Highlights from Messy Church NOW Webinar

Archive for Celebration

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.

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

Mini Mess Pentecost

A Blogpost by Lindsey Goodyear

Who’s in need of a “Mini Mess”?  I know I am!  Lately it seems that every blog I write, I go into hoping it will be the last one I write about the quarantine.  As it stands, it looks as though staying home may be in the cards for all of us for a bit.  Yes, they are slowly adding new phases to get us back to normal, but to protect those in our family and communities, the majority of us are hunkering down and staying put.  With Pentecost fast approaching, I felt like it was the right time to send home another Messy Church plan to keep us in good spirits. 

For those who don’t know the story, here’s a very short summary.  Pentecost is the name of a Jewish harvest festival. Just as Easter (in Greek “pascha”) is a holiday derived of an adaptation of the Jewish Passover, so too Pentecost is a Christian holiday derived from the Jewish festival of Shavuot. The Apostles, and other followers of Jesus, were celebrating the Jewish festival in Jerusalem, when they heard the sound of a mighty wind and “tongues of fire” came down on them.  Then, the Holy Spirit descended on them.  Remarkably, the attendees of the festival found themselves immediately being able to speak in other languages without difficulty.  People were no longer separated by language barriers and thus, the gospel was available to the world. No matter your gender, age, or color of skin, every person from every nation on God’s Earth could now know the Lord.  Because we were now all one under the Gospel of our Lord, the Pentecost is also referred to the birth of the church.  Pentecost, which means fifty, is always fifty days after Easter. This year, we celebrate on May 31.  Please use the following “Mini Mess” as a guide to celebrate God’s gift to the world with your family!  

There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female; since you are all one in Christ Jesus

Galatians 3:2

Three Pentecost Crafts

 Mighty Winds

 Need: Construction paper, paint, straws.

To recreate the mighty wind the Apostles witnessed, drop small amounts of paint all over your piece of construction paper.  Next, use the straw to blow the paint and watch as it creates magnificent patterns.  Try blowing from all directions to see what cool new art emerges.

*NOTE– This activity is much more fun if you use many different colors of paint!

**Talk about: What is the strongest wind you’ve ever been in?  How did it make you feel?  Were you excited?  Scared?

Fire Sticks

Need: Sticks from outside, 24” pieces of ribbon (reds, oranges, yellows, if possible), hot glue gun.

Once you’ve collected the sticks, cut the ribbons to the appropriate sizes.  Place a dab of glue at one end of the stick and begin attaching the ribbons (there should be enough room for 6 or 7 pieces depending on the size of your stick).  Once you’ve glued the pieces, cut a small portion of ribbon and wrap it around the glued pieces to ensure their security. Place a final dab of glue for the small security ribbon and you are ready!  Go outside and run around with the sticks overhead and watch as the wind turns the ribbons into something resembling fire. 

**Talk about: What do you think was going through the minds of the Apostles when they saw “tongues of fire” above their heads?  Would you have run away or stayed?

Babel 

Need: Foreign language book or access to internet.

Since the language barrier was broken when the Holy Spirit descended, take some time to learn a phrase in another language.  Try and have each family member learn a different phrase in a different language that they can recite and teach each other when you sit down for dinner.  We are so fortunate to have access to any language in the world.  Let’s take advantage of that access and teach each other!

**Talk about: Of all the beautiful languages found all over the world, what is the one language you wish you were fluid in? 

Celebration:  You might say the events at the Pentecost was the Holy Spirit’s way of exploding into the entire world.  He caused a reaction inside the hearts of people far and wide when He promised His unconditional love to all who follow.  A particularly good way of visually showing a reaction is through the use of baking soda and vinegar.  When the vinegar touches the baking soda, a mini explosion happens!  The soda begins to bubble, grow, and spread.  Cover a plate with baking soda and, using a dropper of vinegar, drop small amounts of vinegar around the plate.  With each drop, use the opportunity to explain the reaction your heart has because God is a part of you.  Pass the dropper around the table and let every family member take a turn.  This is a great opportunity to learn all the ways God brings joy to not only our hearts, but those of our family members, on a daily basis.  Try to make this more than a celebration.  Just because you don’t have baking soda and vinegar out everyday, talking with others about the impact God has on our lives is a great way to get in the habit of a positive and thankful mindset.  Try to make it a weekly or even daily discussion!

