Messy Memories

Archive for Intergenerational

Messy Memories

Part 1 of 2

A blogpost by Crystal Goetz 

Messy Church USA Regional Coordinator for Washington 

Crystal with friends from Sweden

I was a little scared when I arrived at High Leigh Centre in Hertfordshire on that overcast day in early May of 2019. I was traveling from London alone in a country that was not my own and I wasn’t sure what I had gotten myself into. I asked Executive Director of Messy Church USA, Roberta Egli about the Messy Church International Conference back at a September 2018 training event and from the moment she described it, I knew I had to go. I felt God nudge me and I recognized the gentle touch and still small voice and urgently felt I had to be a part of this community of people that were doing Messy Church around the world. Still as I stepped out of the cab in front of the conference center, I was asking myself, “What are you doing?” With much trepidation I paid the driver grabbed my suitcase and entered the conference center. And then…it happened!


Lucy Moore, founder of Messy Church and icon in my little office in Auburn Washington, ran to me as I entered the door and hugged me tight and said, “We are so glad you are here. Welcome!!!!!” It still makes me tear up to think about it. She didn’t know me before that moment, well not really. We had spoken briefly on a Regional Coordinator Zoom meeting, but she certainly didn’t know me by sight. To Lucy, I was a fellow Messy Church enthusiast and supporter. That’s all that mattered in that moment.

 

Crystal with freinds from Scotland, South Hampton, Surrey and Australia– a global meal!

Through the eyes of a newcomer, I had so many preconceived notions about what I thought would happen at this conference, because I had been to church conferences before and was less than thrilled. However, this Messy Church conference was not like anything I had experienced before. Nor, was it something I could have ever dreamed was possible? When we came together for our first session, there was no awkwardness about singing or participating. Only joy and more than 200 people joining together in song, loudly and with vigor. Enthusiasm reigned supreme and we were transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit in that place.

The Spirit continued to take hold over the weekend through Lucy Moore’s warmth and leadership, Martyn Payne’s devotionals, Stephen Fischbacher’s wonderful music, Jane Leadbetter’s enthusiasm and ecobrick mastery, Claire Dalpra’s fascinating talk, Barry Brand’s hilarity, Andrew Roberts life-changing Holy Habits, mini Messy Church sessions and much more, until we were filled to the brim by the time we had to part on Sunday afternoon. Then, there came a moment that was defining for me. Richard Fisher, the Chief Executive at Bible Reading Fellowship, came to the podium to talk about the support that Bible Reading Fellowship offers the Messy Churches around the world. Then he had to do a difficult but extremely necessary task, to ask for financial support from the worldwide network of Messy Churches. It hit me. They do so much for us, we need to support them. BRF is the foundation and Messy Church is the house. It became somewhat of a mission to me from that moment to support the foundational organization that sustains us all. Bible Reading Fellowship. Together we are better.

Let’s Get Connected

A Blogpost by Roberta J. Egli 

New Every morning is your love, great God of light,
and all day long you are working for good in the world…

The sun was rising over Chicago as my overnight flight from Oregon circled around downtown to land at O’Hare. I thought of this prayer, that I learned at the Academy for Spiritual Formation as I gave God thanks for the dawn of another day. Although I don’t remember her name, I connected with my seatmate when she asked if I could airdrop the picture from my phone that I had taken of the early dawn to her phone. I will never see her again, but we are now connected through a shared picture on our smart phones. That was the first of many connections that were made throughout the weekend.

Dawn breaking over Chicago

I was traveling to Chicago to lead a training in Michigan City for Messy Church. What a gift the weekend was for me! For the first time ever, I connected with four great mid-west Messy Church USA Regional Coordinators in person! Ronda Bower, Robin Cannon, Jill Mayer and Andrew Scanlan-Holmes have participated with me in phone calls, emails and monthly zoom teleconferences but all being together in person was fantastic!

I connected with the generous hospitality of Michigan City First United Methodist Church. Pastor Nancy gave me a wonderful place to catch up on sleep after a night on the plane. Trish Johnsen, Children’s Ministry Director of Michigan City First, spent hours of preparation so that all of us were warmly welcomed to a day of training.

