Messy Summer Activities

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Messy Summer Activities

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A Great Idea from Aaron Jenkyn, Epiphany Episcopal, Newport, NH

When churches closed in March our Messy Church family stayed in touch with each other via e-mail, snail mail and on Facebook but we never really found a way to connect as a group. As we began to discuss reopening, we began to think creatively about how Messy Church might be able to meet outdoors.  Living in the beautiful state of New Hampshire where there are many treasured outdoor spaces to explore, it seemed only natural to share these places and experiences with our Messy Church families. People can choose to do these activities on their own, with their families, or in small groups, however they feel most comfortable.  Some of these activities will be destinations, others will be activity based and can be done closer to home.

For each adventure we will offer activities, a reflection and a biblical story or theme to ground the experience. We are leaving room to let this program be shaped by the community. Our hope is that in time we will partner with Messy Church families to create these adventures, and that others will join in by posting their pictures on Facebook, creating a sort of hybrid Messy Church experience.

Stay tuned to see where the journey takes us, you can follow along on the Facebook page for Epiphany or St Andrews.  

Messy Adventure# 1 is based on this verse from Isaiah 40: 31:those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,they shall mount up with wings like eagles,they shall run and not be weary,they shall walk and not faint.” 

Download the PDF below. 

All-Ages Together  Summer Prayers

Even though my youngest son is a young adult, one of our favorite summer activities is roasting hot-dogs over a campfire and  enjoying S’more’s together.  So I was excited when I came across a post from Christine V. Hides and the idea of a family prayer based S’more ingredients. Check it out  here. 

Have you prayed with a beach ball before? You may not be able to get together in person to play this but you could use these different examples via on-line or perhaps you can find some beach balls at a dollar store and print out the prayer to send in a take home bag to your Messy Folk.  Here are a few Beach Ball Prayers:

If you need some more Messy Folk Summer activities, check out these 24 Wild and Wet Messy Folk Activities HERE.

Equipping Messy Churches to start, sustain and connect in the USA.

Highlights from Messy Church NOW Webinar

Logo Messy Church NOW

We had a great representation from all over the USA at the recent Messy Church NOW zoom webinar.  Messy Church leaders representing 25 churches from 16 different states and 5 denominations signed on to hear Jennifer May, Johannah Myers and Leyla Wagner share what they have learned in facilitating their Messy Church in a physically distanced world. 

Highlights from presentations

Jennifer used her teacher expertise to create a google slide show with recorded videos, activities and games that she emailed to her Messy Folk to use at home at their convenience. To keep the experience interactive, she provided a ‘would you rather’ game at the beginning that is the usual start to their in-person Messy Church. She vulnerably shared that it was difficult for her to get past her anxiety of seeing herself on a recording at the beginning which resonated with many of us on the zoom call. Taking risks and placing ourselves into new situations can be an uncomfortable experience. Jennifer leads Messy Church at Freysville Emmanuel United Church of Christ in rural Red Lyon, PA.

Leyla shared how their Messy Church has evolved as they have learned from each iteration of their Messy Church.  Their first COVID-19 Messy Church was a 15-minute zoom celebration worship that ended up lasting almost 45 minutes because people were so happy to see each other.  Since then, they have kept adapting their monthly on-line Messy Church. Their most recent Messy Church included an introduction video from their pastor emailed out one week prior, an activity bag that people came to the church parking lot to pick up, and a zoom community Messy Church that included doing activities together,  worship with favorite songs, and break out rooms to share reflections from questions. Leyla is from Community United Methodist in Huntington Beach, CA. favorite songs.

Johannah kept their first on-line zoom Messy Church short and simple.  The scripture story from Children of God Storybook Bible by Archbishop Desmond Tutu was read by Johannah after a time of welcome.  After the story, Johannah led everyone through making a hat of flaming tongues of fire out of a paper place, scissors and colored pencils and folding an origami dove from one piece of paper. Keeping the supply list simple was important.  To connect Messy Folk with Sunday morning worship, people were encouraged to drop off their origami doves at the church which were then placed in the worship space for the Sunday traditional recorded worship. Although the Messy Church zoom crowd was a bit smaller than their usual in-person Messy Church, those who participated ranged in age from toddler to over 70 years… a truly intergenerational experience!  Johannah is from Aldersgate United Methodist in Greenville, SC.

