Due to the continued COVID-19 pandemic, the Messy Church USA Board of Directors have decided to postpone the Celebrate the Mess National Conference for one year. We are so grateful that both Lucy Moore and Stephen Fischbacher are both available to be with us on our new dates of October 21-23, 2021. We will continue to use the same location for the 2021 conference at Northfield Community Church in the greater Chicago area.
Although we will need to wait one more year to all gather, we are in process of planning an ‘on-line’ celebration this fall. As a new expression of church, Messy Church is primed to continue to innovate to share the love of Christ with all-ages…certainly something to CELEBRATE! Stay Tuned for more information.
If you have already registered for the 2020 event, you will be contacted regarding your registration. If you made hotel reservations, please move forward with cancelling them. We will put up our registration for the 2021 conference after January 2021. Contact Roberta Egli with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As per the previous blog post, while sitting in our respective home offices, many people journeyed around the world on a Messy Adventure on May 21st. This fifteen-hour YouTube live event was the brainstorm of Messy Church founder, Lucy Moore. Messy Church USA collaborators provided two one-hour sessions for the world event.
Our second one-hour session explored a few of the many teachings from what is known as the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ from Matthew 5-8. We began by taking a hike with Jim and his dog Milo to the mountains surrounding Palmdale, CA. Jim shared some background on this important teaching of Jesus before he showed us the lights that began to shine brighter after the sunset.
We explored sharing the light of Christ through pictures, a science experiment, hearing the scripture in another hike in Texas, a story around the campfire and learning the art of making cards to share with others. We also explored ways in which people are reaching out to others during the Pandemic to share Christ’s light. We ended our session with the prayer that Jesus taught his followers on the hillside shared from around the world.
Below is the outline for the Messy Session. The link for the video follows the outline. Be sure to also check out the bonus video from Community UMC that we did not get into our session due to a oops glitch.
Jesus journeys to a hillside to teach Messy Adventure
Theme: Share the Light of Christ
Scripture: Matthew 5: 1,14-16 (NRSV)
“When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them…You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in Heaven.”
Hike with Jim and Milo
Science Experiment with Light
Video Montage -Where have you seen Light of Christ during the Pandemic?
While sitting in our respective home offices, many people journeyed around the world on a Messy Adventure on May 21st. This fifteen-hour YouTube live event was the brainstorm of Messy Church founder, Lucy Moore. Messy Church USA collaborators provided two one-hour sessions for the world event. Our first session was filled with stories and activities focused on baptism.
In remembrance of Jesus baptism in the Jordan, Messy Church USA virtually traveled from coast to coast as we explored stories from various waterways. We began at the James River in Virginia with Cindy Banek taking us to the water’s edge and then sharing a number of shell craft messy activities. Next, we went to the Mighty Mississippi as Jillian Mayer from Illinois led us in a breath prayer as we gazed at the Mississippi flowing past the majestic St. Louis Arch. Roberta Egli then introduced the Willamette river that flows south to north in Oregon. WE then headed to the California coast line of the Pacific Ocean as Marty Drake and Leyla Wagner shared the scripture through sand art.
the outline for the Jesus Journeys to the Jordan Messy Church Session if below and a link to the video follows the outline.
Theme: Come to the Water
Scripture: Mark 1: 9-11
“In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you, I am well pleased’”
St James River and Shell Craft Activity
Prayer at the Mighty Mississippi
A song by the Willamette
Scripture at the Pacific Ocean
A Messy Science Water activity
Renewal of Baptism Celebration
Messy Church Adventure USA Collaborators: Cindy Banek(VA), 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).
Stories of How Messy Churches are reaching their communities now
Curated by Roberta Egli
Messy Church USA…Forming Community while Physically Distant
One of the great joys in my role at Messy Church USA is to discover how people are innovating and adapting Messy Church to their own specific context. During these past three months, as we have physically distanced due to Covid-19, you have used a variety of ways to engage with your Messy Church communities. Well done!
