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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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
My personal Facebook page has been filled with pictures of children and teachers starting another year of school. I love the smiling faces that show both excitement and some nervousness. I chuckled at a friend who shared a picture of his briefcase filled with his plans for a brand-new course he is teaching at his university. How do you experience times of transition? Are you filled with anxiety or delight or perhaps a little of both? Transitions can be a bit messy!
This September we are sharing stories of transition. Stories of unexpected surprises as well as stories of preparing for an anticipated change. Lindsey Goodyear blogs about her Rev. George Hooper, who became pastor on July 1st of her church in Huntington Beach, CA. Their previous pastor had been instrumental in building excitement for their Messy Church Start over five years ago. How would their Messy Church transition to a new Pastor?
In news from across the pond, Dave Martin joined the dynamic team of Lucy Moore and Jane Leadbetter at Messy Church/BRF on September 1st. What kind of creative ideas will come from this transition? I imagine that there will be even more great resources from Messy Church/BRF.
Preparing for something new is what our “Getting Started in Messy Church” training is all about! This month there are three new opportunities for training. Read what others have to say about how this training has helped them get ready to start their own Messy Church. Our mission as an organization is to equip Messy Churches to start, sustain and connect which occurs through conversations and presentations at our trainings!
We are transitioning into full gear as we plan for the Celebrate the Mess Conference in October 2020. At our first planning meeting for the upcoming Messy Church USA 2020 national conference, the team shared of their involvement with Messy Church over the past six years. A common thread I heard as people introduced themselves to each other was how when they first became involved with Messy Church, they would not have predicted how their lives would change. Messy Church had changed the way people approached their ministry setting and for some on the team, had changed their vocational lives!
Living into transition is an opportunity to open ourselves to the leading of Spirit of God. Where will God lead you in your Messy Church this coming year? Where is God calling you to say ‘yes’? Where does your team find joy in your Messy Church? What continues to challenge you as a team? We would love to hear from you as you transition into this new school year and church life year at your Messy Church!
May you find grace and peace in all of your transitions,
Since I have returned from the Messy Church International conference, I have had many people ask me, “How was it? “. At first, I struggled to summarize how it was. There were too many adjectives floating around that I could throw out. How could I compact them down into one short phrase? Then, it hit me. I could only respond in one way. My answer will always be, “It was the Kingdom of Heaven on earth”. For most of my religious life, I have always pictured the Kingdom as a place where everyone does what Jesus’ taught us and everyone is valuable, that everyone is equal in the eyes of God and joy, limitless, unbounded joy resides. This is what I experienced at the Messy Church conference at every moment of every day. Through the experiences, the people, the devotions, the inspirational speakers and through the power of the Holy Spirit, we Messy Church people were amazing together. During the Holy Habits talk by Andrew Roberts he asked us to focus on the scripture from Acts 2: 42-47
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
He asked us to choose a word from the scripture that jumped out to us and, for me, there was only one choice: together.
Messy Church is all about discipleship and we can’t really be or create disciples without others to lean on, learn from and move forward with. There we were in the beautiful English countryside together. We came from all over the planet and spoke many languages and yet, we were all of a like mind and spirit. We were and still are people of the Mess and people of the church together. We laughed together, played together, sang together, listened together and collaborated together. We learned, we can do this Messy Church thing better…together.
In looking back and reviewing my photos and my memories, I could see how happy we were in that place and time. Carrying that back with me to the state of Washington in the United States of America, that message of together is more important than ever. I strive each day to find the Messy Kingdom here too. A message of inclusion, equality, joyfulness, and discipleship that can transform the world. I have a firm desire to recreate that Kingdom spirit that we found at MCIC19 in my own Messy Church and to fulfill the Gospel message of loving God, neighbor and self. It is a commitment that I will dedicate my ministry to. I am a person of the church, the Messy Church and I am proud of my Messy heritage.
