August Messy Church of the Month

Archive for Messy Church Values

August Messy Church of the Month

Congratulations to Freysville Emmanuel United Church of Christ in Red Lion, Pennsylvania, our August Messy Church of the Month!

We are excited to announce our first ever Messy Church of the Month! Drum roll please…. Freysville Emmanuel United Church of Christ in Red Lion, Pennsylvania. Jennifer May, a lay member of the church who also teaches in the local school, led a small team in starting their Messy Church in March of 2018.  Jennifer describes their church as a small rural community in which her school age children are some of the only children in attendance on Sunday morning. Thanks Jennifer for answering our questions so that we can learn more about your Messy Church!  We are so glad that Freysville Emmanuel UCC reaching out to their community to share God’s love! 

Messy Folk answers to “What I like about Messy Church?” 

  • “I like all the stations, and the dinners are pretty good too!” 
  • “Getting the parachute out inside the church at the beginning!” 
  • “I like that it allows the gifts & talents of many people to shine.” 
  • “It gives my child the opportunity to learn about Christ in a warm, loving community where being themselves is celebrated.” 

Some Favorite Messy Activities 

 Parachute Prayers: 

Example # 1: Jesus, We Thank You:

Instructions: Have every person who is at Messy Church find a spot around the parachute. The leader starts the prayer and invites anyone standing around the parachute to call out something they are thankful for. After someone calls out, then the whole group raises the parachute up and chants “Jesus We Thank You!” as it gently comes back down. 

Example # 2 Snowball Prayer: 

Instructions: As everyone arrives, have them write or draw a picture of a joy, prayer, concern in 3 or fewer words onto a piece of white paper, crumple it into a loose “snow” ball and place it into a laundry basket. Have every person who is at Messy Church find a spot around the parachute. The leader dumps all the snowball prayers into the middle of the parachute. Direct the group to gently shake the parachute enough to mix up all the snowballs. Then on the count of 3, the whole group pulls the parachute slowly down to the floor and then quickly yanks the parachute back up into the air above their heads to make it “snow”! The snowballs are flying all over the  place! Everyone collects one snowball and then takes a seat on the floor around the parachute. One at a time, each person reads what is written on the snowball as a large group prayer. 

More Favorite Messy Activities! 

Messy Church ThanksGIVING:

Each November, our Messy Church service is a night of us giving instead of taking home crafts. We go home with empty hands but full hearts! Members from the church’s Sunday morning congregation sponsor and donate 12-15 “fleece blanket kits” purchased from a local fabric store. We come together with scissors and templates and spend the night cutting and looping the blankets to donate to our area chapter of Project Linus.

 Project Linus is a non-profit organization that provides homemade blankets to children in need. The blankets are lovingly made by adults and children from all walks of life. Project Linus has specific directions on how to make blankets and what types they are allowed to accept on their website. https://www.projectlinus.org/​ 

This is an evening where all hands, young and old, are needed! 

Resurrection Garden: 

Each year for the Lenten Season, we set up a station where families can work together to create their own Resurrection Garden. They take it home to water and watch it grow every day for 40 days. 

 Materials Needed:Materials needed:8 in clay saucers, 3 in clay pots, potting soil, grass seed, craft stones, craft moss, 3 inch rocks flat circular shape work best, 4 inch stick crosses tied with twine  (See Pictures below)

What worked well for you in getting the support of your Sunday Church when you started Messy Church? 

Educating the congregation on the mission of Messy Church as well as the history, where and why it began and how it is meeting the needs of families and individuals in communities all over the world who for whatever reason, cannot or do not attend traditional Sunday Morning church services. 

Share a challenge you’ve had with your Messy Church and strategies you used to meet the challenge. 

Getting volunteers can be a challenge. So, I approached individuals in our Sunday congregation and personally asked them if they could volunteer. After their first experience, those individuals looked forward to volunteering each month! Most often, a personal invitation is all people need. 

How has your Messy Church adapted during the Covid-19 Pandemic? 

