A Story from Crystal Goetz, Regional Coordinator in Washington
I greet you all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and send you peace from Auburn, Washington.
It was suggested that I write up a little blurb and send you the sweet story of a family that uses our online Messy Church to see each other. I hope you enjoy this touching story.
For over a year, a grandmother, Jimmie, has been bringing her grandsons to Messy Church..It’s has been their time, once a month to spend some quality time learning about Jesus together. Then…COVID-19 hit and Jimmie had to be quarantined away from them because she has some very dangerous risk factors and her daughter, the mother of the two boys is a public school speech therapist and at the time had direct daily exposure to people, preventing Jimmie from being with the family.
When Messy Church online started, she was thrilled. This was the first opportunity she had to see her grandsons for weeks. She specifically learned to use Zoom so that she could be a part of our online Messy Church. The boys log on with their Mom and Jimmie logs on from her home and guess what? They are a family again! It’s a beautiful thing to watch how joyful this family is together in the presence of Jesus.
I just thought I would share with you this happy story of what continuing to meet at Messy Church, albeit online, can do for those in our Messy Churches.
Crystal is the Children and Youth Director at Auburn First United Methodist Church in Auburn, Washington. She led a team in starting a Messy Church three years ago and is our Regional Coordinator of Washington. You can connect with her at Crystal@messychurchusa.org.
Have you discovered the weekly Facebook Live events on Messy Church BRF (Bible Reading Fellowship)? With the beginning of the global pandemic Lucy Moore, the founder of Messy Church began to have weekly global live events. Check them out every Wednesday at 9 am and 8 pm (British Summer Time).
Currently, these weekly live events are exploring the five foundational values of Messy Church. Okay- quickly now, what are theses five values? (I admit that I usually can’t remember one of them when I am asked) Ready, set, go: All Ages Together, Celebration, Hospitality, Creativity and Christ Centered! Did you get them all?
Lucy Moore explored the Messy Church Value of Creativity on April 29th as we each attempted to fold an origami boat. On May 6th, Martyn Payne focused on the Messy Church Value of All Ages Together. On Wednesday May 13th, Hospitality will be discussed.
Creativity Facebook Live on April 29 with Lucy Moore
The chat box filled quickly with; “tired, focused, exhausted, overwhelmed, energized, and edgy” when Lucy asked the question, how are your feeling? She then proceeded to share her reflections on how this time of the pandemic has brought some new awareness to the Messy Church value of creativity. She has been reading Alan Hirsch book, The Forgotten ways, (Brazos Press) and was drawn to his chapter on liminality and communitas, which describes the opportunities and perhaps privilege of being uncomfortably on the edge. More Here
All Ages Together Facebook Live on May 6th, 2020 with Martyn Payne
Martyn Payne, author of Messy Togetherness, led a global messy conversation on the value of All Ages together. In the 30-minute Facebook live event we explored the questions: How can we do Messy Church in these circumstances in a way that doesn’t give up on trying to express our all-together value? How do we find ways to live out this value when we’re having to organize Messy Church? We were also treated to the wonderful story-telling of Martyn. More Here
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.
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.
In the words of our congregational mission statement – we love, we experience, and we discover God and God’s will in the world.
A blog post by Roberta J. Egli, Executive Director Messy Church USA
When I was a young child, Easter Sunday began before dawn. My father would wake us up in the dark of night to gather with other members of our church family to hike up a hill to watch the sunrise. It was a tradition for this community of faith to gather as young and old, huddled in our rain jackets as we sang familiar songs and listened once again to the scripture proclaiming that Jesus the Christ was arisen!
It was always a muddy trip both up and down the hill in the soggy Pacific Northwest and most of the years; we could only tell that the sun had risen, not from a glorious sunrise but that the clouded skies were getting lighter from the sun that we could not see. I have to admit that the most fun as a young child was to race down the hill to get to the hot chocolate and donuts that awaited us in the farmer’s barn.
