Messy Family Chronicles

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

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