Blessings Abound

Archive for intergenerational learning

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. 

iStock

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

September News

Celebrate the Mess, Regional Coordinator of the Month and Welcome New Members to the Messy Church USA Network 

Celebrate the Mess!
Equipping Messy Churches in the USA to Start, Sustain and Connect

Mark your calendar for October 22-24, 2020 when we will gather in the greater Chicago area to Celebrate the Mess! We are happy to announce that Lucy Moore and Stephen Fischbacher will be two of our plenary speakers/ musicians! There will be more!  

The members of the planning team for the 2020 Messy Church USA Conference are:  

  • Overall Lead: Roberta Egli and Casey Cross
  • Workshops: Marty Drake and Leyla Wagner
  • Finance: Lynn Egli
  • Messy Church Experience: Maureen Carey-Back
  • Hospitality/Local Logistics: Ronda Bower
  • Publicity: Robin Canon
  • Multimedia/Technology: Andrew Scanlan-Holmes
  • Messy Extras: Johannah Myers

All of these fantastic team members are recruiting for their teams so if you would like to get involved contact them at (firstname)@messychurchusa.org. Look for more details and registration coming soon.

Ronda Bower, Northern Illinois/Wisconsin Regional Coordinator

Messy Church USA Regional Coordinator of the Month

Ronda Bower is our Regional Coordinator for Northern Illinois and Wisconsin. She is the Pastoral Associate for Family and Educational Ministries at Northfield Community Church in Northfield IL.

We are excited to use the beautiful campus of her church for our 2020 Celebrate the Mess Conference. I have firsthand experience of how beloved Ronda is at her church! In my short visit with Northfield Community in August, people kept coming up to me sharing how Ronda makes such a difference in her church. Whether it was about her Sunday morning adult education class or her leadership of the vibrant Messy Church team, Ronda is appreciated for her multiple gifts. THANK YOU, RONDA!

Do you know your Regional Coordinator?  Here they are…contact them at (firstname@messychurchusa.org) (Hint- there will be two more announced soon!) 

California/Hawaii/Southwest – Marty Drake and Leyla Wagner

Chicago/Northern Illinois and Wisconsin – Ronda Bower

Colorado/Kansas/Oklahoma/Nebraska – Janeen Hill

Indiana –Andrew Scanlan-Holmes

Michigan – Missy Harrison

New Mexico – Barb Tegtmeier

New York and New Jersey – Julie Hintz

North & South Dakota/Minnesota/Montana/Wyoming – Sandee Prouty-Cole

Ohio –Robin Cannon

Oregon (& other areas not listed) –Roberta Egli

North and South Carolina –Johannah Myers

Southern IL/Missouri – Jillian Mayer

Texas –Kate Cross

Virginia –Cindy Banek

Washington – Crystal Goetz

Is God calling you to spread the word about Messy Church? We will be announcing two additional RC soon but we still need more! Our current high priority areas for new Regional Coordinators include Florida, and the mid-Atlantic states. Contact Roberta if you are interested.

Welcome to the Messy Church USA Network

In August we welcomed eleven new Messy Churches to our Network!  We also had one renewal!  Take a moment to give God thanks and say a prayer of blessings for the teams who are bringing Messy Church to their local communities! 

August 2019 Messy Church USA Network Memberships 

New Supporter Members

  • Marshall United Methodist, Marshall, MI
  • Epworth United Methodist, Concord, NC
  • Christ our Shepherd Evangelical Lutheran Church, Peachtree City, GA
  • The Church of Agape Outpost, Breckinridge, CO
  • East Canton United Methodist, Canton, PA
  • First United Methodist,  Michigan City, IN

New Registered Members 

  •  Community of Christ, Glendale, AZ
  • Winamac United Methodist, Winamac, IN
  • Macedonia United Methodist, White Post, VA
  • First United Methodist, Comanche, TX
  • St James United Methodist, Marriottsville, MD