Our last in person Messy Church was Friday, March 13th. We were excited to kick off our 3rd year as a Messy Church! Little did we know, our messy togetherness would be put on hold for a little while. For the month of April, we put out a “Messy Church At Home” edition. We posted the theme and station material lists prior to the event so that families could plan ahead of time how they would do this in their own homes. Then, the day of our Messy Church, we posted an interactive Google Slideshow for families to work through at their own pace. The slides included a prerecorded welcome message, the story/scripture lesson, closing prayer, and a slide of directions for each station/activity. We had a few of our Messy Church families try it out! We took the month of May off and now are planning a “Messy Church in Bag” for the end of Summer. 

Thanks Jennifer for sharing your Messy Church story!  To learn more about Emmanuel UCC you can contact Jennifer at jmay@cysd.k12.pa.us

Website for Church: http://www.freysvilleucc.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/emmanueluccfreysville/

April  2020 Online Messy Church shared with the June 30th Messy Church USA Now webinar

Who will be our September Messy Church of the Month? Stay tuned!

Messy Church USA logo and mission
Equipping Messy Churches to start, sustain and connect across the USA

July 23rd Messy Church USA Town Hall Conversation

Our first Messy Church Town Hall conversation happened on Thursday July 23rd.  A group of 12 people from Florida, South Carolina, Michigan, South Dakota, Texas, Oregon and Washington met for a time of sharing ideas of how they are connecting with Messy Folk currently and their plans for the next phases of the pandemic. 

Priming the Pump for Conversation

Roberta shared a bit to prime the pump for our conversation. We began with a focus on the ‘in-between’ time that we find ourselves living in.  Usually we think of ‘in-between’ or liminal time of being a short duration but this pandemic has brought a deeper understanding of what it means to live in the in-between time. Check out Recording Here

Messy Church began as a new expression of church as a way to engage with people who were not connecting more traditional forms of church.  Since the beginning, Messy Church has been adaptable so that it can be contextualized.  The main constant of Messy Church are the five foundational values of All Ages together, creativity, hospitality, celebration and Christ- Centered. Keeping those five values  in mind, what are the possibilities for Messy Church in the various stages of this COVID pandemic?

  • Possibility # 1- In-person Messy Church when able to safely meet:
    • Messy Folk who come together get a box of supplies at the beginning rather than having supplies at activity tables
    • Messy Church Outside
    • Rather than people moving from table to table, groups remain in place the table hosts move from group to group to lead activities and games
    • Reservations/ tickets to limit number of people at Messy Church
  • Possibility # 2- Hybrid (On-line and smaller groups in person) Messy Church)
    • Intergenerational Messy Church Small Groups meet in homes
    • Connecting the smaller groups once per month with an on-line Celebration
    • Pre-recorded Messy Church with lists/ bags of activities for Messy Folk. Activity bags either picked up at church or delivered to homes to have some in-person connection
  • Possibility # 3- All On-Line Messy Church
    • Zoom Messy Church
    • Facebook Live Messy Church
    • Pre-recorded Messy Church with links sent out to Messy Folk
    • Read More Here

Messy Town Hall Conversation

  • Messy Adventure from Epiphany Episcopal in NH- List of scripture, activities featuring local outdoor attractions. (insert PDF)
  • From Dallas Oregon- A Chalk Art festival in the church parking lot- people have their own space to make their chalk art
  • From South Carolina- On-Line Messy Church starting a week of on-line Vacation Bible School. Have had good engagement with zoom Messy Church.  Churches are beginning to meet in person in South Carolina which brings challenges to in-person Messy Church 
  • From Washington- Messy Church team would prefer to be in person but this pandemic has enlivened and brought new enthusiasm to the team. One member has taken over the prayer time and another has become the storyteller for the zoom on-line Messy Church
  • From Michigan- Messy Church only met twice before pandemic and some discouragement that people are not connecting on-line. However, has had good engagement with weekly Wednesday on-line lesson- using stories and activities from Heifer International that were given to family units. Positive response to a FB ad about an on-line Messy Church- received 31 one new likes and follows from the local community
  • From Florida- looking for ways to connect and do outreach to community. Group encouraged to build on things you are already doing i.e. weekly pastor chat to include a weekly or monthly chat with messy church community

As always it was good to connect and share ideas and stories. Join us at future Town Hall Conversations. Here is a list of resources to help you in your own planning. 

