Highlights from Messy Church NOW Webinar

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Highlights from Messy Church NOW Webinar

Logo Messy Church NOW

We had a great representation from all over the USA at the recent Messy Church NOW zoom webinar.  Messy Church leaders representing 25 churches from 16 different states and 5 denominations signed on to hear Jennifer May, Johannah Myers and Leyla Wagner share what they have learned in facilitating their Messy Church in a physically distanced world. 

Highlights from presentations

Jennifer used her teacher expertise to create a google slide show with recorded videos, activities and games that she emailed to her Messy Folk to use at home at their convenience. To keep the experience interactive, she provided a ‘would you rather’ game at the beginning that is the usual start to their in-person Messy Church. She vulnerably shared that it was difficult for her to get past her anxiety of seeing herself on a recording at the beginning which resonated with many of us on the zoom call. Taking risks and placing ourselves into new situations can be an uncomfortable experience. Jennifer leads Messy Church at Freysville Emmanuel United Church of Christ in rural Red Lyon, PA.

Leyla shared how their Messy Church has evolved as they have learned from each iteration of their Messy Church.  Their first COVID-19 Messy Church was a 15-minute zoom celebration worship that ended up lasting almost 45 minutes because people were so happy to see each other.  Since then, they have kept adapting their monthly on-line Messy Church. Their most recent Messy Church included an introduction video from their pastor emailed out one week prior, an activity bag that people came to the church parking lot to pick up, and a zoom community Messy Church that included doing activities together,  worship with favorite songs, and break out rooms to share reflections from questions. Leyla is from Community United Methodist in Huntington Beach, CA. favorite songs.

Johannah kept their first on-line zoom Messy Church short and simple.  The scripture story from Children of God Storybook Bible by Archbishop Desmond Tutu was read by Johannah after a time of welcome.  After the story, Johannah led everyone through making a hat of flaming tongues of fire out of a paper place, scissors and colored pencils and folding an origami dove from one piece of paper. Keeping the supply list simple was important.  To connect Messy Folk with Sunday morning worship, people were encouraged to drop off their origami doves at the church which were then placed in the worship space for the Sunday traditional recorded worship. Although the Messy Church zoom crowd was a bit smaller than their usual in-person Messy Church, those who participated ranged in age from toddler to over 70 years… a truly intergenerational experience!  Johannah is from Aldersgate United Methodist in Greenville, SC.

Some Messy Church NOW Ideas for you

Throughout the presentations and after, the chat room was busy with people sharing their own experiences of how they have continued to bring their Messy Church communities together over the past four months. Here are a few evaluation responses to the question, what are you key takeaways?  

  • We are all in the same boat. We try things and adjust accordingly. None of us has the “perfect” answer, we just keep working at it to reach people and have connection. 🙂
  • We had not considered recording our event so people who cannot attend live could come. What a great idea. As well as the ideas for how to share their crafts if they aren’t live with us.
  • Ideas, but most of all hope and strength – not in this aloneI

We are planning more webinars for the future so that we can continue to connect as we all experiment with ways to adapt our Messy Church during this weird time in history. Share your stories with us via Facebook or email roberta@messychurchusa.org.

Messy Church USA logo and mission
Equipping Messy Churches to start, sustain and connect across the USA

Messy Kid Chronicles

December Blog Post from Lindsey Goodyear

Last month, I had the pleasure of sitting down with five different adults, of all age groups, and listening to incredible testimonies of their journey through Messy Church. The fact that they were open enough to put their own private feelings out there for the world to read filled me with such gratitude. I love seeing how Messy Church impacts the life of others and, with them telling their stories, others can now hear it as well! And, although they were all captivating interviews, it did leave me wondering what the youth of our congregation would have to say about their own experiences with Messy Church. So, this month, I decided to sit down with four different kids, between the ages of 4 and 11 and ask them all the same questions. I was met with some of the sweetest, funniest, most blunt answers I’ve ever received in an interview! It was a riot! I love the innocent, unfiltered, unbiased answers we get when we talk about God with kids. We can learn a lot from their blind faith. So, without further ado, please enjoy some words about Messy Church out of the mouths of babes.