Renewal Registered Member

  • St Andrews On-the-Sound, Wilmington, NC
Messy Church USA logo and mission
Equipping Messy Churches to start, sustain and connect across the USA

Messy Transitions can lead to Messy Training

A blogpost from Roberta J Egli 

Transitions can be Messy is our September 2019 focus at Messy Church USA. At our home we have had some messy transitions the past few months. We have a seventeen-week-old Springer Spaniel named Jack who became part of our family at nine weeks of age in July. He has grown from eleven pounds to a whopping 23 pounds! Jack is our first puppy and we are loving his boundless joy and enthusiasm…. except for the two evening hours that Lynn, my husband has named “Jack’s bewitching time”. It is like he has so much energy that he is now sure how to contain it any longer.

Throughout the summer, he could run outside during these two hours and get some of his energy out but the rains have come this week that cramps his style. Thankfully, we have a wonderful trainer who is working with us to help Jack be a happy, healthy and trained dog!

Jack’s first rain experience… a bit confused!

Having an experienced person share ideas, simple gestures and encouragement as we practice with Jack has made this puppy transition much happier. It reminds me when we learn new skills, that having support and encouragement is vital. We are so happy that so many people are coming together to learn about Messy Church in our “Getting Started” training.

In the seven trainings scheduled between August and the end of October, Messy Church USA will encourage over 220 people! WOW! We expect more people to sign up in the days to come but I give God thanks for the tremendous response we have already received. Will you join me in saying a prayer of thanks and also a prayer for each of the individuals and team who will be attending training over the next few months.

May your messy transitions be filled with joy!

Roberta

Quotes from Michigan City, IN Training

The Messy Church training not only provides the theory behind this unique and highly effectively form of church, but it also provides concrete ways to put the concepts into practice. Through large-group teaching to table interactions to hands-on experiential learning, participants gained the confidence to create a Messy Church opportunity back home.
Associate Director of Church Development
Indiana United Methodist Church Annual Conference

My team is inspired and encouraged. We are very excited to meet and work out all the details for starting our own Messy Church here in Michigan City, and I can only imagine that others left feeling as excited and inspired as we are. Thank you again for such a wonderful experience!
Trish Johnsen, Michigan City First United Methodist Church

From Feedback Forms
What helped you learn the most?
•Great overview of the concept- really had a great time and learned a lot
• The discussion with my team after the presentation. Walking through the Mini Messy Church
• The mini experience helped me see the movement of the structure
• The community. In our area Messy Church is non-existent and foreign. It was so nice to see other churches following the model and being able to network.
• Great deal of information and suggestions for starting off on a new idea
• Opening- explaining what (Messy Church) is, but the activities part brought it to life

September 21st in Mt Dora, FL
September 21st in Hartford, CT 
September 28th in Newport, NH
October 5th, in Cheney, WA (Near Spokane)
October 12th in Huntington Beach, CA 

Would you like to schedule a training in your area?  We are always looking for host churches! Contact Roberta if you are interested. 

September…Transitions can be Messy!

A blogpost from Roberta J. Egli

My personal Facebook page has been filled with pictures of children and teachers starting another year of school. I love the smiling faces that show both excitement and some nervousness. I chuckled at a friend who shared a picture of his briefcase filled with his plans for a brand-new course he is teaching at his university. How do you experience times of transition? Are you filled with anxiety or delight or perhaps a little of both? Transitions can be a bit messy!

iStock. Used with Permission

This September we are sharing stories of transition. Stories of unexpected surprises as well as stories of preparing for an anticipated change. Lindsey Goodyear blogs about her Rev. George Hooper, who became pastor on July 1st of her church in Huntington Beach, CA. Their previous pastor had been instrumental in building excitement for their Messy Church Start over five years ago. How would their Messy Church transition to a new Pastor?

In news from across the pond, Dave Martin joined the dynamic team of Lucy Moore and Jane Leadbetter at Messy Church/BRF on September 1st. What kind of creative ideas will come from this transition? I imagine that there will be even more great resources from Messy Church/BRF.

