Messy Memories

Archive for All-Ages

Messy Memories

Part 1 of 2

A blogpost by Crystal Goetz 

Messy Church USA Regional Coordinator for Washington 

Crystal with friends from Sweden

I was a little scared when I arrived at High Leigh Centre in Hertfordshire on that overcast day in early May of 2019. I was traveling from London alone in a country that was not my own and I wasn’t sure what I had gotten myself into. I asked Executive Director of Messy Church USA, Roberta Egli about the Messy Church International Conference back at a September 2018 training event and from the moment she described it, I knew I had to go. I felt God nudge me and I recognized the gentle touch and still small voice and urgently felt I had to be a part of this community of people that were doing Messy Church around the world. Still as I stepped out of the cab in front of the conference center, I was asking myself, “What are you doing?” With much trepidation I paid the driver grabbed my suitcase and entered the conference center. And then…it happened!


Lucy Moore, founder of Messy Church and icon in my little office in Auburn Washington, ran to me as I entered the door and hugged me tight and said, “We are so glad you are here. Welcome!!!!!” It still makes me tear up to think about it. She didn’t know me before that moment, well not really. We had spoken briefly on a Regional Coordinator Zoom meeting, but she certainly didn’t know me by sight. To Lucy, I was a fellow Messy Church enthusiast and supporter. That’s all that mattered in that moment.

 

Crystal with freinds from Scotland, South Hampton, Surrey and Australia– a global meal!

Through the eyes of a newcomer, I had so many preconceived notions about what I thought would happen at this conference, because I had been to church conferences before and was less than thrilled. However, this Messy Church conference was not like anything I had experienced before. Nor, was it something I could have ever dreamed was possible? When we came together for our first session, there was no awkwardness about singing or participating. Only joy and more than 200 people joining together in song, loudly and with vigor. Enthusiasm reigned supreme and we were transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit in that place.

The Spirit continued to take hold over the weekend through Lucy Moore’s warmth and leadership, Martyn Payne’s devotionals, Stephen Fischbacher’s wonderful music, Jane Leadbetter’s enthusiasm and ecobrick mastery, Claire Dalpra’s fascinating talk, Barry Brand’s hilarity, Andrew Roberts life-changing Holy Habits, mini Messy Church sessions and much more, until we were filled to the brim by the time we had to part on Sunday afternoon. Then, there came a moment that was defining for me. Richard Fisher, the Chief Executive at Bible Reading Fellowship, came to the podium to talk about the support that Bible Reading Fellowship offers the Messy Churches around the world. Then he had to do a difficult but extremely necessary task, to ask for financial support from the worldwide network of Messy Churches. It hit me. They do so much for us, we need to support them. BRF is the foundation and Messy Church is the house. It became somewhat of a mission to me from that moment to support the foundational organization that sustains us all. Bible Reading Fellowship. Together we are better.

Messy Church is All-Age Together…Why?

A blog post by Dr. Johannah Myers

Johannah is the Regional Coordinator for Messy Church USA in South and North Carolina. She has been leading Messy Church at Aldersgate UMC in Greenville in SC for over five years.  She will be facilitating the upcoming Getting Started in Messy Church in Mt Dora, FL on September 21.

Messy Church is all ages together. This is one of the core values of Messy Church, something we all ascribe to practice. But why? Why is having all ages together for play and worship so important?

Less than two weeks after the second International Messy Church Conference in England, another group of church leaders from across the US, Australia, and New Zealand gathered in Nashville, TN, for the Intergenerate Conference. The conference centered around the assumption that Church (whether Messy or traditional or anything in between) must take seriously the need for meaningful interactions across the generations.

Roberta and I had the chance to represent Messy Church USA at Intergenerate as an example of what this all-age approach to church looks like in practice. We got to share our Messy story during an afternoon workshop and even got to do a Messy Church “taste and see” for participants experience on a small scale what Messy Church looks like. (On a side note, try packing supplies for Messy Church in a carry-on bag! The TSA agents were quite confused when they searched my bag and found feathers, pony beads, yarn, hole punches, and rather large paper ears!!)  

It was a whirlwind few days! Here are a few take-aways from Nashville.

There are a growing number of church leaders who are beginning to recognize that separating age groups out into age silos – children over here, young adults here, older adults over there, youth in their own building next door – isn’t necessarily translating into transformational disciple-making. We need our peer groups, certainly, but we need meaningful interactions with other generations in order for discipleship to grow.

While there’s a growing number of people who are realizing this intergenerational approach to church is needed, we’re still trying to figure out how to articulate the why and the how. The first Intergenerate Conference was held two years ago with around 100 people (I believe?!). This year it was maxed out, standing-room-only at 200+ participants. Word is spreading, the conversations are growing, the research is developing. It’s exciting! The under-current throughout the conference was of high energy, high passion. We KNOW that bringing generations together is critical, even if we’re still trying to articulate why.

While researchers are still figuring out the “why,” Messy Church has something important to offer as we figure out the “how” of intergenerational ministry. We have a model for how to be church together that is working, and based on the growing research, working well. Are we the only model of intergenerational church out there? Of course not! But our adaptability, our focus on hospitality, and our emphasis on hands-on exploration mean that Messy Church can be a solid foundation for churches wanting to tear down those age silos and bring communities together across the ages.

Dr. Johannah Myers building Intergenerational relationships at her Messy Church at Aldersgate UMC in Greenville, SC

What’s next? I think we’re going to see Messy Churches continue to pop up across the US and so new opportunities for training events will be critical. Has your Messy Church team attended a training? Do you know of churches in your area who’d like to learn more about Messy Church? There are several one-day Messy Church training events already on the calendar. If you’d like to host a training event, contact your Regional Coordinator or Roberta today and let’s start the conversation!

Upcoming Training Events for Messy Church USA: