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
By Roberta J. Egli, Executive Director Messy Church USA
During this month in which we celebrate Thanksgiving, I invite you to give thanks that Messy Church is changing lives. Did you know that 61% of Messy Church families wouldn’t otherwise be at church except for their Messy Church? Or that 40% of Messy Church families have had little or no prior contact with church? Or that 81% of Messy Church leaders see evidence of lives changed through their Messy Church? (Playfully Serious, Church Army, February 2019)
I give thanks for Bible Reading Fellowship (BRF), the home for the global Messy Church movement! With the help of the wider BRF staff, the Messy Church team from BRF creates a constant supply of imaginative new ideas and resources, supports a significant online community and develops new ways to grow the impact of Messy Churches.
I give thanks that two years ago, BRF signed an agreement with a new nonprofit organization, Messy Church USA, welcoming us as a partner and supporting our mission to equip local churches to start, sustain and connect across the USA. In two years, Messy Church USA has registered over 160 messy churches from 17 denominations on our website, we have expanded our Regional Coordinator network from 3 to 20 across the United States. In 2019 we have held 10 regional Getting Started in Messy Church events training over 125 churches and 400 individuals. Let us give God thanks!
I give thanks for the stories that have been shared over the last few weeks from the BRF annual £100 appeal. The appeal is for Messy Churches all over the world to donate £100 so that more families find their way to church. In support of the global movement of Messy Church, Messy Church USA will give back to BRF 50% of any donations received on our website for the remainder of 2019. Listen to how Patricia and her children find a place to belong at Messy Church which changed their lives.
Your donation to Messy Church USA through the end of 2019 will enable us to reach more and more families throughout the world. In the USA, we will continue to build our network of trainings and regional coordinators to support, sustain and connect Messy Churches. Remember that we will give 50 % of any donations we receive directly to Messy Church/BRF for the remainder of 2019. Donating through our Messy Church USA website will allow you to receive a receipt for tax purposes here in the United States.
Thanks for your generosity in supporting the mission of Messy Church to change lives.
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.
Introducing Jenna Reinke Please welcome Jenna Reinke of Crowley, Texas to our Messy Church USA Regional Coordinator Network. Her region is Central Texas and Oklahoma. Jenna was the impetus to start a Messy Church at Crowley United Methodist Church (UMC) where she serves as the Youth and Family Ministries Director. Their Messy Church launched in January of 2018 after she visited a Messy Church and fully researched starting a Messy Church at Crowley.
Jenna recently started 3 fresh expressions of ministry (2 in addition to Messy Church) at Crowley UMC. In addition to her local church work she serves on the youth advisory committee for their regional conference of the UMC. She is looking forward to sharing with others what she is learning about best practices of Messy Church. She is working with her Annual Conference to host a Messy Church training in central Texas in the spring of 2020.
Jenna is our second Regional Coordinator for the ‘big’ state of Texas. Kate Cross, of Houston, previous RC for the entire state will now serve as the RC for “Gulf Coast Texas” and Jenna will cover “Central Texas and Oklahoma”. Please give Jenna a welcome at her new email address of Jenna@messychurchusa.org.
Introducing Rev. Dr. A. Michele Somerville At Messy Church USA we have been praying for a Regional Coordiantor (RC) for the state of Pennsylvania (PA) for over a year since our our first RC for PA left the position to explore a new ministry setting. So it is an answer to prayer that we welcome Rev. Dr. A. Michele Somerville of East Canton United Methodist Church (UMC) to her new role! After prayer and discernment, Michele has said yes to be the RC for the great state of Pennsylvania!
Michele has served under appointment in the UMC for over twenty years. Her second career has pastor has brought her joy to her life! Even when she officially retired in 2018, she has continued to work part-time serving two churches. She was introduced to Messy Church through a friend and realized that it would fit well within the context of one of the churches she serves in East Canton. They began their Messy Church in November 2018.
Michele began a ministry of Biblical Storytelling in 2008 and she enjoys writing and performing monologues and scripture by heart. She received her D.MIN in Transformational Leadership and Prophetic Preaching exploring Biblical Storytelling in the local church.
She writes that she “loves working with the Messy Church leadership team in Canton and telling anyone who will listen about Messy Church!” Although much of her previous ministry has been focused on adult bible study she was drawn to Messy Church due to the intergenerational component. Say hi to Michele at A.email@example.com.
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, our September 2019 focus brings us some transitions occurring with the Messy Church team across the pond. Lucy Moore, founder of Messy Church, recently shared in the Messy Church newsletter that the start of September brought a new team member! Grace and peace, Roberta
From Lucy: Our big happy news is the arrival of Dave Martin to the Messy Church team at BRF. We’re really looking forward to working together and discovering which of Dave’s many gifts and passions can be deployed to bless the Messy network. As you can tell from his message below, he’s averagely excited about the role and we are investing in an extra stock of exclamation marks to cover us for the years ahead.
From Dave: Hello Messy Church family! I’m Dave, and I’m so excited to meet, serve and minister alongside you all!
I have an absolute passion for connecting people to Jesus and a real desire for churches to flourish as intergenerational faith communities, where all age groups lead each other on towards Christ – while embracing and celebrating the messiness of life!
As well as receiving the wonderful invitation to join the Messy Church team, I recently asked my girlfriend to marry me, so am currently anticipating a winter wedding to my beautiful fiancée, Rebecca.
For the last three years I have been operating as the children’s, youth and families minister at a church in Radlett, around the north-London area. There, I have been involved in leading our Messy Church forward and starting a sister project, called Messy Café, which God has used to give so much life to our Messy Church community, growing it from 20 people a month to between 60 and 100 every week. It’s been quite an adventure – I’d love to tell you all about it!