Some Messy Church NOW Ideas for you

Throughout the presentations and after, the chat room was busy with people sharing their own experiences of how they have continued to bring their Messy Church communities together over the past four months. Here are a few evaluation responses to the question, what are you key takeaways?  

  • We are all in the same boat. We try things and adjust accordingly. None of us has the “perfect” answer, we just keep working at it to reach people and have connection. 🙂
  • We had not considered recording our event so people who cannot attend live could come. What a great idea. As well as the ideas for how to share their crafts if they aren’t live with us.
  • Ideas, but most of all hope and strength – not in this aloneI

We are planning more webinars for the future so that we can continue to connect as we all experiment with ways to adapt our Messy Church during this weird time in history. Share your stories with us via Facebook or email roberta@messychurchusa.org.

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

Mini Mess Pentecost

A Blogpost by Lindsey Goodyear

Who’s in need of a “Mini Mess”?  I know I am!  Lately it seems that every blog I write, I go into hoping it will be the last one I write about the quarantine.  As it stands, it looks as though staying home may be in the cards for all of us for a bit.  Yes, they are slowly adding new phases to get us back to normal, but to protect those in our family and communities, the majority of us are hunkering down and staying put.  With Pentecost fast approaching, I felt like it was the right time to send home another Messy Church plan to keep us in good spirits. 

For those who don’t know the story, here’s a very short summary.  Pentecost is the name of a Jewish harvest festival. Just as Easter (in Greek “pascha”) is a holiday derived of an adaptation of the Jewish Passover, so too Pentecost is a Christian holiday derived from the Jewish festival of Shavuot. The Apostles, and other followers of Jesus, were celebrating the Jewish festival in Jerusalem, when they heard the sound of a mighty wind and “tongues of fire” came down on them.  Then, the Holy Spirit descended on them.  Remarkably, the attendees of the festival found themselves immediately being able to speak in other languages without difficulty.  People were no longer separated by language barriers and thus, the gospel was available to the world. No matter your gender, age, or color of skin, every person from every nation on God’s Earth could now know the Lord.  Because we were now all one under the Gospel of our Lord, the Pentecost is also referred to the birth of the church.  Pentecost, which means fifty, is always fifty days after Easter. This year, we celebrate on May 31.  Please use the following “Mini Mess” as a guide to celebrate God’s gift to the world with your family!  

There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female; since you are all one in Christ Jesus

Galatians 3:2

Three Pentecost Crafts

 Mighty Winds

 Need: Construction paper, paint, straws.

To recreate the mighty wind the Apostles witnessed, drop small amounts of paint all over your piece of construction paper.  Next, use the straw to blow the paint and watch as it creates magnificent patterns.  Try blowing from all directions to see what cool new art emerges.

*NOTE– This activity is much more fun if you use many different colors of paint!

**Talk about: What is the strongest wind you’ve ever been in?  How did it make you feel?  Were you excited?  Scared?

Fire Sticks

Need: Sticks from outside, 24” pieces of ribbon (reds, oranges, yellows, if possible), hot glue gun.

Once you’ve collected the sticks, cut the ribbons to the appropriate sizes.  Place a dab of glue at one end of the stick and begin attaching the ribbons (there should be enough room for 6 or 7 pieces depending on the size of your stick).  Once you’ve glued the pieces, cut a small portion of ribbon and wrap it around the glued pieces to ensure their security. Place a final dab of glue for the small security ribbon and you are ready!  Go outside and run around with the sticks overhead and watch as the wind turns the ribbons into something resembling fire. 

**Talk about: What do you think was going through the minds of the Apostles when they saw “tongues of fire” above their heads?  Would you have run away or stayed?

Babel 

Need: Foreign language book or access to internet.

Since the language barrier was broken when the Holy Spirit descended, take some time to learn a phrase in another language.  Try and have each family member learn a different phrase in a different language that they can recite and teach each other when you sit down for dinner.  We are so fortunate to have access to any language in the world.  Let’s take advantage of that access and teach each other!

**Talk about: Of all the beautiful languages found all over the world, what is the one language you wish you were fluid in? 

