Teaching Compassion

Teaching Compassion

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A Blog post from Lindsey Goodyear

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

Colossians 3:12 

When I became a mother, something inside of me changed. Although I may be biased, sixteen hours of labor and a broken tailbone had left me with the most perfect and beautiful 8 lb. 2 oz. baby boy that anyone had seen. I remember looking at him and having an overwhelming sensation of fierce love and protection. No one would harm him, no one would take him, no one could break our bond. I was in absolute awe that God had given me this gift and incredibly astonished that He thought me worthy to raise, teach, and love one of his own holy children. The first few years were rewarding, exhausting, confusing, trying, and glorious. He was smart and loved learning, reading, and playing. His smile and belly laughs brightened any room and lifted the spirits of anyone lucky enough to encounter his joy. And, although I’d like to end this paragraph of bragging by saying that God presented this little boy to the world as a humble and empathetic creature, the truth is, there are some things we must be taught.

In our home, the care and treatment of others is a high priority. God calls us to love our neighbor and we take that to heart. But, how do you teach a child to have compassion and care for someone other than themselves? A child is not born knowing how to say “please” and “thank you.” They will not instinctively know to apologize if they’ve offended you. And for some, sharing with others (food, toys, or otherwise) is a completely foreign concept. As adults, we’ve had a longer time to develop these traits. Although we aren’t perfect ourselves, we’ve had years of sharing the load in the workplace and have lots of sympathetic practice in long lasting relationships. We learn to care for others when we get married, have children, or care for a sick relative. However, a child has not yet had the needed experience to develop these life necessities and our own son was certainly no exception. I really struggled with age appropriate examples of how important having compassion is in this life. Enter the dragon.

When that beautiful little boy turned five, he asked for a bearded dragon. We were hesitant at first (being more “dog” people than “dragon” people) but the gift of that lizard brought out something in our son, without reminding, that we had been working on for years…humanity. He was undeniably attached to his pet and cared for her in the most loving way. He asked us constantly to look up questions he had about her so he could learn everything he needed to know about dragons. He turned her heating lights on and off at the proper learned times. He fed her daily. When he learned she liked water, he put on his swimsuit and swam in the bathtub with her. When she was sick, he snuggled her and never left her side at the vet. He was treating her with the type of love, caring, and respect that I wanted him to treat everyone with. It became altogether apparent to me that an absolute perfect way to teach children empathy is through owning a pet.

Enter the Dragon!
Used with permission

At our last Messy Church, we celebrated just that. As a chance to admire and recognize the unwavering love we have for our pets, once a year, we encourage each of our families to bring their own family pets to enjoy a night of messy celebration dedicated to animals. We had fantastic stations set up, including: feather painting, Lego pet building, move like a pet game, a station for making cat and dog toys, bird feeders, and a pretend animal clinic for those who brought stuffed animals instead of real ones. No animal is turned away. As one of our most popular Messy gatherings, we’ve hosted dogs, cats, lizards, chickens, tortoises, guinea pigs, birds, and hamsters. It’s so fun to watch the interaction between families as well as the beloved animals they brought. The kids are especially proud when showing off their pets and often keep them in their possession even when they eat! Pets are a great conversation starter and it’s always enjoyable to hear funny stories about the animals and witness the abiding love a family has for their furry friends. It’s also undeniable the one shared feeling all of these owners have in common for their pets…compassion.

During celebration, we placed a strong emphasis on the fact that animals are a gift from God and He asks us to take care of them. The responsibility we take on with loving the animals in our lives is the same responsibility God asks of us for loving each other. We are to take care of, nurture, and treat with respect the people we encounter every day. Colossians 3:12 says, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” We should wear this cloak of kindness with each other the same way we do with our children, the way they do with animals and…the way God does with us. I would love to say that only children need reminding of this, but it’d be naïve to think we’re not all guilty. So, use God’s word as the template for life’s teaching moments. His reminders are all around us. And, although I never dreamed, I’d say this sentence out loud, I’m so grateful that God created the lovely bearded dragon to help my beautiful boy learn compassion.

