Practice Makes Progress

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Practice Makes Progress

A Blog from Lindsey Goodyear

My son hates reading.  Well, I take that back… My son hates reading anything that school requires him to read.  The words are too big, the content is too boring, and he can’t ever remember what he’s just read.  We try to stay calm, reassure him, and explain that not only will practicing reading everyday make him a stronger reader, but being a mindful reader (making efforts to focus on what you’re reading while you’re reading) will make homework smoother and more enjoyable.  Twenty minutes a day for at home reading is the requirement.  In and 8-year old’s eyes, 20 minutes a day is an eternity.  Some days we spent double that trying to coax him into it.  I knew if he could just start practicing, every day, like he was supposed to, the routine would be set and our battles would get easier. They say it takes 66 days to form a habit and although I couldn’t imagine having this fight 66 more times, I dug my heels in and committed to routine. 

 To my surprise, it only took a few weeks.  He stopped sounding words out and became more confident with calling them out on the first try.  His choppy accounts of literature became beautiful sentences gliding out of his self-assured mouth.  The coaxing time got less and less and soon he was reading 6 chapters in one sitting.  He wasn’t perfect but the improvement was astounding!  It confirmed, to me, that practice makes progress.  I grew up hearing the phrase “practice makes perfect” but after a discussion with my friend, Roberta, I will now forever say “progress” instead of “perfect.”  Because, in all reality, there is only one who we can call “perfect” so striving for perfectionism is, in actuality, setting ourselves up for disappointment.  So, when a few days ago I watched him begin the third book in a series, I sat thinking how practice really does make progress, when it dawned on me.  I could stand to take a dose of my own advice.  Not all of my daily habits were where they were supposed to be either.  I could use a little practice myself.

Our latest Messy Church was all about praying.  Praying is something I’ve always done, since childhood, but have been slacking on the last couple years.  I always used the evening time to talk with God.  During the day, I would, and still do, say little prayers here and there, but right before I went to sleep was the time I devoted to big concerns, big “thank you’s” and asking for peace.  However, since we’ve had kids, my husband and I take turns each night laying with a son and saying prayers.  I love to listen to their little thoughts and what they decide to chat with Him about.  The only problem is I’ve been passing off their prayer time as my own.  I’ve mentally started checking that prayer box off for the day because I participated with them, right?  Wrong.  While it’s important for us to encourage and teach our children to pray, it’s also equally important for us to establish, feed, and nurture our own personal relationships with God.  He deserves more than what I was giving Him.

Here’s where my own advice comes in.  I need practice.  I need routine.  I need 20 uninterrupted minutes a day with my savior.  I’ve realized it doesn’t have to be at night before I go to sleep.  I remember my father in law telling me he uses his 4-mile daily walk to chat with the Lord.  It got me thinking, although I’m busy running errands, driving kids, cooking, cleaning and whatever else us mom’s do, I also have little pockets of time throughout the day where I can scroll quickly through Facebook, Instagram, or ask Google burning questions.  If I traded out just one of those social media check-ins a day, I could legitimately reignite my passion for prayer.  I’m not perfect so I know it won’t happen overnight, but it will become habit, again, if I put the effort in.  So, that’s it.  Practice makes progress.  I’m determined to direct that progress straight towards my relationship with God and to make those glorious conversations part of my routine once again.                      

Lindsey Goodyear
Contact her at lindseygoodyear@gmail.com
Equipping local Messy Churches to start, sustain and connect in the USA.

Taking Time to Reflect While We Jump into 2020

iStock

Is the person in the picture above going to make it into 2020 or fall short? How are you doing with the start of a new year?  Are you already feeling behind?   (Yes, I realize that the picture is probably altered but it still causes some anxiety!)

At the start of every turn of the calendar, my husband and I go out for breakfast to reflect on the previous year and look ahead to what is coming in the new. In our busy lives, for many of us, days and months and even an entire year can flow by so quickly that we don’t take notice.  Taking moments to pause, slow down and reflect not only at the end of the year but throughout the year provides opportunity to give thanks for what is going well, and consciously changing perspectives when needed.