Preparing for something new is what our “Getting Started in Messy Church” training is all about! This month there are three new opportunities for training. Read what others have to say about how this training has helped them get ready to start their own Messy Church. Our mission as an organization is to equip Messy Churches to start, sustain and connect which occurs through conversations and presentations at our trainings!

iStock

We are transitioning into full gear as we plan for the Celebrate the Mess Conference in October 2020. At our first planning meeting for the upcoming Messy Church USA 2020 national conference, the team shared of their involvement with Messy Church over the past six years. A common thread I heard as people introduced themselves to each other was how when they first became involved with Messy Church, they would not have predicted how their lives would change. Messy Church had changed the way people approached their ministry setting and for some on the team, had changed their vocational lives!

Living into transition is an opportunity to open ourselves to the leading of Spirit of God. Where will God lead you in your Messy Church this coming year? Where is God calling you to say ‘yes’? Where does your team find joy in your Messy Church? What continues to challenge you as a team? We would love to hear from you as you transition into this new school year and church life year at your Messy Church!

May you find grace and peace in all of your transitions,

Roberta

 

Equipping Messy Churches in the USA to Start, Sustain and Connect

July 2019 “Who am I”

A Blog Post by Steve Kim

“Who am I to go to Pharaoh and to bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” Exodus 3:11 CEB

During the 2nd day morning reflection of the Messy Church International Conference (MCIC) at High Leigh Conference Centre, Hertfordshire, UK, I found myself at a sacred space. The morning reflection was about Moses meeting God in a “burning bush” recorded in the third chapter of Exodus. On that day, I encountered God and numerous co-workers of Christ getting together to do “messy” things for the glory of God. It is fitting to believe that a divine encounter is “messy.” Why a “burning bush?” Also, it is appropriate to assume that a journey with God is “messier.” The story of Moses gets better as his ministry and walking with God get messier, e.g., splitting and crossing the Red Sea, transforming a snake into a staff, striking a rock to draw water, gathering ‘manna’ each day, wandering around in a wilderness, etc. The three-day conference was too short capturing the messiness of the Messy Church while too wide, embracing the creativity and joyfulness manifested in participants from all over the world! I was surely at a holy place.

Two highlights that emerged for me throughout the MCIC weekend were the presentations by Claire Dalpra and Andrew Roberts. Dalpra shared her reflections as the project lead for a two year research project of Messy Churches in the United Kingdom by Church Army research. The study included interviews with 174 Messy Church leaders with an additional 29 leaders engaged in a regional focus group. It also included interviews with Messy Church participants of adults, children and youth and with those who were no longer involved in Messy Church. The outcome of the research? Evidence to celebrate that Messy Church is reaching families who are new to church and Messy Church is growing disciples of Jesus Christ. The research also indicated that being intentional about discipleship in Messy Church is important- it doesn’t happen automatically. You can check out the summary of the research Playfully Serious: How Messy Churches Create New Space for Faith

To complement the results of Playfully Serious, was a presentation by Andrew Roberts, an author of Holy Habits.   Roberts explored the methodology of discipleship based on the practices of the early church recorded in the 2nd chapter of the Gospel of Luke. Both Dalpra and Roberts helped to answer the question “Can Messy Church make disciples?”  They both answered with a strong YES as they drew a beautiful picture depicting the animating of the Holy Spirit through the fresh expression of being the church for today.  As I have been preparing  our team to launch Messy Church in  Long Island, NY, I have also asked the question, ‘can Messy Church make disciples” and these two presentations were  like a guidepost helping me discover where to go from here and now.

“Who am I to go to people and to build Messy Church?”