September Messy Church
Community UMC, Huntington Beach, CA
Lindsey Goodyear is a writer, mother and Messy Church attender. You can reach her at Lindseygoodyear@gmail.com

We Remember and Give Thanks…A Messy Great Thanksgiving

by Roberta J. Egli

Written for Messy Church International Conference 2019 Closing Session

This specific Great Thanksgiving was written for the Messy Church session ” A Sticky Star in God’s Hand.”  A short chant was used that was taught prior to the beginning of the Great Thanksgiving prayer…’We re-member and give Thanks”. The chant was simple with only two notes, descending a half-step on  ‘re’ and ‘give’. You can contact me at Roberta@messychurchusa.org with any questions.   If you have an all-age Eucharist liturgy that you would like to share, please let me know. Grace and peace, Roberta

Invitation

So, having heard the voice of Jesus, we turn away from everything that comes between us and him. We open the door to the loving, living God.

As a slightly sticky star held in God’s hands, we have gathered over the past few days from all over the world. We have met new friends, laughed together, made connections, and heard God speak in and through each other. As we prepare to move from this place and time, we are around tables to share in a sticky and heavenly banquet of bread and wine.

Our prayer of great thanksgiving is partly a ‘repeat after me’ but as a global village gathered today, please use your language to repeat the words that I share. I also have a short chant to teach you..We remember and give thanks…

Prayer of Thanksgiving

God is with us… (repeat)
We lift our hearts in praise…(repeat)
We give Almighty God our thanks(repeat)
All Chant: We remember and give thanks…(repeat X 2)

Let us tell the story of God…
We give thanks to God, who created this wondrous world…
Who formed us and gave us the breath of life…
Whose love remains steadfast even when we turn away…

All Chant: We remember and give thanks (repeat X 2)

We give thanks for the life of Jesus the Christ…
Who came to our messy world to preach good news,..
Who healed the sick, fed the hungry and sat at table with sinners…
Who through his life, death and resurrection revealed the depths and power of love …

All Chant– We remember and give thanks (repeat X 2)

We give thanks for the Holy Spirit…
Who was present at the beginning and is with us this day…
Who is the life-giving breath of the church…
Who enlivens us to be sources of healing and forgiveness in our messy world…
All Chant– We remember and give thanks(repeat X 2)

Words of Institution

On the night that he shared his last meal with his disciples Jesus too the bread, lifted it up, gave thanks, broke the bread and gave it to his companions saying…’take,eat; this is my body given for you… remember me’

When the meal was over he took the cup, lifted it up, gave thanks and shared it with his followers saying’ drink from this, all of you, this is the blood of the new covenant poured out for you and many for the forgiveness of sins. Remember me’

Instruct people to put hands up over to bless the elements…
Pour out your Holy Spirit upon this gift of bread and wine that it may become your body, vibrant with new life, healing, renewing and making us whole.

Instruct people to put palms up in prayer
Breathe your Spirit upon us that we may become light for the world, a source of joy and a witness for peace.

Instruct people to connect with each other…
By your spirit make us one with Christ, one with each other and one in ministry to all the world until we feast at the heavenly banquet. Through your Son Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit in your holy church, all honor and glory is yours, almighty God, now and forever.

Lord’s prayer with motions

Invite people to come to the Table to share in the bread and the cup. 

Prayer after communion

Eternal God, we give you thanks for this holy mystery in which you have given yourself to us. Grant that we may go into the world in the strength of your Spirit, to give ourselves for others. In the name of Jesus the Christ, our Lord we pray. AMEN

Permission given to use with your Messy Church.  Do not reprint for use other than Messy Church Holy Communion session.  

October Wonder

A blogpost by Roberta J. Egli 

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 Most Holy, All-powerful, good Lord,
Yours are the praises,
the glory, and the honor, and all blessing,
To You alone, Most High, do they belong,
and no human is worthy to mention Your name.
Praised be You, my Lord, with all Your creatures,
especially Sir Brother Sun,
Who is the day and through whom You give us light…
 

Canticle of the Creatures
by St. Francis of Assisi 

Welcome to October! In the Pacific Northwest, the air has gotten cooler and the leaves have begun to show off with beautiful autumn glory of yellow and red. A week ago, I was taking in the glorious beauty of the turning of seasons in New England. In addition to meeting so many great new Messy Friends through Messy Church trainings in Connecticut and New Hampshire, I spent several days exploring areas I have never visited before.

