A Blog Post by Steve Kim
“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?”Steve Kim
“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.