Finally, I connected with 85 people who came from six different denominations and 18 different local churches. Some teams traveled several hours to get to the training. We spent time learning some best practices to get started with Messy Church. We learned from each other through conversations and Messy Activities.

I am grateful for the many ways we connect through the Messy Church USA network. Getting to know one another through phone calls, webinars and zoom calls are all great ways we connect, yet it is an extra gift when we can meet in person. Over the next several months, there are several training events from the state of Washington to New Hampshire! I invite you to check out the website and connect with others involved with Messy Church. One consistent positive statement that we receive on our feedback forms is that being with and learning from other local churches who are starting or have already started Messy Church in their local context is very valuable as they move forward. Make plans to connect!


Be sure to check out the two-part blog post from Crystal Goetz coming soon. Crystal writes that connecting with others from all over the world was a major highlight for her at the Messy Church International Conference 2019. She continues to stay connected with new friends from Sweden, Denmark, South Africa and many other places. 

Let’s get and stay connected!
Messy Blessings,

Roberta

A Rejuvenation of the Mess

A blogpost by Lindsey Goodyear 

Sweet friendships refresh the soul and awaken our hearts with joy, for good friends are like the anointing oil that yields the fragrant incense of God’s presence.

Proverbs 27:9-11

Sometimes Messy Church is exhausting. There is always a method we follow when we attend. Welcome and snacks, a chat about what verse we’re following, inside for crafts, then to the sanctuary for story and songs, and finally a great meal and home. As a parent, the joy I get from watching my children light up when they discover God’s word through art is a feeling I hope every parent will experience. Although, to be honest, most of my time is spent running back and forth, across the room, from table to table, to be with each kid (Heaven forbid they be interested in the same craft at the same time). I mostly don’t mind this, but this last Saturday, I was tired. We had just returned from our annual two week road trip and I was up to my ears in laundry, cleaning, and getting back to our normal schedule. Thinking about attending Messy Church made me want to take a nap. But, I tucked that feeling away, put a smile on, and packed us up.

This time, Messy Church wasn’t at the church. We had decided to venture out and set up shop at a local park. Everyone arrived with their own picnic dinner as well as blankets and chairs. The kids immediately took off for the playground as I set up our families little area. I soon took notice that we were missing the craft tables. Then, it dawned on me that we didn’t have a verse that was associated with this month either. Also, we were starting with the meal instead of ending with it like we normally do. In fact, the only thing that made this even remotely like a normal Messy Church was the parachute prayer and the familiar faces. It was a little confusing. I was so used to doing the same old things every month that it seemed like these two hours would drag on with nothing to do. The kids would play, we would eat, and we’d go home. I was so exhausted that I wished we had stayed home. I could have made dinner there and besides, this wasn’t really going to be a God filled evening anyway, right? Wrong.

As more and more people arrived, we formed a huge circle with all of the families sitting close. The kids were running back and forth between the playground and picnic while the adults sat and conversed. I saw people that I see every month when we go. However, I suddenly realized that even though I see them every month, doesn’t mean I actually talk with them every month. Sure, I say hello and ask a few surface questions and touch base but I don’t really make the time to talk with them. We had quite the conversation going. Little by little, the circle got smaller and tighter as more and more people sat in on the conversations. There were new friends and old friends and friends who had never actually met each other. The ease and amusement of conversation were apparently a cure for my fatigue as I noticed my cheeks aching from the laughter. Pretty soon, we noticed our Messy directors packing up. Although I was sure it hadn’t been two hours, I decided to check my phone anyway. It hadn’t been two hours, it had been more! Even though a few were packing up, the majority of us wouldn’t budge. The sun was setting but we were just settling in.

It was just the Messy rejuvenation my soul needed.

In the end, we all stayed until dark. The conversation never let up and neither did the laughs. As we were walking to our cars, I watched everyone saying goodbye. People we’d known for years waving at others they’d met that night for the first time. Hugs and smiles exchanged as we all felt reinvigorated with the relationships we’d taken the time to nourish that night.