Celebration:  You might say the events at the Pentecost was the Holy Spirit’s way of exploding into the entire world.  He caused a reaction inside the hearts of people far and wide when He promised His unconditional love to all who follow.  A particularly good way of visually showing a reaction is through the use of baking soda and vinegar.  When the vinegar touches the baking soda, a mini explosion happens!  The soda begins to bubble, grow, and spread.  Cover a plate with baking soda and, using a dropper of vinegar, drop small amounts of vinegar around the plate.  With each drop, use the opportunity to explain the reaction your heart has because God is a part of you.  Pass the dropper around the table and let every family member take a turn.  This is a great opportunity to learn all the ways God brings joy to not only our hearts, but those of our family members, on a daily basis.  Try to make this more than a celebration.  Just because you don’t have baking soda and vinegar out everyday, talking with others about the impact God has on our lives is a great way to get in the habit of a positive and thankful mindset.  Try to make it a weekly or even daily discussion!

Prayer:  Dear heavenly Father, we come to you today with exploding hearts of love!  We are so thankful for the comfort you provide us with and ask that those who are suffering without you are brought to your light and feel relief.  We thank you for you descent so that people all over the world may know your perfect love.  We ask for your continued guidance as we navigate the world in such an uncertain time.  May you open our eyes and hearts and bring peace upon us.  We love you and thank you.  In your name we pray, Amen.

Meal Idea: Birthday Cake

Need: Boxed cake mix, frosting, sprinkles, and candles.

Let’s make a birthday cake and celebrate the birth of the Christian church!  Make the cake per the instructions on the box, bake, and let cool.  Then, decorate using the frosting and sprinkles.  Have fun with this!  You can even put candles in and sing “happy birthday” to the church if you’d like.  Then, cut the cake, serve, and enjoy! 

Lindsey Goodyear and her family attend Messy Church at Community UMC in Hungtington Beach, CA. You can reach her at lindseygoodyear@gmail.com
Messy Church USA logo and mission
Equipping Messy Churches to start, sustain and connect across the USA

Messy Advent Resources

How are you preparing for advent at your Messy Church?

Sheep Trails, family advent wreaths, a coloring nativity and much more. Sometimes you may become overwhelmed with advent Messy Church opportunities. Johannah Myers, North and South Carolina Regional Coordinator and Messy Church leader for Aldersgate UMC in Greenville, SC started a Messy Church Sheep trail in her community several years ago.  Read her previous post to learn all about it!   Sheep Trail 

Advent is a wonderful opportunity to connect your Messy Church community and your Sunday morning community.  Are their activities that are traditional for your Sunday worship that you can bring to Messy Church?

On our Messy Church team leaders FB group page, people have been sharing various ideas for advent. Leyla Wagner, from Community UMC in Huntington Beach, CA shared “Something that we like to do is a Reverse Advent Box. We have families decorate a box to take home. Each day of advent, the family puts something (typically canned food or hygiene product) into the box and then donates the entire box to a local Food Pantry or Charity. It’s a good way to make space for “God” in all the busyness of preparing for Christmas.  

Advent offers great opportunities to bridge the worship at Messy Church with at home family devotions.  Check out the links of Advent ideas below and make sure to check out our FB Messy Church team leaders group page. 

Advent Links

Advent in a Box Resource

  • Robin Cannon, the RC for Ohio and our social media consultant for Messy Church USA is a partner in Family Ministry Tools which have created a wonderful resource called- Advent in a Box  It is a pizza box filled with all-age devotions and activities to help families celebrate Advent and prepare for Christmas. We have created the devotions and activities for your church. You will need to print the materials, buy the supplies, and pack your boxes. Everything a family will need to do the activities will be in the box (aside from normal household supplies like markers and tape). 
  • You can order individually or per size of your church. Check it out here. 

From Building Faith (Virginia Theological Seminary ) Website

https://buildfaith.org/99-cent-advent-wreath/
https://buildfaith.org/three-teaching-points-for-advent/
https://buildfaith.org/advent-wreath-prayers-home/
https://buildfaith.org/advent-at-home-in-community/

Ideas from Messy Church USA Team Leaders Page

Other Links

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.  