Next time I will hopefully remember to hit record at the beginning!

Grace and Peace, Roberta

Messy Church USA logo and mission
Equipping Messy Churches to start, sustain and connect across the USA

Good News! On-line Messy Church makes a Difference!

A Story from Crystal Goetz, Regional Coordinator in Washington

I greet you all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and send you peace from Auburn, Washington.

It was suggested that I write up a little blurb and send you the sweet story of a family that uses our online Messy Church to see each other. I hope you enjoy this touching story.

For over a year, a grandmother, Jimmie, has been bringing her grandsons to Messy Church..It’s has been their time, once a month to spend some quality time learning about Jesus together.  Then…COVID-19 hit and Jimmie had to be quarantined away from them because she has some very dangerous risk factors and her daughter, the mother of the two boys is a public school speech therapist and at the time had direct daily exposure to people, preventing Jimmie from being with the family.

When Messy Church online started, she was thrilled.  This was the first opportunity she had to see her grandsons for weeks.  She specifically learned to use Zoom so that she could be a part of our online Messy Church.  The boys log on with their Mom and Jimmie logs on from her home and guess what?  They are a family again!  It’s a beautiful thing to watch how joyful this family is together in the presence of Jesus.

I just thought I would share with you this happy story of what continuing to meet at Messy Church, albeit online, can do for those in our Messy Churches.

Crystal and our Swedish friends and colleagues Olle and Mikael at the Messy Church International Conference 2019 (when we could be together!)

Crystal is the Children and Youth Director at Auburn First United Methodist Church in Auburn, Washington. She led a team in starting a Messy Church three years ago and is our Regional Coordinator of Washington. You can connect with her at Crystal@messychurchusa.org.

Messy Church USA logo and mission
Equipping Messy Churches to start, sustain and connect across the USA

Messy Creativity during “in-between” time

Roberta J. Egli

“We are made in the image of God, and God is the great Creator of new things and re-creator of people and communities who are broken. As we create and play together, we echo (God’s) creativity and we are renewed and repaired ourselves.”

Lucy Moore, Messy Church: Fresh Ideas for Building a Christ- Centered Community

My husband is the gardener in our family! He patiently plants bulbs and waits for them to spring up out of the ground.  He gave up on a few bulbs he planted earlier this spring only to be surprised when a little green shoot came out of the ground much later than he expected.  The growth that was occurring underneath the ground was beyond our visual perception.

As I engage in conversations regarding what is next for Messy Church in the USA, as well as the global community, I wonder how God is creating something new, even though we may not perceive it.  I wonder if the anxiety that I feel arising from the unknown to the many complex questions regarding how Messy Church adapts to our changed world blocks me from placing my trust in our creator God.  Rev. Nicole Reilley, a Messy Church USA board member, shared in her recent sermon on July 12 that “we need to look to God rather than the past or the future…we are to live in the in-between space trusting in God.

Do not remember the former things,
    or consider the things of old.
I am about to do a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness

    and rivers in the desert.

Isaiah 43: 18-19

Trusting in our Creator God and grounding ourselves in the messy foundational value of creativity, I am wondering….

  • What are the most effective ways our Messy Church USA network to engage with one another to learn from one another and to perceive the movement of the Spirit?
  • What kind of resources do local church Messy Leaders and the households they engage with need at this time?  How can we most effectively provide those resources without overwhelming overworked people engaged in ministry?
  • How can we equip local Messy Churches to engage with their Messy folk through on-line, in-person or hybrid experience?
  • How do we stay grounded in our five values of Hospitality, Creativity, Celebration, All-Ages Together and Christ Centered as we experiment with new forms of Messy Church?
  • How do we envision new ways of being Messy Church in our changed world?
  • What are the spiritual practices that we need so that we can more clearly perceive God’s presence and guidance for our ministry?

On July 23rd at 10 am Pacific time, you are invited to a Messy Church USA Zoom town hall to engage with the above questions as well as questions that you bring to the conversation.  Here is a link to the Zoom invitation. 

