immediately felt a connection and remember showing the video of Lucy Moore explaining Messy Church as she walked down a street. I shared that video with as many people from the church that I could corner for a few minutes. What a brilliant yet simple idea to teach about the love of God through bringing people of all ages together through games, activities, and crafts all based on a biblical story. To top it off, there was an all age interactive time to hear the bible story, pray, all ending with a simple meal where everyone gathers around a table.

For many years, churches have been doing many of the elements of Messy Church but foundational value of bringing all ages together for the entire time both intrigued and challenged me.  I was drawn to the vision all intergenerational spiritual formation but I was challenged when I thought about how it would work.

Wouldn’t it be chaotic to have toddlers, preschoolers, moms, dads, aunts, single adults, uncles, teenagers, grandmas and grandpas all together in one space?  How could one find an activity or share a story that would speak to the diversity of ages? Could different ages from 0-70 really learn about God all in one space?  These questions continue to arise when I spend time training and coaching the startup of Messy Church throughout the USA. The other questions that quickly follow are ‘how’ do you plan for all ages and ‘where’ do you find activities?

Parachute Prayer

If these questions arise in your Messy Church teams, I highly recommend purchasing Messy Togetherness by Martyn Payne. The book is divided into three parts; 1) Why we are intergenerational at Messy Church, 2) How to be intergenerational during the activity time, celebration worship time and meal time in Messy Church and 3) Curriculum for three Messy Church sessions highlighting the value of all-ages together.

Here are a few tidbits from Martyn in regards to the act of Creating Together at Messy Church.
It takes an intentional invitation form the table leaders to involve the adults with the children…whoever is leading the craft or activity table needs to be enthusiastic… when putting together a craft idea, don’t have it all ‘done and dusted’ but invite those who are creating their ideas of how to proceed…it’s not the finished product that matters; it’s the engagement in the creativity that’s important…remember that the making and doing things together is part of the teaching and learning process of Messy Church.

BRF Publishing 2016

As I read through the book, I began to realize that not every activity had to reach every age but that in planning for Messy Church, it was important to keep the entirety of the time in perspective. I found Martyn’s creative checklist valuable when planning each Messy Church experience. Remember as you read through this list that some of them can be combined.

  • Something crafty and simple
  • Something cooperative and large
  • Something crafty and complicated
  • Something culinary
  • Something ‘cool’ ( such as a science experiment)
  • Something chaotic and very messy
  • Something construction-based
  • Something challenging, in the form of a game
  • Something that involves colouring (via UK spell check) and collating
  • Something conversational that gets people talking
  • Something relaxing ( a reflective activity or prayer space)
  • Something community- linked( social action or fundraising)
  • Something concrete and word-based
  • Something cultural, connecting to faith around the world

All of the activity resources found in the Get Messy! magazine and the books have taken into consideration this perspective of all ages so be sure to use those great resources. Be sure to adapt to your setting as you need. Here is one more link from the Messy Churches of the Netherlands  with their top tips to keep Church intergenerational.

“Intergenerational is not something churches do-it’s something they become”

Brenda Snailum 

One more thing…as the quote above suggests, Messy Church is a time of “being with” those of all ages who come rather than a program where we are ‘doing things for’ others. I look forward to hearing your stories of how your Messy Churches are becoming intergenerational.  Messy Blessings, Roberta 

Messy Church International Conference (MCIC 2019) May 3-5, 2019

Have you made plans yet to attend the awesome opportunity in May 2019? Do not delay! Registration is now open and places are expected to fill quickly! The first conference in 2016 was AWESOME! It was great fun to meet Messy Church people from all over the world! This is an unmissable opportunity.  Click here for more information and to register.

We are pleased to announce that there are some partial scholarships available for MCIC 2019 from Messy Church USA. Click here for the application.

