How are you preparing for advent at your Messy Church?
Sheep Trails, family advent wreaths, a coloring nativity and much more. Sometimes you may become overwhelmed with advent Messy Church opportunities. Johannah Myers, North and South Carolina Regional Coordinator and Messy Church leader for Aldersgate UMC in Greenville, SC started a Messy Church Sheep trail in her community several years ago. Read her previous post to learn all about it! Sheep Trail
Advent is a wonderful opportunity to connect your Messy Church community and your Sunday morning community. Are their activities that are traditional for your Sunday worship that you can bring to Messy Church?
On our Messy Church team leaders FB group page, people have been sharing various ideas for advent. Leyla Wagner, from Community UMC in Huntington Beach, CA shared “Something that we like to do is a Reverse Advent Box. We have families decorate a box to take home. Each day of advent, the family puts something (typically canned food or hygiene product) into the box and then donates the entire box to a local Food Pantry or Charity. It’s a good way to make space for “God” in all the busyness of preparing for Christmas.
Advent offers great opportunities to bridge the worship at Messy Church with at home family devotions. Check out the links of Advent ideas below and make sure to check out our FB Messy Church team leaders group page.
Advent in a Box Resource
Robin Cannon, the RC for Ohio and our social media consultant for Messy Church USA is a partner in Family Ministry Tools which have created a wonderful resource called- Advent in a Box It is a pizza box filled with all-age devotions and activities to help families celebrate Advent and prepare for Christmas. We have created the devotions and activities for your church. You will need to print the materials, buy the supplies, and pack your boxes. Everything a family will need to do the activities will be in the box (aside from normal household supplies like markers and tape).
You can order individually or per size of your church. Check it out here.
From Building Faith (Virginia Theological Seminary ) Website
Having God in my life is something I’ve always known. Growing up, we went to church and talked regularly about God and what it meant to be a Christian. As a kid I went to Sunday school, I went to youth group, and I’m doing my best to raise strong Christian men, now, as an adult. However, I can’t tell you how many times, in the last 35 years, I’ve heard people refer to others being Christian in a negative connotation. It usually happens after someone has either made a mistake or a morally questionable decision and they’re met with the reply of, “Can you believe that? And they say they’re Christian.” There seems to be some misconception that stating you’re a follower of God means you think you’re somehow superior to others or a perfect being. But, here’s the thing. Being a Christian doesn’t mean you’re perfect or anywhere close. In fact, it’s almost completely the opposite. If we were perfect, there would be no need for God in our lives in the first place. God acts as a moral compass for us and we need that compass because we need direction. Although I’m recognizing and outright admitting that I am an imperfect Christian, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like things to appear perfect from the outside.
I am a mom who posts regularly about her kids on social media. I love to see comments and likes on photos I’ve taken of the boys while we’re out and about. What people see? Beautiful photos of my kids always laughing and having a great time. What they don’t see? Me pleading with my kids for one more photo because the 56 photos I took in the two minutes prior didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to. I love crafting and volunteering at the boy’s schools. I routinely take on more responsibilities like snack day or hand painted Christmas ornaments and hand them in with a smile. What they see? A beautifully crafted end product, that I brush off as easy, and looks like it was crafted by Pinterest itself. What they don’t see? My house looks like a war zone, I have craft paint on my new hardwood floors, and countless burns from the hot glue gun I used to make an applesauce pouch look like a butterfly. And work? I love to work. Writing is my safe place and although writing freely does come easily, it doesn’t come without worry. What they see? A new blog, story, or screenplay. What they don’t see? Hours of research and anxiety, double checking and second guessing my work’s content, and exhausting hope that it will peak someone’s interest. Things aren’t always as they seem from the outside, and to keep up “perfect” appearances, my own insecurities make it so I have a hard time admitting the work that goes into these endeavors. Instead, I act as though these are ““effortless” and non time consuming parts of my day that are completed with unconcerned ease.
Being a Christian doesn’t mean you’re perfect or anywhere close. In fact, it’s almost completely the opposite. If we were perfect, there would be no need for God in our lives in the first place.
