Jane Leadbetter, Messy Church BRF team member, led the Messy Facebook Live! On Wednesday 7 July. Messy Jane is back from furlough. She has been feeling disconnected and is so pleased to be back among the Messy Church family. Jane says:
I have been constantly drawn to the following Bible verse:
Life is meant to be shared! Here we are with the early church. Messy Church is still a new church (16 years old!). The fellowship of the church is about being fixed together – connected: ‘All the believers were together. Every day they continued to meet together.’
I can’t remember who but someone once said ‘We were formed for God’s family.’ Here we are together now, online. We are making it a priority to share our lives with one another. And the best use of our lives is to love one another.
Thank you for all the love you have showered on Lucy! I was worried. But… you have loved and served each other.
So how did God help me to connect during furlough? Here I was feeling this huge and dramatic disconnection. What was God going to connect me with during this time?
Within Scouting, we had beaver zoom meetings, leader zoom meetings, group executive zoom meetings, Merseyside Scouts team zoom meetings, writing scouting resources zoom meetings, online training. Interestingly, online training zoom sessions trebled in numbers compared with face-to-face training in 2019. Lots of similar yet different connections into the scouting family.
L19 MC and WLTDO? (connected together as part of our community ministry) – Before I was furloughed, in March, we created Messy Church in bags, with flowers, for Mothering Sunday. They were collected from a car boot next to the church hall and we were social distancing. We gave out over 50.
But I felt uncomfortable. Although lovely to see the families and have conversations about how they were coping with lockdown, furlough, home schooling, etc, I felt we were interrupting their routine of safety for all. We were encouraging infection, even though we were an example of cleanliness and caution. The bags were very much appreciated, though.
Then I was put on furlough, which meant I couldn’t be involved in any way at all! Again, how did I feel? The small core team kept things going. I relinquished the Facebook page and made them admins. I encouraged them to try a Messy zoom session. They zoomed to plan it so that they became familiar with the platform. We invited members of the team who were not used to being an online church, to connect and help with the sessions. Messy Yvonne took on the role hosting zooms and weaving the slots together; Messy Sandra sorted online crafts; Messy Ian enjoyed any kind of dressing up and roleplay and did the prayers; Messy Anne, who had been announced as Messy Chaplain only weeks before lockdown, became reflective using Bible stories but also, as we say in Liverpool, was ace at interactive Bible stories. Stephen and his sons love Lego, so he introduced a Lego challenge on the theme, and Tony, a writer, engaged us with wonderful reflections about lockdown family life and working from home. As for our vicar… we knew he enjoyed cooking so he was invited to do cook-alongs and he has really enjoyed sharing that side of his life with us. He gets the largest Facebook views! We have done May and June and the team has been awesome! Thank you guys.
BUT the Messy congregation… although we had a few families join in at the beginning, they have since stayed away from the ‘Live’ and joined in at the replay (recorded on Facebook). Large numbers too. We received lovely encouraging comments. But what does this say? I am feeling uncomfortable again.
Now that I am back from furlough and can engage with my community again, what is the way forward? Is it time to go back to Messy Church in Bags during this ‘less lockdown July’? What is it that we are trying to achieve? How are you judging what success looks like? Numbers? Same as face-to-face times? Is it that the team were successfully connecting with each other but the congregation were feeling disconnected? We are missing something. What is it?
Tomorrow I have two very important and long awaited connections – at the opticians and the hairdressers!
L19 created Messy Church at Home bags once more, on the theme of Jonah from the Get Messy! magazine. We had 20 bags ordered and we delivered and met on zoom later to open the bags and share the story and activity. Families chatted as we delivered and it was a very special time for them and us too.