“What is Messy Church?” monthly Zoom webinar begins this month

Do you have people ask you the question, “What is Messy Church”? Perhaps you have heard that question from members of your own church or from churches in your denomination or neighborhood who have heard about your great Messy Church and want to learn more. Starting on June 28th, Roberta will be holding a “What is Messy Church?” zoom webinar on the 4th Thursday of the month starting at 8:30 am Pacific time. Instruct your friends to register here.

Messy Church Amazon Kindle Sale 

Are you always sharing your one copy of Messy Church? Now is your opportunity to stock up on the Kindle version. IVP will be running a special on the Kindle version of Messy Church. It will be just $3.99 from June 14-20. Click here to order but remember the sale starts June 14th.

Getting Started in Messy Church Upcoming Team Trainings

Check out the upcoming Getting Started one day training on our website. There is training in Federal WA on August 25th from 9-3 and one in Huntington Beach, CA on October 6th. Look for training this fall in Texas and South Carolina. More details coming soon!

Messy Church USA’s mission is to equip local churches to start, sustain and connect Messy Churches across the USA. 

Keeping Messy Church (Somewhat) Less Messy

Johannah Myers
Messy Church at Aldersgate UMC in Greenville, SC
Messy Church USA Regional Coordinator for North and South Carolina

Getting started with Messy Church can be a daunting task. Keeping up with a monthly Messy Church can be even more overwhelming. Here are some simple tips for keeping supplies and ideas organized.

  • Organize your supplies. Most activities for Messy Church use basic supplies like glue, tape, scissors, paper, or crayons. Keeping these supplies organized makes prepping for Messy Church a breeze. We found under-utilized space in our church and added some shelving units. I keep shoe-box sized, clear plastic containers with the basics. A box for staplers, one for scissors, one for pipe-cleaners, one for beads. We have a 3-drawer plastic container that has glue sticks in one drawer, glue bottles in one, tape in one. Paper, likewise, stays organized in plastic drawer units. We use plastic pencil boxes to organize markers and crayons. Label everything! If an activity calls for markers, I can quickly grab 3-4 boxes of markers to put on the tables. As I prepare for a Messy Church, I make a list of supplies I need and then pull those boxes. The boxes come with me to Messy Church so as my volunteers clean up, scissors go back in the scissor box, staplers in their box, etc. We know what supplies we have on-hand so we don’t over buy or run out.
Organize by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images
  • Stock up on basics (at the right time of year). Stores start stocking school supplies in the summer and prices for things like glue, crayons, markers, etc, go way down. This is the best time of year to refresh and stock up. Don’t just think about your next Messy Church; think about the basic supplies you need for almost every Messy Churches.
  • Organize your ideas. I make a plan each spring for the upcoming year, including dates and themes. The themes could be flexible, but it helps to plan ahead. If I know that sometime in the winter I’ve got a Messy Church about Ezekiel, for example, I can start pulling ideas in September. Best way to keep those ideas organized? Honestly, I’m completely addicted to Pinterest. I keep a board for Messy Church, Messy Easter, and Messy Christmas. And I’m not the only one! There are Messy Church boards galore including the ones from MessyChurchBRF. Pinterest now lets you add sections to your boards, making organizing even easier.

What tips do you use to keep your Messy Church organized and simple? Send your ideas to our Facebook page or email them to Johannah at Johannah@messychurchusa.org or Roberta at roberta@messychurchorg.  Messy Blessings, Johannah. 

Johannah Myers
Messy Church at Aldersgate UMC in Greenville, South Carolina
Messy Church USA Regional Coordinator for North and South Carolina

Messy Church USA’s mission is to equip local churches to start, sustain and connect Messy Churches across the USA. Please join the Messy Church USA Network. Click here for more information.

Be the Light

By Lindsey Goodyear                                                                                                    All rights reserved. 

My day started off as a bad one today,
I tripped on a toy lying in the doorway.

I fell to the floor and it really hurt bad,
So I yelled really loudly for mom and Dad.

I could hear a giggle from across the hall,
My sister had seen me and my terrible fall.

