Workshops, Tacos, Messy Experience and Bonfires

Archive for Stephen Fischbacher

Workshops, Tacos, Messy Experience and Bonfires

Written by Roberta J. Egli

Workshops, conversations at the table, bookstore and Bonfires are the focus of this final “Getting Messy in the USA” conference wrap up. In our full schedule, there was an opportunity to sign up for two workshops and according to the post-conference survey; more time in workshops would have been appreciated. Participants wrote: “Wish there had been time to attend more of the workshops”, “Longer so I could have done three workshops instead of two”, and “More time”. Perhaps at a future conference, we will need to extend our time to two full days instead of an evening plus one day.

The full list of Workshops included: Messy Hospitality, Messy Togetherness, Messy Music, Messy Meals, Messy Celebration, Messy Creativity, Growing a Messy Team, Taking Messy Church Home, Best Practices to start a Messy Church. Notice a messy Theme?

Many people valued the break times in the courtyard to gather and start or continue messy conversations with new friends. Sitting around a table in the sun, munching on fruit and various trail mixes was a great opportunity to hear how God is alive and moving through Messy Church. In addition to the courtyard, the bookstore was busy during the break times. We quickly sold out of the books that had been purchased through BRF and the CD’s from Fischy Music. Having the resources available though was an important aspect of the conference for many participants.

A big thanks to Marty Drake and Leyla Wagner for arranging for all volunteers who helped to serve such great food. The taco grill on Friday night was especially yummy and gave us all an idea of what life is like in southern California!

Speaking about life in southern California– many people from the conference stayed for a bonfire on beach on Saturday evening. When we arrived a bit late laughter, music, and conversation could be heard around the large bonfire. Making a s’more was so easy since it was all organized into packets with two graham crackers and a piece of chocolate. Martyn Payne had his first s’more and pronounced it good!

So what is next? The Messy Church USA board is in discussion regarding when and where to hold a ‘second’ Messy Church USA conference. Possibilities include a USA conference every two years with regional events in the years between. The International Messy Church conference will be in England in May of 2019.

Here are ideas from the survey of future topics for workshops/ conference. What do you think? 

Potential Topics:

  • How to bring Messy churchgoers into regular church. How to encourage more donations/volunteering.
  • How to advertise and promote.
  • Large vs Small church formats, workshops for long-term MC vs beginning.
  • Running a Bi-lingual Messy Church
  • Maybe a panel Q & A with people who have done it a year or more
  • Maybe common pitfalls, or learning from our mistakes
  • Ideas for seasonal Messy Churches — Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, Halloween, etc. Also, it would have been great to attend 3 workshops, if that would work with the schedule.
  • How to help other churches start there MC

Getting Messy in the USA Wrap-up # 1

Written by Roberta J. Egli

Over 90 people gathered in sunny California for the Getting Messy in the USA conference on October 20-22. We came from nine different states and two continents to connect, discover and expand our network of messy friends and colleagues. We experienced extravagant hospitality from many volunteers from Community UMC in Huntington Beach as we gathered in their beautiful courtyard enjoying snacks and meals on the new furniture that was bedecked with twinkle lights in the evening. Read further for some highlights on the general sessions, pictures and post-conference survey quotes.

General Sessions

Lucy Moore, Martyn Payne and Stephen Fischbacher gave three energetic presentations for all those gathered. On Friday night we explored some basics of Messy Church including the five foundational values and the usual flow of each Messy Church. The parable of the seeds was the foundational story and I know that I will never hear that story again without hearing Lucy sing the parable in rhyme to the tune of ‘Old MacDonald’.

We started Saturday morning focusing on one of values of Messy Church: Messy Hospitality. How do we practice hospitality in our Messy Churches at the welcome table or the activity table or the games or the celebration time or the meal?  In addition to the story of Mary and Martha a quote from Henri Nouwen shaped our focus: “Hospitality is not to change people but to offer them space where change can take place.” (Henri Nouwen, Reaching Out) As we engage in Messy hospitality our primary task is to create an empty space for people to engage with the love of God in Christ Jesus.

Our final general session on Saturday afternoon was dedicated to Messy Discipleship. In exploring the story of the Jesus instructing the fisher disciples to put out into deep water for a catch, Lucy also challenged us to consider that both shallow and deep experiences are needed in the journey of discipleship. Lucy and Martyn eft us with a challenge to be with each other on the discipleship journey: “Messy Discipleship is about us, the team. If it isn’t church for us too, we’ll always be doing church ‘at’ or ‘for’ others- it will remain an event.”

Each general session was highlighted with the music of Stephen Fischbacher who got all ninety people up out of their seats and moving! The music, the stories and the lecture all flowed together in a powerful way. Prior to the conference, Stephen collaborated with Lucy and Martyn to write a short new song that we used in our closing prayer and commitment at the end of each of the general sessions.

Click here for some Messy Church songs.

 If you would like a pdf copy( minus pictures) of the PPT presentations for the general sessions, send me an email.

  •  “Loved the way the general sessions role-played how to do Messy Church locally”
  • “ Lucy is a highly gifted storyteller”
  • “Excellent input!
  • “We need more time for each session”
  • “Amazing! The music really made the flow of conference fun”
  • “Enjoyed (Stephen) very much! Music is our MC’s weakest link- so appreciated the music so much ( and the gift of the link to Fischy Music).

A big thank you to Fischy Music for offering a one-year subscription to all their music to all of the churches who came to the conference for a reduced fee to Messy Church USA.

Singing Peace on the Laguna Beach Boardwalk

By Roberta J. Egli

After two wonderful Sunday worship services with the Community UMC Church, the Getting Messy in the USA conference concluded. All the planning team and presenters were invited to the Rev. Ginny Wheeler’s home after worship for a wonderful lasagna feast. Thanks Ginny!

Rather than falling into a pasta stupor with a nap on the couch, we all headed off for a very warm walk ( It was about 90 degrees that day) along the boardwalk of Laguna Beach. As we looked over the beautiful Pacific Ocean, Stephen broke out in song… May you find peace, may you find hope, may you find joy this day! So, of course, we had to all break into song and much to our surprise, others walking by us joined in! Music does bring us all together!

Fischy Music provided music at the international Messy Church conference and as we planned for the conference in California we wanted to offer great music that was fun, for all ages and theological sound. We were so fortunate that Stephen was available and agreed to come all the way from Scotland to gift us with his music. The churches that attended the conference received a one-year subscription to Stephen’s “Songs for Life”. You can check out his website to learn more about that subscription and other ways to get Stephen’s music if you were not able to attend the conference. Messy Church USA hopes to have further collaboration with Stephen so stay tuned.

A huge thank you to Lucy, Martyn and Stephen for their storytelling, enthusiasm, wisdom, and general awesomeness!

So what now? The Messy Church USA board will review our evaluations and decide about future conferences— the when, where and how. The next International Conference is planned for England in the spring of 2019.

Thanks to all who came to the conference. Here are few statements from the evaluative survey:

All positive remarks. I think having a conference next year- while excitement is growing and its new would be good. After that- maybe every other year.”

“It was so important to get together with others as we develop how Messy Church will work most effectively in the US.”

“It gave me hope that we are on the right track. We may be a ‘weed” but hopefully our church will allow us to bloom.”

“The hospitality offered by CUMC was outstanding! Meals were all delicious and serving people went quickly…Thanks again”

“It was a wonderful experience from start to finish. Being able to have conversations with people who have been doing Messy Church, are starting up , and everywhere in between. Everyone was so approachable and giving of their time and information! I am looking forward to networking and moving forward with Messy Church USA!”