So many experiences that brought joy; I joined into a multicultural block festival on the Yale campus, I fell in love with a small town called Mystic, CT, I spent a full day on Cape Cod, MA, I wondered through a state park in MI, I drove Kancamagus highway in New Hampshire and was excited to spend a few hours in Vermont on my way back to the airport on my final day in New England. I discovered that using the ‘no toll, no highway’ on my phone maps app took me off main highways to explore many unique small towns. Spending time exploring the wonder of creation was good for my soul and I came home renewed and grateful for the wonderful world in which we live and move and have our being!

How does your Messy Church celebrate the changing of the seasons?

  • Many Messy Churches celebrate a season of Gratitude throughout October. One of our most popular MC USA Facebook posts last year was the October post that involved a pumpkin, a sharpie pen and the instructions to write a gratitude on the pumpkin daily.
  • A second popular October celebration for many churches throughout the world is a special ‘blessing of the animals’ worship to commemorate the Feast Day of St Francis of Assisi, traditionally celebrated on October 4th. St Francis, who lived in the 12th century is the patron saint of animals and the environment. Lindsey Goodyear shares her family’s experience with their Messy Church blessing of the animals in her upcoming blog.
  • A third way to celebrate October in your Messy Church is to join with others throughout the globe celebrating World Communion Sunday. Traditionally celebrated on the first Sunday of October, this observance of many Christian Denominations celebrates the oneness in Christ with all brothers and sisters around the world. Has your Messy Church begun to celebrate an intergenerational Holy Communion? You are welcome to use this all-age Great Thanksgiving prayer that I wrote for the Messy Church International Conference closing worship.

However you choose to celebrate the month of October at your Messy Church, we would love to hear your story. Send us an email or post on the Messy Church USA Facebook page or Team Leaders group page.

Go forth with pumpkins, pets or bread and in the words of St Francis give our “All-powerful, good Lord, praise, glory, honor and blessing.”

Grace and peace,

Roberta

Messy Church…How do you pay for it?

A blogpost by Rev. Dr. Andrew Scanlan-Holmes, Messy Church Regional Coordinator of Indiana

“Pastor, might I have a word?” My heart sank a little, it was one of the more senior members of the church who greeted me with those words at the rear of the sanctuary after worship, and that often meant it wasn’t good news! “Of course,” I said, “perhaps over coffee in the church hall in a couple of minutes?” She left, and I concluded greeting others. We met over coffee, “About this Messy Church” she began, “you have done a lot of talking about it, and I have heard from others in the church that you have quite a crowd of people at it?” “Yes, I replied, there is a good number attending for being a relatively new thing in the church.” “They play games,” she continued, “and eat a meal together.” “They do,” I replied, “and they share together in a time of worship. Perhaps you would like to join us; it is for all ages?” “It doesn’t sound like my thing,” she retorted, “and they never come to church on Sunday.”

I thought to myself ‘Oh this old argument again.’ “Well to be fair,” I said, “Messy Church is not about building the Sunday attendance, it is about creating a new way of being a church and engaging in different ways with people who are not currently connected with this church.” “Are we paying for all this?” she asked. “Well, the church budget didn’t have Messy Church in it when we created it because it wasn’t thought of back then. But to answer your question, yes the church is helping to fund it. We have had a small grant from Church Development who are encouraging this type of outreach.” She looked puzzled, “How much does it cost?” I had to confess that I was beginning to feel uneasy at how the conversation was going. “I’m not exactly sure, but the food and craft materials used do cost the church. We usually get between 40-50 children and adults, and everyone does the crafts and has a meal.”

Some Pictures of Messy Church Roberts Parks United Methodist Church
Indianapolis, Indiana

“I see,” she replied, “Well as I have said, it is not my sort of thing and as a former church treasurer,” a point I had forgotten, “I am not happy that the current church budget is being stretched to fund this.” Here we go I thought. She continued, “I don’t have any desire to attend, but I do have an interest in growing our church and so I would like to sponsor a Messy Church. I plan to give $100 towards next months Messy Church. I know that there is another person who would like to do the same. Is it OK if we sponsor a Messy Church?