I have thought of that all- age experience of a muddy and messy Easter of my childhood as I have seen the wondrous pictures of Easter being celebrated at Messy Churches all over the world. What a gift you are giving to your Messy Churches as you creatively share the story of the good news of Easter. Although I have not seen muddy pictures, I have reveled in seeing all of the chaotic mess and joy of people of all ages and backgrounds coming together to share in the love of God made alive through Easter.
Robin Cannon from Deep Creek United Methodist Church, Chesapeake,VA
Wondering how to engage those teens and adults in Messy Church? Robin shared their experience of creating all-age experiences at their Messy Church in Chesapeake, VA. Thanks Robin for sharing your story!
Messy Church Stained Glass
Our mid-sized church launched Messy Church this past September. Our hope was that we would be able to make connections with the many families who are a part of our church’s preschool and day care ministries and who are not a part of a faith community. We have been thrilled by the response. We average around 80 people and every month we have new, young families join us! Our goal was to reach out to young families and provide for them a non-intimating faith building experience and we have seen that happening each month.
“Teenagers inviting friends to join them for Messy Church – it is such a beautiful thing!“
We have also experienced some results that we did not anticipate. In our Messy Church planning, we have tried to be intentional about planning activities and stations that teens and adults would also enjoy such as our “stained glass window” painting project. The result has been that we now also have a group of adults and teens that love Messy Church! Each month many of our activities are planned and led by teens. This has produced some very enthusiastic teenagers who love what they are doing and are regularly inviting their friends to join us! Teenagers inviting friends to join them for Messy Church – it is such a beautiful thing!
We have also been intentional about planning a missions/serving activity each month. Our adults really enjoy the opportunities to be doing things for others each month. Thus far we have decorated cookies that were given to teachers at a nearby school, packaged rice and beans for our Food Pantry, packed goodie bags that everyone took to hand out to people who are rarely thanked for what they do, made Christmas cards for sick children, and helped make shoes for children in Uganda through Sole Hope. It has been wonderful to see all ages working together to share the Light and Love of Jesus with others!
We love Messy Church and are so thankful for all the wonderful ideas that come from other Messy Churches all around the world!
How to Make Messy Stained Glass
We cut sheets of clear of cellophane (you can buy it in rolls like wrapping paper at Michael’s) the size of our glass doors and taped them over the glass using painters tape.
We projected the image we wanted and traced with a black sharpie.
We sectioned off the images using black electrical tape – to create sections and give it a stained glass feel.
We covered the floor with tarps and prayed that this project didn’t go very badly – what could go wrong painting the doors with acrylic paint in the church gathering space!?!
At our Let your Light Shine Messy Church, everyone painted! We used good acrylic paint (the artist kind that comes in tubes at Michael’s). I think this is key to bright colors and paint thick enough not dribble and make a big mess. All 8 of these doors got nearly finished at our Messy Church and they are big hit – we’ve had them up for nearly a month now. We did a little bit of touch up the day after Messy Church to finish a few spots up – but this truly was an inter-generational project with kids, teens and adults all working together!
” 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.”
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 Togethernessby 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 ‘cool’ ( such as a science experiment)
Something chaotic and very messy
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”
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!
What does duct tape teach us our mission in Messy Church? What about a wrench? Crystal Goetz shared a fun and inspiring Facebook Live on exploring her Messy Toolbox. If you missed it live, you can still catch it on the Messy Church BRF Facebook Page.
Are you more than ready to be done with all of the complexities of planning during a pandemic? Join us on Thursday, August 20th, at 10 am (PDT) to renew your spirit and learn some new spiritual practices.
Learn more about this webinar and register here:
Messy Church USA is a newly formed nonprofit 501c3 corporation. Messy Church USA has been formed to provide an organizational structure to support the health, growth and sustainability of local Messy Churches in the USA. In addition, Messy Church USA will assist individual Messy Churches to become an integrated part of the larger national and global network of Messy Churches. Read more.