My new project planner has a section at the end of each week and month to draw or write a reflection on how my time was spent in meeting the goals I have set. I have been using it since September and have found that engaging in this simple practice has helped me to give thanks for what has been accomplished and then re-prioritize for the coming week or month. This practice has reminded me of our check in time for our monthly Messy Church planning team I was involved with several years ago. Prior to talking about what was coming up we would spend a few moments reflecting on our previous Messy Church and take turns answering three simple questions: 1) what went well? 2) What could have gone better? and 3) How can we hold one another in prayer?

The year ahead can feel like a gift waiting to be unwrapped, month by month, like layer after layer of bright wrapping paper being torn off a pass-the-parcel prize.

Lucy Moore

Lucy Moore, founder of the Messy Church global movement, in her reflection on the turn of the calendar year and the months ahead, challenged us to view our monthly Messy Church as an unwrapped gift. “There’s a rhythm to meeting monthly as a church. The year ahead can feel like a gift waiting to be unwrapped, month by month, like layer after layer of bright wrapping paper being torn off a pass-the-parcel prize. Or like a soup bubbling away with ingredients added one by one, subtly altering the flavour and texture until you look back after twelve months…” Read More Here

So, my friends, as you start this new year, I would love to engage in a conversation with you regarding your local Messy Church.  What is going well?  What could be have gone better?  How can I hold you and your team in prayer?  Drop me a note or contact your Regional Coordinator.

For today, I pray this prayer that has been central in my morning routine of awakening to God’s presence.

New every morning is your love, great God of light, and all day long you are working for good in the world. Stir up in us desire to serve you, to live peacefully with our neighbors and all your creation, and to devote each day to your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, Amen

(The Worshipbook: Services and Hymns, (The Westminster Press 1970m 1972)

May you experience God’s light and love holding you and leading you into 2020. Happy 2020 my friends.

Grace and peace,
Roberta
roberta@messychurchusa.org

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

Messy Kid Chronicles

December Blog Post from Lindsey Goodyear

Last month, I had the pleasure of sitting down with five different adults, of all age groups, and listening to incredible testimonies of their journey through Messy Church. The fact that they were open enough to put their own private feelings out there for the world to read filled me with such gratitude. I love seeing how Messy Church impacts the life of others and, with them telling their stories, others can now hear it as well! And, although they were all captivating interviews, it did leave me wondering what the youth of our congregation would have to say about their own experiences with Messy Church. So, this month, I decided to sit down with four different kids, between the ages of 4 and 11 and ask them all the same questions. I was met with some of the sweetest, funniest, most blunt answers I’ve ever received in an interview! It was a riot! I love the innocent, unfiltered, unbiased answers we get when we talk about God with kids. We can learn a lot from their blind faith. So, without further ado, please enjoy some words about Messy Church out of the mouths of babes.

Name: Jax
Age: 4
Number of years attending Messy Church: 2

Lindsey (LG): What do you remember about your first Messy Church?
Jax (J): I don’t know anything about that.

LG: That’s okay. What has been your favorite Messy Church?
J: The water slide one.

LG: Really? How come?
J: Because I liked going down the slide and next time I’m going to do flips, stand up, and slide on my knees.

LG: Wow, that sounds fun! How about you tell me your favorite meal at Messy Church?
J: I would like it if they had bread and I could put butter on it!

LG: I would love that too. Do you remember any stories you’ve learned at Messy Church?
J: Ms. Leyla says that sometimes you see Jesus laying in that little thing He likes.

LG: Do you mean the manger?
J: What’s a manger?

LG: That little bed He had when he was born.
J: Oh, yeah. But, He’s dead, you know?

LG: I do know that but He’s alive in our hearts, right?
J: Yes, and so is God!

LG: That’s right! How about your favorite Messy Church song?
J: Welcome Everybody!

LG: That’s a good one! If there was one thing you could change about Messy Church what would it be?
J: Sing a new song at Messy Church for prayer.

LG: Why a new song?
J: I just do.

LG: Well, maybe we can work on that. Thanks for the interview!
J: Okay.

Name: Kellan
Age: 7
Number of years attending Messy Church: 2

Lindsey (LG): What do you remember about your first Messy Church?
Kellan (K): At first I was super scared but then I remember it was super fun!