Name: Jax
Age: 4
Number of years attending Messy Church: 2

Lindsey (LG): What do you remember about your first Messy Church?
Jax (J): I don’t know anything about that.

LG: That’s okay. What has been your favorite Messy Church?
J: The water slide one.

LG: Really? How come?
J: Because I liked going down the slide and next time I’m going to do flips, stand up, and slide on my knees.

LG: Wow, that sounds fun! How about you tell me your favorite meal at Messy Church?
J: I would like it if they had bread and I could put butter on it!

LG: I would love that too. Do you remember any stories you’ve learned at Messy Church?
J: Ms. Leyla says that sometimes you see Jesus laying in that little thing He likes.

LG: Do you mean the manger?
J: What’s a manger?

LG: That little bed He had when he was born.
J: Oh, yeah. But, He’s dead, you know?

LG: I do know that but He’s alive in our hearts, right?
J: Yes, and so is God!

LG: That’s right! How about your favorite Messy Church song?
J: Welcome Everybody!

LG: That’s a good one! If there was one thing you could change about Messy Church what would it be?
J: Sing a new song at Messy Church for prayer.

LG: Why a new song?
J: I just do.

LG: Well, maybe we can work on that. Thanks for the interview!
J: Okay.

Name: Kellan
Age: 7
Number of years attending Messy Church: 2

Lindsey (LG): What do you remember about your first Messy Church?
Kellan (K): At first I was super scared but then I remember it was super fun!

LG: What has been your favorite Messy Church?
K: Christmas.

LG: Why, what did you do?
K: Played lots of games, went inside the church, and Ms. Marty said some stuff about the Bible. Messy Church is super fun and amazing!

LG: I agree! What’s your favorite meal at Messy Church?
K: Spaghetti because I like spaghetti!

LG: Me too! Do you remember any stories you’ve learned at Messy Church?
K: About that little guy.

LG: Zaccheus?
K: Yes!

LG: What do you remember about him?
K: He took people’s money and then Jesus came so he gave them their money back.

LG: That’s right! Have you learned anything new about God or praying at Messy Church?
K: Yes, I learned that if you’re praying and you are driving a car, Don’t close your eyes to pray because you’ll crash!

LG: That’s a good takeaway! What’s your favorite Messy Church song?
K: Welcome everybody.

LG: Great one! If there was one thing you could change about Messy Church, what would it be?
K: The time.

LG: Why is that?
K: So we could go to Messy Church sooner!

LG: Agreed!

2019 Christmas Messy Church
Community United Methodist, Huntington Beach, CA

Name: Zazie
Age: 10
Number of Years Attending Messy Church: 6 years

Lindsey (LG): What do you remember about your first Messy Church?
Zazie (Z): I came here because we got invited by my friend and I was really shy at that point because I didn’t know anyone except the friend who invited me. The first craft I remember is making a wooden Jesus with a cross.

LG: I remember that craft, too! What has been your favorite Messy Church?
Z: My favorite Messy Church was the Messy Pets. I got a little metal medallion to hang off his cage.

LG: Who is he?
Z: Skyler, my pet rabbit.

LG: Very cool! How about your favorite meal at Messy Church?
Z: The one where we had it catered by the steakhouse. It was an 11 out of 10! It was an amazing meal and I had my mom bring me to that same restaurant the next night!

LG: You’re right, it was a great meal! Do you remember any stories you’ve learned at Messy Church?
Z: The one with the crown of thorns. I remember that Marty had the crown of thorns in her hand. It obviously wasn’t the real crown of thorns but I remember her having it. There were people who came and acted the story out which is my favorite.

LG: I agree. Sometimes it’s easier to understand the story when someone acts it out.
Z: Yes!