As I drove my family home, I reflected on the feelings I had at the beginning of the night. Almost a sort of dread had enveloped me just a few hours ago and now I felt so light. God had provided me with an opportunity of a much needed re-connection with my Messy family. We’re often times on auto pilot, dutifully saying hello and offering a smile, all the while avoiding actual conversation. We then check the box of being friends but mere occasional acknowledgment does not make a friendship. We have to make time to nurture our relationships. God places incredible people in our lives and we cannot short-change our time with them. So, never again. This night produced a shift. As I sit writing this blog, I’m smiling thinking of our lively night. It was just the Messy rejuvenation my soul needed. 

Messy Church is All-Age Together…Why?

A blog post by Dr. Johannah Myers

Johannah is the Regional Coordinator for Messy Church USA in South and North Carolina. She has been leading Messy Church at Aldersgate UMC in Greenville in SC for over five years.  She will be facilitating the upcoming Getting Started in Messy Church in Mt Dora, FL on September 21.

Messy Church is all ages together. This is one of the core values of Messy Church, something we all ascribe to practice. But why? Why is having all ages together for play and worship so important?

Less than two weeks after the second International Messy Church Conference in England, another group of church leaders from across the US, Australia, and New Zealand gathered in Nashville, TN, for the Intergenerate Conference. The conference centered around the assumption that Church (whether Messy or traditional or anything in between) must take seriously the need for meaningful interactions across the generations.

Roberta and I had the chance to represent Messy Church USA at Intergenerate as an example of what this all-age approach to church looks like in practice. We got to share our Messy story during an afternoon workshop and even got to do a Messy Church “taste and see” for participants experience on a small scale what Messy Church looks like. (On a side note, try packing supplies for Messy Church in a carry-on bag! The TSA agents were quite confused when they searched my bag and found feathers, pony beads, yarn, hole punches, and rather large paper ears!!)  

It was a whirlwind few days! Here are a few take-aways from Nashville.

There are a growing number of church leaders who are beginning to recognize that separating age groups out into age silos – children over here, young adults here, older adults over there, youth in their own building next door – isn’t necessarily translating into transformational disciple-making. We need our peer groups, certainly, but we need meaningful interactions with other generations in order for discipleship to grow.

While there’s a growing number of people who are realizing this intergenerational approach to church is needed, we’re still trying to figure out how to articulate the why and the how. The first Intergenerate Conference was held two years ago with around 100 people (I believe?!). This year it was maxed out, standing-room-only at 200+ participants. Word is spreading, the conversations are growing, the research is developing. It’s exciting! The under-current throughout the conference was of high energy, high passion. We KNOW that bringing generations together is critical, even if we’re still trying to articulate why.

While researchers are still figuring out the “why,” Messy Church has something important to offer as we figure out the “how” of intergenerational ministry. We have a model for how to be church together that is working, and based on the growing research, working well. Are we the only model of intergenerational church out there? Of course not! But our adaptability, our focus on hospitality, and our emphasis on hands-on exploration mean that Messy Church can be a solid foundation for churches wanting to tear down those age silos and bring communities together across the ages.

Dr. Johannah Myers building Intergenerational relationships at her Messy Church at Aldersgate UMC in Greenville, SC

What’s next? I think we’re going to see Messy Churches continue to pop up across the US and so new opportunities for training events will be critical. Has your Messy Church team attended a training? Do you know of churches in your area who’d like to learn more about Messy Church? There are several one-day Messy Church training events already on the calendar. If you’d like to host a training event, contact your Regional Coordinator or Roberta today and let’s start the conversation!

Upcoming Training Events for Messy Church USA:

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?”

A Messy Interview- MCIC 2019

Blog post by Lindsey Goodyear who interviewed Leyla Wagner, Messy Church USA Board of Directors, California Messy Church USA Regional Co-Coordinator. 

