A blog post by Roberta J. Egli, Executive Director Messy Church USA
When I was a young child, Easter Sunday began before dawn. My father would wake us up in the dark of night to gather with other members of our church family to hike up a hill to watch the sunrise. It was a tradition for this community of faith to gather as young and old, huddled in our rain jackets as we sang familiar songs and listened once again to the scripture proclaiming that Jesus the Christ was arisen!
It was always a muddy trip both up and down the hill in the soggy Pacific Northwest and most of the years; we could only tell that the sun had risen, not from a glorious sunrise but that the clouded skies were getting lighter from the sun that we could not see. I have to admit that the most fun as a young child was to race down the hill to get to the hot chocolate and donuts that awaited us in the farmer’s barn.
I have thought of that all- age experience of a muddy and messy Easter of my childhood as I have seen the wondrous pictures of Easter being celebrated at Messy Churches all over the world. What a gift you are giving to your Messy Churches as you creatively share the story of the good news of Easter. Although I have not seen muddy pictures, I have reveled in seeing all of the chaotic mess and joy of people of all ages and backgrounds coming together to share in the love of God made alive through Easter.
“I know you” shouted an excited fifth grader at recess as she ran to the fence of her elementary school to greet Tamara and Mark Manning, the leaders of a Messy Church in Jefferson Oregon. She continued, “you go to MY church, MY Messy Church– I LOVE IT– when is the next one?” Tami shared this story with me recently which brought a smile to my face as I have also experienced that ‘I know you’ moment in unexpected places, like the potato chip aisle of a neighborhood grocery store.
Finding a place to belong, for young and old, is a basic human need, especially in a world where there is polarization, conflict and division. To find a place where we can know others and can be known and loved unconditionally is life giving. What Messy Church stories of belonging do you have?
“Belonging is at the heart of what we’re trying to do in Messy Church.“
Lucy Moore, Founder of Messy Church
Lucy Moore reflected in a blog post way back in 2016 that “belonging is at the heart of what we’re trying to do in Messy Church. We want people to be able to say with integrity and excitement, ‘this is our church. This is our God. This is our Story. This is our Family. This is where we feel at home, accepted, known by name and free to take risks because we know that here we are most deeply loved.” Check out Lucy’s belonging barometer by clicking above.
Messy Church at Jefferson UMC meets every other month. At one of their more recent Messy Churches they had 32 people in attendance- a few more people than attended that week’s Sunday morning worship. Messy Church at Jefferson UMC is a great example of a small but mighty Messy Church. They are connecting with people in their town that do not belong at any other church.
I remember being discouraged when our ‘numbers’ for our Messy Church decreased in its second year and our team gathered to discuss what we were doing ‘wrong’ since our numbers had dropped. One wise team member shared that in her opinion, smaller numbers gave us a great opportunity to meet our goal to strengthen relationships within our Messy Church community. With a smaller group we were able to spend more time with each other and get to know one another more deeply. What I originally viewed as a problem became a great opportunity!
Messy Churches come in all shapes and sizes, just like the Messy families that gather together! In fact, in the 2016 Messy Church survey, 43% of churches across the globe have 21-40 people attend regularly, what many of us may describe as small. My friends, small is not something to use as a disclaimer when we describe our Messy Churches but it is something to celebrate! Claim your gifts as a small Messy Church! You are building relationships, you are creating space for people to belong and you are sharing the good news that we are all known and loved by God. May your Messy Church be Small but Mighty! Messy Blessings, Roberta
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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.