I hold my Messy Church International Conference experience in my heart and try to live each day as if my Messy Church friends were standing beside me and rooting me on, because I know they are, somewhere, out there. I continue to support them through prayer and a loud, “Hurrah”. I am counting the days until we return to England in 2022 for MCIC22. Until then my heart is full with the love and joy of the Holy Spirit that is Messy Church and its lovely International family of friends.
A Note from Messy Church USA: We support the international movement of Messy Church through donating a financial tithe to Messy Church BRF each year. If you want to further support the international movement, consider their ongoing Messy 100 financial appeal here.
As a Messy Church practitioner how often are you asked, “Can you explain Messy Church in one sentence?” I receive this question frequently at training events and also from friends and strangers when I share that I am working as the Executive Director of Messy Church USA. My go to answer is “Messy Church is a once a month all-age worship experience that creatively explores the love of Christ where people of all shapes and sizes find a place to belong”. Yes, I realize that it is a long, run on sentence so at times I simply use the tag line that is used by Messy Church UK/BRF “Church, but not as you know it”.
We all have our concepts of what Church is and perhaps more important what Church isn’t, so it can be challenging to succinctly share the transformative goodness of Messy Church. If you are looking for ways to share the story of Messy Church, take a moment to read Stephanie Martin’s article, Embracing the Mess, from July/August 2019 issue of Children’s Ministry magazine. Let’s share the story of how Messy Church is making a difference in individual lives and local churches. Take a moment to read and share it.
Embrace the mess my friends! Blessings, Roberta J. Egli
Reprinted by permission: Children’s Ministry Magazine, July/Aug 2019 issue, Group Publishing, Loveland, CO. All rights reserved.
Messy Church USA Regional Coordinator for Washington
I was a little scared when I arrived at High Leigh Centre in Hertfordshire on that overcast day in early May of 2019. I was traveling from London alone in a country that was not my own and I wasn’t sure what I had gotten myself into. I asked Executive Director of Messy Church USA, Roberta Egli about the Messy Church International Conference back at a September 2018 training event and from the moment she described it, I knew I had to go. I felt God nudge me and I recognized the gentle touch and still small voice and urgently felt I had to be a part of this community of people that were doing Messy Church around the world. Still as I stepped out of the cab in front of the conference center, I was asking myself, “What are you doing?” With much trepidation I paid the driver grabbed my suitcase and entered the conference center. And then…it happened!
Lucy Moore, founder of Messy Church and icon in my little office in Auburn Washington, ran to me as I entered the door and hugged me tight and said, “We are so glad you are here. Welcome!!!!!” It still makes me tear up to think about it. She didn’t know me before that moment, well not really. We had spoken briefly on a Regional Coordinator Zoom meeting, but she certainly didn’t know me by sight. To Lucy, I was a fellow Messy Church enthusiast and supporter. That’s all that mattered in that moment.
Through the eyes of a newcomer, I had so many preconceived notions about what I thought would happen at this conference, because I had been to church conferences before and was less than thrilled. However, this Messy Church conference was not like anything I had experienced before. Nor, was it something I could have ever dreamed was possible? When we came together for our first session, there was no awkwardness about singing or participating. Only joy and more than 200 people joining together in song, loudly and with vigor. Enthusiasm reigned supreme and we were transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit in that place.
The Spirit continued to take hold over the weekend through Lucy Moore’s warmth and leadership, Martyn Payne’s devotionals, Stephen Fischbacher’s wonderful music, Jane Leadbetter’s enthusiasm and ecobrick mastery, Claire Dalpra’s fascinating talk, Barry Brand’s hilarity, Andrew Roberts life-changing Holy Habits, mini Messy Church sessions and much more, until we were filled to the brim by the time we had to part on Sunday afternoon. Then, there came a moment that was defining for me. Richard Fisher, the Chief Executive at Bible Reading Fellowship, came to the podium to talk about the support that Bible Reading Fellowship offers the Messy Churches around the world. Then he had to do a difficult but extremely necessary task, to ask for financial support from the worldwide network of Messy Churches. It hit me. They do so much for us, we need to support them. BRF is the foundation and Messy Church is the house. It became somewhat of a mission to me from that moment to support the foundational organization that sustains us all. Bible Reading Fellowship. Together we are better.
