Messy Toolbox

Archive for Storytelling

Messy Toolbox

What does duct tape teach us our mission in Messy Church? What about a wrench?  Crystal Goetz, Regional Coordinator for the state of WA, shared a fun and inspiring Facebook Live on August 5th exploring her Messy Toolbox.  The good news is that even if you missed it live, you can still catch it on the Messy Church BRF Facebook Page.  Don’t miss it!

Check it out HERE.

Crystal, in the middle, with Messy Friends from South Africa at the MCIC 2019

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

LEARN MORE & REGISTER FOR CELEBRATE THE MESS

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

Messy Family Chronicles

By Lindsey Goodyear

Once a month I sit down to write about the experience I’ve had at the previous Messy Church. In all honesty, I’ve had some pretty incredible, and definitely eye opening, adventures there. God never wastes an opportunity for me to learn new lessons from His ancient wise words, no matter how many times I’ve heard them. Just when I think I know a verse inside and out, I’m thrown for a total loop and find that His word is, once again, speaking to whatever heaviness is currently weighing on me. It happens every time! This got me thinking…If I’m having these awe-inspiring experiences at Messy Church, what are my peers walking away with? Since one of the five Messy Church values are “all ages” (every element should be relevant and accessible to all ages), I thought it would be a nice change to ask questions of four different age groups, all at different stages in life, the same series of questions and see what their Messy Church experiences are like. So, without further hesitation, please enjoy my conversations with five outstanding Messy members from Community United Methodist Church in Huntington Beach, CA.

Name: Hannah Wagner
Age: 24
Kids: None
Years Attending: 4

How did you first hear about Messy Church?

HW: I was already a member of Community United Methodist Church in Huntington Beach and I was looking for alternative ways to worship.

How has attending Messy Church impacted your life?

HW: It has really helped me build a strong community as well as a connection with different families. I work with young children and I think it’s really important to get to know the community you’re working in.

What is it that keeps you coming back?

HW: Without a doubt, the bonds and friendships I’ve formed.

Can you give a favorite memory?

HW: My favorite is always the Messy Church where pets attend. I love it because we get to see the furry parts of the families that attend, which we normally don’t see. It’s also my dog, Carl’s, favorite Messy Church!

What would you like to see in the future at Messy Church?

HW: Our Messy Church is very young family centered, which is awesome, but it would be very cool to see more young adults attending that just want to engage and worship with other people in their community.

“Coming once a month has added personal and theological benefits…too many to mention.  It has also created community, for me, with parents and for James, with his friends.

James Torres

Name: James Torres
Age: Over 39
Kids: James Jr (5)
Years Attending: 2

How did you first hear about Messy Church?

JT: I read a story in the OC Register about Messy Church. Then, in October of 2017, I was invited by Leyla Wagner and Marty Drake to the first ever USA Messy Church conference at CUMC. I met the British founder, Lucy Moore, as well as others in leadership that are based in England and the United States. I sat in on excellent seminars and terrific testimonials. I have now taken James Jr. religiously every month for two years. James Jr. loves Messy Church, and so do I.

How has attending Messy Church impacted your life?

JT: Coming once a month has added personal and theological benefits…too many to mention. It has also created community, for me, with parents and for James, with his friends.

What is it that keeps you coming back?

JT: Leyla, Marty, the parents, plus, my kid loves it. Leyla Wagner was my son’s preschool teacher at CUMC. She and the other instructors at CUMC preschool and the CUMC Messy Church are terrific. I love the fact that all of those who care for and instruct small children at CUMC and Messy Church are women who love Jesus.

Can you give a favorite memory?

JT: I love anytime the kids pray or sing a Jesus based or holiday song.

What would you like to see in the future at Messy Church?

JT: Leyla Wagner mentioned she wants to see more people transformed by God’s word. In my opinion, that’s a good goal. (P.S. I would like to add that I very much enjoy the writing efforts of Lindsey Goodyear. She has a gifting from the Lord for sharing God’s love in the context of reporting, art, and story.)

LG: Thank you, James!

Name: Justin and Nicole Brown
Age: 37, 41
Kids: Two kids (6,8)
Years Attending: Since the start

How did you first hear about Messy Church?

J&NB: We heard about it from Leyla Wagner and Marty Drake as well as through the preschool (we were parents of preschoolers at the time).

How has attending Messy Church impacted your life?

J&NB: It gives us one evening per month we can count on as a family to worship God in a fun and creative way while also being in the company of like-minded families/people. Not to mention, a sit down meal that we didn’t slave over and can eat while it’s still warm!

NB: Also no dishes and I come home to a clean kitchen!

What is it that keeps you coming back?

J&NB: The bonding time with family and like-minded friends. Also, just when we think Messy Church can’t get better, it does. Constantly. This reflects the heart and soul of the ones who tirelessly pour their hearts and time into this labor of love month after month.

Can you give a favorite memory?

JB: I loved going to Shipley Nature Center.