LG: Have you learned anything new about God or praying at Messy Church?
Z: I write down what I’m thankful for, which I started at Messy Church. I do it all of the time. I even show it in my artwork.

LG: Wow! That’s really cool. Do you have a favorite Messy Church song?
Z: “Da Da Da Dum” song! I even sing it in the shower!

LG: Ha! That’s awesome! I also like our Messy Grace song. If there was one thing you could change about Messy Church, what would it be?
Z: Maybe take away those gates and open it up again.

LG: Why is that?
Z: Because there’s something special about being in the sanctuary so I can’t wait to go back in!

*Note: Community United Methodist Church is getting a huge remodel. For the time being, we are unable to have our celebration portion of Messy Church in the sanctuary. The construction is guarded by gates and this is what Zazie is referring to.

Name: Zachary
Age: 11
Number of Years Attending Messy Church: 7 years

Lindsey (LG): What do you remember about your first Messy Church?
Zachary (Z): They all kind of blend together but I remember liking the sensory tables with all of the beads.

LG: Yes! The sensory tables are fun. What has been your favorite Messy Church?
Z: I like the pets Messy Church. That’s really fun!

LG: Why is it your favorite?
Z: I’m not sure. Probably because you get to bring stuff.

LG: What kind of stuff?
Z: Like pets.

LG: Which pets have you brought?
Z: We brought the bunny, we’ve brought the chickens, our lizard, and also our dog, Jewel.

LG: Wow! That’s lots of pets! How about your favorite meal at Messy Church?
Z: I like when they did the meat chili with the ground beef. That was really good!

LG: Do you remember any stories you’ve learned at Messy Church?
Z: The one I remember the most is the smart dude that built his house on the rock and the not so smart dude that built it on the sand. Then the earthquakes came and the not so smart dude’s house fell down.

LG: I love the wise and foolish builders, also. Have you learned anything new about God or praying at Messy Church?
Z: Hmm…Well I learned how to pray there!

LG: You did?
Z: Yes. I didn’t really know how to before.

LG: That’s awesome! What’s your favorite Messy Church song?
Z: The “Da Da Da Dum” song!

LG: Our Messy Grace song?
Z: Yep!

LG: Great choice! Is there anything you would change about Messy Church?
Z: Yeah, I wish the time you get to do stuff was a little longer. Like, all the crafts and stuff.

LG: Me too. Thanks, Zachary!

Lindsey Goodyear and her family attend Messy Church at Community UMC
in Hungtington Beach, CA..
You can reach her at lindseygoodyear@gmail.com

Messy Advent Resources

How are you preparing for advent at your Messy Church?

Sheep Trails, family advent wreaths, a coloring nativity and much more. Sometimes you may become overwhelmed with advent Messy Church opportunities. Johannah Myers, North and South Carolina Regional Coordinator and Messy Church leader for Aldersgate UMC in Greenville, SC started a Messy Church Sheep trail in her community several years ago.  Read her previous post to learn all about it!   Sheep Trail 

Advent is a wonderful opportunity to connect your Messy Church community and your Sunday morning community.  Are their activities that are traditional for your Sunday worship that you can bring to Messy Church?

On our Messy Church team leaders FB group page, people have been sharing various ideas for advent. Leyla Wagner, from Community UMC in Huntington Beach, CA shared “Something that we like to do is a Reverse Advent Box. We have families decorate a box to take home. Each day of advent, the family puts something (typically canned food or hygiene product) into the box and then donates the entire box to a local Food Pantry or Charity. It’s a good way to make space for “God” in all the busyness of preparing for Christmas.  

Advent offers great opportunities to bridge the worship at Messy Church with at home family devotions.  Check out the links of Advent ideas below and make sure to check out our FB Messy Church team leaders group page. 

Advent Links

Advent in a Box Resource

  • Robin Cannon, the RC for Ohio and our social media consultant for Messy Church USA is a partner in Family Ministry Tools which have created a wonderful resource called- Advent in a Box  It is a pizza box filled with all-age devotions and activities to help families celebrate Advent and prepare for Christmas. We have created the devotions and activities for your church. You will need to print the materials, buy the supplies, and pack your boxes. Everything a family will need to do the activities will be in the box (aside from normal household supplies like markers and tape). 
  • You can order individually or per size of your church. Check it out here. 