LG: What has been your favorite Messy Church?
K: Christmas.

LG: Why, what did you do?
K: Played lots of games, went inside the church, and Ms. Marty said some stuff about the Bible. Messy Church is super fun and amazing!

LG: I agree! What’s your favorite meal at Messy Church?
K: Spaghetti because I like spaghetti!

LG: Me too! Do you remember any stories you’ve learned at Messy Church?
K: About that little guy.

LG: Zaccheus?
K: Yes!

LG: What do you remember about him?
K: He took people’s money and then Jesus came so he gave them their money back.

LG: That’s right! Have you learned anything new about God or praying at Messy Church?
K: Yes, I learned that if you’re praying and you are driving a car, Don’t close your eyes to pray because you’ll crash!

LG: That’s a good takeaway! What’s your favorite Messy Church song?
K: Welcome everybody.

LG: Great one! If there was one thing you could change about Messy Church, what would it be?
K: The time.

LG: Why is that?
K: So we could go to Messy Church sooner!

LG: Agreed!

2019 Christmas Messy Church
Community United Methodist, Huntington Beach, CA

Name: Zazie
Age: 10
Number of Years Attending Messy Church: 6 years

Lindsey (LG): What do you remember about your first Messy Church?
Zazie (Z): I came here because we got invited by my friend and I was really shy at that point because I didn’t know anyone except the friend who invited me. The first craft I remember is making a wooden Jesus with a cross.

LG: I remember that craft, too! What has been your favorite Messy Church?
Z: My favorite Messy Church was the Messy Pets. I got a little metal medallion to hang off his cage.

LG: Who is he?
Z: Skyler, my pet rabbit.

LG: Very cool! How about your favorite meal at Messy Church?
Z: The one where we had it catered by the steakhouse. It was an 11 out of 10! It was an amazing meal and I had my mom bring me to that same restaurant the next night!

LG: You’re right, it was a great meal! Do you remember any stories you’ve learned at Messy Church?
Z: The one with the crown of thorns. I remember that Marty had the crown of thorns in her hand. It obviously wasn’t the real crown of thorns but I remember her having it. There were people who came and acted the story out which is my favorite.

LG: I agree. Sometimes it’s easier to understand the story when someone acts it out.
Z: Yes!

LG: Have you learned anything new about God or praying at Messy Church?
Z: I write down what I’m thankful for, which I started at Messy Church. I do it all of the time. I even show it in my artwork.

LG: Wow! That’s really cool. Do you have a favorite Messy Church song?
Z: “Da Da Da Dum” song! I even sing it in the shower!

LG: Ha! That’s awesome! I also like our Messy Grace song. If there was one thing you could change about Messy Church, what would it be?
Z: Maybe take away those gates and open it up again.

LG: Why is that?
Z: Because there’s something special about being in the sanctuary so I can’t wait to go back in!

*Note: Community United Methodist Church is getting a huge remodel. For the time being, we are unable to have our celebration portion of Messy Church in the sanctuary. The construction is guarded by gates and this is what Zazie is referring to.

Name: Zachary
Age: 11
Number of Years Attending Messy Church: 7 years

Lindsey (LG): What do you remember about your first Messy Church?
Zachary (Z): They all kind of blend together but I remember liking the sensory tables with all of the beads.

LG: Yes! The sensory tables are fun. What has been your favorite Messy Church?
Z: I like the pets Messy Church. That’s really fun!

LG: Why is it your favorite?
Z: I’m not sure. Probably because you get to bring stuff.

LG: What kind of stuff?
Z: Like pets.

LG: Which pets have you brought?
Z: We brought the bunny, we’ve brought the chickens, our lizard, and also our dog, Jewel.

LG: Wow! That’s lots of pets! How about your favorite meal at Messy Church?
Z: I like when they did the meat chili with the ground beef. That was really good!

LG: Do you remember any stories you’ve learned at Messy Church?
Z: The one I remember the most is the smart dude that built his house on the rock and the not so smart dude that built it on the sand. Then the earthquakes came and the not so smart dude’s house fell down.

LG: I love the wise and foolish builders, also. Have you learned anything new about God or praying at Messy Church?
Z: Hmm…Well I learned how to pray there!