I hesitated before starting to speak. “Oh, I don’t want any recognition,” she said, “perhaps they could say thank you to a church member who provided the meal this time?” I thanked her and told that in some way Messy Church must be her thing! Since then each year we had more than half of the Messy Church gatherings ‘sponsored’ by people who want to support but not necessarily attend.

Messy Church at Roberts Parks UMC

A note from Roberta-

I am in New England to facilitate two separate Messy Church training events.  Questions that come up frequently in both the in person training and the ‘What is Messy Church’ webinar are…how much does each month to do Messy Church? Followed quickly by how do you fund it? 

We would love to hear how you budget for your local Messy Church. What are the ideas that you have to share with the Messy Church USA? Please let us know. Contact your Regional Coordinator or you can send me a note at Roberta@messychurchusa.org. 

Thanks Andrew for sharing this wonderful idea.

Grace and peace, Roberta

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Equipping Messy Churches to start, sustain and connect across the USA

Blessings Abound

A Blog post by Casey Cross, a Messy Church USA  Board of Director

Casey serves as Young Disciples Director at Hope Lutheran Church in Eagle, ID. She leads a team for their Messy Church. 

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Like many congregations, we offer backpack blessings at the beginning of each new school year. This year, as I was talking to my pastor about what those would look like, he offered an idea that we could write blessings for each other. The idea quickly evolved from there and we decided to hand out tags on which we would write a word, prayer, blessing, or thought, return them at the offering, then take a new tag on our way out at the end of worship.

This shared activity is especially meaningful because we are living in a time where we are overwhelmed with the countless ways we are different and divided from one another. With more and more statistics and articles written about the Lonely Generation, American’s declining trust, rising suicide rates, and unfortunately even more cultural realities exemplifying our disconnection from one another, we need to respond as a church – the Body of Christ – together.

We need to practice and model trust, not only in our God, but also in one another. Our support for one another, practicing forgiveness, grace, and simply just paying attention to one another becomes counter-cultural, world-changing action. With simple exercises like the blessings we shared today, we put our skin in the game. We are in this together. And we walked from worship with signs of God’s transformation in our lives, to serve as reminders of our connection to one another and God’s love wherever we go.

Blessing Basket at Hope Lutheran Church

All ages were part of this activity. The tags filled with art, color, prayers, and words from our children were especially thoughtful. I was deeply blessed by the opportunity to read many of the tags before they were dispersed at the end of the service. What a lovely insight into the hearts of our congregation members.

Another reason an activity like this is so important is because when we get caught up in the day-to-day of our lives, it can be easy to relax into consumer-mode. Show up, get filled, feel good, check it off your to do list, and move to the next thing. When this happens, we forget that God is actively involved in our lives. But Wisdom is living within us, speaking to us, moving us, and living through us. We do not worship just for ourselves, but with and for each other. We matter to each other and we have something to share with each other. These blessings gave us an opportunity to remember this and experience it.

I know this exercise may not have meant much to some of the people in attendance. Some may have worried they didn’t have the “right” words, some may have not understood what it was for, and some may have just thought it was meaningless. It’s okay. That’s what grace is all about. It doesn’t stop what God has done and is doing in our lives together.

I am thankful for a congregation and pastor who tries new things. These ideas don’t always go smoothly. They aren’t perfect. But we try stuff. We are in it, together. No matter what, that is what we are living together. The details may fade away in time, but we will never forget that we are God’s beloved children, we are not alone, we have each other… wherever we go.

Blessings Abound
Hope Lutheran Church

In the words of our congregational mission statement – we love, we experience, and we discover God and God’s will in the world.

Reprinted with permission from blog of Casey Cross.  You can follow Casey at https://caseykcross.wordpress.com.

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Equipping Messy Churches to start, sustain and connect across the USA

Say Hello to two new Regional Coordinators

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Introducing Jenna Reinke 
Please welcome Jenna Reinke of Crowley, Texas to our Messy Church USA Regional Coordinator Network.  Her region is Central Texas and Oklahoma. Jenna was the impetus to start a Messy Church at Crowley United Methodist Church (UMC) where she serves as the Youth and Family Ministries Director. Their Messy Church launched in January of 2018 after she visited a Messy Church and fully researched starting a Messy Church at Crowley.