From Building Faith (Virginia Theological Seminary ) Website


Ideas from Messy Church USA Team Leaders Page

Other Links

We Remember and Give Thanks…A Messy Great Thanksgiving

by Roberta J. Egli

Written for Messy Church International Conference 2019 Closing Session

This specific Great Thanksgiving was written for the Messy Church session ” A Sticky Star in God’s Hand.”  A short chant was used that was taught prior to the beginning of the Great Thanksgiving prayer…’We re-member and give Thanks”. The chant was simple with only two notes, descending a half-step on  ‘re’ and ‘give’. You can contact me at Roberta@messychurchusa.org with any questions.   If you have an all-age Eucharist liturgy that you would like to share, please let me know. Grace and peace, Roberta


So, having heard the voice of Jesus, we turn away from everything that comes between us and him. We open the door to the loving, living God.

As a slightly sticky star held in God’s hands, we have gathered over the past few days from all over the world. We have met new friends, laughed together, made connections, and heard God speak in and through each other. As we prepare to move from this place and time, we are around tables to share in a sticky and heavenly banquet of bread and wine.

Our prayer of great thanksgiving is partly a ‘repeat after me’ but as a global village gathered today, please use your language to repeat the words that I share. I also have a short chant to teach you..We remember and give thanks…

Prayer of Thanksgiving

God is with us… (repeat)
We lift our hearts in praise…(repeat)
We give Almighty God our thanks(repeat)
All Chant: We remember and give thanks…(repeat X 2)

Let us tell the story of God…
We give thanks to God, who created this wondrous world…
Who formed us and gave us the breath of life…
Whose love remains steadfast even when we turn away…

All Chant: We remember and give thanks (repeat X 2)

We give thanks for the life of Jesus the Christ…
Who came to our messy world to preach good news,..
Who healed the sick, fed the hungry and sat at table with sinners…
Who through his life, death and resurrection revealed the depths and power of love …

All Chant– We remember and give thanks (repeat X 2)

We give thanks for the Holy Spirit…
Who was present at the beginning and is with us this day…
Who is the life-giving breath of the church…
Who enlivens us to be sources of healing and forgiveness in our messy world…
All Chant– We remember and give thanks(repeat X 2)

Words of Institution

On the night that he shared his last meal with his disciples Jesus too the bread, lifted it up, gave thanks, broke the bread and gave it to his companions saying…’take,eat; this is my body given for you… remember me’

When the meal was over he took the cup, lifted it up, gave thanks and shared it with his followers saying’ drink from this, all of you, this is the blood of the new covenant poured out for you and many for the forgiveness of sins. Remember me’

Instruct people to put hands up over to bless the elements…
Pour out your Holy Spirit upon this gift of bread and wine that it may become your body, vibrant with new life, healing, renewing and making us whole.

Instruct people to put palms up in prayer
Breathe your Spirit upon us that we may become light for the world, a source of joy and a witness for peace.

Instruct people to connect with each other…
By your spirit make us one with Christ, one with each other and one in ministry to all the world until we feast at the heavenly banquet. Through your Son Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit in your holy church, all honor and glory is yours, almighty God, now and forever.

Lord’s prayer with motions

Invite people to come to the Table to share in the bread and the cup. 

Prayer after communion

Eternal God, we give you thanks for this holy mystery in which you have given yourself to us. Grant that we may go into the world in the strength of your Spirit, to give ourselves for others. In the name of Jesus the Christ, our Lord we pray. AMEN

Permission given to use with your Messy Church.  Do not reprint for use other than Messy Church Holy Communion session.  

Blessings Abound

A Blog post by Casey Cross, a Messy Church USA  Board of Director

Casey serves as Young Disciples Director at Hope Lutheran Church in Eagle, ID. She leads a team for their Messy Church. 