Prayer:  Dear heavenly Father, we come to you today with exploding hearts of love!  We are so thankful for the comfort you provide us with and ask that those who are suffering without you are brought to your light and feel relief.  We thank you for you descent so that people all over the world may know your perfect love.  We ask for your continued guidance as we navigate the world in such an uncertain time.  May you open our eyes and hearts and bring peace upon us.  We love you and thank you.  In your name we pray, Amen.

Meal Idea: Birthday Cake

Need: Boxed cake mix, frosting, sprinkles, and candles.

Let’s make a birthday cake and celebrate the birth of the Christian church!  Make the cake per the instructions on the box, bake, and let cool.  Then, decorate using the frosting and sprinkles.  Have fun with this!  You can even put candles in and sing “happy birthday” to the church if you’d like.  Then, cut the cake, serve, and enjoy! 

Lindsey Goodyear and her family attend Messy Church at Community UMC in Hungtington Beach, CA. You can reach her at lindseygoodyear@gmail.com
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Equipping Messy Churches to start, sustain and connect across the USA

Celebrate…A Lent Spiritual Practice

A blogpost from Roberta J. Egli

During the Season of Lent many of us engage in a new or renewed spiritual practice. I have re-engaged with the spiritual practice of observing a weekly Sabbath ritual. I am using a devotional guide from the saltproject.org that explores scripture and poems. “Sabbath is a day for delight, for participating in God’s ongoing joy in creation. If we refrain from certain activities during the sabbath, we do so precisely in order to make room for this enjoyment.” I must confess that my natural tendency is to worry rather than stopping work to engage in delight, so Sabbath ritual is helping me to trust and enjoy rather than worry and work!

I discovered the connection between my lent Sabbath practice and one of the foundational values of Messy Church when I read Lucy Moore’s recent blog following a day of quiet. The Messy Church UK leadership team began this year to observe what they call ‘quiet days at a distance’. The goal for these days is to grow together as a team even though geographical distance keeps them apart. They begin the day with a teleconference call in which they read and reflect on a specific scripture before spending several hours in separate quiet reflection. They come back together via teleconference at the end of their reflection time to share with one another what has ‘bubbled up’. Their most recent quiet day of reflection focused on the story of the Prodigal Son which led to Lucy’s blog.

Lucy writes: The celebration in the story is for the father, not for the son – it’s the father’s contentment that leads to celebration: he isn’t even really listening to the son, he just wants to get on and celebrate. The image of the father running towards the son is a very striking one, not least because that would have been a most undignified thing for a man of his age and status to do. For people at Messy Church who may have little sense of self-worth, the idea of someone running towards them because he loves them and he wants to celebrate with them is a very powerful one.  (Full blogpost here) 

My friends, in the midst of a global epidemic that causes uncertainty, anxiety and fear, a spiritual practice of celebration may seem to be counter-cultural. Yes, follow the recommendations of your local health departments and wash your hands regularly however it is imperative that we share the God who celebrates with each other and with our Messy Church attenders.

  • Engage in celebration as you greet one another by using the sign language for ‘peace be with you’.
  • Engage in celebration when you engage in a nature walk looking for signs of new life. 
  • Engage in celebration as a leadership team as you recall meaningful interactions during Messy Church.
  • Engage in celebration as you share the scripture in participatory ways

I celebrate that Messy Church USA is growing broader and deeper as both a network of churches and an organization of committed people who worship the God who celebrates.  I would love to hear how your Messy Church is celebrating!    

Grace and Peace, Roberta

Equipping Messy Churches to start, sustain and connect in the USA.

Do we have to call it Messy Church?

A Reflection by Roberta J. Egli

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“Do we have to call it Messy Church?”  That is question I received eight years ago from the leadership team of the church I served as Pastor when I excitedly shared videos to introduce the concept of starting a Messy Church. I continue to receive that question today and I imagine that many of you in local leadership have also experienced resistance to the word, “Messy”.

Lucy Moore, the founder of Messy Church writes that the name was an invitation to “reach families that were on the ‘messy edges’ of church who weren’t ‘tidily’ congregation already. It’s also a church for people whose lives may be messy – perhaps in the past the Church has too often appeared to be saying that we only welcome people whose lives are well-ordered.”  (Lucy Moore, BBC Songs of Praise, 2013) 

Here is my short elevator speech answer to the question, why call it Messy Church? “We all live messy lives, with messy relationships and in Messy Church we come in with all of our messiness and find a place of belonging through the unconditional love of God.  Through creating together, celebrating together and eating together, we build a community centered around the teachings of Jesus Christ.