LG: You did?
Z: Yes. I didn’t really know how to before.

LG: That’s awesome! What’s your favorite Messy Church song?
Z: The “Da Da Da Dum” song!

LG: Our Messy Grace song?
Z: Yep!

LG: Great choice! Is there anything you would change about Messy Church?
Z: Yeah, I wish the time you get to do stuff was a little longer. Like, all the crafts and stuff.

LG: Me too. Thanks, Zachary!

Lindsey Goodyear and her family attend Messy Church at Community UMC
in Hungtington Beach, CA..
You can reach her at lindseygoodyear@gmail.com

Messy Advent Waiting

By Roberta J. Egli 

Messy Advent Blessing

May the stories you tell, the people you meet, the ways you fill your days during this season bring you closer to Bethlehem. May your heart be full of kindness and compassion, may you say thank you and I’m sorry often. May you find the courage to be brave like Mary, to say yes to God wherever God is calling you, remembering that on your journey, there will be darkness and there will be light, but that God is always with you. Amen

~Aaron Jenkyn, Epiphany Messy Church, Newport, NH

Little did I expect that this Advent reflection would still be on my computer three weeks later. The plan was to send it out at the beginning of Advent but December has not gone according to my plan. The goals for December was to confirm Messy Church trainings for 2020, intensively plan the web registration for the Celebrate the Mess conference in October 2020 and to clean up my files that have been out of control since September.

However, life happened and much of my time these past several weeks have been spent waiting. Waiting in an emergency room with my husband for five hours for him to be seen for a worsening toe infection. Waiting to get results of an MRI to see if the infection was included the bone. Waiting for a ‘real room’ in the hospital rather than the no-window dreary observation room. Waiting for the advice of medical specialists for treatment. Waiting for the surgeon to walk through the recovery room doors to give me the results of his surgery. Waiting for the order that Lynn could go home. One thing I have learned is that I am not very good at waiting! 

Waiting is difficult. Advent is a season of waiting.  Was there some hidden Advent message in all of the waiting these past weeks? 

Lynn is at home now and recovering well. Life is beginning to resemble our normal daily rhythm. I now have the time and energy to reflect a bit on what I have learned through waiting this Advent.

  • God is with us as we wait. The Spirit of God is as close as our breath.  When I became anxious and impatient as I waited, I remembered to take a deep breath in and out. Simply focusing and praying with my breath helped to center me and remind me that God was present in all of the waiting. As the Advent blessing from quoted above, “…on your journey, there will be darkness and there will be light, but that God is always with you.”
  • Waiting creates community. We had been sent to the Emergency Room by Lynn’s physician so we thought we would receive care soon after arriving. However, we waited for five hours and created community with all of the patients and families who were waiting. I heard stories and connected with a diverse group of people. We became the waiting community who kept inviting others to join in through sharing their stories as they awaited care. Telling our stories is how community is formed. I wonder how we share stories in our Messy Churches as we form community.
  • Waiting brings unexpected gifts. I was reminded of all of the many new friends Messy Church has brought into my life through all the global Facebook messages we received. Knowing that friends all over the world were praying for us brought us joy as we waited. We were forced to slow down from our busy lives for several weeks. This new pace has brought a new appreciation of the true gifts of Christmas.
Advent # 3

I invite you to take a moment to pause in your busy day as you prepare for Christmas. Breath in God’s love…Breathe out your request.

Pause and once again slowly read the Advent Blessing from Aaron Jenkyn.

May the stories you tell, the people you meet, the ways you fill your days during this season bring you closer to Bethlehem.

May your heart be full of kindness and compassion, may you say thank you and I’m sorry often.

May you find the courage to be brave like Mary, to say yes to God wherever God is calling you, remembering that on your journey, there will be darkness and there will be light, but that God is always with you.

Amen

May you experience God’s presence in unexpected places today.

Grace and peace,
Roberta

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

Give Thanks…Messy Church Changes Lives…David’s Story

From BRF Appeal

Messy Church not only changes the lives of those who find their way to attend, the lives of the many volunteers are also changed. In the last five years Messy Church has given David a whole new lease of live and an unexpected chance to use and develop his gifts. Listen to his story and then donate to support the global movement of Messy Church.

