By JB Brayfindley
55 people attended “Messy Church,” at Rancho Cordova United Methodist Church (RCUMC) on Friday, March 6th from 4:40 to 7:00 p.m. The new service was formulated from a unit in the book “Messy Church” by Lucy Moor and Jane Leadbetter.
“Our Sunday School program was struggling and we decided we needed to really think outside of the box and do something really different--both to make it sustainable for teachers, but also to make it really life giving for our children… and this is what we landed on,” stated Rev. Elizabeth Brick. “The first night was amazing!”
The new service is part of an overall initiative to birth new worship service experiences at the church.
“I’ve always wanted to see it in action,” said Cathy Love, certified candidate for ministry who attended last Friday’s first “Messy Church” service at RCUMC. “I’ve heard great things about it and wanted to see if it was something I could use in my future ministry. It was great energy in that room tonight!”
“I thought it was a ton of fun!” said Stephanie Haas, one of the members of the church helping organize the event. “I enjoyed the intergenerational aspect. I thought it was great to have my kid on my lap just sitting doing art for a while and not thinking about anything else and just engaging with my child… I brought my friends and they were totally into it!”
The church’s website announced: “something different and you are invited!!” It explained that Messy Church is a place to explore and learn about religion without the “Sunday Sermon;” a safe place where you can enjoy positive activities with families and children; an introduction to Jesus through hospitality, friendship, stories and worship; people having fun together; for all ages, backgrounds and life experiences.
In the future, after becoming familiar with the program, they will come up with their own ideas, themes and activities to use. Haas explained that following the guidelines and units from the book helped tonight.
“It was the safest and easiest for everybody—we want to get people engaged and to want to continue to do it—and so [for] the people who are putting it on, it needs to be easy and fun for them, too, if we want it to continue. And so, [we’re] using something that’s already established and that’s known to work.”
The night schedule was typical of the Messy Church experience beginning with a 30-minute welcome time followed by an hour of activities.
“The theme for the night was based on the story of Abraham and Sarah who were going to have as many children as stars in the sky and grains of sand,” Said Haas. “So, everything centered about stars, family and travel.”
Tables were set up as various hands on arts, crafts and reflection areas. Activities included star shaped stamp printing, star mobile making, sand art, and constellation painting. A group project included a 4 ft by 10 ft long constellation collage and a colored sand creation in a clear vase.
Then, at 6 pm, everyone went outside to gather around the blazing fire pit for a 20-minute celebration time that included music, a story and prayer. The event concluded with a dinner featuring three kinds of soup, a platter of homemade macaroni and cheese, green salad and bread.
“My friend she said she is not interested in sitting in church on Sunday,” said Haas. “This is perfect for her! She is like, ‘I love it. I love the vibe. I love being able to do stuff with my kids…’ I think this is a great fit for her.”