We’re all Fine

A Blog by Lindsey Goodyear

Well, it’s March which means this is officially the second blog post I’m writing while in the midst of a full house remodel. Tension is running high in the Goodyear house and patience and understanding is at an all-time low. There also seems to be fewer hours in the day than I originally thought there were, which means that we lay our heads on the pillow each night with no sense of ease but instead a laundry list of what still needs to be done. We even had to skip Messy Church last month because by the time we were done working, Marty and Leyla would have been halfway through celebration. The kids didn’t take the news well as those “Messy” Saturdays are one of their favorite days (next to birthdays and Christmas). They’ve been troopers but the unpredictable chaos of the remodel has left them much more rambunctious than normal. As a family that thrives on structure, there’s been no such practice in the last eight weeks and it shows. So, instead of finding a way to break the news to the kids that, yet again, we just couldn’t fit Messy Church in, I mustered up the last of my energy, put on a smile, loaded them up, and headed to the church.

Immediately upon arrival, I felt the weight of the last two months of stress, anger, exhaustion, and frustration lift. There was just something about walking into big hugs and smiling faces all around. How could I have almost voluntarily missed this? My children took off running and I didn’t have to worry about where they were because they’ve grown up here and have discovered every nook and cranny of this old Methodist church. Once it was time for crafts, I found that watching my kids joyfully running around from table to table, creating, eating, and getting messy was the exact remedy to all this stress I’d been looking for. I felt myself take a deep, cleansing breath for the first time in months. I socialized with my “Messy” family and friends. I laughed, I danced, I sang, and I ate. I learned new things about an old story and met new and interesting people. They say time flies when you’re having fun and it must because before I knew it, it was time for celebration.

Parachute Prayer at Community UMC Messy Church
Huntington Beach, CA

The story was Jesus and the temple which tells the tale of when Mary and Joseph lost Jesus when he was just a boy.  They were traveling back to Nazareth from Jerusalem and, while each assumed He was with the other, by the end of the day, they discovered He was missing.  It took three days before they finally found Him, sitting in the temple, among the teachers, asking and answering questions.  Mary then asked, “Why have you treated us like this?  We have been searching for you in great distress.”  To which, Jesus replied, “Why were you looking for me?  Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”  As a parent, I couldn’t wrap my head around the hysteria Mary must have felt looking for Him for those three days only to be met by His nonchalant attitude towards her concern.  I once lost my three year old at his older brother’s school for about 10 minutes.  Not only was I in a frenzy of panic, my three year old was almost inconsolable when I finally found him.  So, how was Jesus fine after 3 days on His own?

The answer is simple. He was fine because He was in His Father’s house. He wasn’t being disrespectful to Mary, He was just letting her know there was no need to worry. He was fine. He was comfortable. He was home. I couldn’t help noticing a correlation between this story and the story of my own family. The shift that took place almost instantaneously after arriving. My children and their carefree excitement, my genuine smile and laughter, the comfort we felt for those glorious two hours. It was so crystal clear.

We felt this way because we, too, were in our Father’s home.  We, too, were fine.  We, too, were comfortable.  We, too, were home.  I’m so grateful that Messy Church has provided an opportunity for my family to feel what Jesus also felt that day in the temple.  At rest, in our element, free to be us no matter how messy, 100% accepted, and most of all…loved. 

Lindsey Goodyear
Contact her at lindseygoodyear@gmail.com

Spiritual Marathon

A Blogpost from Lindsey Goodyear

Happy New Year!  It’s that time, again.  Time for new beginnings, getting life in order, and an official New Year’s resolution.  My resolution is the same as it is most years…get in better shape!  Most every year, I vow to eat better, run more, and reach a certain number on the scale by a certain set date.  I know if I put everything else aside, not give into temptation, and workout like crazy, those few extra pounds will be gone in no time.  The New Year starts fast and furious with clean eating and exercise and starts to peter out around the end of January.  My eating returns to its normal mostly healthy (but could be better) self, and the running returns to two times a week.  I stay this way for most of the year and start all over again the following January.  It’s frustrating, to say the least, but a trip to Messy Church has me thinking that the change to my body actually starts in my head, and not in my kitchen.

