Messy Creativity during “in-between” time

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Messy Creativity during “in-between” time

Roberta J. Egli

“We are made in the image of God, and God is the great Creator of new things and re-creator of people and communities who are broken. As we create and play together, we echo (God’s) creativity and we are renewed and repaired ourselves.”

Lucy Moore, Messy Church: Fresh Ideas for Building a Christ- Centered Community

My husband is the gardener in our family! He patiently plants bulbs and waits for them to spring up out of the ground.  He gave up on a few bulbs he planted earlier this spring only to be surprised when a little green shoot came out of the ground much later than he expected.  The growth that was occurring underneath the ground was beyond our visual perception.

As I engage in conversations regarding what is next for Messy Church in the USA, as well as the global community, I wonder how God is creating something new, even though we may not perceive it.  I wonder if the anxiety that I feel arising from the unknown to the many complex questions regarding how Messy Church adapts to our changed world blocks me from placing my trust in our creator God.  Rev. Nicole Reilley, a Messy Church USA board member, shared in her recent sermon on July 12 that “we need to look to God rather than the past or the future…we are to live in the in-between space trusting in God.

Do not remember the former things,
    or consider the things of old.
I am about to do a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness

    and rivers in the desert.

Isaiah 43: 18-19

Trusting in our Creator God and grounding ourselves in the messy foundational value of creativity, I am wondering….

  • What are the most effective ways our Messy Church USA network to engage with one another to learn from one another and to perceive the movement of the Spirit?
  • What kind of resources do local church Messy Leaders and the households they engage with need at this time?  How can we most effectively provide those resources without overwhelming overworked people engaged in ministry?
  • How can we equip local Messy Churches to engage with their Messy folk through on-line, in-person or hybrid experience?
  • How do we stay grounded in our five values of Hospitality, Creativity, Celebration, All-Ages Together and Christ Centered as we experiment with new forms of Messy Church?
  • How do we envision new ways of being Messy Church in our changed world?
  • What are the spiritual practices that we need so that we can more clearly perceive God’s presence and guidance for our ministry?

On July 23rd at 10 am Pacific time, you are invited to a Messy Church USA Zoom town hall to engage with the above questions as well as questions that you bring to the conversation.  Here is a link to the Zoom invitation. 

My friends, this is a difficult time.  This is the first (and hopefully last) global pandemic that we have had to navigate.  Many of us who work in the church, use the summer to plan out the worship and curriculum for the coming school year.  However, everything is constantly changing which causes our plans to not be relevant in just a few short days or week.  Let us place our trust in our Creator God who is making something new that we cannot even imagine right now.  Let us live in a sense of curiosity rather than anxiety as we experiencing the unfolding of the next weeks and month.   I look forward to our ongoing conversations as I hold you in prayer this day.

Prayer: As you find yourself in times of uncertainty, may you perceive God creating a new thing within your life and community. In the places that are broken, may you experience the healing power of Christ. In the spaces where community is being re-created, may you place your trust in God’s Spirit to lead and guide you. May your spirit be renewed as you place your trust in the God of Love.  AMEN.

Grace and Peace,  Roberta

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

“What Next” Questions

Roberta J Egli

During the past several months of hunkering down at home, I have gained a greater appreciation for the global Messy Church Community and the USA network.  Hearing how people from all over the world are adapting their Messy Churches to on-line, or at home, or zoom calls has been a highlight.  I give thanks to God for all of the many ways that people from all over the USA network and world have creatively shared the good news of Christ in a large variety of ways over the past four months.

 One of my weekly routines has been to turn into the Messy Church/BRF Facebook Live event every Wednesday. Several weeks ago, Lucy Moore,founder of Messy Church, voiced something that I had been thinking for a while.  When COVID-19 began, there was a sense that we were in for a several month crisis that would soon pass and then we would get back to our regular church routines.  How silly!   It is now apparent that we will be living with COVID-19 precautions for an extended period of time. Even though some churches across the country are re-opening across the country many others will not hold in person worship until much later this fall or in early 2021. Even when we gather again in person, Messy Church will look much different as we have entered into a new reality of how we can gather to worship all-ages together!  