My friends, this is a difficult time.  This is the first (and hopefully last) global pandemic that we have had to navigate.  Many of us who work in the church, use the summer to plan out the worship and curriculum for the coming school year.  However, everything is constantly changing which causes our plans to not be relevant in just a few short days or week.  Let us place our trust in our Creator God who is making something new that we cannot even imagine right now.  Let us live in a sense of curiosity rather than anxiety as we experiencing the unfolding of the next weeks and month.   I look forward to our ongoing conversations as I hold you in prayer this day.

Prayer: As you find yourself in times of uncertainty, may you perceive God creating a new thing within your life and community. In the places that are broken, may you experience the healing power of Christ. In the spaces where community is being re-created, may you place your trust in God’s Spirit to lead and guide you. May your spirit be renewed as you place your trust in the God of Love.  AMEN.

Grace and Peace,  Roberta

Messy Church USA logo and mission
Equipping Messy Churches to start, sustain and connect across the USA

“What Next” Questions

Roberta J Egli

During the past several months of hunkering down at home, I have gained a greater appreciation for the global Messy Church Community and the USA network.  Hearing how people from all over the world are adapting their Messy Churches to on-line, or at home, or zoom calls has been a highlight.  I give thanks to God for all of the many ways that people from all over the USA network and world have creatively shared the good news of Christ in a large variety of ways over the past four months.

 One of my weekly routines has been to turn into the Messy Church/BRF Facebook Live event every Wednesday. Several weeks ago, Lucy Moore,founder of Messy Church, voiced something that I had been thinking for a while.  When COVID-19 began, there was a sense that we were in for a several month crisis that would soon pass and then we would get back to our regular church routines.  How silly!   It is now apparent that we will be living with COVID-19 precautions for an extended period of time. Even though some churches across the country are re-opening across the country many others will not hold in person worship until much later this fall or in early 2021. Even when we gather again in person, Messy Church will look much different as we have entered into a new reality of how we can gather to worship all-ages together!  

Lucy shared some questions that I have been pondering. (Read More Here)

  • Is it too early to decide on a course of action or strategy for the next seven months?  Should we just do all we can to listen to families, leaders of Messy Churches, wise people?
  • Should we keep pushing the ‘Keep contact, keep caring, keep serving, keep reaching out even if nobody seems to respond, keep offering Messy Church at home resources, keep doing Messy Church on Zoom and Facebook Live for a much longer stretch than we’d imagined
  • Should we see this as a fallow/sabbatical/Jubilee period and give Messy Churches permission/encouragement to stop rushing about…and use the time to think and pray and listen to God?
  • Is this an opportunity to leave the garden to its own devices and recover or not after the storm to re-imagine everything from scratch and break the ground in the new field we now find ourselves in? (“Wilding” is a concept that i learned about in Lucy’s blog, learn more here)

Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything.

Rainer Maria Rilke

What I found inspiring at the end of the 30 minute FB live session with Lucy is that she did not proceed to give any answers to the questions. She simply invited others to join her in conversation to discern which questions to ask.

We are called at this time to live in the tension of ‘what next’ questions which reminds me a favorite quote:

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.

Rainer Maria Rilke, 1903
i
Letters to a Young Poet

So, my friends, what are the questions that you have been asking in your local church settings?  In my next blogpost I will share some of the ‘what next’ questions we have been asking at Messy Church USA.  Our mission as an organization is to equip Messy Churches to start, sustain and connect.  In order to meet our mission, we need to hear from you what it is that you need at this time. Look for an opportunity to gather via zoom to learn from one another on July 23rd.

Grace and Peace,

Roberta

Below are some articles that have been helpful in my pondering! Happy Reading!