New Every morning is your love, great God of light, and all day long you are working for good in the world…
The sun was rising over Chicago as my overnight flight from Oregon circled around downtown to land at O’Hare. I thought of this prayer, that I learned at the Academy for Spiritual Formation as I gave God thanks for the dawn of another day. Although I don’t remember her name, I connected with my seatmate when she asked if I could airdrop the picture from my phone that I had taken of the early dawn to her phone. I will never see her again, but we are now connected through a shared picture on our smart phones. That was the first of many connections that were made throughout the weekend.
I was traveling to Chicago to lead a training in Michigan City for Messy Church. What a gift the weekend was for me! For the first time ever, I connected with four great mid-west Messy Church USA Regional Coordinators in person! Ronda Bower, Robin Cannon, Jill Mayer and Andrew Scanlan-Holmes have participated with me in phone calls, emails and monthly zoom teleconferences but all being together in person was fantastic!
I connected with the generous hospitality of Michigan City First United Methodist Church. Pastor Nancy gave me a wonderful place to catch up on sleep after a night on the plane. Trish Johnsen, Children’s Ministry Director of Michigan City First, spent hours of preparation so that all of us were warmly welcomed to a day of training.
Finally, I connected with 85 people who came from six different denominations and 18 different local churches. Some teams traveled several hours to get to the training. We spent time learning some best practices to get started with Messy Church. We learned from each other through conversations and Messy Activities.
I am grateful for the many ways we connect through the Messy Church USA network. Getting to know one another through phone calls, webinars and zoom calls are all great ways we connect, yet it is an extra gift when we can meet in person. Over the next several months, there are several training events from the state of Washington to New Hampshire! I invite you to check out the website and connect with others involved with Messy Church. One consistent positive statement that we receive on our feedback forms is that being with and learning from other local churches who are starting or have already started Messy Church in their local context is very valuable as they move forward. Make plans to connect!
Be sure to check out the two-part blog post from Crystal Goetz coming soon. Crystal writes that connecting with others from all over the world was a major highlight for her at the Messy Church International Conference 2019. She continues to stay connected with new friends from Sweden, Denmark, South Africa and many other places.
Johannah is the Regional Coordinator for Messy Church USA in South and North Carolina. She has been leading Messy Church at Aldersgate UMC in Greenville in SC for over five years. She will be facilitating the upcoming Getting Started in Messy Church in Mt Dora, FL on September 21.
Messy Church is all ages together. This is one of the core values of Messy Church, something we all ascribe to practice. But why? Why is having all ages together for play and worship so important?
Less than two weeks after the second International Messy Church Conference in England, another group of church leaders from across the US, Australia, and New Zealand gathered in Nashville, TN, for the Intergenerate Conference. The conference centered around the assumption that Church (whether Messy or traditional or anything in between) must take seriously the need for meaningful interactions across the generations.
Roberta and I had the chance to represent Messy Church USA at Intergenerate as an example of what this all-age approach to church looks like in practice. We got to share our Messy story during an afternoon workshop and even got to do a Messy Church “taste and see” for participants experience on a small scale what Messy Church looks like. (On a side note, try packing supplies for Messy Church in a carry-on bag! The TSA agents were quite confused when they searched my bag and found feathers, pony beads, yarn, hole punches, and rather large paper ears!!)
It was a whirlwind few days! Here are a few take-aways from Nashville.
There are a growing number of church leaders who are beginning to recognize that separating age groups out into age silos – children over here, young adults here, older adults over there, youth in their own building next door – isn’t necessarily translating into transformational disciple-making. We need our peer groups, certainly, but we need meaningful interactions with other generations in order for discipleship to grow.