Steve Kim

“Who am I to go to people and to build Messy Church?” As reluctant as Moses was, I found myself in this sacred space, instead of breathing out confusion, hesitancy, and anxiety, but by breathing in possibilities, hopes, and joys from the conference, ready to embrace the journey lies ahead, launching and building Messy Church! It was an awestruck and heartwarming moment to see many participants enjoying the Kin-dom celebration with each other in joy, peace, hope, and love. I was no longer a stranger in the room, but one of the beloved children of God getting ready to be messy. My heart was overwhelmed with anticipation and expectation that God, who called Moses, is also calling me to do great and messy things for God and the people of God.

After the conference, I had a moment of sudden revelation (an epiphany) that the word “messy” is not ‘just’ an adjective describing a status of something of disoriented and untidy things but an adverb expressing joyful actions of leaders who envision bringing people of God closer to God alone.

So, “Who am I to go to Pharaoh and to bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

“Who am I to go to people and to build the Messy Church?”

Here I am, send me.

Rev. Steve Kim is the pastor at Huntington-Cold Spring Harbor United Methodist Church. He is working with a team to begin a Messy Church at his church after sponsoring a ‘Getting Started Training’ workshop in his district. He was one of the seven delegates from the Untied States who attended MCIC 2019. He has recently begun his D Min with the intention of studying Messy Churches within the United States.

Steve Kim and family

A Messy Interview: Part 2

Blog Post by Lindsey Goodyear

Last month, I did an interview with one half of the incredible duo that started the Messy Church in my hometown.  Leyla Wagner sat down to fill me in on the experience she had while across the pond at the Messy Church International Conference in London.  This month, I get another perspective, on the same questions, when Leyla’s partner in crime sits down to share what she brought home from the UK.  Please enjoy this interview with Marty Drake from Huntington Beach UMC.

Leyla Wagner and Marty Drake
Traveling Home after MCIC 2019

Lindsey:  This is your second trip across the pond for Messy Church, how was this time different from the last?

Marty:  The first time we were so new at doing Messy Church I just kind of was in awe of the whole thing.  This time I felt a little more confident with my understanding of Messy Church.  At the first conference the focus was more on the foundation of Messy Church.  This year the focus was on the where Messy Church has been and where it is going and the impact that the movement has had on people’s lives.

Lindsey:  I’m sure there were familiar faces, were you able to network with any new Messy friends?

Marty:  Yes there were plenty of times to network with everyone.  When we all met as a large group they gave us three specific questions about our own Messy Churches.  We were to move around and share answers with 3 other people.  That was really helpful because everyone has some very creative ideas.  Meal times were also a really good time to meet others from all around the world and to hear and learn about how Messy Church was going for them and just to connect with people in general.  The power of communing over a meal was very apparent which is why it is such an integral part of Messy Church.

Lindsey: You’ve mentioned to me that this convention was rejuvenating.  What do   you, personally, feel fueled your passion for Messy Church the most?

Marty:  Being with people who are very passionate about Messy Church.  Being with people who see the value of Messy Church.  Being able to worship in a way that is full of life and positive energy.

 Lindsey:  What was your favorite activity at the international conference?

Marty:  There were a few.  I love singing with Stephen of Fischy Music.  Worship led by Martyn Payne.  His storytelling is amazing and powerful!  Our closing worship with communion was very meaningful.  We got together in groups and each group created one point of the star which shared what they felt the Angel of God was telling the global Messy Church.  Then we brought them all together to make one star.  We shared communion together and ended it with some wonderful music.  It was not a quiet somber worship with communion.

“What is the Angel of God Saying to Messy Church”
Final Worship at MCIC

Lindsey:  Anything you’re planning on using at our own Messy Church that you learned while there?

Marty:  We had the author, Andrew Roberts, of the book Holy Habits speak to us.  His book looks at a passage in Luke on the 10 Holy Habits.  These 10 Holy Habits will help those that come to Messy Church, as well as those who help with Messy Church, deepen their faith and share it with others.  I think we will take a look at these throughout the year.  I also think we came back with some ways to help empower those that attend Messy Church so that they feel a greater sense of belonging not just attenders.