Messy Church USA logo and mission
Equipping Messy Churches to start, sustain and connect across the USA

A Confession and Prayer for the USA

A Blog Post from Roberta J. Egli, Executive Director of Messy Church USA

iStock

Several weeks ago, as I was preparing material for our “Jesus Journeys to the Jordan” Global Messy Adventure video, I debated telling the story of the African American spiritual hymn, Wade in the Water. I kept thinking of the song as I recorded videos of the Willamette river close to my home and wanted to use the song in the video but sensed a need to share the story and confess to our global Messy Church brothers and sisters in the USA we have not faced our original foundational sin of racism. However, I ended up not using the video as it didn’t seem to ‘fit’ with the story we wanted to tell.

On Memorial Day, I realized that I could no longer be silent regarding our country’s complicity in the continuation of systemic racism. In one day, the news lit up with the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN and the story of a white woman who deliberately called police during a conflict with an African American bird watching man in Central Park NY. I realize that I can only speak from my experience as a white woman of privilege.  I do believe that I must listen, study, confess and learn while also having the courage to speak. 

These words from Jim Winkler, National Council of Churches President, convict me that I can no longer stay silent.

We are all responsible for doing the hard work to end racism and white supremacy, especially white people. The burden cannot always be on our African American brothers and sisters. These are not just ideologies or individual opinions. These are the systemic issues at the core of American society and it is deadly. The words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ring loudly: ‘Riots are the language of the unheard.’ Our nation needs healing but there can be no healing without justice.

iStock

So the following is what i initially wrote two weeks ago and the rough video that I recorded beside the river that was not used in our Messy Adventure from Messy Church USA video.    

Wade in the water is one of more than six thousand African American spirituals that have been cataloged. Water is an important image in the African American Spiritual…water was a primary aspect of slave experience—the ‘middle passage’ marked the beginning of their captivity as they traveled across the ocean to a new land in slave ships.  The Ohio River was the dividing line between slavery and freedom on the Underground Railroad.

There is a story, although not confirmed,  that Harriet Tubman and other underground railroad conductors used songs like Wade in the Water. They were songs with their own codes that communicated hidden messages that guided slaves on their dangerous journey to freedom.  It is thought that “Wade in the Water” was used to tell slaves to get into the water to avoid being seen and make it through. This is an example of a map song, where directions are coded into the lyrics.

God’s a gonna trouble the water is taken from the scripture in John 5 when the Spirit came down and troubled the water at the Bethesda pool (also known as the pool by the sheep gate).  When the water had been stirred, whomever was able to get into the water first was healed of their disease. Many people were waiting by the pool. One man had waited for 38 years as he required help from others to enter the pool.

Howard Thurman- an African American theologian wrote,“For the slaves the ‘troubled waters’ meant the ups and downs of life. Within the context of the ‘troubled waters” of life there are healing waters, because God is in the midst of the turmoil. Do not shrink form moving confidently out into the choppy seas. Wade in the water, because God is troubling the water.”

Slavery is part of our history as United States of America—not one we are proud of but one that we must acknowledge before we can move forward for justice for all. Before we take a moment to remember our baptism, it is important to remember the things in our past and present that separate us from receiving God’s love.

Wade in the Water Video

i Stock

Questions for Messy Church USA to ponder:

  • How might Messy Church be a sign of hope in the midst of our despair?
  • How might Messy Church be a place where we can build bridges?
  • How might we talk in our Messy Churches about race, about diversity, about justice?
  • Messy Church loves hands-on creativity. What might our confessions look, taste, feel, smell like? How can we put these confessions, worries, hopes, etc into something creative or tangible? 

Resources for Conversations about Racism with children and all ages

Prayer

God of all ages, from the beginning of time, we have turned away from your vision of love as you desired beloved community and we broke our relationship with you and one another. We are a broken people…we are a broken nation. Forgive us for our refusal to see clearly our sin of racism. Forgive us…send your mercy. Guide us in taking steps to know peace and justice and to work together to create equity from our chaos. We pray in the name of Jesus the Christ, with the power of the Holy Spirit who is always creating something new, AMEN.

My friends, I am praying for you…I am praying for us. May the grace of God, the love of Jesus Christ and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all. AMEN.

