Published 7th March 2024 by Aike Kennett-Brown

What a joy it was to see so many Messy Church leaders, some with whole teams, gathering on Zoom last Saturday 2nd March for Messtival.

We started the morning with a Bible reflection on Jesus calming the storm (Mark 4:35-41). Martyn reminded us that Messy Church can sometimes be so focused on the new people who come, and the families that need our care, that we forget to look after ourselves as leaders. We spent a moment intentionally making space for our own need for rest and refreshment and placed the names of our team members symbolically on a cushion, remembering that Jesus rested on a cushion in the boat.

Recreating the storm that blew up, Lydia invited us to take some blue paper and make wave shapes, writing on them words that reflect the storms facing our Messy Churches. Jonathan (from our young leader’s team) reminded us how even these experienced fishermen succumbed to fear and panic when faced by the storm. Jesus’ friends called out for a ‘storm-controller’, rather than trust themselves to a ‘storm-companion’. As we turned over the waves with their stormy words, we were encouraged to write or Makaton sign, ‘Jesus is with us’.

Encouraged that Jesus is with us in all things, we journeyed through a morning of workshops. With 3 slots available, it was hard to choose from the selection: Intergenerational Discipleship; How to use Canva; How to answer hard questions; Let’s celebrate; Creative Messy Prayer; Wild Adventures with Jesus; That tricky age; Be our guest; Learning to chat and catch with God; Risk doesn’t have to be boring; and How to look after your team. A massive thank you to our workshop leaders, particularly our trio of young leaders, who were the experts and led a session on Teens in Messy Church.

The morning sped by and all too quickly we gathered for our closing reflection, another boating Bible story. With paper boats named after our Messy Churches at the ready, Erin reminded us that Jesus prioritised prayer at the end of a busy day, before heading out for a spot of water-walking.  As we launched our boats in bowls of water, we remembered how Messy Church is precarious and vulnerable at the best of times, but unless we dare to set sail, God can’t use us as part of his rescue plan for the world. Martyn encouraged us to blow our ships around on the water. The verse, ‘Jesus saw his disciples, straining at the oars’, reminded us that no one said Messy Church would be easy. However, the wind of God’s spirit can help us re-orientate and re-imagine the direction we are going. Sonia invited us to make a small cross out of tin foil, to place on our boats, reminding us that, ‘Jesus climbed into the boat with them’ (Mark 6:51).

To finish Messtival, we joined together with a prayer of recommissioning, inviting Jesus into our Messy Church boat for the voyage ahead. Jonathan demonstrated in Makaton and led the repeated refrain, ‘Jesus is with us’ before an unmuted, action-filled rendition of the Messy Grace.

Thank you to everyone who made Messtival possible, and for all the Messy Church leaders and teams who joined us.

‘Thank you for this wonderful morning – it was really inspirational and brilliantly organised’

‘It was an excellent morning- very useful and most enjoyable. I feel blessed and have some great ideas to ponder on. Please thank the whole team!’

‘We came away informed, enthused and feeling part of a big Christ centred Messy family.’

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