Jenna recently started 3 fresh expressions of ministry (2 in addition to Messy Church) at Crowley UMC. In addition to her local church work she serves on the youth advisory committee for their regional conference of the UMC. She is looking forward to sharing with others what she is learning about best practices of Messy Church. She is working with her Annual Conference to host a Messy Church training in central Texas in the spring of 2020.

Jenna is our second Regional Coordinator for the ‘big’ state of Texas. Kate Cross, of Houston, previous RC for the entire state will now serve as the RC for “Gulf Coast Texas” and Jenna will cover “Central Texas and Oklahoma”. Please give Jenna a welcome at her new email address of Jenna@messychurchusa.org.

Welcome Jenna Reinke!

Introducing Rev. Dr. A. Michele Somerville
At Messy Church USA we have been praying for a  Regional Coordiantor (RC) for the state of Pennsylvania (PA) for over a year since our our first RC for PA left the position to explore a new ministry setting.  So it is an answer to prayer that we welcome Rev. Dr. A. Michele Somerville of East Canton United Methodist Church (UMC) to her new role! After prayer and discernment, Michele has said yes to be the RC for the great state of Pennsylvania!

Michele has served under appointment in the UMC for over twenty years. Her second career has pastor has brought her joy to her life! Even when she officially retired in 2018, she has continued to work part-time serving two churches. She was introduced to Messy Church through a friend and realized that it would fit well within the context of one of the churches she serves in East Canton. They began their Messy Church in November 2018.

Michele began a ministry of Biblical Storytelling in 2008 and she enjoys writing and performing monologues and scripture by heart. She received her D.MIN in Transformational Leadership and Prophetic Preaching exploring Biblical Storytelling in the local church.

She writes that she “loves working with the Messy Church leadership team in Canton and telling anyone who will listen about Messy Church!” Although much of her previous ministry has been focused on adult bible study she was drawn to Messy Church due to the intergenerational component. Say hi to Michele at A.michele@messychurchusa.org. 

Welcome Michele!
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Equipping Messy Churches to start, sustain and connect across the USA

September News

Celebrate the Mess, Regional Coordinator of the Month and Welcome New Members to the Messy Church USA Network 

Celebrate the Mess!
Equipping Messy Churches in the USA to Start, Sustain and Connect

Mark your calendar for October 22-24, 2020 when we will gather in the greater Chicago area to Celebrate the Mess! We are happy to announce that Lucy Moore and Stephen Fischbacher will be two of our plenary speakers/ musicians! There will be more!  

The members of the planning team for the 2020 Messy Church USA Conference are:  

  • Overall Lead: Roberta Egli and Casey Cross
  • Workshops: Marty Drake and Leyla Wagner
  • Finance: Lynn Egli
  • Messy Church Experience: Maureen Carey-Back
  • Hospitality/Local Logistics: Ronda Bower
  • Publicity: Robin Canon
  • Multimedia/Technology: Andrew Scanlan-Holmes
  • Messy Extras: Johannah Myers

All of these fantastic team members are recruiting for their teams so if you would like to get involved contact them at (firstname)@messychurchusa.org. Look for more details and registration coming soon.

Ronda Bower, Northern Illinois/Wisconsin Regional Coordinator

Messy Church USA Regional Coordinator of the Month

Ronda Bower is our Regional Coordinator for Northern Illinois and Wisconsin. She is the Pastoral Associate for Family and Educational Ministries at Northfield Community Church in Northfield IL.

We are excited to use the beautiful campus of her church for our 2020 Celebrate the Mess Conference. I have firsthand experience of how beloved Ronda is at her church! In my short visit with Northfield Community in August, people kept coming up to me sharing how Ronda makes such a difference in her church. Whether it was about her Sunday morning adult education class or her leadership of the vibrant Messy Church team, Ronda is appreciated for her multiple gifts. THANK YOU, RONDA!

Do you know your Regional Coordinator?  Here they are…contact them at (firstname@messychurchusa.org) (Hint- there will be two more announced soon!) 

