Last night the middle school squad ate some pizza, played some smash bros, and dove into Mark 2 to talk about the kind of friends we should be to others! Our lesson reflected on the obstacles that the friends of the paralytic had to overcome to bring him before Jesus. Its sadly common for students today to develop friendships that center around a particular interest or event, but never develop an interest in each other personally. Our lesson last night challenged students to go beyond being "circumstantial" friends, and become "mat-carrying" friends.
Next week we will begin our December theme called "here with us" that focuses on Gods presence with us!!
Have a wonderful week!
Good morning friends!
Last night our middle schoolers ate pizza, got to know one another a bit more, and talked about how Jesus sees us!
After some food and fellowship we gathered to introduce ourselves by sharing our names and our most irrational fear in three words or less (turns out lots of our students really hate cliffs and spiders). After that we took some time to share prayer requests and praises, I prayed for us, and we jumped into our lesson!
I began by asking our students what they knew about tax collectors - especially how they were viewed in Jesus’ day. Most students knew that people didn’t like tax collectors, but not many knew why so I took a moment to describe how the tax collectors often demanded more money than was owed, and pocketed the difference. It’s hard to draw a modern day parallel for how truly despised they were based on profession alone.
Then we jumped into Luke 5:27-32 where we read that Jesus not only approached and asked a tax collector to follow him (which would have been very public), but went even further and basically attended a dinner party full of tax collectors!
The Pharisees weren’t huge fans of that, and they made sure to tell the disciples about it. There is no mention of a Pharisee talking directly to Jesus, but Jesus specifically answers them by saying “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
We took some time to try and understand what that means, and how it might affect the way that we treat other people. Often when we read this it's easy to identify ourselves with Matthew as someone whose reputation preceded him - he was a book that people judged by its cover. We broke into debrief groups and considered the ways that we might be like the Pharisees who judge others as well. We also considered whether or not we saw ourselves like Jesus sees us, and that led to some honest admissions in my group!
Next week, we're going to jump into John 1 to talk about our expectations vs. Jesus’ expectations!
Have a wonderful week!
Last night we ate pizza, prayed, played 9 square, and shared some of our favorite memories from the last year!
As I reflect on the past year, I am overwhelmed by God's goodness. I'm so grateful for the core of students that were consistent attenders from day one, but also all the new faces who have started coming. All the silly nights of dodgeball or super smash bros, the times of prayer, the (often distracted) but beautiful times when I could see that students were really getting what the lesson was about - I praise God for them.
I'm also so grateful for all of you, and the time and effort that you have put in to your students spiritual development. I look forward to having a summer to plan more ways that I can connect with you all to be a better partner as we look forward to another year of ministry.
Summer is just around the corner, and I don't want to lose the consistency that we have worked so hard to build over the last eight months. I'm still planning to have a middle school event on the calendar at least once a month, and plenty of opportunities for your students to jump in and serve throughout the summer.
I'll leave you with the same verse I shared with your students last night - "But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ." Php. 3:7-8
It's my hope and prayer that these students understand the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus, and I am humbled to be a small part of that journey.
See you all around :)
Good morning parents!
Last night our middle schoolers ate spaghetti, put ice cream in fruit roll ups, and talked about how we can trust Jesus more!
After some fellowship and food we settled down for prayer requests and prayer. The lesson for the evening centered on Thomas, and his doubt of Jesus’ resurrection. and Jesus’ response to his doubt. With such a strong theme of trust, we took a moment to do a quick trust exercise with some of our students.
I had four volunteers sit arranged in a circle, so that their backs faced another student's knees. If that is hard to picture, don’t worry! We took some pictures!
If this activity is done carefully, every chair can be removed, and each person will be supported by the legs of the others. If even one link in the circle falls, the entire circle crumbles. Each person is required to trust not only the person they are leaning on, but every other person in the circle as well.
After that we spent some time talking about how much we trust people, why we trust them, and what makes someone trustworthy. It's fairly easy to trust someone who you know well, or when the stakes are low, but it's very hard to trust someone who you don’t know or the stakes are higher.
We turned to John 20, where Jesus appears to ten of his disciples - all except Thomas. Thomas is a lot like us, and he struggled to believe his fellow disciples when they told him that Jesus had appeared to them. Maybe he thought they were hallucinating, or playing some kind of cruel prank. His response was that he would only believe if he were able to put his fingers in Jesus’ hands, and his hand in Jesus’ side.
We can be a little like Thomas sometimes, and doubt is something that often causes young believers to feel shame. Just a few verses later though, Jesus responds to Thomas’ doubt with incredible grace. Jesus does not shame Thomas, but immediately invites him to touch his hands and his side. Jesus wanted Thomas to be able to trust him, and took the time to prove himself trustworthy.