I recently read an article by theologian Shane Claiborne, from a variety of authors writing about the “The Future of Christianity”. Shane reflects on our messiness and his experience at a church he visited where the greeters wore T-shirts emblazoned with the words, “no perfect people allowed” rather than Sunday ‘dress up’ clothes.

The good news is that Jesus didn’t come for folks who have it all together, but for folks who are willing to admit they are falling apart (Mt 9:13) It’s not about how good we are, but how good God is. Hopefully, that can also give us some grace with a church full of messed-up people, and with ourselves.We are imperfect people, falling in love with a perfect God, and doing our best to become more like the One we worship. (Shane Claiborne. Loving the Church Back to Life. (Oneing: The Future of Christianity. Volume 7. No 2. Center for Action and Contemplation) p.66-67

I am grateful that despite resistance, a group of people inspired by the vision, took a risk and started a monthly Messy Church. Our Messy Church certainly was not perfect, we made many mistakes and learned as we went along.  Yet we created a space each month, where people who had not attended church for many years or ever, found a place to belong to one another through games, crafts, stories, food, and fun.  Along the way, we all encountered the transforming love of Christ who bonded us together.

I learned several months ago that the Messy Church I helped to lead into existence, is no longer meeting.  I am saddened at that development, yet it is another reminder for me to trust God rather than my own plans and expectations.  I know that many seeds of faith and love were planted during the five years of that particular Messy Church’s life span and that those seeds of love will sprout and grow. 

When we gather in October in Chicago, we will have opportunities to share highlights and challenges from our local Messy Churches.  There is not ‘one’ way to lead a Messy Church!  We will CELEBRATE the MESS! We will CELEBRATE the 175 churches as of today that have joined the Messy Church USA Network. We will CELEBRATE both the fantastic successes and the failures from which we have learned.  We will CELEBRATE that many people in the USA and the world, are finding Messy Church to be a hope-filled expression of church that gathers all ages together to wonder and CELEBRATE the wondrous and messy life we have been given. Make plans to join the celebration!  God’s grace is in the midst of our messiness…Thanks be to God!
 
See you in the Windy City!  

Peace and love,
Roberta

LEARN MORE & REGISTER FOR CELEBRATE THE MESS

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

Taking Time to Reflect While We Jump into 2020

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Is the person in the picture above going to make it into 2020 or fall short? How are you doing with the start of a new year?  Are you already feeling behind?   (Yes, I realize that the picture is probably altered but it still causes some anxiety!)

At the start of every turn of the calendar, my husband and I go out for breakfast to reflect on the previous year and look ahead to what is coming in the new. In our busy lives, for many of us, days and months and even an entire year can flow by so quickly that we don’t take notice.  Taking moments to pause, slow down and reflect not only at the end of the year but throughout the year provides opportunity to give thanks for what is going well, and consciously changing perspectives when needed.

My new project planner has a section at the end of each week and month to draw or write a reflection on how my time was spent in meeting the goals I have set. I have been using it since September and have found that engaging in this simple practice has helped me to give thanks for what has been accomplished and then re-prioritize for the coming week or month. This practice has reminded me of our check in time for our monthly Messy Church planning team I was involved with several years ago. Prior to talking about what was coming up we would spend a few moments reflecting on our previous Messy Church and take turns answering three simple questions: 1) what went well? 2) What could have gone better? and 3) How can we hold one another in prayer?

The year ahead can feel like a gift waiting to be unwrapped, month by month, like layer after layer of bright wrapping paper being torn off a pass-the-parcel prize.

Lucy Moore

Lucy Moore, founder of the Messy Church global movement, in her reflection on the turn of the calendar year and the months ahead, challenged us to view our monthly Messy Church as an unwrapped gift. “There’s a rhythm to meeting monthly as a church. The year ahead can feel like a gift waiting to be unwrapped, month by month, like layer after layer of bright wrapping paper being torn off a pass-the-parcel prize. Or like a soup bubbling away with ingredients added one by one, subtly altering the flavour and texture until you look back after twelve months…” Read More Here

So, my friends, as you start this new year, I would love to engage in a conversation with you regarding your local Messy Church.  What is going well?  What could be have gone better?  How can I hold you and your team in prayer?  Drop me a note or contact your Regional Coordinator.