Like many congregations, we offer backpack blessings at the beginning of each new school year. This year, as I was talking to my pastor about what those would look like, he offered an idea that we could write blessings for each other. The idea quickly evolved from there and we decided to hand out tags on which we would write a word, prayer, blessing, or thought, return them at the offering, then take a new tag on our way out at the end of worship.

This shared activity is especially meaningful because we are living in a time where we are overwhelmed with the countless ways we are different and divided from one another. With more and more statistics and articles written about the Lonely Generation, American’s declining trust, rising suicide rates, and unfortunately even more cultural realities exemplifying our disconnection from one another, we need to respond as a church – the Body of Christ – together.

We need to practice and model trust, not only in our God, but also in one another. Our support for one another, practicing forgiveness, grace, and simply just paying attention to one another becomes counter-cultural, world-changing action. With simple exercises like the blessings we shared today, we put our skin in the game. We are in this together. And we walked from worship with signs of God’s transformation in our lives, to serve as reminders of our connection to one another and God’s love wherever we go.

Blessing Basket at Hope Lutheran Church

All ages were part of this activity. The tags filled with art, color, prayers, and words from our children were especially thoughtful. I was deeply blessed by the opportunity to read many of the tags before they were dispersed at the end of the service. What a lovely insight into the hearts of our congregation members.

Another reason an activity like this is so important is because when we get caught up in the day-to-day of our lives, it can be easy to relax into consumer-mode. Show up, get filled, feel good, check it off your to do list, and move to the next thing. When this happens, we forget that God is actively involved in our lives. But Wisdom is living within us, speaking to us, moving us, and living through us. We do not worship just for ourselves, but with and for each other. We matter to each other and we have something to share with each other. These blessings gave us an opportunity to remember this and experience it.

I know this exercise may not have meant much to some of the people in attendance. Some may have worried they didn’t have the “right” words, some may have not understood what it was for, and some may have just thought it was meaningless. It’s okay. That’s what grace is all about. It doesn’t stop what God has done and is doing in our lives together.

I am thankful for a congregation and pastor who tries new things. These ideas don’t always go smoothly. They aren’t perfect. But we try stuff. We are in it, together. No matter what, that is what we are living together. The details may fade away in time, but we will never forget that we are God’s beloved children, we are not alone, we have each other… wherever we go.

Blessings Abound
Hope Lutheran Church

In the words of our congregational mission statement – we love, we experience, and we discover God and God’s will in the world.

Reprinted with permission from blog of Casey Cross.  You can follow Casey at https://caseykcross.wordpress.com.

Messy Church USA logo and mission
Equipping Messy Churches to start, sustain and connect across the USA

The Messy In-Between

A blog post from Roberta J. Egli

March 20, 2019

Winter? Spring? It is the In-Between

Several weeks ago we experienced a snow storm…it was an oddity for us in the Willamette Valley of Oregon where I live. We woke up to 11 inches of snow on the ground and over 48 hours an additional four inches of snow fell. We were not ready for this snow…the small daffodils had already begun to bloom. The unexpected snowfall brought the whole area to a standstill for several days. We were ready to celebrate the arrival of spring rather than dig out from a record breaking amount of snow. For several days we lived within the Messy in-between.

How are you living in the Messy in-between as you finalize plans for your Easter Messy Church while also inviting your Messy Churches to walk through the season of Lent? This topic of observing lent while also preparing for Easter has been discussed on the Messy Church USA Team Leaders FB group page (click here to join). Messy Churches across the US live in the Messy in-between by having a prayer focused Lenten messy church or a Journey through Holy Week with activities focused on Palm Sunday, the prayers of Gethsemane, the walk toward the cross with feet or hand painted to create a colorful paper cross. Sharing the story of the weeks leading up the big Easter Celebration is vital for our families who are new to the story of Jesus.

