One of the things I am most excited about for this year is launching Messy Church into our local community life. I’ve been following Messy Church.UK for years, but it wasn’t until I found myself in this specific congregation and community that I recognized the time to make it happen was now.
One of the most difficult things about youth, children, and family ministry is that people want results and they want them now! But this is faith development we’re talking about – community. This takes time, trust, faithfulness, and plenty of paying attention to what God is doing and where God is leading. Sometimes that is not going to bring about the same immediate results one stressed parent might want. It is most definitely a counter-cultural way of being together and it is not easy, but…
But when we hang on to trusting that God is already at work planting seeds and laying the foundation for, we can be ready at just the right time. I truly believe this is the time for Messy Church at Hope Lutheran Church.
After a magnificent Messy Church training and conference last October, my lead volunteer and I set a plan into motion for our preview event. This would be a place for us to practice logistics and plant the seed of excitement in a select few from our congregation. We decided to do special invitations because we wanted to have a bit of crowd control for this first-time event, as well as focus on those we thought would be great leaders and spread positive news about this new thing!
Because of the time of year, we decided to focus on Epiphany, sharing the story of the Wise Ones on their journey to find Jesus. We shortened the time by a half an hour, thinking that because it was a preview event we should, but it ultimately ended up being unnecessary. That extra half hour was needed!
The energy was palpable as children and adults wandered from room to room busying themselves with the different story pieces we had out for them to engage with: five finger star pray and paint, large scale coloring sheets, scented luminaries, and “galaxy” slime (Try a few recipes ahead of time. It takes time to get it just right.).
Our guitarist led us into celebration time Pied Piper style where we sang some songs, including “Welcome Everybody” and “This Little Light of Mine,” heard the story of the Wise Ones meeting Jesus, and prayed for the children of the world. I love that people had the choice for written prayers or to simply hold one of the baby dolls in a hug as a silent prayer. The children absolutely loved it.
After saying our Messy Grace together, we closed with a delicious dinner provided from one of our congregation’s all-star cooks. We handed out “save the dates” for our next Messy Church and shared some of the central themes of Messy Church. Following this event, we received a lot of positive feedback from both children and adults. I am overjoyed to hear how this ministry is connecting with families.
We gave ourselves a month to prep for the “real thing.” My next steps are to follow up with phone calls to the adults who expressed interest in being part of our Messy Church team and going from there. Our next session will be in March, where we will focus on the desert time of Lent. I can’t wait to see what God does with this amazing ministry! Your prayers of support are appreciated.