To equip you to sustain your Messy Church (MC) during this weird pandemic time, I am the stories of two different churches. They have adapted their MC to meet the needs of their communities. First the story from Barb Tegtmeier from Christ United Methodist in Albuquerque, NM followed by a story from Dori Fotsch, Marie Reyes, and Jill Elsemore of Thousand Oaks United Methodist in Thousand Oaks, CA.
30- Minute Weekly Zoom from Albuquerque, NM
Our weekly 30-minute Zoom Messy Church came about accidentally…or maybe not. I recorded and posted a MC message for the first “real MC” in April. Our MC congregation liked it, but missed not seeing each other. So, the thought came to me to try getting together every Saturday at our normal start time of 4:00 for just 30 minutes based on several webinars which suggested to keep online sermons, etc. shorter than normal because it is too easy to lose people’s attention. The most amazing things started happening once I announced the new weekly plan.
One family who attends regularly doesn’t usually have a chance to take any leadership role…(however a) Mom asked to come up with an activity involving food to combine those two elements of MC that people were missing. The story was Adam and Eve and she planned (a food activity…with proper protection (we)put together bags with the ingredients then joined in a parade of two to deliver the activity packets to our MC family’s doorsteps Saturday morning. The kids got to do something they loved and also were able to see people who are normally at MC from their car seats. (She) led the activity online before we did a Celebration message.
Another benefit of MC online is that attendees can invite family and friends around the country to join us for just 30 minutes. We (met a cousin from) Nebraska this Saturday who invited all of us on a road trip to go visit them.
On-site physically distanced activity, at home activities and a 30-minute Zoom to FB live Celebration in Thousand Oaks, CA
The team from Thousand Oaks (TO) United Methodist, were ambitious as they adapted their Messy Church for the Covid- 19 pandemic. The theme was Soul on Fire!, based on the story of Pentecost from Acts 2. Prior to the Saturday 30-minute Zoom to Facebook Live celebration, they both delivered bags of craft activities and created an outline for a dove banner at the church. People dropped by the church to add their thumb prints to a beautiful dove banner while maintaining physical distance.
The bilingual TO MC used both live and previously recorded videos to share music, scripture readings, a skit and prayer during their gathered together live zoom to Facebook celebration. As they gathered on their Zoom to Facebook live event on Saturday afternoon, they focused on the scripture of Pentecost when people were confused as they began to speak in multiple languages.
Jesus O., a high school senior who attends TO MC, created a video of a variety of people praying the Lord’s prayer in their language that was used during their celebration time. Seeing and hearing the Lord’s Prayer in English, Spanish, Farci, Korean and Sign Language brought the message to life for today’s context. Messy Church USA is grateful that TO MC graciously gave us permission to use their video in our contribution to the Messy Global Adventure on May 21st.
Following their May MC, families have been sharing pictures of their at home activities on the TO MC Facebook page. What a wonderfully creative way to keep Messy Church families engaged with one another even though they are unable to gather in person!
Messy Church NOW Opportunity
On Tuesday June 30th, you will have an opportunity to discover three more models of how Messy churches have adapted their gatherings to be safe for all. Messy Church USA NOW is a 90-minute webinar that will engage you and your team in ways you can reach out to your Messy Church community.
How are you preparing for advent at your Messy Church?
Sheep Trails, family advent wreaths, a coloring nativity and much more. Sometimes you may become overwhelmed with advent Messy Church opportunities. Johannah Myers, North and South Carolina Regional Coordinator and Messy Church leader for Aldersgate UMC in Greenville, SC started a Messy Church Sheep trail in her community several years ago. Read her previous post to learn all about it! Sheep Trail
Advent is a wonderful opportunity to connect your Messy Church community and your Sunday morning community. Are their activities that are traditional for your Sunday worship that you can bring to Messy Church?
On our Messy Church team leaders FB group page, people have been sharing various ideas for advent. Leyla Wagner, from Community UMC in Huntington Beach, CA shared “Something that we like to do is a Reverse Advent Box. We have families decorate a box to take home. Each day of advent, the family puts something (typically canned food or hygiene product) into the box and then donates the entire box to a local Food Pantry or Charity. It’s a good way to make space for “God” in all the busyness of preparing for Christmas.