California/Hawaii/Southwest – Marty Drake and Leyla Wagner

Chicago/Northern Illinois and Wisconsin – Ronda Bower

Colorado/Kansas/Oklahoma/Nebraska – Janeen Hill

Indiana –Andrew Scanlan-Holmes

Michigan – Missy Harrison

New Mexico – Barb Tegtmeier

New York and New Jersey – Julie Hintz

North & South Dakota/Minnesota/Montana/Wyoming – Sandee Prouty-Cole

Ohio –Robin Cannon

Oregon (& other areas not listed) –Roberta Egli

North and South Carolina –Johannah Myers

Southern IL/Missouri – Jillian Mayer

Texas –Kate Cross

Virginia –Cindy Banek

Washington – Crystal Goetz

Is God calling you to spread the word about Messy Church? We will be announcing two additional RC soon but we still need more! Our current high priority areas for new Regional Coordinators include Florida, and the mid-Atlantic states. Contact Roberta if you are interested.

Welcome to the Messy Church USA Network

In August we welcomed eleven new Messy Churches to our Network!  We also had one renewal!  Take a moment to give God thanks and say a prayer of blessings for the teams who are bringing Messy Church to their local communities! 

August 2019 Messy Church USA Network Memberships 

New Supporter Members

  • Marshall United Methodist, Marshall, MI
  • Epworth United Methodist, Concord, NC
  • Christ our Shepherd Evangelical Lutheran Church, Peachtree City, GA
  • The Church of Agape Outpost, Breckinridge, CO
  • East Canton United Methodist, Canton, PA
  • First United Methodist,  Michigan City, IN

New Registered Members 

  •  Community of Christ, Glendale, AZ
  • Winamac United Methodist, Winamac, IN
  • Macedonia United Methodist, White Post, VA
  • First United Methodist, Comanche, TX
  • St James United Methodist, Marriottsville, MD

Renewal Registered Member

  • St Andrews On-the-Sound, Wilmington, NC
Messy Church USA logo and mission
Equipping Messy Churches to start, sustain and connect across the USA

News from the UK

Transitions can be Messy, our September 2019 focus brings us some transitions occurring with the Messy Church team across the pond.  Lucy Moore, founder of Messy Church, recently shared in the Messy Church newsletter that the start of September brought a new team member! Grace and peace, Roberta

From Lucy: Our big happy news is the arrival of Dave Martin to the Messy Church team at BRF. We’re really looking forward to working together and discovering which of Dave’s many gifts and passions can be deployed to bless the Messy network. As you can tell from his message below, he’s averagely excited about the role and we are investing in an extra stock of exclamation marks to cover us for the years ahead.

Dave Martin, Lucy Moore and Jane Leadbetter! What a team!

From Dave: Hello Messy Church family! I’m Dave, and I’m so excited to meet, serve and minister alongside you all!

I have an absolute passion for connecting people to Jesus and a real desire for churches to flourish as intergenerational faith communities, where all age groups lead each other on towards Christ – while embracing and celebrating the messiness of life!

As well as receiving the wonderful invitation to join the Messy Church team, I recently asked my girlfriend to marry me, so am currently anticipating a winter wedding to my beautiful fiancée, Rebecca.

For the last three years I have been operating as the children’s, youth and families minister at a church in Radlett, around the north-London area. There, I have been involved in leading our Messy Church forward and starting a sister project, called Messy Café, which God has used to give so much life to our Messy Church community, growing it from 20 people a month to between 60 and 100 every week. It’s been quite an adventure – I’d love to tell you all about it!

Other than that, I wear funky socks, enjoy playing synthesizers in my spare time and love a good baked Camembert.

Really looking forward to meeting each of you individually in due course. God bless!

Messy Dave

Join me in giving Dave a big USA welcome to his important work with the Messy Church BRF team!  Grace and Peace, Roberta 

Thank you God for the work of Lucy, Jane and Dave as well as all of the BRF team who generously share their time, resources and passion with the global Messy Church moment.  Bless their work! 

