Messy Church up close and personal

Boy with finger paintIn a recent blog we talked about Messy Church, the new, family-friendly way of doing church which started in England and is spreading around the world. This week we have a guest blog by Karen Smith, one of our consultants, who visited a Long Island church which is doing Messy Church. Karen shares her thoughts about her experience at Hope Lutheran below.

I recently had the opportunity to stop in and observe one of the only “Messy Church” ministries on the eastern coast of the US. A ministry originally founded in the UK for “unchurched” families, it is starting to take root in the US. It is a laid back, relaxed kind of Christianity, rooted in the ideals of faith and family.

When I first arrived at Hope Lutheran Church in Selden, I was welcomed with open arms. The aroma of simmering pasta sauce filled the building as the staff showed me into the fellowship hall which was set up with glue, cotton balls, and other supplies to make a “Lamb of God” project. Messy Church was continuing the theme of Easter with the children as they arrived.

When the families arrived, the children were eager to start on the crafts. Staff members manned each station, explaining to the children how and why they were making them. Afterwards, they headed outside to dye Easter eggs, have an egg spoon race, and enjoy an Easter egg hunt.

Since Hope Lutheran started this extraordinary mission in December, they have had between four to six families attend on a regular basis. The families who come right now are church members and relatives or friends, but the church hopes to reach out to the community offering a “family style” worship that would be inviting to a myriad of faith communities.

After the craft and egg hunt, the children and families went into the sanctuary for a short Bible lesson. Pastor Hill talked to them about Ezekiel and the dream he had of dry bones. He went on to teach them the song, “Dem Bones”, which they loved. A friend of Mary Magdalene then paid them a visit in costume and told the Easter Story as the children watched and listened with open ears and open hearts. When the glorious story came to a close, it was silent in the sanctuary as they children absorbed the miracle of Easter.

After the worship time, children and families returned to the fellowship hall to share a meal together. During this time I had an opportunity to ask the children what their favorite thing about Messy Church was. Jasmine remarked that “having a good time” was really important. Bella thought making a Lamb of God and having peanut butter and jelly were awesome. Nathaniel voted on running around outside and the food. Both Jake and Tim enjoyed the egg hunt.

As I spoke to one of the staff members before I left, she explained, “Messy Church kind of flows like water because it is what it is. You just have to let it be, get the families involved, improvise, and see where it goes.”

If any of you would like to learn more about “Messy Church”, please feel free to call Hope Lutheran at 631-732-2511. On May 3rd they will be having a spring fair and will have a table set up with information about future Messy Church events.

Pastor Hill will be presenting a webinar for the Parish Resource Center on May 20th about “Messy Church”. His sabbatical in England rendered him a bird’s eye view into this new and different ministry and how it draws people of all faiths and types.

Please sign up for his webinar to learn more about this amazing opportunity to reach families and children outside the perimeter of the usual church borders.


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