Advent offers great opportunities to bridge the worship at Messy Church with at home family devotions. Check out the links of Advent ideas below and make sure to check out our FB Messy Church team leaders group page.
Advent in a Box Resource
Robin Cannon, the RC for Ohio and our social media consultant for Messy Church USA is a partner in Family Ministry Tools which have created a wonderful resource called- Advent in a Box It is a pizza box filled with all-age devotions and activities to help families celebrate Advent and prepare for Christmas. We have created the devotions and activities for your church. You will need to print the materials, buy the supplies, and pack your boxes. Everything a family will need to do the activities will be in the box (aside from normal household supplies like markers and tape).
You can order individually or per size of your church. Check it out here.
From Building Faith (Virginia Theological Seminary ) Website
A Blog post by Casey Cross, a Messy Church USA Board of Director
Casey serves as Young Disciples Director at Hope Lutheran Church in Eagle, ID. She leads a team for their Messy Church.
Like many congregations, we offer backpack blessings at the beginning of each new school year. This year, as I was talking to my pastor about what those would look like, he offered an idea that we could write blessings for each other. The idea quickly evolved from there and we decided to hand out tags on which we would write a word, prayer, blessing, or thought, return them at the offering, then take a new tag on our way out at the end of worship.
This shared activity is especially meaningful because we are living in a time where we are overwhelmed with the countless ways we are different and divided from one another. With more and more statistics and articles written about the Lonely Generation, American’s declining trust, rising suicide rates, and unfortunately even more cultural realities exemplifying our disconnection from one another, we need to respond as a church – the Body of Christ – together.
We need to practice and model trust, not only in our God, but also in one another. Our support for one another, practicing forgiveness, grace, and simply just paying attention to one another becomes counter-cultural, world-changing action. With simple exercises like the blessings we shared today, we put our skin in the game. We are in this together. And we walked from worship with signs of God’s transformation in our lives, to serve as reminders of our connection to one another and God’s love wherever we go.
All ages were part of this activity. The tags filled with art, color, prayers, and words from our children were especially thoughtful. I was deeply blessed by the opportunity to read many of the tags before they were dispersed at the end of the service. What a lovely insight into the hearts of our congregation members.
Another reason an activity like this is so important is because when we get caught up in the day-to-day of our lives, it can be easy to relax into consumer-mode. Show up, get filled, feel good, check it off your to do list, and move to the next thing. When this happens, we forget that God is actively involved in our lives. But Wisdom is living within us, speaking to us, moving us, and living through us. We do not worship just for ourselves, but with and for each other. We matter to each other and we have something to share with each other. These blessings gave us an opportunity to remember this and experience it.
I know this exercise may not have meant much to some of the people in attendance. Some may have worried they didn’t have the “right” words, some may have not understood what it was for, and some may have just thought it was meaningless. It’s okay. That’s what grace is all about. It doesn’t stop what God has done and is doing in our lives together.
I am thankful for a congregation and pastor who tries new things. These ideas don’t always go smoothly. They aren’t perfect. But we try stuff. We are in it, together. No matter what, that is what we are living together. The details may fade away in time, but we will never forget that we are God’s beloved children, we are not alone, we have each other… wherever we go.
In the words of our congregational mission statement – we love, we experience, and we discover God and God’s will in the world.
By Johannah Myers, Regional Coordinator for North and South Carolina
The dust has settled from our Messy Church Fall Festival. Candy wrappers have been picked up and costumes stored away. In one way, we’re now free to turn our thoughts to gratitude and Thanksgiving. However, for those of us planning for Messy Church, it’s time to start planning for Advent and Messy Christmas.
Advent is a season of preparation. We prepare for the coming of our Messiah even as we remember and celebrate Jesus’ coming as a baby at Christmas. As Messy Church leaders, we’re charged to prepare for Messy Christmas celebrations but we can also help our families make space to prepare a way for Jesus, even during their busy December.