Lindsey:  I know Stephen was there rocking and rolling.  Any new Fischy Music that’s a must have?

Marty:  Yes he was rocking and rolling.  I just love his music.  So beautiful, simple, yet a solid message in each song.  And, fun!  We can’t forget they are fun and can get you moving!  There isn’t one that you shouldn’t have.

Lindsey:  What was your biggest takeaway from your experience in London?

Marty:  At some point during the conference it occurred to me that all Messy Churches have the five values and components but that each one is unique.  They all take on the personality of their community.  I realized that our Messy Church could be a little different from others and that was the beauty of Messy Church.  It was very freeing and reassuring.

Lindsey:  Do you think you’ll attend the next international convention?

Marty:  I would love to attend and hope I get to.  For me there was so much learning but it was also spiritually renewing. 

Lindsey:  We will host one in the states before then.  Is there anything you particularly loved that we will see incorporated into out next convention?

Marty:  I would like to see us end the conference with a closing worship which includes communion. We also had an opportunity for the leaders of the countries to come together.  I would like to be able to have people have an opportunity to meet with others in their region to come together so they could connect with each other.

Lindsey:  I was so sad to miss the trip so, just for fun, what was your favorite meal while there?

Marty:  Breakfast everyone morning.  Nothing like a great bowl of oatmeal to start your day.  And the British like their beans at breakfast and so do I.  I’m weird like that!

iStock Baked beans on wholewheat toast, on a green plate.

Scatter Seeds Recklessly…Trust God

Messy Church International Conference (MCIC) Reflections 

Part 4 of 4

Roberta J. Egli 

Following the first international conference in 2016, the four USA delegates returned and brought others into the conversation as to how we could create a  structural ‘trellis’ to help support and encourage  the healthy growth of Messy Church in the USA.  We have been busy listening to one another as we implemented a vision for a nonprofit whose mission is to equip local churches to start, sustain and connect with other Messy Churches in the United States.

This year, our delegation met on Sunday afternoon with Canon Richard Fisher, chief executive of Bible Reading Fellowship (BRF), Jay Elliot, head of finance & operations BRF, and Lucy Moore, founder of Messy Church.  We wanted to take advantage of their wisdom and expertise as we move forward as an organization.  Richard shared a central core of their philosophy from the very beginnings of the Messy Church movement which was to TRUST the movement of the spirit in the growth of Messy Church.   He also shared the importance of focusing on the foundational values of Messy Church.

Front Row L-R: Jay Elliot, Maureen Carey, Leyla Wagner, Marty Drake, Steve Kim
Back Row L-R: Lynn Egli, Crystal Goetz, Richard Fisher, Roberta Egli, Lucy Moore

I resonated with a quote Richard shared that he had heard the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams once share that helped to guide him as a leader of BRF and for the team of Messy Church…“Go where the ground is already tilled”.  I pondered that quote for several days. As a leader of Messy Church, I was inspired by the quote that speaks of trusting God to do the work of preparing the way but as a farmer’s daughter I wondered how I was to discern ‘how we as an organization was to know where the ground was already tilled… how are we to find those places where God has prepared a way forward?

Several days later, at 36,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean, I had one of those God moments when I was journaling about this conversation. I remembered that several years ago, Lucy shared the parable of the soils at the first Getting Messy in the USA conference.  I realized that our task as Messy Church USA is to scatter the seeds as liberally and recklessly as the sower of the seeds in the parable when the seeds fell on rocky, sandy, weedy and good soil.  It is God’s work to till the soil but it is our task to scatter the seeds.

We scatter seeds by sharing the stories of how lives are changed in Messy Church through workshops, social media, and videos. We scatter seeds by engaging in leadership development for Messy Church teams. We scatter seeds by sharing dynamic best practices training for those churches wanting to start their own local Messy Church.  Some of the seeds will fall on the good soil which will be the place where we are led!

i stock

You will continue to hear stories from the USA delegates to the MCIC 2019 conference.   Check here to read an interview with Leyla Wagner that has already been posted. Hearing stories is important for the work of Messy Church.  I want to hear your stories! How are you messily scattering seeds of good news at your Messy Church?  