As you gather to give thanks over this holiday weekend, please support the global movement of Messy Church. Messy Church USA will give 50% of any donations received on our website directly to Bible Reading Fellowship, the home for the global Messy Church movement. Donate Here 

Thank you for making a differene in the lives of people all over the world by supporting Messy Church!   Happy Thanksgiving from Messy Church USA!

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

Messy Family Chronicles

By Lindsey Goodyear

Once a month I sit down to write about the experience I’ve had at the previous Messy Church. In all honesty, I’ve had some pretty incredible, and definitely eye opening, adventures there. God never wastes an opportunity for me to learn new lessons from His ancient wise words, no matter how many times I’ve heard them. Just when I think I know a verse inside and out, I’m thrown for a total loop and find that His word is, once again, speaking to whatever heaviness is currently weighing on me. It happens every time! This got me thinking…If I’m having these awe-inspiring experiences at Messy Church, what are my peers walking away with? Since one of the five Messy Church values are “all ages” (every element should be relevant and accessible to all ages), I thought it would be a nice change to ask questions of four different age groups, all at different stages in life, the same series of questions and see what their Messy Church experiences are like. So, without further hesitation, please enjoy my conversations with five outstanding Messy members from Community United Methodist Church in Huntington Beach, CA.

Name: Hannah Wagner
Age: 24
Kids: None
Years Attending: 4

How did you first hear about Messy Church?

HW: I was already a member of Community United Methodist Church in Huntington Beach and I was looking for alternative ways to worship.

How has attending Messy Church impacted your life?

HW: It has really helped me build a strong community as well as a connection with different families. I work with young children and I think it’s really important to get to know the community you’re working in.

What is it that keeps you coming back?

HW: Without a doubt, the bonds and friendships I’ve formed.

Can you give a favorite memory?

HW: My favorite is always the Messy Church where pets attend. I love it because we get to see the furry parts of the families that attend, which we normally don’t see. It’s also my dog, Carl’s, favorite Messy Church!

What would you like to see in the future at Messy Church?

HW: Our Messy Church is very young family centered, which is awesome, but it would be very cool to see more young adults attending that just want to engage and worship with other people in their community.

“Coming once a month has added personal and theological benefits…too many to mention.  It has also created community, for me, with parents and for James, with his friends.

James Torres

Name: James Torres
Age: Over 39
Kids: James Jr (5)
Years Attending: 2

How did you first hear about Messy Church?

JT: I read a story in the OC Register about Messy Church. Then, in October of 2017, I was invited by Leyla Wagner and Marty Drake to the first ever USA Messy Church conference at CUMC. I met the British founder, Lucy Moore, as well as others in leadership that are based in England and the United States. I sat in on excellent seminars and terrific testimonials. I have now taken James Jr. religiously every month for two years. James Jr. loves Messy Church, and so do I.

How has attending Messy Church impacted your life?

JT: Coming once a month has added personal and theological benefits…too many to mention. It has also created community, for me, with parents and for James, with his friends.

What is it that keeps you coming back?

JT: Leyla, Marty, the parents, plus, my kid loves it. Leyla Wagner was my son’s preschool teacher at CUMC. She and the other instructors at CUMC preschool and the CUMC Messy Church are terrific. I love the fact that all of those who care for and instruct small children at CUMC and Messy Church are women who love Jesus.

Can you give a favorite memory?

JT: I love anytime the kids pray or sing a Jesus based or holiday song.

What would you like to see in the future at Messy Church?

JT: Leyla Wagner mentioned she wants to see more people transformed by God’s word. In my opinion, that’s a good goal. (P.S. I would like to add that I very much enjoy the writing efforts of Lindsey Goodyear. She has a gifting from the Lord for sharing God’s love in the context of reporting, art, and story.)

LG: Thank you, James!

Name: Justin and Nicole Brown
Age: 37, 41
Kids: Two kids (6,8)
Years Attending: Since the start

How did you first hear about Messy Church?

J&NB: We heard about it from Leyla Wagner and Marty Drake as well as through the preschool (we were parents of preschoolers at the time).

How has attending Messy Church impacted your life?