Lucy shared some questions that I have been pondering. (Read More Here)

  • Is it too early to decide on a course of action or strategy for the next seven months?  Should we just do all we can to listen to families, leaders of Messy Churches, wise people?
  • Should we keep pushing the ‘Keep contact, keep caring, keep serving, keep reaching out even if nobody seems to respond, keep offering Messy Church at home resources, keep doing Messy Church on Zoom and Facebook Live for a much longer stretch than we’d imagined
  • Should we see this as a fallow/sabbatical/Jubilee period and give Messy Churches permission/encouragement to stop rushing about…and use the time to think and pray and listen to God?
  • Is this an opportunity to leave the garden to its own devices and recover or not after the storm to re-imagine everything from scratch and break the ground in the new field we now find ourselves in? (“Wilding” is a concept that i learned about in Lucy’s blog, learn more here)

Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything.

Rainer Maria Rilke

What I found inspiring at the end of the 30 minute FB live session with Lucy is that she did not proceed to give any answers to the questions. She simply invited others to join her in conversation to discern which questions to ask.

We are called at this time to live in the tension of ‘what next’ questions which reminds me a favorite quote:

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.

Rainer Maria Rilke, 1903
i
Letters to a Young Poet

So, my friends, what are the questions that you have been asking in your local church settings?  In my next blogpost I will share some of the ‘what next’ questions we have been asking at Messy Church USA.  Our mission as an organization is to equip Messy Churches to start, sustain and connect.  In order to meet our mission, we need to hear from you what it is that you need at this time. Look for an opportunity to gather via zoom to learn from one another on July 23rd.

Grace and Peace,

Roberta

Below are some articles that have been helpful in my pondering! Happy Reading!

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

Stones of Help

Johannah Myers, Associate Director of Messy Church USA

Johannah Myers from South Carolina led the Messy Church Facebook Live event on June 10th.  Watch the FB live here.

Johannah Myers
Messy Church UK Facebook Live, June 10, 2020

Johannah’s original blog post from Messy Church UK is posted below.

I’m in a part of the world where things are opening back up – including churches. In fact, we’re planning to start back with in-person worship this week. It’s very scary. And it’s very different! One of the changes that will be hardest for many of us is that we won’t be singing together any time soon. I’m not sure if I know how to be Methodist if I can’t sing!

One of my favorite hymns is ‘Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing’. There’s a line in the second verse that says, ‘Here I raise my Ebenezer.’ And of course, how many times have we sung this song without ever knowing what an Ebenezer was and how we might would raise one?!

It comes from a rather random story in 1 Samuel 7. The Israelites messed up (again) and lost the ark of the covenant to the Philistines. Of course, while the Philistines were in possession of the ark, they experienced nothing but trouble – passing it around from city to city because no one wanted it! Finally, the Philistines take the ark back to Israel! But it’s another 20 years before it seems the Israelites are ready to turn back to God in a way that they can bring the ark back into their center. Samuel gathers them to repent and pray. But the Philistines learn that Israel’s gathering, and they decide to attack. Israel calls on God for help and God protects them. Samuel takes a stone and sets it up and call it Ebenezer – eben = stone, ezer = help. Samuel wanted the people to remember the ways that God helped them. The stone was a visible sign of God’s faithfulness.

A few years ago, on a retreat, we made ‘Stones of Help’. Mine has names of people who, throughout my life, have been a source of strength, help, encouragement. As I look over this rock and all the names, I realize how many ages are represented!

iStock

As we begin to think about Messy Church during this season of forced physical distance, but also what Messy Church will look like as we begin to gather, I wonder about how we will make space for the Messy togetherness.

For the last few years at my church, we’ve had small groups (10 or so people, 3-5 family units) that meet monthly for really what amounts to a mini-Messy Church or a Messy Church at home. They’ve done Bible study and activities together, worked on mission projects, they eat together… so basically Messy Church, just smaller! As we’ve moved out of strict shelter-at-home restrictions, some of our Companion groups have even gathered to reconnect in person.

Like many of you, I’m realizing that our Messy Church may be one of the last pieces we can bring back in full. But like Greg, who did this Facebook Live earlier today, I’m wondering what opportunities this season presents for us. Our Companion groups were an accompaniment of our Messy Church – now, they might very well be the primary access to Messy Church, at least for a season. Maybe we think small as a way of thinking big?

Going back to my Ebenezer – my stone of help. These people are here, listed on my rock, because along the way we had space for relationships to grow and development. In those spaces, I found help and support along my faith journey. These are the people who pointed to God, the ultimate source of my strength and help. Where will we create the spaces for relationships to flourish in ways that we can point the way to God, our Rock?

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

Messy Adventure- Take Two- Journey with Jesus to a Hillside

iStock

As per the previous blog post, while sitting in our respective home offices, many people journeyed around the world on a Messy Adventure on May 21st.  This fifteen-hour YouTube live event was the brainstorm of Messy Church founder, Lucy Moore.  Messy Church USA collaborators provided two one-hour sessions for the world event.   

