1. Be a Student of What They are Learning
We’ve all made resolutions and set goals, but too often we fall short of what we expected to accomplish. Unfortunately it’s often the same when we try to become the Christian we really believe God has called us to be. We fall short of the goal and become increasingly discouraged. In this series, your student will learn that following Christ is more about the small steps we take every day, not about the huge leaps of faith that we think we need to make. They will set a goal, determine the first step and then make it. The series will end with a celebration!
2. Be a Student of Your Student
Many of you crave forward motion in your family. You know what you want your children to be. You want them to be kind, respectful, responsible, intelligent, creative individuals. You want them to be able to succeed when they grow up and leave your home. But sometimes you look at them and you think that it may never happen. Sometimes, between the myriad of parenting books and child-rearing philosophies, you can get lost in the “how to” of raising wonderful kids who become successful adults.
In Reggie Joiner’s Orange Parents post entitled “How to Raise a Jerk,” Joiner encourages parents in a somewhat tongue-in-cheek way about raising kids who become the adults parents want to see them grow into. Here is an excerpt from this post. To read the post in its entirety, go to http://www.orangeparents.org/how-raise-a-jerk/
Some leaders say too many who work hard at building children’s self-esteem are raising kids who will exhibit a lifestyle of entitlement and egotism. Other specialists say those who talk about children being innately bad are raising a generation that feels inferior and insignificant. Every expert has an opinion and it’s hard to know where the line actually is. Many promote their agenda by pushing the opposing opinion to the extreme.
One of the keys to parenting with balance is helping your children develop an attitude of humility. Every child has the potential to grow up and understand why it’s important to “put others first.” There is just a fine line between raising kids who have a healthy self-esteem and kids who are too egotistical. A life of arrogance that goes unchecked can result in a sad and lonely existence for someone, and frankly there are enough self-centered people around. How does someone develop an overinflated sense of self-worth and entitlement?
Here are a few ideas to help you effectively raise a jerk:
• Protect them from the consequences of their own mistakes.
• Make sure you do whatever they can do for themselves.
• Keep them away from anyone who thinks differently than they do.
• Try to give them everything they want.
• Tell them over and over again you just want them to be happy.
• Convince them that they are more special than other kids.
• Always take their side when they get in trouble with their teacher at school.
• Always take their side whenever they are in a conflict with a friend.
• Keep insisting that they are the best player on the team.
• Don’t give them consistent opportunities to help or serve other people.
• Never require them to do chores.
• Reinforce their prejudices about people from different cultures or backgrounds.
• Make your relationship with them more important than your relationship with your spouse.
• Rarely express genuine gratitude to those who help you.
• Teach them to talk more than they listen.
• Never let them hear you say, “I was wrong. I am sorry.”
Maybe you can add a few ideas of your own… on how to raise a jerk.
Whatever parenting philosophy we ascribe to, we all want to see our kids succeed. Whether it’s at school, sports, music or in the character traits they possess, we all want our kids to thrive. And the truth is, a huge part of their success is us. We set the tone for so much of their self-worth, self-understanding and self-image. So, let’s focus on being a part of the steps we want to see them take. Let’s get in the game with them and encourage their steps towards realizing the potential that God has placed inside of them.
3. Action Point
Obviously, no parent takes the advice on how to raise a jerk seriously. But what most of us do want to take seriously is the opportunity we have as parents to help our students become the best person—and eventually, the healthiest adult—they can be. We want to help them set goals and achieve them. And we want to praise them for their successes.
This month, think about helping your student make one step. Think of one new thing that you would love for your son or daughter to do. Maybe it’s to improve his or her science grade, learn how to do laundry, cook a meal or change the oil in the car. Once you have decided on one goal for your student, communicate your desire to teach this skill and let your student know why it is important to learn it. Then spend time during the month helping teach your student how to accomplish the goal.
If you want your student to improve his or her science grade, sit with him or her and study flash cards. If you want them to know how to do laundry, do a load or two together until he or she gets the hang of it. By communicating to your child why you want him or her to know or do a certain thing, you communicate respect. By spending time helping them learn, you are letting him or her know of their importance to you. You will also alleviate your child’s fear of disappointing you if they get it wrong.
The most important thing that fuels forward motion is celebration. Make sure that you celebrate your child’s step! Tell him or her that you are proud of them for working so hard or for learning something new. When your child knows that they can make you proud, they will be much more motivated to continue working on their new goal.