While there’s a growing number of people who are realizing this intergenerational approach to church is needed, we’re still trying to figure out how to articulate the why and the how. The first Intergenerate Conference was held two years ago with around 100 people (I believe?!). This year it was maxed out, standing-room-only at 200+ participants. Word is spreading, the conversations are growing, the research is developing. It’s exciting! The under-current throughout the conference was of high energy, high passion. We KNOW that bringing generations together is critical, even if we’re still trying to articulate why.
While researchers are still figuring out the “why,” Messy Church has something important to offer as we figure out the “how” of intergenerational ministry. We have a model for how to be church together that is working, and based on the growing research, working well. Are we the only model of intergenerational church out there? Of course not! But our adaptability, our focus on hospitality, and our emphasis on hands-on exploration mean that Messy Church can be a solid foundation for churches wanting to tear down those age silos and bring communities together across the ages.
What’s next? I think we’re going to see Messy Churches continue to pop up across the US and so new opportunities for training events will be critical. Has your Messy Church team attended a training? Do you know of churches in your area who’d like to learn more about Messy Church? There are several one-day Messy Church training events already on the calendar. If you’d like to host a training event, contact your Regional Coordinator or Roberta today and let’s start the conversation!
The Playfully Seriousresearch confirmed what we have suspected at Messy Church USA…that the teams that prayerfully discern, attend training opportunities, and start their Messy Church with support of others are more vital and sustainable than those teams that begin without training. This led us to set a goal of offering a minimum of twelve training events in a variety of USA regions in 2019.
The Getting Started in Messy Church will benefit those getting ready to start their Messy Church as well as those that have been offering Messy Church for months or years. Connecting with other churches is important! Below is the list of our upcoming training. Click on the link to register. There are several that have the dates open and registration will open soon.
Looking for a Messy Church Introduction? Our July What is Messy Church free webinar is coming up on Thursday, July 25th at 8:30 am Pacific time. You will learn about how the Messy Church global movement began and why it works in many different ‘flavors’ of the Christian church. In addition you will discover how the five foundational values of Messy Church weave in and out of the Messy Church worship experience. You will also be given some resources as you consider beginning your own Messy Church.
We give God thanks for those churches who become new members of renewed their membership in Messy Church USA in May and June 2019. Spent a moment giving God thanks and praying for the leadership teams for the following churches.
New Members for May/June 2019
Northside Presbyterian, Chattanooga, TN
St John United Church of Christ, Trenton, IL
Cornerstone United Methodist Church, Elyria, OH
Lyall memorial Federated Church- Millbrook, NY
Diocese of Southern Virginia- Newport News, VA
First United Methodist, Bowie, TX
Lexington United Methodist, Lexington, MI
Hillsides Residential Youth and Children, Pasadena, CA
Renewal Members for May/ June 2019
Auburn United Methodist, Auburn, WA
Christ United Methodist- Albuquerque, NM
St Peter’s Episcopal, Bettendorf, IA
Oak Grove United Methodist, Oak Grove, OR
Freysville Emmanuel United Church of Christ, Red Lion, PA
Did you know that we have a Facebook Group for Messy Church Team Leaders. It is a great place to ask questions and get ideas for activities, food and how to do publicity! Check it out and while you are at it— be sure to like our Facebook Page.
“Who am I to go to Pharaoh and to bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” Exodus 3:11 CEB
During the 2nd day morning reflection of the Messy Church International Conference (MCIC) at High Leigh Conference Centre, Hertfordshire, UK, I found myself at a sacred space. The morning reflection was about Moses meeting God in a “burning bush” recorded in the third chapter of Exodus. On that day, I encountered God and numerous co-workers of Christ getting together to do “messy” things for the glory of God. It is fitting to believe that a divine encounter is “messy.” Why a “burning bush?” Also, it is appropriate to assume that a journey with God is “messier.” The story of Moses gets better as his ministry and walking with God get messier, e.g., splitting and crossing the Red Sea, transforming a snake into a staff, striking a rock to draw water, gathering ‘manna’ each day, wandering around in a wilderness, etc. The three-day conference was too short capturing the messiness of the Messy Church while too wide, embracing the creativity and joyfulness manifested in participants from all over the world! I was surely at a holy place.