NB: I asked our kids what their favorite part was and I was expecting to hear answers like, “playing with our friends,” “crafts,” or “dessert” but I was wrong. When my sweet boy was five years old, he said his favorite part of Messy Church was, “when we just spend time together and do crafts as a family.”

What would you like to see in the future at Messy Church?

J&NB: We’d love to see healthier food alternatives as well as more outreach that is family focused.

I love helping with Messy Church because I enjoy being around children.  It gives me great pleasure to witness them having such a fun evening, learning about God through crafts and scripture.

Jan Rutkowski, 70 years young

Name: Jan Rutkowski
Age: 70
Kids: 2 adult children
Years Attending: 5 years

How did you first hear about Messy Church?

JR: The church I attend had started a Messy Church 6 or 7 years ago so as a parishioner I was aware we would hold Messy Church on our church campus.

How has attending Messy Church impacted your life?

JR: I love helping with Messy Church because I enjoy being around children. It gives me great pleasure to witness them having such a fun evening, learning about God through crafts and scripture.

What is it that keeps you coming back?

JR: It is so rewarding being part of a community mission that is spreading the word of God to families that may not attend traditional worship services.

Can you give a favorite memory?

JR: One of my favorite memories is when we did our first Messy Church baptism. It was a beautiful moment as some of our attendees had not witnessed a baptism. Then something funny happened. It was held at the fountain in our courtyard and the little boy I was sitting next to thought the child was going to be submerged in the small space so I reassured him that was not going to happen.

What would you like to see in the future at Messy Church?

JR: I would like to see our attendance grow but I’d also like to see more churches start their own Messy Church program to help keep the word of God alive and relevant in our world today.

From Roberta J. Egli, Executive Director of Messy Church USA

Your donation to Messy Church USA through the end of 2019 will enable us to reach more and more families throughout the world. We support the global movement by passing on 50% of your gift to Bible Reading Fellowship, the UK charity that is the home for the global Messy Church movement.  Donating through our Messy Church USA website will allow you to receive a receipt for tax purposes here in the United States. I invite you to make a gift to support Messy Church around the world. You can donate at https://messychurchusa.org/donate/.  Thanks for your support, Roberta 

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

Time to Give Thanks…Messy Church is Changing Lives

By Roberta J. Egli, Executive Director Messy Church USA

During this month in which we celebrate Thanksgiving, I invite you to give thanks that Messy Church is changing lives. Did you know that 61% of Messy Church families wouldn’t otherwise be at church except for their Messy Church? Or that 40% of Messy Church families have had little or no prior contact with church? Or that 81% of Messy Church leaders see evidence of lives changed through their Messy Church? (Playfully Serious, Church Army, February 2019)

I give thanks for Bible Reading Fellowship (BRF), the home for the global Messy Church movement! With the help of the wider BRF staff, the Messy Church team from BRF creates a constant supply of imaginative new ideas and resources, supports a significant online community and develops new ways to grow the impact of Messy Churches.

I give thanks that two years ago, BRF signed an agreement with a new nonprofit organization, Messy Church USA, welcoming us as a partner and supporting our mission to equip local churches to start, sustain and connect across the USA. In two years, Messy Church USA has registered over 160 messy churches from 17 denominations on our website, we have expanded our Regional Coordinator network from 3 to 20 across the United States. In 2019 we have held 10 regional Getting Started in Messy Church events training over 125 churches and 400 individuals. Let us give God thanks!

I give thanks for the stories that have been shared over the last few weeks from the BRF annual £100 appeal. The appeal is for Messy Churches all over the world to donate £100 so that more families find their way to church. In support of the global movement of Messy Church, Messy Church USA will give back to BRF 50% of any donations received on our website for the remainder of 2019. Listen to how Patricia and her children find a place to belong at Messy Church which changed their lives. 

Watch Her Story Here

Your donation to Messy Church USA through the end of 2019 will enable us to reach more and more families throughout the world. In the USA, we will continue to build our network of trainings and regional coordinators to support, sustain and connect Messy Churches. Remember that we will give 50 % of any donations we receive directly to Messy Church/BRF for the remainder of 2019. Donating through our Messy Church USA website will allow you to receive a receipt for tax purposes here in the United States.

Thanks for your generosity in supporting the mission of Messy Church to change lives.

Donate Here

Happy Thanksgiving,

Roberta 

A Little Chat with Rev. George Hooper

iStock

A Blogpost from Lindsey Goodyear

One of the greatest gifts we receive from Messy Church is the gift of community. But, what absolutely enables that gift is the dedication, commitment, and love that the Messy Church team puts into each affair. When Messy Church was established at Community United Methodist Church in Huntington Beach (CUMCHB) the church was being led by Rev. Ginny Wheeler. Ginny was there from the beginning and was a strong supporter of our Messy adventure. When she decided to retire, earlier this Summer, it left me wondering if the support of this venture, that we previously had, would remain as strong with our next holy leader. Well, I didn’t have to wonder long. Enter, the fantastically enthusiastic…Pastor George Hooper!