Get connected to a wider community of parents at http://www.orangeparents.org.
For 2000 years, Christians have gathered all over the world to celebrate the birth of Christ, and not just as a historical event, but as a powerful reminder that God doesn’t give up on His promises and as God’s children, we always have hope. The Christmas story began with the nation of Israel, a group of people that had good reason to lose hope—they hadn’t heard a word from God in hundreds of years. To the poets, prophets, and priests, it seemed as if God might have turned His back on them. The thrilling nature of the Christmas story is that God didn’t turn His back, and although He had been silent, He had not been still. A baby was coming. God was putting skin on and moving into the neighborhood. Hope crashed into the silence.
Session 1: More Than Faithful (12/8)
Scripture References: Luke 1: 5-9, 11-15, 17-25
Christmas is a season marked with anticipation for those of us inside of the church and even those outside of it. However, the nation of Israel understood expectation in a much deeper way than waiting on a new bicycle. At the time of Jesus’ birth, it had been hundreds of years since God had sent a prophet, an oracle, or even a judgment. As we discover in the first chapter of Luke, all of that is about to change. The story of Zechariah and Elizabeth—the parents of John the Baptist—teaches us that when God is silent, it doesn’t mean He is still. He reverses the fortune of a barren woman, ends years of silence, and sends His Son into the world. The Christmas story since the beginning has been about a relentless God who is always on the move.
Session 2: More Than Forgiven (12/15)
Scripture References: Galatians 4:4-7
Usually when we read the Christmas story we start with one of the four gospels. This week, we’ll take a look at what Paul says about the Christmas story in Galatians. He offers a perspective that is unique from Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. For Paul, the message isn’t just that Jesus comes to forgive our sins; He comes so that we can know God as our Father. For thousands of years, God has primarily been a lawgiver to the nation of Israel, but now—through Christ—He is a Father to all of those who seek Him. The beauty of the Christmas story is not simply that we are off the hook for our sins, but that we can have an intimate relationship with our Creator.
Session 3: More Than a Story (12/22)
Scripture References: Luke 1:1-4
In the 21st Century, some 2000 years after the words were written, the Christmas story has come under assault in our culture. Is this story even true? Perhaps you have wondered that yourself. With the local mall changing it’s slogan from “Merry Christmas” to “Happy Holidays,” perhaps you have secretly wondered if Christmas should be more about celebrating family than the birth of a Savior. Through reading the gospel of Luke—and understanding why he wrote his letter—we discover that the Christmas story is more than a story. The Christmas story is an event in history. Understanding Luke’s historical context helps us realize that our faith isn’t in faith and our belief isn’t in belief. The Christmas story is a historical event with real names and faces, real stables and horses. When we understand this, what makes the “Holy Night” of Christ’s birth so wonderful is that it actually happened.
In late March 2011 when tornadoes tore from Alabama to Pennsylvania, we mobilized a inter-generational group that would spend its spring break to put their hands to the work of helping the residents of Menifee County put their lives and homes back together.
In 2012, an even larger group went back for more of the same. We’ve made a HUGE difference to our friends in Menifee County and the surrounding areas. This year, before we plan to continue the work we’ve begun there, we’d like to call you all to a time of prayer and discernment. There may be more pressing needs within a few hours drive that we can respond to.
So please, set aside some time to consider what God may be calling us all to.
We’ve heard some great feedback from parents about the hurdles of going to camp. So now, you can reserve a spot ONLINE for SpringHill Winter Retreat at http://ow.ly/qF9eO for only $30 February 14-16, 2014
Seniors are important we want to celebrate them. email firstname.lastname@example.org to share your opinions about what the best time to celebrate is for your family. May, June or end of Summer?
Pastor Phil Linton talked about further aligning Student & Adlut Missions. Summer Missions are a big, BIG commitment, we’re giving you more time to decide if that commitment is right for you and your student. More details will be coming soon as we work to connect these trips with the tri-anual missions festival happening fall 2014.
MS trip is June 22-26
HS trip is June 27-July 4
Informational Meeting: 2/23
Applications are Due: 3/2
Required Team Meetings: 3/16, 4/13, 5/18 & 1 Determined within teams
We also heard thank you’s from Cindy Ziemba & Austin Germain for the ways your students are giving themselves away in service to Jesus. Thank you all for the work that it takes for your families!