Other than that, I wear funky socks, enjoy playing synthesizers in my spare time and love a good baked Camembert.
Really looking forward to meeting each of you individually in due course. God bless!
Join me in giving Dave a big USA welcome to his important work with the Messy Church BRF team! Grace and Peace, Roberta
Thank you God for the work of Lucy, Jane and Dave as well as all of the BRF team who generously share their time, resources and passion with the global Messy Church moment. Bless their work!
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
One of the greatest gifts we receive from Messy Church is the gift of community. But, what absolutely enables that gift is the dedication, commitment, and love that the Messy Church team puts into each affair. When Messy Church was established at Community United Methodist Church in Huntington Beach (CUMCHB) the church was being led by Rev. Ginny Wheeler. Ginny was there from the beginning and was a strong supporter of our Messy adventure. When she decided to retire, earlier this Summer, it left me wondering if the support of this venture, that we previously had, would remain as strong with our next holy leader. Well, I didn’t have to wonder long. Enter, the fantastically enthusiastic…Pastor George Hooper!
Lindsey: Before coming to CUMC, which church were you leading?
George: I was serving as the lead pastor at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Arcadia. Like CUMCHB, CGS has an outstanding Children’s Center with a wonderful reputation in the community, and a history of powerful ministries with children. We had not started Messy Church, but I was privileged to engage the children and their parents in chapel time during the week.
Lindsey: Had you ever heard of Messy Church before coming here?
George: I had. I believe that we hosted an event in Arcadia where some who were involved with Messy Church made a presentation. When the Associate Pastor (the Rev. Lydia Sohn, now pastor at St Mark UMC in San Diego) started an afternoon experience, Messy Church was one of the styles we considered.
Lindsey:Having been established for almost 6 years now, we can be kind of a tight knit team. Any nerves entering in the first Messy gathering? George: When I had my initial meeting with representatives of the CUMCHB congregation, one of the first questions was “Will you support Messy Church?” I asked, “Well, what does support look like to you?” They shared that there was a strong leadership team, but what they needed was continued encouragement, prayer, and participation. They explained that Pastor Ginny was like a cheerleader who was also worked well behind the scenes to make sure that Messy Church was given priority and funding through the existing congregation. I thought, and said, “That I can do!” To have an existing gathering which is well-organized and led is a gift to a new pastor. So I was excited to attend that first evening — which was the Summer Picnic. I brought my kids, introduced myself, and joined the circle. Keep in mind that I had been on staff and on site for two weeks; this was a time to just be, and to play! I loved it! So, yes, I was a little nervous, because it was a new thing. I got over that as soon as I sat down and started playing Giant Jenga.
Lindsey: You have two pretty amazing kids. What were their feelings about Messy Church?
George: They love to play, to create, to learn, and to have fun. They feel like this was made for them. “Is it Messy Church yet?” is a question I am already getting.
Lindsey: In Sunday church, you lead us, at Messy Church, you’re led by others. Was the shift a little hard to navigate?
George: Messy Church is the way church is supposed to be. I like to say that I am the pastor, the people of the congregation are the ministers. My job, along with the church staff, is to train, equip, and support the people in ministry. One of my proudest achievements in Arcadia was to help create a culture in which people in the church could say “I would like to try this” (for example a Conversational English Class) and my job was to arrange the resources they needed to do that. In John 14:12 Jesus says “Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the work that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these…” Jesus knew that even He was limited and wanted to bring others — everyone — into ministry and leadership. On Sunday mornings (and in other events in the course of the week) I participate in leadership to prepare people to live out their faith in their daily life. At Messy Church I get to be led by others. I particularly enjoy getting to see what the youngest among us create: it allows me to see through new eyes!
The way it is shaping up, it looks like I will do a little hosting, and then fall back to observe, learn, and be led. I also love the fact that if someone has a question or an issue they want to reflect upon, we can sit down together and just talk. That’s another way I get led at Messy Church.
Lindsey: What are the benefits you see families getting from MC that may differ from what they’re getting at traditional Sunday church?
George: Getting to worship as a family unit. Allowing younger folks to guide older folks. Being able to learn through doing. Being self-directed in learning — going to what interests me in this moment. Don’t get me wrong: My kids like Sunday morning, too. They enjoy more formal worship and especially Sunday School. Messy Church adds another way of existing as family. The greatest benefit is having all of these options!
Lindsey: In between getting to know our members, were you able to participate in any of the activities?
George: I was all over the games in July! As much as I wanted to, I didn’t climb the water slide in August (there’s always next year!) I went through and looked at all of the hands-on learning stations, but I was having more fun watching what others were making than actually doing so myself. And yes, I did get drawn into some wonderful conversations — I think that counts as activities though, too. I am blown away by the creativity and imagination of the Messy Church team. You all put in a great deal of time and energy!
Lindsey: Is there a moment/craft/song that really struck you or sticks out in any way?
George: The prayer parachute. I am not sure if that what you called it, but lifting needs and joys, and then inviting the smaller people to run underneath as the parachute came back down was an incredibly powerful image of being literally “covered in prayer”.
Lindsey: What do see or hope for when thinking about the future of Messy Church at CUMC?
George: We all have hopes for success that are measured in numbers. I love that I hear families saying they attend because “it is the closest thing we have to church.” For them Messy Church is family, a community in which they learn and grow together, without all of that “churchiness.” They are asking that this community pledge to support them as they raise their child in the love of Jesus. I hope for more of that. I hope that the ideals and practices of Messy Church become contagious throughout the congregation. Mostly, I look forward to seeing what God is doing next!
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.