i stock. Used with permission

Last Saturday we sat through a fun, interactive, Messy explanation of Epiphany (the manifestation of God to the world through His son, Jesus Christ). It was exciting to see my children realize that, despite the fact that the presents have all been opened, Christmas does not end on December 25. We learned about the 12 days between Christmas and Epiphany and also learned some of the ways people celebrate Epiphany in other countries. Although it was interesting, I have to admit that my mind began to wander while sitting in that pew. Why don’t my kids know about Epiphany? Why aren’t we talking about the birth of Jesus and the significance of God’s gift to us after the lights come down and the tree is thrown out? We work vigorously through the holiday season drilling into them that “Jesus is the reason for the season”, but the second the stockings come down, it’s back to life as usual. Don’t worry, God, we will see you again next December!

From Lindsey’s Messy Church

This isn’t to say we don’t bring up God at all.  We pray as a family and we attend Messy Church…ahem…once a month.  Sigh.  Then it hits me.  The reason my kids don’t know about Epiphany is because I approach my relationship with God, the same way I approach my resolutions.  Fast and furious until I burn out.  For us, Christmas is shopping, Messy Church, “don’t forget about Jesus”, a school craft, letters, “don’t forget about Jesus!”, nativity story, Christmas goodies, “don’t forget about Jesus!”, parties, caroling, and, oh yeah, did we mention Jesus?  By the time Epiphany rolls around, I’ve made up my mind that my due diligence for my kids, when it comes to God, has already been met.  Our once a month trip to Messy Church and nightly prayers will take care of the rest until the next holiday season. 

All of this leaves me wondering what would happen if I took a beat and just slowed down.  What if my New Year’s resolution was not to hit a certain number on the scale by a certain time but rather to get healthy and stay that way for life.  It would require a change in my thought process.  It won’t be instant gratification but a life commitment.  Now, what if I did the same thing with God?  Instead of working hard just once a year to prove that my relationship with God is still on point, I make a commitment to work on my relationship with Him daily and turn it into a life goal for me and my family, and skip the fast and furious recap next year.

Spiritual Marathon

It won’t be easy, but most resolutions are put into place because there is a need for change somewhere in your life.  And, yes, change is hard.  But, your relationship with God doesn’t have to be.  It’s fantastic to give back and be more Christ-like during the holidays but the amount of effort we put in during that month may not be sustainable year around.  Take it slow.  Look at the resolutions in your life, whatever they may be, as a marathon, not a race.  If we take the time to nurture the relationship we have with God for the long haul, we can ditch the madness we create playing catch up, and instead enjoy a more realistic, viable, and more meaningful link to our beloved savior.          

Lindsey Goodyear
Huntington Beach, CA
Reach her at lindseygoodyear@gmail.com

An Unexpected Gift

By Lindsey Goodyear

The beginning of December is usually a reminder for me to kick it into high gear and start Christmas shopping, dig up our Elf on the Shelf (Lord only knows where I stuck him from the previous year), and remember to give each of our boys their advent gift for those first 25 days while desperately trying to reiterate what the advent period is actually about. In the dictionary, advent is described as the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event. For my kids, advent means presents. We work hard to remind them that there is more to Christmas than gifts, but, in their defense, gift giving is a part of Christmas. We give gifts to family, the Wise Men brought gifts for Jesus, and, of course, His birth, continues to stand as the greatest gift God has ever given to us. See? Gifts everywhere!

All the obsession over giving and receiving gifts got me thinking about the gifts we give at Messy Church. I’d like to think that we, as a Messy Church team, give gifts to our congregation every month. They may not be the literal gifts wrapped in a bow, but gifts that have a deeper meaning. The gift of a place to feel safe, connected, understood, loved, and supported. The gift of our members making a connection with a particular story, song, or activity. The gift of our children finding an indisputable understanding of what God’s love means, in their life, as they grow. What I didn’t think about is the gifts we receive from the attendees, as well. That’s why, going into our event on the first Saturday of the month, I never expected the gift I’d come away with.

I walked into our Messy Advent event to see the beautiful face of my friend, Mel.  I was grateful to have met her through the United Methodist preschool where her daughter and my son attended.  Over the years, she had expressed wanting to come to Messy Church, but life sometimes gets in the way.  I was over the moon to see what she thought of her first Messy gathering.  Of course it was a whirlwind of a night and I didn’t get a chance to talk to her at the end of the evening.  However, the next morning I woke to one of the most beautiful and meaningful texts I had ever received.  The words she used to describe the feeling she got from attending Messy Church brought tears to my eyes.  I immediately asked if I could interview her for my blog and she graciously obliged.

