Roberta J. Egli
” If church is about loving God and loving each other and transforming the world in partnership with (God) and with each other, can we achieve that best by splitting up or learning to live together…an all-age church reflects the very nature of a diverse yet unified God. It demonstrates the integration of generations to which society as a whole can aspire, thus challenging the worldview that splits off generations from each other in fear and hostility. It is the way that Christians have celebrated their faith for centuries. It is the best way of growing disciples.”Lucy Moore
Six years ago, I was perusing the internet, looking for ways for the church I served to more actively engage with our neighbors, when I first discovered a Messy Church video. I immediately felt a connection and remember showing the video of Lucy Moore explaining Messy Church as she walked down a street. I shared that video with as many people from the church that I could corner for a few minutes. What a brilliant yet simple idea to teach about the love of God through bringing people of all ages together through games, activities, and crafts all based on a biblical story. To top it off, there was an all age interactive time to hear the bible story, pray, all ending with a simple meal where everyone gathers around a table.
For many years, churches have been doing many of the elements of Messy Church but foundational value of bringing all ages together for the entire time both intrigued and challenged me. I was drawn to the vision all intergenerational spiritual formation but I was challenged when I thought about how it would work.
Wouldn’t it be chaotic to have toddlers, preschoolers, moms, dads, aunts, single adults, uncles, teenagers, grandmas and grandpas all together in one space? How could one find an activity or share a story that would speak to the diversity of ages? Could different ages from 0-70 really learn about God all in one space? These questions continue to arise when I spend time training and coaching the startup of Messy Church throughout the USA. The other questions that quickly follow are ‘how’ do you plan for all ages and ‘where’ do you find activities?
If these questions arise in your Messy Church teams, I highly recommend purchasing Messy Togetherness by Martyn Payne. The book is divided into three parts; 1) Why we are intergenerational at Messy Church, 2) How to be intergenerational during the activity time, celebration worship time and meal time in Messy Church and 3) Curriculum for three Messy Church sessions highlighting the value of all-ages together.
Here are a few tidbits from Martyn in regards to the act of Creating Together at Messy Church.
It takes an intentional invitation form the table leaders to involve the adults with the children…whoever is leading the craft or activity table needs to be enthusiastic… when putting together a craft idea, don’t have it all ‘done and dusted’ but invite those who are creating their ideas of how to proceed…it’s not the finished product that matters; it’s the engagement in the creativity that’s important…remember that the making and doing things together is part of the teaching and learning process of Messy Church.
As I read through the book, I began to realize that not every activity had to reach every age but that in planning for Messy Church, it was important to keep the entirety of the time in perspective. I found Martyn’s creative checklist valuable when planning each Messy Church experience. Remember as you read through this list that some of them can be combined.
- Something crafty and simple
- Something cooperative and large
- Something crafty and complicated
- Something culinary
- Something ‘cool’ ( such as a science experiment)
- Something chaotic and very messy
- Something construction-based
- Something challenging, in the form of a game
- Something that involves colouring (via UK spell check) and collating
- Something conversational that gets people talking
- Something relaxing ( a reflective activity or prayer space)
- Something community- linked( social action or fundraising)
- Something concrete and word-based
- Something cultural, connecting to faith around the world
All of the activity resources found in the Get Messy! magazine and the books have taken into consideration this perspective of all ages so be sure to use those great resources. Be sure to adapt to your setting as you need. Here is one more link from the Messy Churches of the Netherlands with their top tips to keep Church intergenerational.
“Intergenerational is not something churches do-it’s something they become”Brenda Snailum
One more thing…as the quote above suggests, Messy Church is a time of “being with” those of all ages who come rather than a program where we are ‘doing things for’ others. I look forward to hearing your stories of how your Messy Churches are becoming intergenerational. Messy Blessings, Roberta
Messy Church International Conference (MCIC 2019) May 3-5, 2019
Have you made plans yet to attend the awesome opportunity in May 2019? Do not delay! Registration is now open and places are expected to fill quickly! The first conference in 2016 was AWESOME! It was great fun to meet Messy Church people from all over the world! This is an unmissable opportunity. Click here for more information and to register.
We are pleased to announce that there are some partial scholarships available for MCIC 2019 from Messy Church USA. Click here for the application.
“What is Messy Church?” monthly Zoom webinar begins this month
Do you have people ask you the question, “What is Messy Church”? Perhaps you have heard that question from members of your own church or from churches in your denomination or neighborhood who have heard about your great Messy Church and want to learn more. Starting on June 28th, Roberta will be holding a “What is Messy Church?” zoom webinar on the 4th Thursday of the month starting at 8:30 am Pacific time. Instruct your friends to register here.
Messy Church Amazon Kindle Sale
Are you always sharing your one copy of Messy Church? Now is your opportunity to stock up on the Kindle version. IVP will be running a special on the Kindle version of Messy Church. It will be just $3.99 from June 14-20. Click here to order but remember the sale starts June 14th.
Getting Started in Messy Church Upcoming Team Trainings
Check out the upcoming Getting Started one day training on our website. There is training in Federal WA on August 25th from 9-3 and one in Huntington Beach, CA on October 6th. Look for training this fall in Texas and South Carolina. More details coming soon!