Messy Church USA logo and mission
Equipping Messy Churches to start, sustain and connect across the USA

Messy Transitions can lead to Messy Training

A blogpost from Roberta J Egli 

Transitions can be Messy is our September 2019 focus at Messy Church USA. At our home we have had some messy transitions the past few months. We have a seventeen-week-old Springer Spaniel named Jack who became part of our family at nine weeks of age in July. He has grown from eleven pounds to a whopping 23 pounds! Jack is our first puppy and we are loving his boundless joy and enthusiasm…. except for the two evening hours that Lynn, my husband has named “Jack’s bewitching time”. It is like he has so much energy that he is now sure how to contain it any longer.

Throughout the summer, he could run outside during these two hours and get some of his energy out but the rains have come this week that cramps his style. Thankfully, we have a wonderful trainer who is working with us to help Jack be a happy, healthy and trained dog!

Jack’s first rain experience… a bit confused!

Having an experienced person share ideas, simple gestures and encouragement as we practice with Jack has made this puppy transition much happier. It reminds me when we learn new skills, that having support and encouragement is vital. We are so happy that so many people are coming together to learn about Messy Church in our “Getting Started” training.

In the seven trainings scheduled between August and the end of October, Messy Church USA will encourage over 220 people! WOW! We expect more people to sign up in the days to come but I give God thanks for the tremendous response we have already received. Will you join me in saying a prayer of thanks and also a prayer for each of the individuals and team who will be attending training over the next few months.

May your messy transitions be filled with joy!

Roberta

Quotes from Michigan City, IN Training

The Messy Church training not only provides the theory behind this unique and highly effectively form of church, but it also provides concrete ways to put the concepts into practice. Through large-group teaching to table interactions to hands-on experiential learning, participants gained the confidence to create a Messy Church opportunity back home.
Associate Director of Church Development
Indiana United Methodist Church Annual Conference

My team is inspired and encouraged. We are very excited to meet and work out all the details for starting our own Messy Church here in Michigan City, and I can only imagine that others left feeling as excited and inspired as we are. Thank you again for such a wonderful experience!
Trish Johnsen, Michigan City First United Methodist Church

From Feedback Forms
What helped you learn the most?
•Great overview of the concept- really had a great time and learned a lot
• The discussion with my team after the presentation. Walking through the Mini Messy Church
• The mini experience helped me see the movement of the structure
• The community. In our area Messy Church is non-existent and foreign. It was so nice to see other churches following the model and being able to network.
• Great deal of information and suggestions for starting off on a new idea
• Opening- explaining what (Messy Church) is, but the activities part brought it to life

September 21st in Mt Dora, FL
September 21st in Hartford, CT 
September 28th in Newport, NH
October 5th, in Cheney, WA (Near Spokane)
October 12th in Huntington Beach, CA 

Would you like to schedule a training in your area?  We are always looking for host churches! Contact Roberta if you are interested. 

A Little Chat with Rev. George Hooper

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A Blogpost from Lindsey Goodyear

One of the greatest gifts we receive from Messy Church is the gift of community. But, what absolutely enables that gift is the dedication, commitment, and love that the Messy Church team puts into each affair. When Messy Church was established at Community United Methodist Church in Huntington Beach (CUMCHB) the church was being led by Rev. Ginny Wheeler. Ginny was there from the beginning and was a strong supporter of our Messy adventure. When she decided to retire, earlier this Summer, it left me wondering if the support of this venture, that we previously had, would remain as strong with our next holy leader. Well, I didn’t have to wonder long. Enter, the fantastically enthusiastic…Pastor George Hooper!

Lindsey: Before coming to CUMC, which church were you leading?

George: I was serving as the lead pastor at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Arcadia. Like CUMCHB, CGS has an outstanding Children’s Center with a wonderful reputation in the community, and a history of powerful ministries with children. We had not started Messy Church, but I was privileged to engage the children and their parents in chapel time during the week.

Rev. George Hooper
1st Sunday at Community United Methodist Church Huntington Beach

Lindsey: Had you ever heard of Messy Church before coming here?

George: I had. I believe that we hosted an event in Arcadia where some who were involved with Messy Church made a presentation. When the Associate Pastor (the Rev. Lydia Sohn, now pastor at St Mark UMC in San Diego) started an afternoon experience, Messy Church was one of the styles we considered.