Consider providing Advent calendars at your November Messy Church. Look for a calendar that includes family activities or create your own. Invite families to create a Jesse Tree as a way of remembering Jesus’ family tree and marking the Advent season together. What about materials and instructions for making a simple Advent wreath? Provide the materials as a take-home during your November Messy Church so that families are ready when Advent begins on December 2nd 2018.
Help families create an Advent wreath by providing the materials as a take-home during your November Messy Church so that families are ready when Advent begins on December 2nd.
If your Messy Church has a Facebook page or other social media outlets, think about ways to use this social media to help families mark the Advent season. Create a unique hash-tag and invite families to post pictures of their Advent activities. Use social media as a community Advent calendar.
Messy Christmas is a great resource for planning Messy Christmas or Messy Advent. It’s full of wonderful ideas for activities and celebrations. There is an older resource, Messy Nativity that is also available to purchase. Messy Nativity includes two ideas of projects to draw your whole community into the Messy Christmas spirit, beyond your monthly Messy Church.
Advent and Christmas can be the busiest seasons complete with all the stress that goes along with the craziness. How can Messy Church help families find purpose in the midst of all the season’s comings and goings?
Messy Church USA’s mission is to equip local churches to start, sustain and connect Messy Churches across the USA. Be sure to register your Messy Church on our website.
Did you see the grateful pumpkin Facebook post that ended up being Messy Church USA’s most liked and shared post? What an easy and great way to practice gratitude in your household or your Messy Church!
I have discovered that it takes intentionality to enter into a regular practice of gratitude. I have kept a gratitude journal in the past but for several years, I have received the daily gratefulness word of the day from a website on gratitude focused on the writings of David Stendle-Rast. I encourage you to check out their website and sign up for their daily moment of gratitude. You can also send an e-card, light a virtual prayer candle, get inspired by stories, discover videos or simply check out their question of the day.
How do you practice gratitude in your household? How can we practice gratitude in our Messy Churches? I recently read a great gratitude household practice called ‘Gratitude Café’. Based on a mother’s habit of taking her morning coffee outside and giving thanks at the beginning of each morning, Traci Smith, author ofFaithful Families writes about creating a regular ( weekly if possible) gratitude café.
First choose a day of the week (Saturday morning or Sunday evenings work well for many families) for the household to gather.
Second, make a favorite beverage for each of the household (coffee, tea, orange juice, or hot chocolate).
Third, gather someplace either inside or outside to enjoy their beverage. Perhaps you want to use a special tablecloth or candle for your gratitude café.
Fourth, have each household member either draw a picture or if able, write down five things for which they are grateful.(When you start your gratitude café, you may need to ask some leading questions such as; Are you thankful for anything you received this past week? Are you thankful for anything special we have done as a family? Are you thankful for anything you have learned? Etc.
After a time of silence while everyone writes or draws, share your ideas with one another.
After everyone has shared, say a simply prayer together, “Gracious, we give you thanks for all you have given us this past week. Amen”
Introduce the Gratitude Café during your Messy Meal and then send the idea home for households to practice at home. You can have people save their drawings / paper and create a Gratitude Café mosaic for your Messy Church.
May you find ways to practice gratitude today and in the days to come and better yet, make your gratitude practice messy!
Messy Blessings, Roberta
” If church is about loving God and loving each other and transforming the world in partnership with (God) and with each other, can we achieve that best by splitting up or learning to live together…an all-age church reflects the very nature of a diverse yet unified God. It demonstrates the integration of generations to which society as a whole can aspire, thus challenging the worldview that splits off generations from each other in fear and hostility. It is the way that Christians have celebrated their faith for centuries. It is the best way of growing disciples.”
Six years ago, I was perusing the internet, looking for ways for the church I served to more actively engage with our neighbors, when I first discovered a Messy Church video. I immediately felt a connection and remember showing the video of Lucy Moore explaining Messy Church as she walked down a street. I shared that video with as many people from the church that I could corner for a few minutes. What a brilliant yet simple idea to teach about the love of God through bringing people of all ages together through games, activities, and crafts all based on a biblical story. To top it off, there was an all age interactive time to hear the bible story, pray, all ending with a simple meal where everyone gathers around a table.