J&NB: It gives us one evening per month we can count on as a family to worship God in a fun and creative way while also being in the company of like-minded families/people. Not to mention, a sit down meal that we didn’t slave over and can eat while it’s still warm!

NB: Also no dishes and I come home to a clean kitchen!

What is it that keeps you coming back?

J&NB: The bonding time with family and like-minded friends. Also, just when we think Messy Church can’t get better, it does. Constantly. This reflects the heart and soul of the ones who tirelessly pour their hearts and time into this labor of love month after month.

Can you give a favorite memory?

JB: I loved going to Shipley Nature Center.

NB: I asked our kids what their favorite part was and I was expecting to hear answers like, “playing with our friends,” “crafts,” or “dessert” but I was wrong. When my sweet boy was five years old, he said his favorite part of Messy Church was, “when we just spend time together and do crafts as a family.”

What would you like to see in the future at Messy Church?

J&NB: We’d love to see healthier food alternatives as well as more outreach that is family focused.

I love helping with Messy Church because I enjoy being around children.  It gives me great pleasure to witness them having such a fun evening, learning about God through crafts and scripture.

Jan Rutkowski, 70 years young

Name: Jan Rutkowski
Age: 70
Kids: 2 adult children
Years Attending: 5 years

How did you first hear about Messy Church?

JR: The church I attend had started a Messy Church 6 or 7 years ago so as a parishioner I was aware we would hold Messy Church on our church campus.

How has attending Messy Church impacted your life?

JR: I love helping with Messy Church because I enjoy being around children. It gives me great pleasure to witness them having such a fun evening, learning about God through crafts and scripture.

What is it that keeps you coming back?

JR: It is so rewarding being part of a community mission that is spreading the word of God to families that may not attend traditional worship services.

Can you give a favorite memory?

JR: One of my favorite memories is when we did our first Messy Church baptism. It was a beautiful moment as some of our attendees had not witnessed a baptism. Then something funny happened. It was held at the fountain in our courtyard and the little boy I was sitting next to thought the child was going to be submerged in the small space so I reassured him that was not going to happen.

What would you like to see in the future at Messy Church?

JR: I would like to see our attendance grow but I’d also like to see more churches start their own Messy Church program to help keep the word of God alive and relevant in our world today.

From Roberta J. Egli, Executive Director of Messy Church USA

Your donation to Messy Church USA through the end of 2019 will enable us to reach more and more families throughout the world. We support the global movement by passing on 50% of your gift to Bible Reading Fellowship, the UK charity that is the home for the global Messy Church movement.  Donating through our Messy Church USA website will allow you to receive a receipt for tax purposes here in the United States. I invite you to make a gift to support Messy Church around the world. You can donate at https://messychurchusa.org/donate/.  Thanks for your support, Roberta 

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

Give Thanks…Messy Church Changes Lives

During this month of Thanksgiving, you are invited to give thanks that Messy Church is changing lives.  Did you know that 61% of Messy Church families wouldn’t otherwise be at church except for their Messy Church? Or that 40% of Messy Church families have had little or no prior contact with church? Or that 81% of Messy Church leaders see evidence of lives changed through their Messy Church? (Statistics from Playfully Serious)

Patricia’s Story

Complex PTSD had ‘taken over’ Patricia’s life. When her children returned from foster care, she needed somewhere to go where they would all feel welcome…Messy Church changed her life. Listen to her story and then donate to support the global movement of Messy Church. 

Listen to Patricia’s Story

How have you experienced changed lives through Messy Church?  We want to hear your story! For the remainder of 2019,  Messy Church USA will give 50% of any donations received on our website directly to Bible Reading Fellowship, the home for the global Messy Church movement.

Donate Here

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

Welcome Our New Regional Coordinators for Maryland and Tennessee

We are grateful for our two new Messy Church USA Regional Coordinators. Please take a minute to read about their full and ministry filled lives, give God thanks for their willingness to say yes to this new role and pray for the churches in their regions they will serve.

Maryland
We are happy to announce that Melanie Rodriguez of Columbia, Maryland has said “YES” to becoming the regional coordinator for the state of Maryland. Melanie and her family have been involved at St John Lutheran Church since 2004 and in that time has served as Sunday School Teacher, Lay pastor and more recently the organizer for their Messy Church.