We broke into our debrief groups, and spent some time reflecting on how we trust Jesus in our day to day lives. Trust is something that is very hard to describe, but you know it when you feel it. We challenged students to recognize that Jesus was trustworthy, and think of ways that they can put their trust into action this week.
Next week is our last official youth group of the program year! We will have pizza, play games and reflect on what we liked and didn’t like this year!
There are still some summer events in the works but those should be on the calendar soon, and I will make sure to update the website with those dates once they are finalized!
Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful week!
Happy Monday parents!
Last night the middle schoolers ate some pizza, met some new friends, and talked about how Jesus is alive!
After our usual food and hangout time, we gathered for prayer requests and prayer, and dove into our lesson for the week!
I began by asking if anyone had ever been surprised by something on a hike. There are loads of things in nature that have the potential to catch us off guard. Students shared some interesting stories about stumbling across deer skulls, roadkill, and all sorts of other things that surprised them in nature. I took the time to share a story about my friend Danny, who was the quintessential “snake guy.”
When I was about 14, Danny and I were walking through some woods at a campground, and I stumbled across what I thought was a dead snake. It was upside down, coiled in an unnatural position, and smelled quite badly. I went to move the snake off the trail we were on with a stick, but Danny saw what I was doing and called out to stop me.
He ran up and to my horror picked this snake up. He started to try and tell me that this was a hognose snake, but I only heard about one word before I properly screamed. The snake was very much alive, had fanned out its neck like a cobra, and was making a sound that my brain interpreted as a rattlesnake’s rattle. Danny giggled, and put the snake back on the ground where it dramatically flipped onto its back, and stuck out its tongue again. You can imagine my surprise, and subsequent embarrassment.
This story has an interesting parallel in Luke 24, where the disciples were certain that Jesus was dead. A group of women come and tell them that the tomb is empty and Jesus is alive, and the 11 struggle to believe them. Our lived experience tells us that dead things stay dead - this is simply a fact of life. Despite all of Jesus’ reassurance that he would rise again, the disciples couldn't shake their unbelief. Peter finally goes to the tomb, but even then we read that he leaves wondering what could have happened.
We know the answer, and we celebrated it just 8 short days ago! Jesus is risen! Like Eric said, we know that is true because he didn’t do it in a corner. We hear this good news every year around Easter, but it’s not just good news once a year - it’s the best news, all the time. I encouraged students to remember that Jesus is alive, and that if we truly believe that, it changes everything.
We broke into our small groups, where my boys compared Jesus defeating death to a fortnite match, and talked about how our lives might be different if we were more conscious of the reality that Jesus is Alive!
Next week, we will spend some time in the book of John to talk about how Jesus can be trusted!
Have a wonderful week!
Last night the middle schoolers ate pizza, welcomed some new friends, and learned about how Jesus never gives up on us!
After gathering for prayer Julie Amshey led us through our first lesson on the character of Jesus! We spent some time reading through psalm 32 in a few different translations to reflect on how Jesus never gives up on us!
We jumped forward in the Bible to look at Jesus’ betrayal and Peter’s denial, and tried to emphasize the kind of hurt that Jesus must have felt. Jesus knew that Judas would betray him, and yet washed his feet. He knew that Peter would deny him, and still loved him till the end. Even upon Jesus’ return, he doesn't berate Peter, but encourages him 3 times to feed his sheep.
As we broke out into small groups we spent some time talking about the ways that we might let God down, and how Jesus responds to us like He responded to Judas and Peter. We might not think that our shortcomings are quite as bad as what Judas did, but Jesus’ response is no different!
Next week we will continue our series on the character of Jesus by talking about how Jesus understands our pain. These lessons are all focused on humanizing Jesus as we approach Easter, in an effort to help our students understand and empathize with the story of Easter!
Thanks for checking in, and have a wonderful week!
Happy March parents!
Last night in middle school we took advantage of the warm weather, ate some pizza and wrapped up our series on the Holy Spirit!
After playing some basketball outside and some super smash bros inside, we gathered for prayer and tucked into our final lesson on the Holy Spirit. We started off in Galatians 5 and talked about the fruit of the spirit, and how we often struggle to live those things out. Our focus for the evening was that the Holy Spirit can help us to love others, even when we might think that they are hard to love.
I took some time to share about a friendship in my life that ended rather suddenly without explanation. This hurt me badly, but I still love that person and hope someday reconciliation will be possible. I think that hope and persistent love is not something that naturally comes to me. It's way easier to just hold a grudge and blame that person for the hurt that they caused. I truly believe that the only reason I am able to love this person is because I know that Jesus loved me and I have his spirit.