Messy Blessings, Roberta

We are on this messy path with many others

Messy Church International Conference (MCIC) 2019 Reflections

Part 3 of 4

By Roberta Egli 

Over 200 delegates from 13 different countries gathered at the High Leigh Conference center in May for the second ever MCIC. Seven came from the United States and several of us met one another for the first time!  For the three of us who attended in 2016 it felt a little like coming home to a great community of people passionately serving God through Messy Church!

How High can we go???

 At every plenary session, workshop, Messy Church experience and even at the crowded meal tables, there was a palpable joy present in the gathering of the delegates.  Over the course of three days plus an additional day for international leaders (60 people in total) from outside of the UK, we shared our ideas, stories, delights and challenges.   What a delight to be reminded that we are not on this path alone but there are many different people all over the world experimenting and  messily creating new paths of being an intergenerational church. 

We heard stories from Australia of an experiment of several weeks of Messy Camp where families came and camped having fun together. On each weekend, there was a Messy Church to engage all and through the week, there were crafts available and a movie each night chosen by the children of the families.

We heard from Neal from Canada regarding the joys and challenges of creating a fully bi-lingual Messy Church.  

Messy Church Canada Delegation (Neal is on the far right)

From the UK, we heard joys and challenges of preparing Messy Church for the families of prisoners who were waiting to visit their loved ones.  Finding ways to create a welcoming space in a dreary setting and the relationships that deepened over several months was extraordinary.  We heard from Johannah Myers from South Carolina about how she created intergenerational companion groups based upon the five foundational Messy Church values.  We heard from small rural Messy Churches as well as large urban Messy Churches. We learned of an experiment of Messy Churches in a housing development in the UK.

Messy Church has many resources yet we learned that in New Zealand, South Africa and Australia, Christmas does not occur in the cold of winter but in the middle of summer?  How does one translate the Christmas story into all of these different contexts?

We can learn from those who have been doing Messy Church much longer than we have in the States as well as those who are just beginning on this path.  We are not alone, we are among many and that is inspiring!

The Sticky Star created at the closing worship of MCIC 2019
“What is the angel of God saying to the global Messy Church Movement?”

Messy Church is a gift…

Messy Church International (MCIC) 2019 Reflections

Part 2 of 4

Roberta J. Egli 

Lucy Moore, Founder of Messy Church
Opening Session MCIC 2019

A big takeaway that I came home with came from the opening session of the MCIC 2019 conference.  In reflecting on the past, present and future of the Messy Church Movement, Lucy shared the idea that…Messy Church is a gift that is given to the universal church. The gift is given freely to be used in small and large churches, rural and urban settings, from a small village in England to the large metropolis of Los Angeles. Messy Church is a gift!

Looking back, we are a very young movement. In April 2019, Messy Church turned 15 years old…we are a teenager and very young in the long life of the Christian church.  According to Lucy, from the very start of Messy Church, there has been a common value of listening…listening deeply to God and to one another. 

For today, Lucy challenged us to stop using the term ‘just’.  I am ‘just’ a volunteer at Messy Church…I am ‘just’ a lay leader…I ‘just’ help with the meal at Messy Church, etc. She effectively banned us from using the word “just” for the weekend. Rather than humbly saying ‘just’ we were to boldly proclaim that we are all instrumental in re-imagining what church can be.  We are using our unique gifts to build on the past to be the church for today and to become the church of the future.

Ban the word “just” from your vocabulary…rather than saying “I just sweep up after Messy Church each month, boldly proclaim the gifts that you bring and use to make Messy Church what it is.

