Messy Memories, Part II

Archive for MCIC 2019

Messy Memories, Part II

A blog post by Crystal Goetz, Messy Church USA Regional Coordinator for Washington

Messy Memories Part I Blog 

 

Crystal with Australian New Friends from MCIC 2019

Since I have returned from the Messy Church International conference, I have had many people ask me, “How was it? “. At first, I struggled to summarize how it was. There were too many adjectives floating around that I could throw out. How could I compact them down into one short phrase? Then, it hit me. I could only respond in one way. My answer will always be, “It was the Kingdom of Heaven on earth”. For most of my religious life, I have always pictured the Kingdom as a place where everyone does what Jesus’ taught us and everyone is valuable, that everyone is equal in the eyes of God and joy, limitless, unbounded joy resides. This is what I experienced at the Messy Church conference at every moment of every day. Through the experiences, the people, the devotions, the inspirational speakers and through the power of the Holy Spirit, we Messy Church people were amazing together. During the Holy Habits talk by Andrew Roberts he asked us to focus on the scripture from Acts 2: 42-47

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. 

He asked us to choose a word from the scripture that jumped out to us and, for me, there was only one choice: together.

I stock. used with permission

Messy Church is all about discipleship and we can’t really be or create disciples without others to lean on, learn from and move forward with. There we were in the beautiful English countryside together. We came from all over the planet and spoke many languages and yet, we were all of a like mind and spirit. We were and still are people of the Mess and people of the church together. We laughed together, played together, sang together, listened together and collaborated together. We learned, we can do this Messy Church thing better…together.


In looking back and reviewing my photos and my memories, I could see how happy we were in that place and time. Carrying that back with me to the state of Washington in the United States of America, that message of together is more important than ever. I strive each day to find the Messy Kingdom here too. A message of inclusion, equality, joyfulness, and discipleship that can transform the world. I have a firm desire to recreate that Kingdom spirit that we found at MCIC19 in my own Messy Church and to fulfill the Gospel message of loving God, neighbor and self. It is a commitment that I will dedicate my ministry to. I am a person of the church, the Messy Church and I am proud of my Messy heritage.

I hold my Messy Church International Conference experience in my heart and try to live each day as if my Messy Church friends were standing beside me and rooting me on, because I know they are, somewhere, out there. I continue to support them through prayer and a loud, “Hurrah”. I am counting the days until we return to England in 2022 for MCIC22. Until then my heart is full with the love and joy of the Holy Spirit that is Messy Church and its lovely International family of friends.

A Note from Messy Church USA:  We support the international movement of Messy Church through donating a financial tithe to Messy Church BRF each year.  If you want to further support the international movement, consider their ongoing Messy 100 financial appeal  here. 

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.

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. 

July 2019 “Who am I”

A Blog Post by Steve Kim

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

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

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

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

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

Steve Kim

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

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

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

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

Here I am, send me.

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

Steve Kim and family

A Messy Interview: Part 2

Blog Post by Lindsey Goodyear

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

Leyla Wagner and Marty Drake
Traveling Home after MCIC 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scatter Seeds Recklessly…Trust God

Messy Church International Conference (MCIC) Reflections 

Part 4 of 4

Roberta J. Egli 

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

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

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

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

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

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

i stock

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

Messy Blessings, Roberta

We are on this messy path with many others

Messy Church International Conference (MCIC) 2019 Reflections

Part 3 of 4

By Roberta Egli 

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

How High can we go???

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Messy Church is a gift…

Messy Church International (MCIC) 2019 Reflections

Part 2 of 4

Roberta J. Egli 

Lucy Moore, Founder of Messy Church
Opening Session MCIC 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Messy Blessings, Roberta

Messy Church International Conference Reflection: What Now?

Part 1 of 4

Roberta J. Egli

 

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

Messy Blessings,

Roberta 

Burning Bush
Messy Church Experience, Messy Church International Conference

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!