For many years, churches have been doing many of the elements of Messy Church but foundational value of bringing all ages together for the entire time both intrigued and challenged me. I was drawn to the vision all intergenerational spiritual formation but I was challenged when I thought about how it would work.
Wouldn’t it be chaotic to have toddlers, preschoolers, moms, dads, aunts, single adults, uncles, teenagers, grandmas and grandpas all together in one space? How could one find an activity or share a story that would speak to the diversity of ages? Could different ages from 0-70 really learn about God all in one space? These questions continue to arise when I spend time training and coaching the startup of Messy Church throughout the USA. The other questions that quickly follow are ‘how’ do you plan for all ages and ‘where’ do you find activities?
If these questions arise in your Messy Church teams, I highly recommend purchasing Messy Togethernessby Martyn Payne. The book is divided into three parts; 1) Why we are intergenerational at Messy Church, 2) How to be intergenerational during the activity time, celebration worship time and meal time in Messy Church and 3) Curriculum for three Messy Church sessions highlighting the value of all-ages together.
Here are a few tidbits from Martyn in regards to the act of Creating Together at Messy Church. It takes an intentional invitation form the table leaders to involve the adults with the children…whoever is leading the craft or activity table needs to be enthusiastic… when putting together a craft idea, don’t have it all ‘done and dusted’ but invite those who are creating their ideas of how to proceed…it’s not the finished product that matters; it’s the engagement in the creativity that’s important…remember that the making and doing things together is part of the teaching and learning process of Messy Church.
As I read through the book, I began to realize that not every activity had to reach every age but that in planning for Messy Church, it was important to keep the entirety of the time in perspective. I found Martyn’s creative checklist valuable when planning each Messy Church experience. Remember as you read through this list that some of them can be combined.
Something crafty and simple
Something cooperative and large
Something crafty and complicated
Something ‘cool’ ( such as a science experiment)
Something chaotic and very messy
Something challenging, in the form of a game
Something that involves colouring (via UK spell check) and collating
Something conversational that gets people talking
Something relaxing ( a reflective activity or prayer space)
Something community- linked( social action or fundraising)
Something concrete and word-based
Something cultural, connecting to faith around the world
All of the activity resources found in the Get Messy! magazine and the books have taken into consideration this perspective of all ages so be sure to use those great resources. Be sure to adapt to your setting as you need. Here is one more link from the Messy Churches of the Netherlands with their top tips to keep Church intergenerational.
“Intergenerational is not something churches do-it’s something they become”
One more thing…as the quote above suggests, Messy Church is a time of “being with” those of all ages who come rather than a program where we are ‘doing things for’ others. I look forward to hearing your stories of how your Messy Churches are becoming intergenerational. Messy Blessings, Roberta
Messy Church International Conference (MCIC 2019) May 3-5, 2019
Have you made plans yet to attend the awesome opportunity in May 2019? Do not delay! Registration is now open and places are expected to fill quickly! The first conference in 2016 was AWESOME! It was great fun to meet Messy Church people from all over the world! This is an unmissable opportunity. Click here for more information and to register.
We are pleased to announce that there are some partial scholarships available for MCIC 2019 from Messy Church USA. Click here for the application.
“What is Messy Church?” monthly Zoom webinar begins this month
Do you have people ask you the question, “What is Messy Church”? Perhaps you have heard that question from members of your own church or from churches in your denomination or neighborhood who have heard about your great Messy Church and want to learn more. Starting on June 28th, Roberta will be holding a “What is Messy Church?” zoom webinar on the 4th Thursday of the month starting at 8:30 am Pacific time. Instruct your friends to register here.
Messy Church Amazon Kindle Sale
Are you always sharing your one copy of Messy Church? Now is your opportunity to stock up on the Kindle version. IVP will be running a special on the Kindle version of Messy Church. It will be just $3.99 from June 14-20. Click here to order but remember the sale starts June 14th.