Our latest Messy Church was about the wise and foolish builders. The builder that chose to build his house on a rock, weathered a storm without problem. The man who built his on sand, was washed away when the storm came. In short, if you build your house (your life) on a strong foundation (foundation of the Lord), you can overcome any storm. One of the craft stations we had was building a wooden bird feeder. Our messy goers would start with cutting their own sturdy pieces of wood and would then move to a station where they’d assemble and nail the pieces together. As I watched one of the volunteers helping my oldest son nail his together, I daydreamed about where I would hang this cute little bird feeder in our newly landscaped backyard. Then, my dreams were interrupted when he started nailing crooked and I saw a big fat nail pop through the side of the feeder. My need for perfect appearances kicked in and I said, “excuse me, do you think you could fix that?” As soon as I said it, I had an overwhelming feeling of “why?” Why did it need to be fixed? Why does it matter if it doesn’t look like the example picture? Why would I say that this masterpiece, that was perfectly imperfect, was anything but exactly as it should be? It was a huge wake-up call.
For the remainder of the night, I reflected on that moment. Building our lives with the foundation of Christ, means the framing of our journey will be strong and reliable. However, the mistakes we make (and we will make a ton) will look just like that crookedly hammered nail. It’s okay if we have a few chips and holes in the stucco. Our lead contractor will fill those mistakes with love and forgiveness. It’s alright if I post a photo that doesn’t look like it came from a magazine. It’s alright if I drop off snacks that don’t resemble some sort of woodland creature. It’s alright if I write something that no one is interested in except myself. And, it’s absolutely okay to hang a holey, crooked, bird feeder that my seven year old son made with pride. Outside appearances don’t matter. I’ve built my life with a foundation of Christ which means if I make mistakes, I’m backed by the most perfect love in the universe and that’s a pretty incredible feeling. So, I’ll continue to work on my own insecurities and also give myself a break. I’ll try to not base my happiness on outside appearances or opinions of others. I’ll do my best but I know it will take time because after all, I’m not perfect.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
When I became a mother, something inside of me changed. Although I may be biased, sixteen hours of labor and a broken tailbone had left me with the most perfect and beautiful 8 lb. 2 oz. baby boy that anyone had seen. I remember looking at him and having an overwhelming sensation of fierce love and protection. No one would harm him, no one would take him, no one could break our bond. I was in absolute awe that God had given me this gift and incredibly astonished that He thought me worthy to raise, teach, and love one of his own holy children. The first few years were rewarding, exhausting, confusing, trying, and glorious. He was smart and loved learning, reading, and playing. His smile and belly laughs brightened any room and lifted the spirits of anyone lucky enough to encounter his joy. And, although I’d like to end this paragraph of bragging by saying that God presented this little boy to the world as a humble and empathetic creature, the truth is, there are some things we must be taught.
In our home, the care and treatment of others is a high priority. God calls us to love our neighbor and we take that to heart. But, how do you teach a child to have compassion and care for someone other than themselves? A child is not born knowing how to say “please” and “thank you.” They will not instinctively know to apologize if they’ve offended you. And for some, sharing with others (food, toys, or otherwise) is a completely foreign concept. As adults, we’ve had a longer time to develop these traits. Although we aren’t perfect ourselves, we’ve had years of sharing the load in the workplace and have lots of sympathetic practice in long lasting relationships. We learn to care for others when we get married, have children, or care for a sick relative. However, a child has not yet had the needed experience to develop these life necessities and our own son was certainly no exception. I really struggled with age appropriate examples of how important having compassion is in this life. Enter the dragon.
When that beautiful little boy turned five, he asked for a bearded dragon. We were hesitant at first (being more “dog” people than “dragon” people) but the gift of that lizard brought out something in our son, without reminding, that we had been working on for years…humanity. He was undeniably attached to his pet and cared for her in the most loving way. He asked us constantly to look up questions he had about her so he could learn everything he needed to know about dragons. He turned her heating lights on and off at the proper learned times. He fed her daily. When he learned she liked water, he put on his swimsuit and swam in the bathtub with her. When she was sick, he snuggled her and never left her side at the vet. He was treating her with the type of love, caring, and respect that I wanted him to treat everyone with. It became altogether apparent to me that an absolute perfect way to teach children empathy is through owning a pet.
At our last Messy Church, we celebrated just that. As a chance to admire and recognize the unwavering love we have for our pets, once a year, we encourage each of our families to bring their own family pets to enjoy a night of messy celebration dedicated to animals. We had fantastic stations set up, including: feather painting, Lego pet building, move like a pet game, a station for making cat and dog toys, bird feeders, and a pretend animal clinic for those who brought stuffed animals instead of real ones. No animal is turned away. As one of our most popular Messy gatherings, we’ve hosted dogs, cats, lizards, chickens, tortoises, guinea pigs, birds, and hamsters. It’s so fun to watch the interaction between families as well as the beloved animals they brought. The kids are especially proud when showing off their pets and often keep them in their possession even when they eat! Pets are a great conversation starter and it’s always enjoyable to hear funny stories about the animals and witness the abiding love a family has for their furry friends. It’s also undeniable the one shared feeling all of these owners have in common for their pets…compassion.