Our second one-hour session explored a few of the many teachings from what is known as the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ from Matthew 5-8. We began by taking a hike with Jim and his dog Milo to the mountains surrounding Palmdale, CA.  Jim shared some background on this important teaching of Jesus before he showed us the lights that began to shine brighter after the sunset.   

We explored sharing the light of Christ through pictures, a science experiment, hearing the scripture in another hike in Texas, a story around the campfire and learning the art of making cards to share with others.   We also explored ways in which people are reaching out to others during the Pandemic to share Christ’s light.  We ended our session with the prayer that Jesus taught his followers on the hillside shared from around the world.  

Below is the outline for the Messy Session.  The link for the video follows the outline. Be sure to also check out the bonus video from Community UMC that we did not get into our session due to a oops glitch. 

Light your Light Shine
iStock

Jesus journeys to a hillside to teach Messy Adventure

Theme: Share the Light of Christ

Scripture:  Matthew 5: 1,14-16 (NRSV)

“When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them…You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in Heaven.”

Outline

  • Hike with Jim and Milo
  • Science Experiment with Light
  • Video Montage -Where have you seen Light of Christ during the Pandemic?
  • Scripture reading with Jenna and her dog in Texas
  • Song
  • Making Cards to share Messy Activity
  • Other ways to share light of Christ
  • Lord’s Prayer from around the world

Join the Journey to Hillside Adventure Here

Find the entire Around the World Messy Adventures Here

Bonus Video from Community United Methodist in Huntington Beach Here 

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

Journey to the Jordan Messy Adventure

While sitting in our respective home offices, many people journeyed around the world on a Messy Adventure on May 21st.  This fifteen-hour YouTube live event was the brainstorm of Messy Church founder, Lucy Moore.  Messy Church USA collaborators provided two one-hour sessions for the world event.   Our first session was filled with stories and activities focused on baptism.

In remembrance of Jesus baptism in the Jordan, Messy Church USA virtually traveled from coast to coast as we explored stories from various waterways.  We began at the James River in Virginia with Cindy Banek taking us to the water’s edge and then sharing a number of shell craft messy activities.  Next, we went to the Mighty Mississippi as Jillian Mayer from Illinois led us in a breath prayer as we gazed at the Mississippi flowing past the majestic St. Louis Arch. Roberta Egli then introduced the Willamette river that flows south to north in Oregon.  WE then headed to the California coast line of the Pacific Ocean as Marty Drake and Leyla Wagner shared the scripture through sand art. 

A Coast to Coast Journey

the outline for the Jesus Journeys to the Jordan Messy Church Session if below and a link to the video follows the outline.

Theme: Come to the Water

Scripture:  Mark 1: 9-11

“In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you, I am well pleased’”

Outline:

  • Welcome
  • St James River and Shell Craft Activity
  • Prayer at the Mighty Mississippi
  • A song by the Willamette
  • Scripture at the Pacific Ocean
  • A Messy Science Water activity
  • Renewal of Baptism Celebration
  • Water Fun

Messy Church Adventure USA Collaborators:  Cindy Banek(VA), Marty Drake(CA), Roberta Egli(OR), Crystal Goetz(WA), Jillian Mayer(IL), Johannah Myers(SC),Jenna Reinke(TX), Leyla Wagner(CA) and Jim White(CA).

Join the Journey to Jordan Adventure Here

Find the entire Around the World Messy Adventures Here

Renewal of baptism Order

Sahalie Falls, Oregon
Picture by Roberta Egli

On May 21st you are invited to an Around the World Messy Adventure

To celebrate the amazing international Messy Church community and to bring a little joy to the day we will set out on the speediest round-the-world trip ever. On Thursday May 21st, (Ascension Day for the liturgical geeks), Messy Church leaders from England, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA will journey (digitally) journey through the Bible with worship, storytelling, prayer and food for thought. Starting with Lucy Moore, Messy Church founder and captain of this trip, the voyage begins at 11 Pm (Pacific Daylight Time on May 20th) and will conclude at 3 pm (PDT).  The Messy Church USA Journey to the Jordan begins at 9am(PDT) and our Journey to the Hillside will follow at 10 am(PDT). 

Join us as on the Messy Church YouTube  as we set sail (virtually), take off (in our imagination) and rev our (digital) engines for a whole day of Mess!