But she didn’t feel badly and seemed quite amused,
All at once I was shaking and extremely short fused.

I lunged from my doorway in an angry blur,
And screamed out loud while I ran straight at her,

I balled up my fist and I swung at her arm,
She let out a yell like a fire alarm!

All of the sudden, we looked different, it seemed,
We had darkness where once we had light that had beamed.

My mom had come running and saw what was done,
Her face filled with anger, as I stood in a stun.

She screamed, “why must you always put up such a fight?!”
You’re making me crazy! Get out of my sight!!!”

And, boom! All at once, her light disappeared,
It was a rare side of her that we always had feared.

She stood in shock, her mouth open wide,
She tried to talk but instead she just cried.

She said she was sorry, clasped her hands, bowed her head,
“God, please forgive me for the words I have said.”

Immediately her light was its normal, bright, gleam,
We were all out of trouble, at least it would seem.

My dad then came in and we all had a chat,
My sister apologized right off the bat,

She meant it and I watched as her light came back on,
But I wouldn’t say sorry because she was who’s wrong.

And although I knew I was without a doubt right,
I was confused at why I didn’t see a return of my light.

We all loaded up in the car, off to church,
At the light I saw a man sitting beneath a birch,

He walked to our car and tapped on the glass,
My dad rolled his eyes, mom said, “don’t be crass.”

His sign had a message “help, down on my luck”
Dad barely cracked the window of our old Family truck.

“Don’t tap on my window, back up, you’re a slob,”
“I work hard for my money so go find a job!”

The man slumped his head and dads light went away,
With a tear in his eye he said “have a nice day.”

Dad started to drive then said “what’d I just do?!”
“Do unto others as you’d like done to you!”

Dad lowered his head and started to plea,
“God, help me help others as you have helped me.”

He opened the door and ran back to the man,
Gave a shake and few dollars right in his hand.

And all of the sudden, my dad’s light was back on,
I was still in the dark, though I’d done nothing wrong.

When he came back I asked why he did what he’d done,
He replied, “itʼs what God calls us to do, my son.”

“Before you react, think about what He’d do,”
“Be the light for others and stop thinking of just you.”

It all hit at once and I began to see,
My light wasn’t broken, what’s broken is me.

God calls upon us, to be like Him, be the light,
Mine wasn’t turning on ’cause I had to be right.

I turned to my sister and said I was wrong,
I shouldn’t have hit you, and been so headstrong.

She gave me a grin and whispered “I know”,
And all at once, my own light was a glow.

God gives us the tools to light the darkest of night,
Now tell me, like Him, can you be the light?

Lindsey Goodyear attends Messy Church at Community UMC in Huntington Beach, CA.  After attending Messy Church with her husband and two sons, she joined the leadership team for her Messy Church. We are delighted that she has agreed to be a regular blogger for Messy Church USA. Please contact her  for permission to republish Be the Light. 

Lindsey Goodyear

 

May Newsletter

May 2018

Trusting the Flow of Spirit

by Roberta Egli 

I am enjoying looking out of the window in my home office since the leaves have fully opened in the backyard birch trees. There is a busy four lane highway on the back of our property so the trees hide the busy cars passing by that I see during the winter months. I am annoyed however by the antics of a crazy large robin barges into the office window multiple times a day. I am not sure if she is attempting to find a way in or eat bugs on the window but she is determined! She is not dissuaded by the glass barrier and hits the window at full flight at least three times ( I think she is a Triune Robin because it is always three times!) before she flies away only to come back later several more times per day.

Robin Attacking a Window

Last week, I spent a week on retreat bathed in the monastic rhythm of prayer and silence at the Academy for Spiritual Formation in the Greater Northwest. Since I have returned, the robin reminds me that I too, in my daily life, attempt to find a way in or around a clear boundary that has been placed in my path. Spending time in community and silence, reminded me that in my determination to more forward, I have neglected taking time every day to listen to the Spirit in prayer and scripture. Can I release my busy robin need to control and spend time listening and trusting the flow of the Spirit?