Prior to her involvement at St John’s Lutheran, Melanie served in lay ministry at several Roman Catholic and Episcopal Churches so she brings a breath of experience to her new role. In addition, Melanie organized and led a homeschool cooperative, as she homeschooled her own children, that eventually grew to include over one hundred and fifty students. It all started with teaching a science class to a group of homeschool girl scouts!

Melanie has also worked for two different public library systems, specializing in children’s programming for all ages. In that work she mentored volunteers, parents and caregivers in presenting stories to young children. Since her ‘retirement’ from homeschooling, she has been working with the Refugee Youth Project mentoring individual children and families during her involvement in an afterschool program. Currently, she working at improving her Spanish Language skills.

Melanie us excited about using her organizational and networking skills to share the story of Messy Church in a wider context than her local church. You can reach Melanie at melanie@messychurchusa.org.

Welcome Melanie!

Tennessee
The Rev. Will Conner is serving the state of Tennessee as one of our newest regional coordinators. Will is a proud father, husband and pastor in The United Methodist Church where he serves in the small town of Decatur, Tennessee. Will leads two traditional Churches, is the director of the Meigs Country Cooperative Will also serves as the past chair of alumni board for the Candler School of Theology where he earned an M.Div. in 2012. Additionally, Will is a volunteer with the local chapter of the Boys and Girls Club.

Since Will discovered the world of Messy Church in 2018, he has been passionate about exploring fresh ways to connect new people with the life changing love of Jesus. His church discovered Messy Church as a key way for them to do this very thing. Will enjoys connecting other faith communities with Messy Church and is eager to serve by helping connect new and existing Messy Churches in Tennessee. If you are looking for a great community introduction to Messy Church, check out Will’s video on the Decatur Church website.

Will enjoys spending free time riding bicycles with his family. Life is about to get a little crazier and more joy filled, because Will and his wife, Hope, are eagerly expecting their third child in January. 

Contact Will at will@messychurchusa.org

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

Time to Give Thanks…Messy Church is Changing Lives

By Roberta J. Egli, Executive Director Messy Church USA

During this month in which we celebrate Thanksgiving, I invite you to give thanks that Messy Church is changing lives. Did you know that 61% of Messy Church families wouldn’t otherwise be at church except for their Messy Church? Or that 40% of Messy Church families have had little or no prior contact with church? Or that 81% of Messy Church leaders see evidence of lives changed through their Messy Church? (Playfully Serious, Church Army, February 2019)

I give thanks for Bible Reading Fellowship (BRF), the home for the global Messy Church movement! With the help of the wider BRF staff, the Messy Church team from BRF creates a constant supply of imaginative new ideas and resources, supports a significant online community and develops new ways to grow the impact of Messy Churches.

I give thanks that two years ago, BRF signed an agreement with a new nonprofit organization, Messy Church USA, welcoming us as a partner and supporting our mission to equip local churches to start, sustain and connect across the USA. In two years, Messy Church USA has registered over 160 messy churches from 17 denominations on our website, we have expanded our Regional Coordinator network from 3 to 20 across the United States. In 2019 we have held 10 regional Getting Started in Messy Church events training over 125 churches and 400 individuals. Let us give God thanks!

I give thanks for the stories that have been shared over the last few weeks from the BRF annual £100 appeal. The appeal is for Messy Churches all over the world to donate £100 so that more families find their way to church. In support of the global movement of Messy Church, Messy Church USA will give back to BRF 50% of any donations received on our website for the remainder of 2019. Listen to how Patricia and her children find a place to belong at Messy Church which changed their lives. 

Watch Her Story Here

Your donation to Messy Church USA through the end of 2019 will enable us to reach more and more families throughout the world. In the USA, we will continue to build our network of trainings and regional coordinators to support, sustain and connect Messy Churches. Remember that we will give 50 % of any donations we receive directly to Messy Church/BRF for the remainder of 2019. Donating through our Messy Church USA website will allow you to receive a receipt for tax purposes here in the United States.

Thanks for your generosity in supporting the mission of Messy Church to change lives.

Donate Here

Happy Thanksgiving,

Roberta