Messy Church International (MCIC) 2019 Reflections
Part 2 of 4
Roberta J. Egli
A big takeaway that I came home with came from the opening session of the MCIC 2019 conference. In reflecting on the past, present and future of the Messy Church Movement, Lucy shared the idea that…Messy Church is a gift that is given to the universal church. The gift is given freely to be used in small and large churches, rural and urban settings, from a small village in England to the large metropolis of Los Angeles. Messy Church is a gift!
Looking back, we are a very young movement. In April 2019, Messy Church turned 15 years old…we are a teenager and very young in the long life of the Christian church. According to Lucy, from the very start of Messy Church, there has been a common value of listening…listening deeply to God and to one another.
For today, Lucy challenged us to stop using the term ‘just’. I am ‘just’ a volunteer at Messy Church…I am ‘just’ a lay leader…I ‘just’ help with the meal at Messy Church, etc. She effectively banned us from using the word “just” for the weekend. Rather than humbly saying ‘just’ we were to boldly proclaim that we are all instrumental in re-imagining what church can be. We are using our unique gifts to build on the past to be the church for today and to become the church of the future.
Ban the word “just” from your vocabulary…rather than saying “I just sweep up after Messy Church each month, boldly proclaim the gifts that you bring and use to make Messy Church what it is.Lucy Moore, Opening Session of MCIC 2019 (not a verbatim quote but shared in the spirit of what she said)
As for where we are going, the idea that Messy Church is a gift to the universal church is a message of hope. In my years of leading a local church, I have attended a variety of church conferences where we have commiserated over the doomsday predictions of the death of the church. How inspiring it was to engage in conversations regarding the gifts of Messy Church for today and for a joyous future.
I wrote in my notes– “it is not about competing with the traditional church but about blessing the traditional church with the gift of Messy Church.” What a wonderful way to view Messy Church! What are the concrete ways Messy Church is blessing the universal church?
Throughout the weekend, these are a few of the gifts that I discovered: Stories of hope where relationships were built through simple table activities, in the analysis of the 2 year research project completed by Church Army titled, Playfully Serious,(look for more posts about that later),and through listening, asking and discovering new ways to be an intergenerational movement filled with joyful abundance.
At the end of her talk, Lucy placed a simple wooden cross that was created at the closing worship at the first international Messy Church conference three years ago at the center of the stage and asked shared these final reflections.
- The horizontal arms of the cross point outward…How are we being called to resources of hope reaching outward to the broader church and the greater world?
- The vertical cross points upward reminding us to be open to God’s Inspired Breath that has brought Messy Church into a movement. How do we as a movement continue to listen to God, listen to one another and trust God in Messy Church?
- The vertical cross points downward reminding us of the call to deepen our lives of faith. How is Messy Church being called to plumb the depths of intergenerational discipleship? How is God leading us into the depths of re-imagining the church for today?
Much food for thought! My question for you—How are you sharing the gift of Messy Church to your local community and to the broader universal church?
Messy Blessings, Roberta