For today, I pray this prayer that has been central in my morning routine of awakening to God’s presence.

New every morning is your love, great God of light, and all day long you are working for good in the world. Stir up in us desire to serve you, to live peacefully with our neighbors and all your creation, and to devote each day to your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, Amen

(The Worshipbook: Services and Hymns, (The Westminster Press 1970m 1972)

May you experience God’s light and love holding you and leading you into 2020. Happy 2020 my friends.

Grace and peace,
Roberta
roberta@messychurchusa.org

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

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. 

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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

A Little Chat with Rev. George Hooper

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A Blogpost from Lindsey Goodyear

One of the greatest gifts we receive from Messy Church is the gift of community. But, what absolutely enables that gift is the dedication, commitment, and love that the Messy Church team puts into each affair. When Messy Church was established at Community United Methodist Church in Huntington Beach (CUMCHB) the church was being led by Rev. Ginny Wheeler. Ginny was there from the beginning and was a strong supporter of our Messy adventure. When she decided to retire, earlier this Summer, it left me wondering if the support of this venture, that we previously had, would remain as strong with our next holy leader. Well, I didn’t have to wonder long. Enter, the fantastically enthusiastic…Pastor George Hooper!

Lindsey: Before coming to CUMC, which church were you leading?

George: I was serving as the lead pastor at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Arcadia. Like CUMCHB, CGS has an outstanding Children’s Center with a wonderful reputation in the community, and a history of powerful ministries with children. We had not started Messy Church, but I was privileged to engage the children and their parents in chapel time during the week.

Rev. George Hooper
1st Sunday at Community United Methodist Church Huntington Beach

Lindsey: Had you ever heard of Messy Church before coming here?

George: I had. I believe that we hosted an event in Arcadia where some who were involved with Messy Church made a presentation. When the Associate Pastor (the Rev. Lydia Sohn, now pastor at St Mark UMC in San Diego) started an afternoon experience, Messy Church was one of the styles we considered.

Lindsey: Having been established for almost 6 years now, we can be kind of a tight knit team. Any nerves entering in the first Messy gathering?
George: When I had my initial meeting with representatives of the CUMCHB congregation, one of the first questions was “Will you support Messy Church?” I asked, “Well, what does support look like to you?”
They shared that there was a strong leadership team, but what they needed was continued encouragement, prayer, and participation. They explained that Pastor Ginny was like a cheerleader who was also worked well behind the scenes to make sure that Messy Church was given priority and funding through the existing congregation. I thought, and said, “That I can do!” To have an existing gathering which is well-organized and led is a gift to a new pastor. So I was excited to attend that first evening — which was the Summer Picnic. I brought my kids, introduced myself, and joined the circle. Keep in mind that I had been on staff and on site for two weeks; this was a time to just be, and to play! I loved it! So, yes, I was a little nervous, because it was a new thing. I got over that as soon as I sat down and started playing Giant Jenga.

iStock. Giant Jenga

Lindsey: You have two pretty amazing kids. What were their feelings about Messy Church?

George: They love to play, to create, to learn, and to have fun. They feel like this was made for them. “Is it Messy Church yet?” is a question I am already getting.

Lindsey: In Sunday church, you lead us, at Messy Church, you’re led by others. Was the shift a little hard to navigate?

George: Messy Church is the way church is supposed to be. I like to say that I am the pastor, the people of the congregation are the ministers. My job, along with the church staff, is to train, equip, and support the people in ministry. One of my proudest achievements in Arcadia was to help create a culture in which people in the church could say “I would like to try this” (for example a Conversational English Class) and my job was to arrange the resources they needed to do that. In John 14:12 Jesus says “Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the work that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these…” Jesus knew that even He was limited and wanted to bring others — everyone — into ministry and leadership.
On Sunday mornings (and in other events in the course of the week) I participate in leadership to prepare people to live out their faith in their daily life. At Messy Church I get to be led by others. I particularly enjoy getting to see what the youngest among us create: it allows me to see through new eyes!

The way it is shaping up, it looks like I will do a little hosting, and then fall back to observe, learn, and be led. I also love the fact that if someone has a question or an issue they want to reflect upon, we can sit down together and just talk. That’s another way I get led at Messy Church.

Lindsey: What are the benefits you see families getting from MC that may differ from what they’re getting at traditional Sunday church?