Lucy Moore, Opening Session of MCIC 2019 (not a verbatim quote but shared in the spirit of what she said)

As for where we are going, the idea that Messy Church is a gift to the universal church is a message of hope.  In my years of leading a local church, I have attended a variety of church conferences where we have commiserated over the doomsday predictions of the death of the church. How inspiring it was to engage in conversations regarding the gifts of Messy Church for today and for a joyous future. 

I wrote in my notes– “it is not about competing with the traditional church but about blessing the traditional church with the gift of Messy Church.”  What a wonderful way to view Messy Church!   What are the concrete ways Messy Church is blessing the universal church? 
Throughout the weekend, these are a few of the gifts that I discovered: Stories of hope where relationships were built through simple table activities, in the analysis of the 2 year research project completed by Church Army titled, Playfully Serious,(look for more posts about that later),and  through listening, asking and discovering new ways to be an intergenerational movement filled with joyful abundance.

At the end of her talk, Lucy placed a simple wooden cross that was created at the closing worship at the first international Messy Church conference three years ago  at the center of the stage and asked shared these final reflections. 

  • The horizontal arms of the cross point outward…How are we being called to resources of hope reaching outward to the broader church and the greater world?
  • The vertical cross points upward reminding us to be open to God’s Inspired Breath that has brought Messy Church into a movement. How do we as a movement continue to listen to God, listen to one another and trust God in Messy Church?
  • The vertical cross points downward reminding us of the call to deepen our lives of faith. How is Messy Church being called to plumb the depths of intergenerational discipleship?  How is God leading us into the depths of re-imagining the church for today?

Much food for thought!  My question for you—How are you sharing the gift of Messy Church to your local community and to the broader universal church?

Messy Blessings, Roberta

Messy Church International Conference Reflection: What Now?

Part 1 of 4

Roberta J. Egli

 

Exploring London via google maps
L-R, Marty Drake, Roberta Egli, Lynn Egli, Leyla Wagner

Leyla and I looked on a bit helplessly as the train we had just boarded to Broxbourne station; the stop for the conference center of the (MCIC)  2019 event, left the station with two of our traveling companions (Marty and Lynn) left standing on the platform.  We had navigated the labyrinth of the London tube from the airport to the hotel, we had gotten lost while following the directions of google maps through London the day before, we had found our way back to the tube station the morning of the conference where it took several attempts to add money to our oyster cards, (btw- we added way too much money!) and had successfully made tube line transfers to the train station where we got separated when the door of the train shut after I got on the train and we could not get the door back open.   

What now? Yes, I admit there was a brief moment of panic but after a few text messages, we realized that Leyla and I simply needed to proceed to the Broxbourne station and then wait for Marty and Lynn to catch the train. When they arrived about twenty minutes after us, they had already made friends with another MCIC delegate from Scotland with whom we shared a taxi to the conference center.


I have now returned home following an inspiring four days with over 200 delegates from all over the world. The conference was filled with excitement and we heard many stories of how Messy Church has changed individual lives of the leaders of Messy Church and the communities of faith where they serve. I find myself asking again…what now?


The idea of Messy Church USA was birthed at the 2016 MCIC. Over three years we have worked together to create something new. We have formed a Board of Directors and became a separate nonprofit entity with a signed agreement with Bible Reading Fellowship (BRF) to be the home for Messy Church in the USA.


We have developed strategic plans and three year goals for our future. However, as I was reminded by our travel experience, I know there are and will be times when our reality will not follow our neatly drafted plans. Rather than panicking or doubting our plans, we are called to trust the leading of the Spirit and adjust. Discerning the leading of the Spirit is an adventure to live into. I pray that we will have the grace to move forward with a sense of curiosity, discovery and a sense of play. My question for you… How have you trusted the Spirit at your Messy Church within the past two months as you have needed to adjust your plans?

Look for three more reflections from my experience at MCIC over the next two weeks.

Messy Blessings,

Roberta 

Burning Bush
Messy Church Experience, Messy Church International Conference