Getting Started in Messy Church Upcoming Team Trainings
Check out the upcoming Getting Started one day training on our website. There is training in Federal WA on August 25th from 9-3 and one in Huntington Beach, CA on October 6th. Look for training this fall in Texas and South Carolina. More details coming soon!
My day started off as a bad one today, I tripped on a toy lying in the doorway.
I fell to the floor and it really hurt bad, So I yelled really loudly for mom and Dad.
I could hear a giggle from across the hall, My sister had seen me and my terrible fall.
But she didn’t feel badly and seemed quite amused, All at once I was shaking and extremely short fused.
I lunged from my doorway in an angry blur, And screamed out loud while I ran straight at her,
I balled up my fist and I swung at her arm, She let out a yell like a fire alarm!
All of the sudden, we looked different, it seemed, We had darkness where once we had light that had beamed.
My mom had come running and saw what was done, Her face filled with anger, as I stood in a stun.
She screamed, “why must you always put up such a fight?!” You’re making me crazy! Get out of my sight!!!”
And, boom! All at once, her light disappeared, It was a rare side of her that we always had feared.
She stood in shock, her mouth open wide, She tried to talk but instead she just cried.
She said she was sorry, clasped her hands, bowed her head, “God, please forgive me for the words I have said.”
Immediately her light was its normal, bright, gleam, We were all out of trouble, at least it would seem.
My dad then came in and we all had a chat, My sister apologized right off the bat,
She meant it and I watched as her light came back on, But I wouldn’t say sorry because she was who’s wrong.
And although I knew I was without a doubt right, I was confused at why I didn’t see a return of my light.
We all loaded up in the car, off to church, At the light I saw a man sitting beneath a birch,
He walked to our car and tapped on the glass, My dad rolled his eyes, mom said, “don’t be crass.”
His sign had a message “help, down on my luck” Dad barely cracked the window of our old Family truck.
“Don’t tap on my window, back up, you’re a slob,” “I work hard for my money so go find a job!”
The man slumped his head and dads light went away, With a tear in his eye he said “have a nice day.”
Dad started to drive then said “what’d I just do?!” “Do unto others as you’d like done to you!”
Dad lowered his head and started to plea, “God, help me help others as you have helped me.”
He opened the door and ran back to the man, Gave a shake and few dollars right in his hand.
And all of the sudden, my dad’s light was back on, I was still in the dark, though I’d done nothing wrong.
When he came back I asked why he did what he’d done, He replied, “itʼs what God calls us to do, my son.”
“Before you react, think about what He’d do,” “Be the light for others and stop thinking of just you.”
It all hit at once and I began to see, My light wasn’t broken, what’s broken is me.
God calls upon us, to be like Him, be the light, Mine wasn’t turning on ’cause I had to be right.
I turned to my sister and said I was wrong, I shouldn’t have hit you, and been so headstrong.
She gave me a grin and whispered “I know”, And all at once, my own light was a glow.
God gives us the tools to light the darkest of night, Now tell me, like Him, can you be the light?
Lindsey Goodyear attends Messy Church at Community UMC in Huntington Beach, CA. After attending Messy Church with her husband and two sons, she joined the leadership team for her Messy Church. We are delighted that she has agreed to be a regular blogger for Messy Church USA. Please contact her for permission to republish Be the Light.
Have you bookmarked this fantastic and free resource? ideas.brf.org.uk
For over 20 years, The Bible Reading Fellowship has been supporting children's and family work in churches. This website provides ideas for your Sunday & midweek groups & material for all-age worship. pic.twitter.com/1w4nl9yEKH
Have you checked out the free Messy Church Course created by our friends in Canada? You’ll learn the basics of discipleship and evangelism to help you stay grounded and focused, as well as practical tips and ideas for how to run a great Messy Church!
Messy Church USA is a newly formed nonprofit 501c3 corporation. Messy Church USA has been formed to provide an organizational structure to support the health, growth and sustainability of local Messy Churches in the USA. In addition, Messy Church USA will assist individual Messy Churches to become an integrated part of the larger national and global network of Messy Churches. Read more.