George: Getting to worship as a family unit. Allowing younger folks to guide older folks. Being able to learn through doing. Being self-directed in learning — going to what interests me in this moment. Don’t get me wrong: My kids like Sunday morning, too. They enjoy more formal worship and especially Sunday School. Messy Church adds another way of existing as family. The greatest benefit is having all of these options!

Lindsey: In between getting to know our members, were you able to participate in any of the activities?

George: I was all over the games in July! As much as I wanted to, I didn’t climb the water slide in August (there’s always next year!) I went through and looked at all of the hands-on learning stations, but I was having more fun watching what others were making than actually doing so myself. And yes, I did get drawn into some wonderful conversations — I think that counts as activities though, too. I am blown away by the creativity and imagination of the Messy Church team. You all put in a great deal of time and energy!

Lindsey: Is there a moment/craft/song that really struck you or sticks out in any way?

George: The prayer parachute. I am not sure if that what you called it, but lifting needs and joys, and then inviting the smaller people to run underneath as the parachute came back down was an incredibly powerful image of being literally “covered in prayer”.

Parachute Prayer
CUMCHB Messy Church

Lindsey: What do see or hope for when thinking about the future of Messy Church at CUMC?

George: We all have hopes for success that are measured in numbers. I love that I hear families saying they attend because “it is the closest thing we have to church.” For them Messy Church is family, a community in which they learn and grow together, without all of that “churchiness.” They are asking that this community pledge to support them as they raise their child in the love of Jesus. I hope for more of that. I hope that the ideals and practices of Messy Church become contagious throughout the congregation. Mostly, I look forward to seeing what God is doing next!

Lindsey Goodyear
lindseygoodyear@gmail.com
Equipping Messy Churches in the USA to Start, Sustain and Connect

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:

Practicing Gratitude

Roberta J. Egli

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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

Do you have a Small but Mighty Messy Church?

Roberta J. Egli

I know you” shouted an excited fifth grader at recess as she ran to the fence of her elementary school to greet Tamara and Mark Manning, the leaders of a Messy Church in Jefferson Oregon. She continued, “you go to MY church, MY Messy Church– I LOVE IT– when is the next one?” Tami shared this story with me recently which brought a smile to my face as I have also experienced that ‘I know you’ moment in unexpected places, like the potato chip aisle of a neighborhood grocery store.

Finding a place to belong, for young and old, is a basic human need, especially in a world where there is polarization, conflict and division. To find a place where we can know others and can be known and loved unconditionally is life giving. What Messy Church stories of belonging do you have?

Belonging is at the heart of what we’re trying to do in Messy Church.

Lucy Moore, Founder of Messy Church



Lucy Moore reflected in a blog post way back in 2016 that “belonging is at the heart of what we’re trying to do in Messy Church. We want people to be able to say with integrity and excitement, ‘this is our church. This is our God. This is our Story. This is our Family. This is where we feel at home, accepted, known by name and free to take risks because we know that here we are most deeply loved.” Check out Lucy’s belonging barometer by clicking above. 

Messy Church at Jefferson UMC meets every other month.  At one of their more recent Messy Churches they had 32 people in attendance- a few more people than attended that week’s Sunday morning worship.  Messy Church at Jefferson UMC is a great example of a small but  mighty Messy Church. They are connecting with people in their town that do not belong at any other church.

Mark Manning leading an activity at Jefferson UMC Messy Church 

 I remember being discouraged when our ‘numbers’ for our Messy Church decreased in its second year and our team gathered to discuss what we were doing ‘wrong’ since our numbers had dropped. One wise team member shared that in her opinion, smaller numbers gave us a great opportunity to meet our goal to strengthen relationships within our Messy Church community. With a smaller group we were able to spend more time with each other and get to know one another more deeply. What I originally viewed as a problem became a great opportunity!

Messy Churches come in all shapes and sizes, just like the Messy families that gather together!  In fact, in the 2016 Messy Church survey, 43% of churches across the globe have 21-40 people attend regularly, what many of us may describe as small. My friends, small is not something to use as a disclaimer when we describe our Messy Churches but it is something to celebrate! Claim your gifts as a small Messy Church!  You are building relationships, you are creating space for people to belong and you are sharing the good news that we are all known and loved by God.  May your Messy Church be Small  but Mighty!  Messy Blessings, Roberta 

Go to our FB page to share your “Hey, I know you” stories!

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Lucy’s Most Recent Blog post on Brokenness

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