Here are the unedited, kind words from my good friend, Mel:

Me: Tell me a little about yourself.

Mel: I’ve been a resident of Huntington Beach since 2000. I’m a single parent (didn’t start off that way, but life got “messy”) to one precious six year old girl.

Me: How did you hear about Messy Church?

Mel: We attended CUMC preschool and heard about it from friends. We’ve always been interested in going but hadn’t been able to schedule it until now.

Me: With many options for worship around here, what made you take a chance on Messy Church?

Mel: We knew a few people that were already attending and had heard good things. It kept coming up over the past few months from others who have attended and we realized we shouldn’t ignore it any longer. And so, we showed up!

Me: What was the theme of the Messy Church you attended?

Mel: We were at the December event which was all centered around Christmas and the birth of Jesus.

Me: What was the vibe upon entrance? What did you notice?

Mel: We were greeted by a lovely young woman who welcomed us and gave us a brown paper bag personalized in black sharpie.

Me: Anything that made you uncomfortable?

Mel: Nope. Everyone was nice.

Me: What was the most memorable moment for you?

Mel: Two things: Our time in the chapel and especially singing together. I loved the conversations I had with my daughter during the activities. She’s maturing in her faith.

Me: Was there anything missing? Something you wished you had more of?

Mel: Only because you are asking but perhaps a place to safely put your painted crafts while they are drying. I’m pretty sure we got blue paint on the wall. Sorry!

Me: What made Messy Church different than traditional church for you?

Mel: Everything about Messy Church is different than traditional church. I love that I never put my kid in some room and then went off to make small talk with other adults and their spouses. Just my daughter and I are my family. We’re not a traditional family but we are one. It was nice that we could stay together. Doing the crafts and activities gave us a chance to talk without distractions. I found myself asking her questions and explaining things to her in simple terms. Each activity was charming and offered a chance to talk about something different. There was so much to do and I was impressed by the sheer number of volunteers. It looked like a labor of love.

Lindsey and Leyla conveyed in about 10 minutes what some pastors require an hour for. “Jesus came into a messy world because He loves us.”

It reminded me that I could worship wherever I am, just as I am: messy.

Mel: (cont) There’s also something sweet about sharing a meal with families. That was one of the first meals I can remember in a long time that I sat down the entire time with my child. At home during meals, I’m up every few minutes, getting and cleaning things (and high fives to the genius who recognizes ranch is a necessity with pizza!). It was a very sweet touch to have table tents with conversation starters.

I appreciate that it took a lot of coordination and manpower to pull off this event. I was also moved by its simplicity. There were no “smoke and mirrors,” just love and consideration. It could have taken place in any of the past five decades. I was moved to be one of the many voices, singing to God, surrounded by candles, led by a single guitar. The message was short and sweet (the most powerful ideas usually are). Lindsey and Leyla conveyed in about 10 minutes what some pastors require an hour for. “Jesus came into a messy world because He loves us.”

It reminded me that I could worship wherever I am, just as I am: messy.

Me: Do you think you’ll attend Messy Church again?

Mel: I’ll 100% be returning. My daughter definitely wants to return. She loved it and I’ve already invited others!

Merry Christmas from our Messy family to yours!

Lindsey Goodyear blogs monthly for Messy Church USA. She is a Messy Church mom and leader at Community UMC in Huntington Beach, California.  You can reach her at lindseygoodyear@gmail.com

 

Messy Sheep Trail

Johannah Myers, Regional Coordinator for North and South Carolina

In 2013 we were in our first months of Messy Church at Aldersgate UMC in Greenville, SC. Looking for a way to spread the word about Messy Church and make some connections with our larger community, we stumbled across a Messy Church in Liverpool, England and their annual Sheep Trail. (You can read more about the original Sheep Trail in Messy Nativity.) In true “we-don’t-know-what-we’re-doing-but-let’s-try-anyway” form, the Sheep Trail in Greenville, SC began!