I know that we have full and busy lives and that at times we may miss the deeper call of the Spirit as we gather as teams to make detailed plans for our Messy Church experiences. I also know that sometimes the best plans fall apart and we have to adapt in the moment and trust each other and the Spirit. What can we learn about ourselves and the leading of the Spirit when our Messy Church gets extremely messy and does not follow our prescribed plan?

This path month, I had planned to write four different blog posts exploring the Christ Centered value of Messy Church. However, I was blessed to receive several blog posts written by others which changed those plans into something better. By trusting in the flow of the Spirit and highlight during April we were able to learn of the great Messy happenings in South Dakota and Texas.

I am excited to announce that the Spirit has brought several talented writers who have agreed to join the blog writing Messy Church USA team  to share their experience of Messy Church! Next week, (May 15th) look for a great story, Be the Light, written by Lindsey Goodyear from Community UMC Messy Church in California. Then on May 22nd, read Johannah Myers’ spring cleaning blog post on organizing your Messy Church supplies.  For a craft/activity inspiration, Robin Cannon from Deep Creek UMC Messy Church in Virginia will share (May 29th) their stained window group activity and how they have included the gifts and inspiration of teenagers in their Messy Church.

I invite YOU to share your own story of how God is at work in your Messy Church. Perhaps there was a specific activity that connected or perhaps there was an epic fail that taught you about relying on the Spirit. You don’t have to start from scratch, if you wrote an article for your church newsletter or conference newsletter, get permission and send it on to share with the greater Messy Church USA Network! Send your submissions to roberta@messychurchusa.org.

Messy Blessings,  Roberta

Pictures from Messy Church International Conference 2016

Messy Church International Conference May 2019

Have you always wanted to travel to England? Registration is now open for the Messy Church International Conference May 3-5, 2019. The first conference in 2016 was AWESOME! It was great fun to meet Messy Church people from all over the world! There are three great speakers signed up to share about Discipleship in Messy Church; Lucy Moore, Founder of Messy Church, Claire Dalpra, a church researcher who has been focused on studying discipleship in Messy Churches in the UK and Andrew Roberts, author of Holy Habits. In addition, there will be ample time to spend time with others from all over the world learning and sharing about best practices. This is an unmissable opportunity. Register Here.

Do not delay in signing up on the BRF website. It is expected to sell out. Messy Church USA will be offering some partial scholarships to the event. If you are interested in a Messy Church USA scholarship click here.

Messy Discipleship

In the most recent Get Messy! magazine, Lucy Moore writes about #discipleship by introducing the Messy Church Discipleship Pilot (MCDP).
Lucy writes:
The more we explore what “Messy discipleship” means, the more our small team at BRF becomes convinced that there aren’t any easy answers. If only we could suggest to you that to make disciples in Messy Church- to ‘move people on’ – you could simply pop them on a course…     
Real life, of course, tends to be messier than the nice, neat theories of what should work…how do we do discipleship in a Messy context, where one of the most precious aspects of church life is that everybody is important, whether young or old, with our without special needs, able or unable to read?

How are you focusing on discipleship in your Messy Church? In the MCDP there are four different paths identified as opportunities to grow in discipleship; 1) Growing discipleship through faith at home opportunities,2) focusing more intently on discipleship at your monthly Messy Church gathering,  3)doing a messy ‘extra’ of some sort during the month such as a Messy Game night  and 4) something ‘other’ by using your own creativity and context. You can learn more about the Messy Church Disicpleship Pilot in these blogs by Lucy.

Getting Started in Messy Church Training 

Would you like to host a ‘Getting Started in Messy Church’ training in your area? We have discovered that gathering teams from 5-10 churches interested in starting a Messy Church for a one-day training event is a great way to get started and stay connected during the early phases of Messy Church. Perhaps your Messy Church would like to host a training event. We are now scheduling for fall 2019. Lean more by contacting Roberta at roberta@messychurchusa.org. 