We broke into debrief groups and challenged the students to think of one small way that they could show love to someone in their life who might be hard to love.
Next week we kick off our series on the person of Jesus Christ by talking about how Jesus never gives up on us!
Thanks for stopping by!
It’s a new week!
Last night the middle schoolers ate some pasta, made lots of jokes, prayed, and talked about how the Holy Spirit can give us wisdom!
After some emergency computer surgery to fix a broken laptop, we gathered for some non-standard worship by asking students where they had seen God throughout the week. One of the practices we engaged in over winter weekend was being mindful of the ways that we see God throughout the day, so we continued that practice last night! After praying for the requests that were gathered, we settled into our large group teaching.
We talked about how the Holy Spirit was a part of God’s redemption plan all the way back when Ezekiel prophesied about its coming in chapter 36. We see that play out in the second chapter of Acts when the Holy Spirit comes and dwells inside of the disciples.
I’m always fascinated to ask students who they think the Holy Spirit is, and what do you think the holy spirit does for us? This is a question I have seen adults struggle with, so it was no surprise when students were able to articulate that the holy spirit lived inside them, but they weren't exactly sure what the holy spirit did.
We moved into the book of Colossians (1:9-10) to look at the way Paul was constantly praying for the people of God to be filled with wisdom that comes from the Spirit. At this point eyes started to glaze over a bit, so I told a few stories about times in my life that I felt like the Holy Spirit had helped me make difficult decisions by granting me wisdom. I also told a silly story about a time where I definitely could have made a better decision, but chose not to.
After that, we broke into debrief groups, and talked about the places we typically go to seek wisdom (mom, Google, etc.), and encouraged students that the Holy Spirit is inside them and willing to give wisdom if they ask!
Next week we are wrapping up our Holy Spirit series by talking about how the Holy Spirit helps us to love others well!
Thanks for stopping by, and have a wonderful week
Last night in youth group we ate some mac ‘n cheese, played super smash bros, and talked about the Holy Spirit!
After a few rounds of Super Smash Bros, we gathered for prayer and Kara began our series on the Holy Spirit by asking “who is the Holy Spirit?” We spent some time reading John 14 and Romans together to try and dig into what our students typically think of when they hear “the Holy Spirit.”
A few leaders took turns sharing some stories of how they have experienced the Holy Spirit in their lives, and ways that they try to listen more closely to the Spirit. We clarified that we aren’t encouraging students to listen for an audible or hallucinatory voice, but a deep and gentle inner prompting.
We broke into our debrief groups and tried to nail down some practical ways that students can listen more closely for the spirit, and somehow my group once again managed to relate the lesson to Fortnite!
Next week we’ll explore how the Holy Spirit helps reveal truth to us!
If you wanted to take a moment sometime this week to share a story about how you have experienced the Holy Spirit with your student, I’m sure they would be interested to hear from you!
Have a wonderful week!
This past Sunday we ate some lasagna, pranked a pastor, and spent some time reflecting on how we can worship with our lives!
Last Friday was the Pastor’s breakfast at West Side and I happened to sit with a group of students who were especially interested in finding a creative way to say “thank you” to pastor Eric for the candy that he brought. After floating several ideas from garden gnomes to lawn flamingos Dylan Buys asked, “What's the largest bag of balloons you can buy on amazon?”
Turns out you can get 1200 balloons for just under $50.
Being the responsible youth leader that I am, I did NOT purchase 1200 balloons. When Dylan arrived to youth group and discovered this betrayal, I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask Julie Amshey if kids min had “a few” balloons that we might be able to put in Eric’s office. As luck would have it, our supply closet had well over 1200 balloons, AND a powered balloon inflator.
I could describe the chaos that ensued, but pictures are always better.
After transporting an entire bed sheet full of balloons to Eric’s office, we settled down for some prayer, and jumped into Colossians 3 to talk about worshiping with our lives! Sometimes it’s easy to forget that worship is more than just singing, but the Bible tells us that showing compassion, being kind, humble, gentle and patient are all ways that we can worship God.
We spent some time reflecting on what we are passionate about (or “obsessed” with) to see if we might accidentally be worshiping something other than God. The objects of our worship are things that we tend to make sacrifices for, and the only worthy object is God.
We broke into our small groups for debrief time and did our best to think of practical ways that we can worship God intentionally, even if that looks like blowing up balloons to prank our pastor :)
Next week we will be jumping into a new series on the Holy Spirit! We’ll focus on who He is and how He guides us!
Have a wonderful week