Grace and peace, Roberta

Messy Church USA logo and mission
Equipping Messy Churches to start, sustain and connect across the USA

On May 21st you are invited to an Around the World Messy Adventure

To celebrate the amazing international Messy Church community and to bring a little joy to the day we will set out on the speediest round-the-world trip ever. On Thursday May 21st, (Ascension Day for the liturgical geeks), Messy Church leaders from England, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA will journey (digitally) journey through the Bible with worship, storytelling, prayer and food for thought. Starting with Lucy Moore, Messy Church founder and captain of this trip, the voyage begins at 11 Pm (Pacific Daylight Time on May 20th) and will conclude at 3 pm (PDT).  The Messy Church USA Journey to the Jordan begins at 9am(PDT) and our Journey to the Hillside will follow at 10 am(PDT). 

Join us as on the Messy Church YouTube  as we set sail (virtually), take off (in our imagination) and rev our (digital) engines for a whole day of Mess!

The Messy Church USA collaborators for this adventure are Cindy Banek,(VA). Robin Cannon (NC), Marty Drake (CA), Roberta Egli (OR), Crystal Goetz (WA), Jillian Mayer (IL), Johannah Myers (SC), Jenna Reinke (TX), Leyla Wagner (CA), and Jim White(CA).

Messy Church around the World, created by Dave Martin

The entire journey itinerary for this Messy Adventure is below in British Standard Time!

Messy Value of Hospitality

Five Values of Messy Church

On Wednesday May 13th, Charis Lambert, the first ever Regional Coordinator for Messy Church in the UK, held the third Messy Church Facebook Live event focused on the five foundational values.  She led a international group in thinking about how we can extend hospitality when we long to be with our Messy community!  

Messy Hospitality

Messy Hospitality during the lock-down

by Charis Lambert

When I google Messy Church, it comes up with the tag line ‘Messy Church- church but not as you know it.’

Unfortunately, at the moment Messy Church itself is not as we know (and love) it. And in this changed situation, the core value of hospitality is the one that might seem the hardest to re-envisage – where we cannot meet together physically and share the hospitality of the meal, the food, the time around the table. And we are grieving that loss, as we also acknowledge that many are suffering food poverty at this difficult time.

But hospitality is (and always has been) so much more than just food!

READ MORE 

Graphic by Dave Martin, Messy Church BRF

Around the World Messy Church Adventure

To celebrate the amazing international Messy Church community and to bring a little joy to the day we will set out on the speediest round-the-world trip ever. On Thursday May 21st, (Ascension Day for the liturgical geeks), Messy Church leaders from England, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA will journey (digitally) journey through the Bible with worship, storytelling, prayer and food for thought. Starting with Lucy Moore, Messy Church founder and captain of this trip, begins at 8 am Midnight Pacific Time and will conclude at 2 pm Pacific Time).

Join us as on the Messy Church YouTube  as we set sail (virtually), take off (in our imagination) and rev our (digital) engines for a whole day of Mess!

The Messy Church USA collaborators for this adventure are Cindy Banek,(VA). Robin Cannon (NC), Marty Drake (CA), Roberta Egli (OR), Crystal Goetz (WA), Jillian Mayer (IL), Johannah Myers (SC), Jenna Reinke (TX), Leyla Wagner (CA), and Jim White(CA).

Time listed above is British Summer Time.
Be sure to check for your local time zone.

Messy Church Values

Have you discovered the weekly Facebook Live events on
Messy Church BRF (Bible Reading Fellowship)?
 
With the beginning of the global pandemic Lucy Moore, the founder of Messy Church  began to have weekly global live events.  Check them out every Wednesday at 9 am and 8 pm (British Summer Time). 

Currently,  these weekly live events are exploring the five foundational values of Messy Church. Okay- quickly now, what are theses five values? (I admit that I usually can’t remember one of them when I am asked)   Ready, set, go: All Ages Together, Celebration, Hospitality, Creativity and Christ Centered!   Did you get them all?

Lucy Moore explored the Messy Church Value of Creativity on April 29th as we each attempted to fold an origami boat.  On May 6th, Martyn Payne focused on the Messy Church Value of All Ages Together.  On Wednesday May 13th, Hospitality will be discussed. 