“Silly Picture” at Training at Lafayette UMC, Lafayette, CA April 2018

New Facebook Group for Messy Church Team Leaders

At our most recent Regional Coordinators Zoom teleconference we recognized that it would be great to have a place to share ideas and ask questions regarding Messy Church. So we started a new Group Facebook page called Messy Church USA Team Leaders. The mission of this FB group is to support one another, learn from each other, share difficulties and brainstorm in our local Messy Churches. Rather than the public Messy Church USA FB page, this is a closed group but we want you to join by going here.

We also discussed the possible need for Messy Church families to also connect with one another. Our website, and resource materials are mainly for the leaders of Messy Churches but we are wondering if there is another group that also needs to connect and network with one another- those who have found a place to belong at Messy Church. How do you connect with your families of all ages who belong to your Messy Church? What are your ideas of reaching out to families of Messy Church throughout the United States?

First Messy Church at Whittier UMC in California 

Christ Centered-Listen Deeply

By Roberta J. Egli

Shore Acres State Park, Charleston, Oregon

Earlier this week, I went on a Sabbath day journey to the Pacific Ocean. As I sat watching and listening to the waves crash upon the rocks, I was renewed in body and spirit. I took a video so that in the messiness of my office, I can listen to the restoring sound of the waves and be reminded of God’s love that washes over me. At times I get overwhelmed by all the noise of the news of this world as well as my task list and I need reminders of WHO calls me to the ministry of Messy Church. I am convinced that we all need to carve out times of deep listening to our Creator God to renew our souls. 

What are the renewing sounds that call you to listen deeply to God?

Keeping Christ in the Center is our April blog series focus. In my earlier post, I shared ideas of how praying together as a team is vital to keeping Christ in the Center. Today’s emphasis is to listen deeply to one another in your team sessions to stay centered in Christ in both your planning and putting those plans into action. Listening deeply to one another builds trust in each other, trust in the unfolding of your Messy Church experience and trust in the Spirit of God who moves within and amongst you.

As I was preparing a workshop on team building, I came across an article describing a multi-year study Google implemented to discover what practices made a team effective in their work. To their initial surprise, the number one factor in creating an effective team was TRUST. Effective team members “felt safe taking risks around their team members…they felt confident that no one would embarrass anyone else for admitting a mistake, asking a question, or offering a new idea.” This study from Google reaffirms many of the stories from the bible that learning to trust begins with listening deeply.

Some actions to assist your Messy Church Team build TRUST!

  • Listen First- Listening deeply shows respect for how others think and feel. Can we listen to one another while we suspend our judgement?
  • Show compassion-try to understand the perspective of members of your team
  • Keep it Real- be willing to share your doubts and struggles as well as your strengths and joys
  • Set the Example- back up your words with your actions
  • Be Helpful- this sounds basic but when we get busy we sometimes forget to help one another
  • Disagree Respectfully– yes there are times we will disagree but remember in the midst to show the love of Christ and respect each other
  • Be Humble- be willing to learn from one another and admit your own mistakes
  • Show Gratitude- learn to identify, recognize and celebrate the gifts of all the members of your team
  • Invite diversity- look at who is missing from your team?  Invite a teenager, a single adult, a messy church family member or whomever is missing to join your team
  • Take time to listen some more! 

My prayers are with you take time to Listen Deeply to how God is leading you as a team.
Messy Blessings,
Roberta

Messy Story from South Dakota

Written by Dr.Doreen Gosmire. Director of Communications, Dakotas Conference of the United Methodist Church. Reprinted with permission. 

Messy Church connects families to Jesus

“Messy Church reaches out to families who might not normally come to church. It gives them an opportunity to come together in a way that they might not get to in their busy lives, in a great big family-like community,” Sandee Cole, children’s ministry coordinator, Watertown First UMC (in Watertown South Dakota).