During celebration, we placed a strong emphasis on the fact that animals are a gift from God and He asks us to take care of them. The responsibility we take on with loving the animals in our lives is the same responsibility God asks of us for loving each other. We are to take care of, nurture, and treat with respect the people we encounter every day. Colossians 3:12 says, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” We should wear this cloak of kindness with each other the same way we do with our children, the way they do with animals and…the way God does with us. I would love to say that only children need reminding of this, but it’d be naïve to think we’re not all guilty. So, use God’s word as the template for life’s teaching moments. His reminders are all around us. And, although I never dreamed, I’d say this sentence out loud, I’m so grateful that God created the lovely bearded dragon to help my beautiful boy learn compassion.
A Blog post by Casey Cross, a Messy Church USA Board of Director
Casey serves as Young Disciples Director at Hope Lutheran Church in Eagle, ID. She leads a team for their Messy Church.
Like many congregations, we offer backpack blessings at the beginning of each new school year. This year, as I was talking to my pastor about what those would look like, he offered an idea that we could write blessings for each other. The idea quickly evolved from there and we decided to hand out tags on which we would write a word, prayer, blessing, or thought, return them at the offering, then take a new tag on our way out at the end of worship.
This shared activity is especially meaningful because we are living in a time where we are overwhelmed with the countless ways we are different and divided from one another. With more and more statistics and articles written about the Lonely Generation, American’s declining trust, rising suicide rates, and unfortunately even more cultural realities exemplifying our disconnection from one another, we need to respond as a church – the Body of Christ – together.
We need to practice and model trust, not only in our God, but also in one another. Our support for one another, practicing forgiveness, grace, and simply just paying attention to one another becomes counter-cultural, world-changing action. With simple exercises like the blessings we shared today, we put our skin in the game. We are in this together. And we walked from worship with signs of God’s transformation in our lives, to serve as reminders of our connection to one another and God’s love wherever we go.
All ages were part of this activity. The tags filled with art, color, prayers, and words from our children were especially thoughtful. I was deeply blessed by the opportunity to read many of the tags before they were dispersed at the end of the service. What a lovely insight into the hearts of our congregation members.
Another reason an activity like this is so important is because when we get caught up in the day-to-day of our lives, it can be easy to relax into consumer-mode. Show up, get filled, feel good, check it off your to do list, and move to the next thing. When this happens, we forget that God is actively involved in our lives. But Wisdom is living within us, speaking to us, moving us, and living through us. We do not worship just for ourselves, but with and for each other. We matter to each other and we have something to share with each other. These blessings gave us an opportunity to remember this and experience it.
I know this exercise may not have meant much to some of the people in attendance. Some may have worried they didn’t have the “right” words, some may have not understood what it was for, and some may have just thought it was meaningless. It’s okay. That’s what grace is all about. It doesn’t stop what God has done and is doing in our lives together.
I am thankful for a congregation and pastor who tries new things. These ideas don’t always go smoothly. They aren’t perfect. But we try stuff. We are in it, together. No matter what, that is what we are living together. The details may fade away in time, but we will never forget that we are God’s beloved children, we are not alone, we have each other… wherever we go.
In the words of our congregational mission statement – we love, we experience, and we discover God and God’s will in the world.
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.
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.lastname@example.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
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!
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!
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
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!
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!
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,
“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?”
“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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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?
Start planning now to attend Celebrate the Mess in the Chicago area October 22-24, 2020. More details and registration for this Messy Church USA National Conference will be available in early January. pic.twitter.com/8ksqtkzLxW
Messy Church is changing lives. We give thanks for Bible Reading Fellowship, the home for the global Messy Church movement! In support of this global movement, Messy Church USA will give back to BRF 50% of any donations received for the rest of 2019. ow.ly/g5Bs50x7LKzpic.twitter.com/PRgFcpRI9R
Messy Church USA is a newly formed nonprofit 501c3 corporation. Messy Church USA has been formed to provide an organizational structure to support the health, growth and sustainability of local Messy Churches in the USA. In addition, Messy Church USA will assist individual Messy Churches to become an integrated part of the larger national and global network of Messy Churches. Read more.