Messy Church USA (MCUSA) Delegation at Messy Church International Conference 2019 with Messy Church/ Bible Reading Fellowship (BRF) Leaders
Front row L-R: Jay Elliot(BRF), Maureen Carey-Back (VA), Leyla Wagner(CA), Marty Drake(CA), Steve Kim(NY)
Back row L-R: Lynn Egli(OR), Crystal Goetz(WA), Canon Richard Fisher (BRF), Roberta Egli(OR), Lucy Moore(BRF)

Last month, some of our Messy team members attended the highly anticipated Messy Church International Conference in London. Because I was unable to attend, I decided to pick the brain of one of my favorite Messy friends and see just how much fun I missed out on. Please enjoy this interview with Leyla Wagner from Community United Methodist Church (CUMC) in Huntington Beach, CA!

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

Leyla: Three Years ago, we had only been doing Messy Church for three years when we went. There weren’t really any other Messy Churches around, and, it was before MCUSA was even a thought, so our CUMC team was really on our own. We were drawing from training and using print and online resources in figuring out Messy Church. It was amazing being around the energy and excitement of others hosting Messy Churches and realizing we were part of a bigger community. We learned so much and realized that our joys and challenges were similar to many. This time I didn’t expect as much excitement. We’ve had Messy Church at CUMC for 6 years now…and the oldest Messy Churches in the UK are celebrating 15 years! I was amazed because the excitement and energy was not only still there, but it was just as high. Rather than just talking about the nuts and bolts of Messy Church, this time conversations focused on sharing stories of seeing how Messy Church is transforming the lives of people who are attending and how it is making an impact worldwide.

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

Leyla: It’s funny…I only saw a couple of people that I had met the first time even though I heard many times from people I was in conversation with that they had also been there for the first conference….we hadn’t connected. So actually, this time I feel like I made many more Messy Friends than before. I even met two more people from the US. I felt a stronger connection to people this time and I think it’s because we were sharing deeper stories, not just nuts and bolts stories…and many were part of leadership teams for their countries so it was interesting to learn more about their experiences with the bigger church, as well.

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

Leyla: I was rejuvenated by so many things! I loved hearing the research that supports what we are what the leading Messy Churches are seeing…that what we are doing is making a difference, making disciples and that Messy Church is church! We are re-imagining church…possibly changing it to be something God can use to reach people today. I also liked hearing the journey of the past 15 years and realizing how much has been accomplished from this “Grass Roots/organic” movement in such a short time. Lastly, I feel called to be a part of Messy church but often worry that I don’t have a background or enough bible/theological knowledge to be “leading” Messy Church. During one reflection, Martyn Payne told the story of Moses and the burning bush and we sang a wonderful Fischy Music song so I left feeling that I have everything I need to do what I’m being called to do because God is behind me, beside me and in front of me.

“God is at the Center of this Messy Church journey”

Leyla Wagner

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

Leyla: Again, there were many activities I really liked. I loved the key speakers, reflections, prayer stations and, I enjoyed meeting people and sharing stories. But, my favorite activity was the add-on day (Monday) that was only for leadership teams from all the different countries. We broke into small groups being made up of representatives from all countries there and gave input on questions Messy Church BRF asked. It really felt like an International experience and I liked hearing perspectives from all over the world.

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

Leyla: Andrew Roberts is the author of a book called Holy Habits. It’s based on the passage written by Luke in Acts 2 42-47 and focus’ on creating deep and committed disciples by practicing and living out the 10 Holy Habits. These include: Biblical Teaching, Breaking Bread, Eating Together, Fellowship, Gladness and Generosity, Making more Disciples, Prayer, Serving, Sharing Resources and Worship. These Holy Habits align with the values of Messy Church, and are applicable and easily accessible to all-ages. This year the Get Messy Magazine, which provides monthly curriculum resources to Messy Churches, will be focusing on a different Holy Habit each month. We will most likely use these and the other supplemental for deepening the quality of our own Messy Church.

Lindsey: I know Steven Fischbacher founder of Fischy Music  was there rocking and rolling! Any new Fischy Music that’s a must have?

Leyla: ALL Fischy Music is a MUST HAVE!  (Note from Roberta Egli– Check out a video of Steven leading our final song at the conference Here)

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

Leyla: That God is at the Center of this Messy Church journey.