A volunteer, wearing an Messy Church t-shirt, guides participants through a creative activity.
Photos courtesy of Watertown First UMC.  

Watertown First launched Messy Church in May 2017. There are about 70-75 attendees and around 20–25 volunteers engaging each month.

Cole said, “Each month we continue to see a number of ‘first timers’ attending Messy Church. Messy Church is run by a Messy Church Core Team of volunteers. I am the staff liaison who aids in facilitating the ministry of the team as well as Pastor Sara (Nelson) and other staff members who take part in supporting ways each month.”

Messy Church is making a big impact on the lives of many people in Watertown and First UMC. “In less than a year, we have seen at least six families become more engaged in other areas of the life of the church, either through joining the church or baptisms, attending other worship services, or attending mid-week ministries and grow groups,” Rev. Sara Nelson, Watertown First UMC.

Photo: Baptism at Messy Church, during celebration time, in sanctuary at Watertown First UMC. 

It happens once-a-month. Families of all kinds: single-parent families, grandparents with grandchildren, multi-generation families, come together to eat, create and celebrate together. Messy Church is usually held on the first Sunday of the month from 4:30 – 6:30 pm. The time together starts with a creative time, followed by a celebration time which includes praise songs, an interactive story and interactive prayer. Messy Church ends with a meal time to wrap-up the night in fellowship together.

Kids are asked to make sure to bring their favorite adult with them to Messy Church to take part in everything together. Everything is integrated around a central theme or Bible story for the day, from the welcome snack to the creative activities, the celebration time experience, all the way down to the conversation starter cards on the meal tables and sometimes even the meal itself.

Messy Church is the result of one of the MCCI (Missional Church Consultation Initiative)  through prescriptions for Watertown First Church that focused on discerning a signature ministry for First Church that would “reach and serve Watertown with the message and love of Christ for which First Church can become known in the community”.

The Signature Ministry Team worked through a discernment phase, a design phase, and a launch phase. During the discernment phase, the team reviewed key demographics for the Watertown area. They held listening sessions with the community as well as the congregation to discern where the needs of the community intersected with the passions and strengths of the congregation. The idea was to create a ministry that would be one that the whole church family could become involved in.

During the design phase, the team spent time reviewing and focusing on the community needs and looking at various community and ministry programs that were perhaps similar to the desired goals of the future ministry. The team focused on launching a “ministry with” people—a ministry that brings people together to share their faith, grow together and transform the lives of others. Ministry with people, instead of a “ministry to” people—a ministry that is specific to a group of individuals with a particular need.

Once the team reviewed Messy Church, a ministry out of the United Kingdom that is part of The Bible Reading Fellowship group, we knew we had hit upon a good match. The launch phase involved a signature event, The Easter Extravaganza, in April 20-17. A God-sized event, with over 500 children hunting for eggs, bouncing through castles, cuddling with bunnies, getting their faces painted, and feeling the love of Jesus through the 50 volunteers who came together to make it all happen.

The group launched Messy Church in May 2017 by inviting all of those that had attended the Easter community event. There is continual promotion of Messy Church during worship at First UMC, on Facebook and through follow up with all the people that come. When people attend they check in, using Planning Center. The Welcoming and Serving Coordinator, Sara Togel is on hand to meet and greet each person and follows up with cards, visits and phone calls.

The hope of the team is to reach those in Watertown in need of knowing the love of Jesus and the abundant life that they can have through him.

“We have seen a variety of people attend and are currently seeing families with children. Families of all make-ups: single-parent families, grandparents with grandchildren, multi-generation families,” said Cole. “Many of the families who have become ‘regulars’ of Messy Church have shared how their children will not let them miss coming to Messy Church and become upset if they miss it.”

The kids love Messy Church because it is messy and fun. Adults love Messy Church because it is a fun and unique way for families to come together to learn about God.

Photo: Participants in Messy Church celebrate the Christmas season with an interactive story time involving lots of people.