Jenna Reinke shared this lovely altar piece created at her Messy Church in Crowley, Texas. She writes that creating the altar decoration helped to build connections between their Messy Church and traditional ‘Sunday Church’ communities. 

Picture from Jenna Reinke from Crowley, TX

Another great idea of incorporating prayers into both Messy Church and traditional church is illustrated by Heather Johnson, a pastor from Minnesota. Check out these beautiful paper Lenten paraments created by written prayers on strips of purple paper that are pictured below.

May you find ways to enter deeply into the season of prayer and preparation this Lent as you also live in the messy in-between of looking forward making detailed plans for your Easter Messy Church! We celebrate the joy of the resurrection by preparing ourselves and our Messy communities. I know that Easter is the largest Messy Church for many communities so prayers for patience and happy volunteers!

Be sure to share your stories of your Lent and Easter stories on our Facebook page, the team leaders group or better yet, send a story or a short video to our Messy Church USA Communications Team lead Robin Cannon from Ohio.

Messy blessings to you as you live in this Messy in-between time. Love and blessings, Roberta

Our mission is to equip local churches to start, sustain and connect Messy Churches across the USA.

Prepare the Way!

By Johannah Myers, Regional Coordinator for North and South Carolina

Aldersgate UMC Messy Church Fall Festival 2018

The dust has settled from our Messy Church Fall Festival. Candy wrappers have been picked up and costumes stored away. In one way, we’re now free to turn our thoughts to gratitude and Thanksgiving. However, for those of us planning for Messy Church, it’s time to start planning for Advent and Messy Christmas.

Advent is a season of preparation. We prepare for the coming of our Messiah even as we remember and celebrate Jesus’ coming as a baby at Christmas. As Messy Church leaders, we’re charged to prepare for Messy Christmas celebrations but we can also help our families make space to prepare a way for Jesus, even during their busy December.

Consider providing Advent calendars at your November Messy Church. Look for a calendar that includes family activities or create your own. Invite families to create a Jesse Tree as a way of remembering Jesus’ family tree and marking the Advent season together. What about materials and instructions for making a simple Advent wreath? Provide the materials as a take-home during your November Messy Church so that families are ready when Advent begins on December 2nd 2018.

Help families create an Advent wreath by providing the materials as a take-home during your November Messy Church so that families are ready when Advent begins on December 2nd.

If your Messy Church has a Facebook page or other social media outlets, think about ways to use this social media to help families mark the Advent season. Create a unique hash-tag and invite families to post pictures of their Advent activities. Use social media as a community Advent calendar. 

Messy Advent Activity Links

Messy Christmas is a great resource for planning Messy Christmas or Messy Advent. It’s full of wonderful ideas for activities and celebrations. There is an older resource, Messy Nativity that is also available to purchase. Messy Nativity includes two ideas of projects to draw your whole community into the Messy Christmas spirit, beyond your monthly Messy Church.

The first three people to email Roberta Egli at roberta@messychurchusa.org  and request the book will get a free copy of Messy Christmas mailed to them.   

Advent and Christmas can be the busiest seasons complete with all the stress that goes along with the craziness. How can Messy Church help families find purpose in the midst of all the season’s comings and goings? 

Messy Church USA’s mission is to equip local churches to start, sustain and connect Messy Churches across the USA.  Be sure to register your Messy Church on our website. 

Practicing Gratitude

Roberta J. Egli


Did you see the grateful pumpkin Facebook post that ended up being Messy Church USA’s most liked and shared post? What an easy and great way to practice gratitude in your household or your Messy Church!

I have discovered that it takes intentionality to enter into a regular practice of gratitude. I have kept a gratitude journal in the past but for several years, I have received the daily gratefulness word of the day from a website on gratitude focused on the writings of David Stendle-Rast. I encourage you to check out their website and sign up for their daily moment of gratitude. You can also send an e-card, light a virtual prayer candle, get inspired by stories, discover videos or simply check out their question of the day.