We have plenty of people who crochet, but the sheep pattern provided in Messy Nativity was for knitting. After searching pattern books and the Internet, I found a sewing pattern for a stuffed sheep. A desperate plea went out for people willing to sew some sheep and soon the herd in my office grew (and grew and grew). Meanwhile we wrote up a request for stores, outlining our plan for the Trail and started walking up and down Main Street, looking for stores willing to give us a try. Nine stores downtown said yes. Throw in a couple of trees at the Festival of Trees willing to be hiding places for our sheep and we had our first Sheep Trail.

Sheep Trail with Aldersgate UMC
Greenville, South Carolina

Each participating store gets its very own sheep with a unique name. Many stores like to name their own sheep! The sheep is hidden in the store, keeping in mind that it’s mostly kids out hunting. The sheep’s nametag is clearly visible. We print Trail Cards (we also keep a printable version on our webpage) that includes a list of the participating stores and a place to record the sheep’s unique name. Find each sheep, record the name, and you’ve mastered the Sheep Trail! We put a basket at a couple of stores where people could turn in completed Trail Cards and be entered into a drawing for a prize at the end of the month. Our Trail runs throughout the month of December.

The first year, we invested in brochure holders. Our sheep were donated. We splurged a bit and had our Trail Cards professionally printed along with some signs marking participating stores. After the first year, the only real cost for us is printing the Trail Cards. With this minimal cost, we are able to reach hundreds of families. We go through anywhere between 300-400 brochures each year!

Sample of Brochures 

Our Trail Cards include information about our Messy Christmas, Aldersgate UMC’s Christmas Eve services and other worship opportunities. We also include the Christmas story, written in child-friendly language. We hope that everyone who participates in the Sheep Trail takes a moment to read the story and that the Trail gives families the opportunity to play together while remembering the true meaning of Christmas.

For more information about our Sheep Trail or to get an example of teh brochure email me at johannah@messychurchusa.org.  Follow us on Instagram  and/ or follow us on Facebook.

Messy Blessings, Johannah

Johannah Myers

Prepare the Way!

By Johannah Myers, Regional Coordinator for North and South Carolina

Aldersgate UMC Messy Church Fall Festival 2018

The dust has settled from our Messy Church Fall Festival. Candy wrappers have been picked up and costumes stored away. In one way, we’re now free to turn our thoughts to gratitude and Thanksgiving. However, for those of us planning for Messy Church, it’s time to start planning for Advent and Messy Christmas.

Advent is a season of preparation. We prepare for the coming of our Messiah even as we remember and celebrate Jesus’ coming as a baby at Christmas. As Messy Church leaders, we’re charged to prepare for Messy Christmas celebrations but we can also help our families make space to prepare a way for Jesus, even during their busy December.

Consider providing Advent calendars at your November Messy Church. Look for a calendar that includes family activities or create your own. Invite families to create a Jesse Tree as a way of remembering Jesus’ family tree and marking the Advent season together. What about materials and instructions for making a simple Advent wreath? Provide the materials as a take-home during your November Messy Church so that families are ready when Advent begins on December 2nd 2018.

Help families create an Advent wreath by providing the materials as a take-home during your November Messy Church so that families are ready when Advent begins on December 2nd.

If your Messy Church has a Facebook page or other social media outlets, think about ways to use this social media to help families mark the Advent season. Create a unique hash-tag and invite families to post pictures of their Advent activities. Use social media as a community Advent calendar. 

Messy Advent Activity Links

Messy Christmas is a great resource for planning Messy Christmas or Messy Advent. It’s full of wonderful ideas for activities and celebrations. There is an older resource, Messy Nativity that is also available to purchase. Messy Nativity includes two ideas of projects to draw your whole community into the Messy Christmas spirit, beyond your monthly Messy Church.


The first three people to email Roberta Egli at roberta@messychurchusa.org  and request the book will get a free copy of Messy Christmas mailed to them.   

Advent and Christmas can be the busiest seasons complete with all the stress that goes along with the craziness. How can Messy Church help families find purpose in the midst of all the season’s comings and goings? 

Messy Church USA’s mission is to equip local churches to start, sustain and connect Messy Churches across the USA.  Be sure to register your Messy Church on our website.