Meet our Newest Regional Coordinator

Kate Cross, Regional Coordinator for Texas, Messy Church USA

We are pleased to introduce Kate Cross, our newest regional coordinator who will cover the great state of Texas. Kate lives in Houston and is one of the volunteer team leaders for Messy Church at Spring Branch Presbyterian PC(USA) in Houston. She also serves as an Elder and Team Leader for Faith development and Missions at Spring Branch. She works at Rice University as Assistant Dean in Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

Kate writes: Greetings! I am a mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend. I have had many opportunities in my life – to be a part of a loving family, to be a part of a church where relationships mattered, to get a good education and to travel a bit. I’ve embraced a career that provides plenty of opportunities to learn new and try new things – which fits me well.

As someone who seeks to follow Jesus, likes to think a little bit out of the box, collects hobbies, and values relationships – I was intrigued to find out about Messy Church by happenstance in August 2017, though I know God was definitely in the discovery. It provided structure to something that I’ve wanted for classes I’ve taught as well as how I teach my two daughters about God. I suspected my friends might also want such an opportunity, so I read everything I could, reached out to friends to form a leadership team, and visited another Messy Church, and then sought the blessing of my home church in October 2017 to start one there.

We advertised, did pop-ups, and prayed. Now the first Thursday of every month you’ll find me setting up tables to share the Good News with paint, play dough, marshmallows, and Legos – anxious that our marketing has been seen and that those that have been before will continue to come back – and hoping I’ve ordered enough chicken strips or pizza. I have been enriched and blessed by this journey so far and would love to share my experiences and learn from others.

Welcome Kate! 

Christ Centered: Pray Together

Posted by Roberta J. Egli

Jesus Blesses the Children, Paper Collage by Kim Jae Im

How’s the prayer time for your Messy Church team?” is a question posed by the recently released Messy Church session Everywhere Prayer. This resource was created for Thy Kingdom Come, a global prayer movement for the ten days between Ascension and Pentecost begun several years ago in the Church of England. (Link for both Everywhere Prayer  and Thy Kingdom Come Family Prayer Stations) 

I believe that creating a prayer team is the first and best practice to start your own Messy Church. Occasionally, I receive feedback that prayer is a given and too basic of a concept but I continue to mention the importance of prayer. Developing a regular prayer practice in your Messy Church team is vital to building a sustainable local Messy Church. When we come together to listen to God and each other in prayer we are led to prayerful action.

I read an article by Joy Gabriel in The Washington Post regarding the negative reaction to the phrase ‘sending thoughts and prayers’ in the midst of a tragedy. Gabriel makes the argument, through sharing personal examples, that prayer itself is not the problem but rather the view that does not translate to action. Read more here.

So, “how’s the prayer time for your Messy Church team?” It is easy to get caught up in what needs to be ‘done’ when you get together as a team. Here are some possible ways to expand your team prayer practice.

• Take ten minutes at the beginning of your planning time to reflect on three questions: 1) What went well at our last Messy Church, 2) What could have gone better and 3) How can we pray for each other and our Messy Church families?
• Read the upcoming theme scripture followed by a moment of silence before discussing as a team
• Gather as a team prior to the start of Messy Church and pray for each other, the people who will be coming as well as those who are not able to be there
• Include a prayer station at each of your Messy Church sessions
• Invite members of your ‘Sunday Morning Church’ to pray regularly for Messy Church
• Share Facebook posts of family prayer activities
• Share a brief story about how a prayer led you to action with your team
• Share how God has answered a prayer in an unexpected way

Your turn!  How does your team incorporate prayer?  Write me a note at roberta@messychurchusa.org or share your thoughts on our Messy Church USA FB Page here.

Loving God, thank you for the opportunity to listen deeply to You and one another when we take time to gather in prayer. Guide us in translating our spoken and unspoken prayer into action to share your love with a hurting world. May your kindom of grace come today and in the days to come. AMEN.