How do you practice gratitude in your household? How can we practice gratitude in our Messy Churches? I recently read a great gratitude household practice called ‘Gratitude Café’. Based on a mother’s habit of taking her morning coffee outside and giving thanks at the beginning of each morning, Traci Smith, author of Faithful Families writes about creating a regular ( weekly if possible) gratitude café.

  • First choose a day of the week (Saturday morning or Sunday evenings work well for many families) for the household to gather.
  • Second, make a favorite beverage for each of the household (coffee, tea, orange juice, or hot chocolate).
  • Third, gather someplace either inside or outside to enjoy their beverage. Perhaps you want to use a special tablecloth or candle for your gratitude café.
  • Fourth, have each household member either draw a picture or if able, write down five things for which they are grateful.(When you start your gratitude café, you may need to ask some  leading questions such as; Are you thankful for anything you received this past week? Are you thankful for anything special we have done as a family? Are you thankful for anything you have learned? Etc.
  • After a time of silence while everyone writes or draws, share your ideas with one another.
  • After everyone has shared, say a simply prayer together, “Gracious, we give you thanks for all you have given us this past week. Amen”

Introduce the Gratitude Café during your Messy Meal and then send the idea home for households to practice at home. You can have people save their drawings / paper and create a Gratitude Café mosaic for your Messy Church.

May you find ways to practice gratitude today and in the days to come and better yet, make your gratitude practice messy!
Messy Blessings, Roberta

June 2018 Messy Church USA

Roberta J. Egli

Messy Togetherness

” 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

Thousand Oaks Fiesta Church 

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?

Parachute Prayer

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.

BRF Publishing 2016

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!

Messy Church USA’s mission is to equip local churches to start, sustain and connect Messy Churches across the USA. 

Christ Centered: Pray Together

Posted by Roberta J. Egli

Jesus Blesses the Children, Paper Collage by Kim Jae Im

How’s the prayer time for your Messy Church team?” is a question posed by the recently released Messy Church session Everywhere Prayer. This resource was created for Thy Kingdom Come, a global prayer movement for the ten days between Ascension and Pentecost begun several years ago in the Church of England. (Link for both Everywhere Prayer  and Thy Kingdom Come Family Prayer Stations) 

I believe that creating a prayer team is the first and best practice to start your own Messy Church. Occasionally, I receive feedback that prayer is a given and too basic of a concept but I continue to mention the importance of prayer. Developing a regular prayer practice in your Messy Church team is vital to building a sustainable local Messy Church. When we come together to listen to God and each other in prayer we are led to prayerful action.

I read an article by Joy Gabriel in The Washington Post regarding the negative reaction to the phrase ‘sending thoughts and prayers’ in the midst of a tragedy. Gabriel makes the argument, through sharing personal examples, that prayer itself is not the problem but rather the view that does not translate to action. Read more here.

So, “how’s the prayer time for your Messy Church team?” It is easy to get caught up in what needs to be ‘done’ when you get together as a team. Here are some possible ways to expand your team prayer practice.

• Take ten minutes at the beginning of your planning time to reflect on three questions: 1) What went well at our last Messy Church, 2) What could have gone better and 3) How can we pray for each other and our Messy Church families?
• Read the upcoming theme scripture followed by a moment of silence before discussing as a team
• Gather as a team prior to the start of Messy Church and pray for each other, the people who will be coming as well as those who are not able to be there
• Include a prayer station at each of your Messy Church sessions
• Invite members of your ‘Sunday Morning Church’ to pray regularly for Messy Church
• Share Facebook posts of family prayer activities
• Share a brief story about how a prayer led you to action with your team
• Share how God has answered a prayer in an unexpected way

Your turn!  How does your team incorporate prayer?  Write me a note at roberta@messychurchusa.org or share your thoughts on our Messy Church USA FB Page here.

Loving God, thank you for the opportunity to listen deeply to You and one another when we take time to gather in prayer. Guide us in translating our spoken and unspoken prayer into action to share your love with a hurting world. May your kindom of grace come today and in the days to come. AMEN.