The Messy Church USA collaborators for this adventure are Cindy Banek,(VA). Robin Cannon (NC), Marty Drake (CA), Roberta Egli (OR), Crystal Goetz (WA), Jillian Mayer (IL), Johannah Myers (SC), Jenna Reinke (TX), Leyla Wagner (CA), and Jim White(CA).

Messy Church around the World, created by Dave Martin

The entire journey itinerary for this Messy Adventure is below in British Standard Time!

Messy Value of Hospitality

Five Values of Messy Church

On Wednesday May 13th, Charis Lambert, the first ever Regional Coordinator for Messy Church in the UK, held the third Messy Church Facebook Live event focused on the five foundational values.  She led a international group in thinking about how we can extend hospitality when we long to be with our Messy community!  

Messy Hospitality

Messy Hospitality during the lock-down

by Charis Lambert

When I google Messy Church, it comes up with the tag line ‘Messy Church- church but not as you know it.’

Unfortunately, at the moment Messy Church itself is not as we know (and love) it. And in this changed situation, the core value of hospitality is the one that might seem the hardest to re-envisage – where we cannot meet together physically and share the hospitality of the meal, the food, the time around the table. And we are grieving that loss, as we also acknowledge that many are suffering food poverty at this difficult time.

But hospitality is (and always has been) so much more than just food!

READ MORE 

Graphic by Dave Martin, Messy Church BRF

Around the World Messy Church Adventure

To celebrate the amazing international Messy Church community and to bring a little joy to the day we will set out on the speediest round-the-world trip ever. On Thursday May 21st, (Ascension Day for the liturgical geeks), Messy Church leaders from England, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA will journey (digitally) journey through the Bible with worship, storytelling, prayer and food for thought. Starting with Lucy Moore, Messy Church founder and captain of this trip, begins at 8 am Midnight Pacific Time and will conclude at 2 pm Pacific Time).

Join us as on the Messy Church YouTube  as we set sail (virtually), take off (in our imagination) and rev our (digital) engines for a whole day of Mess!

The Messy Church USA collaborators for this adventure are Cindy Banek,(VA). Robin Cannon (NC), Marty Drake (CA), Roberta Egli (OR), Crystal Goetz (WA), Jillian Mayer (IL), Johannah Myers (SC), Jenna Reinke (TX), Leyla Wagner (CA), and Jim White(CA).

Time listed above is British Summer Time.
Be sure to check for your local time zone.

Messy Church Values

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

Messy Church USA and COVID-19…oh my!

Roberta Jantzi Egli

iStock

As a former communicable disease registered nurse with a local county health department, I certainly understand the anxiety regarding what is now an official global pandemic.  Should we cancel this month’s Messy Church?  How do we keep messy fingers clean if we decide to proceed with our Messy Church?  There are many questions that many of you have been asking. Recommendations are changing quickly but this is the latest.

First, follow the guidelines of your specific denomination and local health departments regarding the decision to cancel or postpone your monthly Messy Church. 

Second, find ways to connect with your Messy Church Community during this time of uncertainty. 

  • Pick up your cell phone and call anyone you are worried about
  • Reach out via social media to stay connected with your Messy Church families
  • Pray for each other and especially the global Messy Church movement with special attention to those areas that are especially hit hard with this virus
  • Share your prayers with one another via social media

Third, stay informed with current science.  Here are some great resources. World Health Organization and Centers For Disease Control.

Last but not least, you are invited to join in a brainstorming conversation with other members of the Messy Church USA network.  A Zoom call has been set up for Monday, March 16th, 2020 at 1 pm Pacific Daylight time.  Here is the link that you can use to join in, https://zoom.us/j/5417603909

If you have not used zoom before you will need to download the free software prior to the call on your phone or computer at https://zoom.us/support/download

I am praying for you as you and your Messy teams lead your communities during this time.  Don’t forget that there is nothing that can separate us from God’s love.  

Grace and Peace, Roberta

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

Give Thanks…Messy Church Changes Lives…David’s Story

From BRF Appeal

Messy Church not only changes the lives of those who find their way to attend, the lives of the many volunteers are also changed. In the last five years Messy Church has given David a whole new lease of live and an unexpected chance to use and develop his gifts. Listen to his story and then donate to support the global movement of Messy Church.

As you gather to give thanks over this holiday weekend, please support the global movement of Messy Church. Messy Church USA will give 50% of any donations received on our website directly to Bible Reading Fellowship, the home for the global Messy Church movement. Donate Here 

Thank you for making a differene in the lives of people all over the world by supporting Messy Church!   Happy Thanksgiving from Messy Church USA!

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