Creativity Facebook Live on April 29 with Lucy Moore

The chat box filled quickly with; “tired, focused, exhausted, overwhelmed, energized, and edgy” when Lucy asked the question, how are your feeling?  She then proceeded to share her reflections on how this time of the pandemic has brought some new awareness to the Messy Church value of creativity. She has been reading Alan Hirsch book, The Forgotten ways, (Brazos Press) and was drawn to his chapter on liminality and communitas, which describes the opportunities and perhaps privilege of being uncomfortably on the edge. More Here

All Ages Together Facebook Live on May 6th, 2020  with Martyn Payne

Martyn Payne, author of Messy Togetherness, led a global messy conversation on the value of All Ages together. In the 30-minute Facebook live event we explored the questions: How can we do Messy Church in these circumstances in a way that doesn’t give up on trying to express our all-together value? How do we find ways to live out this value when we’re having to organize Messy Church? We were also treated to the wonderful story-telling of Martyn. More Here

Do we have to call it Messy Church?

A Reflection by Roberta J. Egli

iStock

“Do we have to call it Messy Church?”  That is question I received eight years ago from the leadership team of the church I served as Pastor when I excitedly shared videos to introduce the concept of starting a Messy Church. I continue to receive that question today and I imagine that many of you in local leadership have also experienced resistance to the word, “Messy”.

Lucy Moore, the founder of Messy Church writes that the name was an invitation to “reach families that were on the ‘messy edges’ of church who weren’t ‘tidily’ congregation already. It’s also a church for people whose lives may be messy – perhaps in the past the Church has too often appeared to be saying that we only welcome people whose lives are well-ordered.”  (Lucy Moore, BBC Songs of Praise, 2013) 

Here is my short elevator speech answer to the question, why call it Messy Church? “We all live messy lives, with messy relationships and in Messy Church we come in with all of our messiness and find a place of belonging through the unconditional love of God.  Through creating together, celebrating together and eating together, we build a community centered around the teachings of Jesus Christ.

I recently read an article by theologian Shane Claiborne, from a variety of authors writing about the “The Future of Christianity”. Shane reflects on our messiness and his experience at a church he visited where the greeters wore T-shirts emblazoned with the words, “no perfect people allowed” rather than Sunday ‘dress up’ clothes.

The good news is that Jesus didn’t come for folks who have it all together, but for folks who are willing to admit they are falling apart (Mt 9:13) It’s not about how good we are, but how good God is. Hopefully, that can also give us some grace with a church full of messed-up people, and with ourselves.We are imperfect people, falling in love with a perfect God, and doing our best to become more like the One we worship. (Shane Claiborne. Loving the Church Back to Life. (Oneing: The Future of Christianity. Volume 7. No 2. Center for Action and Contemplation) p.66-67

I am grateful that despite resistance, a group of people inspired by the vision, took a risk and started a monthly Messy Church. Our Messy Church certainly was not perfect, we made many mistakes and learned as we went along.  Yet we created a space each month, where people who had not attended church for many years or ever, found a place to belong to one another through games, crafts, stories, food, and fun.  Along the way, we all encountered the transforming love of Christ who bonded us together.

I learned several months ago that the Messy Church I helped to lead into existence, is no longer meeting.  I am saddened at that development, yet it is another reminder for me to trust God rather than my own plans and expectations.  I know that many seeds of faith and love were planted during the five years of that particular Messy Church’s life span and that those seeds of love will sprout and grow. 

When we gather in October in Chicago, we will have opportunities to share highlights and challenges from our local Messy Churches.  There is not ‘one’ way to lead a Messy Church!  We will CELEBRATE the MESS! We will CELEBRATE the 175 churches as of today that have joined the Messy Church USA Network. We will CELEBRATE both the fantastic successes and the failures from which we have learned.  We will CELEBRATE that many people in the USA and the world, are finding Messy Church to be a hope-filled expression of church that gathers all ages together to wonder and CELEBRATE the wondrous and messy life we have been given. Make plans to join the celebration!  God’s grace is in the midst of our messiness…Thanks be to God!
 
See you in the Windy City!  

Peace and love,
Roberta

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Equipping Messy Churches to start, sustain and connect across the USA