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

Leyla: Well, I would love to be able to attend the next International Conference in 3 years. So much has happened in the three years since the last International Conference it’s hard to imagine where we’ll be in 3 more years. Marty and I met Roberta and Julie at that first International Conference. We came home and hosted the first National Messy Church Conference a year and a half later while working with Robera, Julie, Lynn, Nicole and Lucy to start MCUSA. Anyway…..I think attending an International Conference helps us as local Messy Church leaders to feel connected to the bigger Messy Church organization and share in the excitement. But, it’s also helpful for our roles in Messy Church USA.

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?

Leyla: Yes, we are hoping to host a National Conference in the Fall of 2020 and there are definitely things that we will incorporate but those will be decided by the MCUSA team and Conference Planning Team. One thing that came out of this International Conference that will be incorporated into our National Conference, and highlighted even more in training across the US, is the best practices for starting a sustaining a Messy Church…which starts with training. (Check out Messychurchusa.org for a training near you!) Haha!

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

Leyla: Ah, we were really sad that you couldn’t make it, too. My favorite meal was the last one of the trip. Roberta and I both had Fish and Chips. So good! (She has a great picture of them.) Hey…just wondering…will YOU make the trip in three years?

Lindsey: Given how much time I spent stalking the conference on Facebook, I think it’s a definite yes!

Last Meal in UK! Fish and Chips with peas! Yummy!

Easter Poem

by Lindsey Goodyear

iStock

When we hear the word Easter, we think bunnies and joy,
An egg hunt and candies for each girl and boy.
But is that really what this whole day is about?
Come along on a journey and you may just find out!

Jesus, our savior, lived so long in the past,
And if you had a question, well, He’s who you asked.
As the one son of God, He was the king of the Jews,
And spent most His time, by spreading good news.

Healing the sick, and feeding the poor,
He gave all He had, and then He gave more.
While most people loved Him, the leaders showed doubt,
They didn’t like Jesus, or what He was about.

And instead of just listening and believing in Him,
They arrested Him starting a scene oh so grim.
They beat Him and hung Him up high on a cross,
Made fun of His teachings, showing Him who was boss.

As He hung up in pain from His head to his toes,
The guards placed their bets to see who’d get His clothes.
He showed love through their hate, it was all that he knew,
“Father, please forgive them, they know not what they do.”

As His friends stayed and wept, the Earth started to shake,
The sky filled with clouds and mountains did break!
Jesus said, “it is finished” then bowed down His head,
A Great sadness came on, their savior was dead.

His friends took him down from the cross to a tomb,
Wrapped Him in cloth and walked out in gloom.
The tomb was still opened, so a boulder was set,
His friends left knowing, Jesus had paid our debt.

And three days after the Lord paid our price,
Three women set out to anoint Him with spice.
On the way they discussed ways to move the huge rock,
But when they arrived, they were met with a shock!

The tomb was now open and up on the stone,
Sat an angel that glowed like a jewel on a throne.
“No need to be frightened” he said to the three,
“He’s not here, He’s risen” come look and you’ll see.

Amazement took over once the women went in,
There was only a cloth, where once Jesus had been.
“Go tell the disciples He’ll be at Galilee”
“He’s alive and He’s back! Our savior is free!”

They went on their way, preparing their story,
When they came across Jesus in all of His glory.
They fell to their knees as they worshiped their king,
And heard the great news that he asked them to bring.

Tell the others you’ve seen me and I’ll see them as well,
Until God calls me home and in Heaven I’ll dwell.
God raised His son despite our sins,
In the end Jesus proved that love always wins.

See Today isn’t about what the Easter bunny gives,
But a hefty reminder that He is risen and lives!

iStock

Lindsey Goodyear lives in Huntington Beach, CA with her family. She attends Messy Church at Community UMC in Huntington Beach. She writers regularly for Messy Church USA and is one of the writers for the curriculum for the Get Messy! magazine from April 2019-March 2020. You can reach her at Lindseygoodyear@gmail.com.

Lindsey Goodyear