Stories of How Messy Churches are reaching their communities now
Curated by Roberta Egli
Messy Church USA…Forming Community while Physically Distant
One of the great joys in my role at Messy Church USA is to discover how people are innovating and adapting Messy Church to their own specific context. During these past three months, as we have physically distanced due to Covid-19, you have used a variety of ways to engage with your Messy Church communities. Well done!
To equip you to sustain your Messy Church (MC) during this weird pandemic time, I am the stories of two different churches. They have adapted their MC to meet the needs of their communities. First the story from Barb Tegtmeier from Christ United Methodist in Albuquerque, NM followed by a story from Dori Fotsch, Marie Reyes, and Jill Elsemore of Thousand Oaks United Methodist in Thousand Oaks, CA.
30- Minute Weekly Zoom from Albuquerque, NM
Our weekly 30-minute Zoom Messy Church came about accidentally…or maybe not. I recorded and posted a MC message for the first “real MC” in April. Our MC congregation liked it, but missed not seeing each other. So, the thought came to me to try getting together every Saturday at our normal start time of 4:00 for just 30 minutes based on several webinars which suggested to keep online sermons, etc. shorter than normal because it is too easy to lose people’s attention. The most amazing things started happening once I announced the new weekly plan.
One family who attends regularly doesn’t usually have a chance to take any leadership role…(however a) Mom asked to come up with an activity involving food to combine those two elements of MC that people were missing. The story was Adam and Eve and she planned (a food activity…with proper protection (we)put together bags with the ingredients then joined in a parade of two to deliver the activity packets to our MC family’s doorsteps Saturday morning. The kids got to do something they loved and also were able to see people who are normally at MC from their car seats. (She) led the activity online before we did a Celebration message.
Another benefit of MC online is that attendees can invite family and friends around the country to join us for just 30 minutes. We (met a cousin from) Nebraska this Saturday who invited all of us on a road trip to go visit them.
On-site physically distanced activity, at home activities and a 30-minute Zoom to FB live Celebration in Thousand Oaks, CA
The team from Thousand Oaks (TO) United Methodist, were ambitious as they adapted their Messy Church for the Covid- 19 pandemic. The theme was Soul on Fire!, based on the story of Pentecost from Acts 2. Prior to the Saturday 30-minute Zoom to Facebook Live celebration, they both delivered bags of craft activities and created an outline for a dove banner at the church. People dropped by the church to add their thumb prints to a beautiful dove banner while maintaining physical distance.
The bilingual TO MC used both live and previously recorded videos to share music, scripture readings, a skit and prayer during their gathered together live zoom to Facebook celebration. As they gathered on their Zoom to Facebook live event on Saturday afternoon, they focused on the scripture of Pentecost when people were confused as they began to speak in multiple languages.
Jesus O., a high school senior who attends TO MC, created a video of a variety of people praying the Lord’s prayer in their language that was used during their celebration time. Seeing and hearing the Lord’s Prayer in English, Spanish, Farci, Korean and Sign Language brought the message to life for today’s context. Messy Church USA is grateful that TO MC graciously gave us permission to use their video in our contribution to the Messy Global Adventure on May 21st.
Following their May MC, families have been sharing pictures of their at home activities on the TO MC Facebook page. What a wonderfully creative way to keep Messy Church families engaged with one another even though they are unable to gather in person!
Messy Church NOW Opportunity
On Tuesday June 30th, you will have an opportunity to discover three more models of how Messy churches have adapted their gatherings to be safe for all. Messy Church USA NOW is a 90-minute webinar that will engage you and your team in ways you can reach out to your Messy Church community.
For now, I would love to hear how you are adapting your Messy Church. Send me your stories to share with others and some pictures!
Grace and Peace, Roberta