Lindsey: Having been established for almost 6 years now, we can be kind of a tight knit team. Any nerves entering in the first Messy gathering?
George: When I had my initial meeting with representatives of the CUMCHB congregation, one of the first questions was “Will you support Messy Church?” I asked, “Well, what does support look like to you?”
They shared that there was a strong leadership team, but what they needed was continued encouragement, prayer, and participation. They explained that Pastor Ginny was like a cheerleader who was also worked well behind the scenes to make sure that Messy Church was given priority and funding through the existing congregation. I thought, and said, “That I can do!” To have an existing gathering which is well-organized and led is a gift to a new pastor. So I was excited to attend that first evening — which was the Summer Picnic. I brought my kids, introduced myself, and joined the circle. Keep in mind that I had been on staff and on site for two weeks; this was a time to just be, and to play! I loved it! So, yes, I was a little nervous, because it was a new thing. I got over that as soon as I sat down and started playing Giant Jenga.

iStock. Giant Jenga

Lindsey: You have two pretty amazing kids. What were their feelings about Messy Church?

George: They love to play, to create, to learn, and to have fun. They feel like this was made for them. “Is it Messy Church yet?” is a question I am already getting.

Lindsey: In Sunday church, you lead us, at Messy Church, you’re led by others. Was the shift a little hard to navigate?

George: Messy Church is the way church is supposed to be. I like to say that I am the pastor, the people of the congregation are the ministers. My job, along with the church staff, is to train, equip, and support the people in ministry. One of my proudest achievements in Arcadia was to help create a culture in which people in the church could say “I would like to try this” (for example a Conversational English Class) and my job was to arrange the resources they needed to do that. In John 14:12 Jesus says “Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the work that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these…” Jesus knew that even He was limited and wanted to bring others — everyone — into ministry and leadership.
On Sunday mornings (and in other events in the course of the week) I participate in leadership to prepare people to live out their faith in their daily life. At Messy Church I get to be led by others. I particularly enjoy getting to see what the youngest among us create: it allows me to see through new eyes!

The way it is shaping up, it looks like I will do a little hosting, and then fall back to observe, learn, and be led. I also love the fact that if someone has a question or an issue they want to reflect upon, we can sit down together and just talk. That’s another way I get led at Messy Church.

Lindsey: What are the benefits you see families getting from MC that may differ from what they’re getting at traditional Sunday church?

George: Getting to worship as a family unit. Allowing younger folks to guide older folks. Being able to learn through doing. Being self-directed in learning — going to what interests me in this moment. Don’t get me wrong: My kids like Sunday morning, too. They enjoy more formal worship and especially Sunday School. Messy Church adds another way of existing as family. The greatest benefit is having all of these options!

Lindsey: In between getting to know our members, were you able to participate in any of the activities?

George: I was all over the games in July! As much as I wanted to, I didn’t climb the water slide in August (there’s always next year!) I went through and looked at all of the hands-on learning stations, but I was having more fun watching what others were making than actually doing so myself. And yes, I did get drawn into some wonderful conversations — I think that counts as activities though, too. I am blown away by the creativity and imagination of the Messy Church team. You all put in a great deal of time and energy!

Lindsey: Is there a moment/craft/song that really struck you or sticks out in any way?

George: The prayer parachute. I am not sure if that what you called it, but lifting needs and joys, and then inviting the smaller people to run underneath as the parachute came back down was an incredibly powerful image of being literally “covered in prayer”.

Parachute Prayer
CUMCHB Messy Church

Lindsey: What do see or hope for when thinking about the future of Messy Church at CUMC?

George: We all have hopes for success that are measured in numbers. I love that I hear families saying they attend because “it is the closest thing we have to church.” For them Messy Church is family, a community in which they learn and grow together, without all of that “churchiness.” They are asking that this community pledge to support them as they raise their child in the love of Jesus. I hope for more of that. I hope that the ideals and practices of Messy Church become contagious throughout the congregation. Mostly, I look forward to seeing what God is doing next!

Lindsey Goodyear
lindseygoodyear@gmail.com
Equipping Messy Churches in the USA to Start, Sustain and Connect