Lindsey: Before coming to CUMC, which church were you leading?

George: I was serving as the lead pastor at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Arcadia. Like CUMCHB, CGS has an outstanding Children’s Center with a wonderful reputation in the community, and a history of powerful ministries with children. We had not started Messy Church, but I was privileged to engage the children and their parents in chapel time during the week.

Rev. George Hooper
1st Sunday at Community United Methodist Church Huntington Beach

Lindsey: Had you ever heard of Messy Church before coming here?

George: I had. I believe that we hosted an event in Arcadia where some who were involved with Messy Church made a presentation. When the Associate Pastor (the Rev. Lydia Sohn, now pastor at St Mark UMC in San Diego) started an afternoon experience, Messy Church was one of the styles we considered.

Lindsey: Having been established for almost 6 years now, we can be kind of a tight knit team. Any nerves entering in the first Messy gathering?
George: When I had my initial meeting with representatives of the CUMCHB congregation, one of the first questions was “Will you support Messy Church?” I asked, “Well, what does support look like to you?”
They shared that there was a strong leadership team, but what they needed was continued encouragement, prayer, and participation. They explained that Pastor Ginny was like a cheerleader who was also worked well behind the scenes to make sure that Messy Church was given priority and funding through the existing congregation. I thought, and said, “That I can do!” To have an existing gathering which is well-organized and led is a gift to a new pastor. So I was excited to attend that first evening — which was the Summer Picnic. I brought my kids, introduced myself, and joined the circle. Keep in mind that I had been on staff and on site for two weeks; this was a time to just be, and to play! I loved it! So, yes, I was a little nervous, because it was a new thing. I got over that as soon as I sat down and started playing Giant Jenga.

iStock. Giant Jenga

Lindsey: You have two pretty amazing kids. What were their feelings about Messy Church?

George: They love to play, to create, to learn, and to have fun. They feel like this was made for them. “Is it Messy Church yet?” is a question I am already getting.

Lindsey: In Sunday church, you lead us, at Messy Church, you’re led by others. Was the shift a little hard to navigate?

George: Messy Church is the way church is supposed to be. I like to say that I am the pastor, the people of the congregation are the ministers. My job, along with the church staff, is to train, equip, and support the people in ministry. One of my proudest achievements in Arcadia was to help create a culture in which people in the church could say “I would like to try this” (for example a Conversational English Class) and my job was to arrange the resources they needed to do that. In John 14:12 Jesus says “Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the work that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these…” Jesus knew that even He was limited and wanted to bring others — everyone — into ministry and leadership.
On Sunday mornings (and in other events in the course of the week) I participate in leadership to prepare people to live out their faith in their daily life. At Messy Church I get to be led by others. I particularly enjoy getting to see what the youngest among us create: it allows me to see through new eyes!

The way it is shaping up, it looks like I will do a little hosting, and then fall back to observe, learn, and be led. I also love the fact that if someone has a question or an issue they want to reflect upon, we can sit down together and just talk. That’s another way I get led at Messy Church.

Lindsey: What are the benefits you see families getting from MC that may differ from what they’re getting at traditional Sunday church?

George: Getting to worship as a family unit. Allowing younger folks to guide older folks. Being able to learn through doing. Being self-directed in learning — going to what interests me in this moment. Don’t get me wrong: My kids like Sunday morning, too. They enjoy more formal worship and especially Sunday School. Messy Church adds another way of existing as family. The greatest benefit is having all of these options!

Lindsey: In between getting to know our members, were you able to participate in any of the activities?

George: I was all over the games in July! As much as I wanted to, I didn’t climb the water slide in August (there’s always next year!) I went through and looked at all of the hands-on learning stations, but I was having more fun watching what others were making than actually doing so myself. And yes, I did get drawn into some wonderful conversations — I think that counts as activities though, too. I am blown away by the creativity and imagination of the Messy Church team. You all put in a great deal of time and energy!

Lindsey: Is there a moment/craft/song that really struck you or sticks out in any way?

George: The prayer parachute. I am not sure if that what you called it, but lifting needs and joys, and then inviting the smaller people to run underneath as the parachute came back down was an incredibly powerful image of being literally “covered in prayer”.

Parachute Prayer
CUMCHB Messy Church

Lindsey: What do see or hope for when thinking about the future of Messy Church at CUMC?

George: We all have hopes for success that are measured in numbers. I love that I hear families saying they attend because “it is the closest thing we have to church.” For them Messy Church is family, a community in which they learn and grow together, without all of that “churchiness.” They are asking that this community pledge to support them as they raise their child in the love of Jesus. I hope for more of that. I hope that the ideals and practices of Messy Church become contagious throughout the congregation. Mostly, I look forward to seeing what God is doing next!

Lindsey Goodyear
lindseygoodyear@gmail.com
Equipping Messy Churches in the USA to Start, Sustain and Connect

Be the Light

By Lindsey Goodyear                                                                                                    All rights reserved. 

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. 

Lindsey Goodyear