Two highlights that emerged for me throughout the MCIC weekend were the presentations by Claire Dalpra and Andrew Roberts. Dalpra shared her reflections as the project lead for a two year research project of Messy Churches in the United Kingdom by Church Army research. The study included interviews with 174 Messy Church leaders with an additional 29 leaders engaged in a regional focus group. It also included interviews with Messy Church participants of adults, children and youth and with those who were no longer involved in Messy Church. The outcome of the research? Evidence to celebrate that Messy Church is reaching families who are new to church and Messy Church is growing disciples of Jesus Christ. The research also indicated that being intentional about discipleship in Messy Church is important- it doesn’t happen automatically. You can check out the summary of the research Playfully Serious: How Messy Churches Create New Space for Faith.
To complement the results of Playfully Serious, was a presentation by Andrew Roberts, an author of Holy Habits. Roberts explored the methodology of discipleship based on the practices of the early church recorded in the 2nd chapter of the Gospel of Luke. Both Dalpra and Roberts helped to answer the question “Can Messy Church make disciples?” They both answered with a strong YES as they drew a beautiful picture depicting the animating of the Holy Spirit through the fresh expression of being the church for today. As I have been preparing our team to launch Messy Church in Long Island, NY, I have also asked the question, ‘can Messy Church make disciples” and these two presentations were like a guidepost helping me discover where to go from here and now.
“Who am I to go to people and to build Messy Church?”
“Who am I to go to people and to build Messy Church?” As reluctant as Moses was, I found myself in this sacred space, instead of breathing out confusion, hesitancy, and anxiety, but by breathing in possibilities, hopes, and joys from the conference, ready to embrace the journey lies ahead, launching and building Messy Church! It was an awestruck and heartwarming moment to see many participants enjoying the Kin-dom celebration with each other in joy, peace, hope, and love. I was no longer a stranger in the room, but one of the beloved children of God getting ready to be messy. My heart was overwhelmed with anticipation and expectation that God, who called Moses, is also calling me to do great and messy things for God and the people of God.
After the conference, I had a moment of sudden revelation (an epiphany) that the word “messy” is not ‘just’ an adjective describing a status of something of disoriented and untidy things but an adverb expressing joyful actions of leaders who envision bringing people of God closer to God alone.
So, “Who am I to go to Pharaoh and to bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
“Who am I to go to people and to build the Messy Church?”
Here I am, send me.
Rev. Steve Kim is the pastor at Huntington-Cold Spring Harbor United Methodist Church. He is working with a team to begin a Messy Church at his church after sponsoring a ‘Getting Started Training’ workshop in his district. He was one of the seven delegates from the Untied States who attended MCIC 2019. He has recently begun his D Min with the intention of studying Messy Churches within the United States.
Have you bookmarked this fantastic and free resource? ideas.brf.org.uk
For over 20 years, The Bible Reading Fellowship has been supporting children's and family work in churches. This website provides ideas for your Sunday & midweek groups & material for all-age worship. pic.twitter.com/1w4nl9yEKH
Have you checked out the free Messy Church Course created by our friends in Canada? You’ll learn the basics of discipleship and evangelism to help you stay grounded and focused, as well as practical tips and ideas for how to run a great Messy Church!
Messy Church USA is a newly formed nonprofit 501c3 corporation. Messy Church USA has been formed to provide an organizational structure to support the health, growth and sustainability of local Messy Churches in the USA. In addition, Messy Church USA will assist individual Messy Churches to become an integrated part of the larger national and global network of Messy Churches. Read more.