We also spent considerable time in smaller groups for parents and leaders to build relationships and pray together. We shared our favorite rollerskating songs, mine was always the theme song for Greatest American Hero. Then we prayed through Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (the Shema) for the hearts, souls and strengths of our teens. These were spectacular moments of meaningful connection. We’d love for all of you to connect with the adults that are spending time with them. Send us a note we’ll try to facilitate something!
Take a look at the Events Calendar to see more dates for upcoming activities and service opportunities!
Money is a BIG deal, God has a lot to say about it!
Our students will be walking through a financial series,Sunday’s at 9:30a for 9-12th graders (pre-registration required for this one), Sunday’s at 11a for 6th-8th graders and at 6:30pm for 9th-12th November 10, 17 & 24,* called Generation Change. This series is taught on video by Dave Ramsey & his daughter Rachel Cruze. We’d love for every Ward Student to participate for this very special 3 Week series!
We asked individuals in the congregation to commit $9 (to purchase the required participant notebook) and significant prayer time for our middle school and high school students. Our congregation wants to tangibly show our students that their church cares for them. You can buy a workbook in the name of a student who you know or don’t know. (We’d prefer if you the parent don’t buy your own child’s book but send another student through if you are able**) That student will receive the workbook and a note that you are praying for them as they study what God says about them and money.
Stop by the Students Kiosk on a Sunday for specifics or email email@example.com.
*We have a list of 381 students who will reicieve this workbook regardless of their participation.
**The book cost will NOT be passed on to the student
I want to give you all some concrete details about some of the shifts we’ve been making in our high school side of Student Ministries (Epic) here at Ward. At the end of the summer we sent out a mailer with a few statements about our small and large groups. To sum it up:
• Large group now stands alone (detached from small groups) as a place where anyone, no matter where they are on their journey, can encounter Christ in a profound way. It’s a great place to invite friends.
• Instead of being told what group to attend, students choose what small group they go to, when that small group meets, and what their group studies (we have tons of resources available).
To highlight a few things about large group this Fall:
• We meet on Sunday evenings at 6:30p in the Students Room (a113) at Ward
• We will spend a few weeks focusing on: Family, Money and Hope.
• 12/1 we will have a guest artist/musician lead the evening.
• 11/24 and 12/29 will be an open forum where students can ask any questions they have about life and faith
Small groups can now become a more natural environment that speaks to the gifting and passion of your child. Students can grow in an adult supported, student led environment. Groups meet in places and times that are natural for them. Students involved in activities like the student choir are now supported and resourced as small groups. The groups listed on the back will run from now until the end of December. Students will be allowed to continue the same group in 2014 or pick a new group if they need to.
Our goal is that students have four years with us to learn how to find a community of Christ followers where they fit.
We don’t want students who are already a part of a group that grows their faith to feel the need to join something else. We are here to support and encourage all groups to LOVE, TRANSFORM, and RISK. If, your child is not a part of a group we would love to help them find one!
The small groups listed on the tab at the top right are forming. If your student wants to be involved you can email the group leader directly or work through me. If we do not have a group that suits your students’ interests please contact me. As time goes on we expect to form even more groups.
I hope you know that our end goal is not for your child to join a large or small group. We believe these are highly effective tools for building strong relationships with adults and peers who will journey with your child as they move towards Christ. With everything we do, our goal in Student Ministries is to grow students’ relationships with God, the Church, their family, friends, other adults, their community and the world. Please let us know how we can help you!
1. Be a Student of What They are Learning
When we were growing up, our family was everything to us. They were the safe place to run to. They were the calm in the storm. They were the people whose opinions we trusted most and whose advice we took to heart. But over the years, especially the teen years, the voices of our mom and dad become more like nails on a chalkboard than the sweet sound of comfort. So what happened? Our relationship evolved. And while that isn’t necessarily the most comfortable thing in the world for a teenager to go through, it also isn’t the worst thing either. So what do we do as our students become less and less willing to listen to the wisdom their families give? How do we handle the everyday conflicts that come up between students and their families? These are important questions worth finding answers to. Because, let’s face it, the relationship is changing. But as difficult as this may be to handle right now, that change can be for the good of everyone.
2. Be a Student of Your Student
One of the toughest aspects of the teenage years is the growing feeling our students have that the conflicts within their families are actually their own fault. And maybe as a parent, you hear that and agree that most of the developing conflict is the fault of your teenager. You may find yourself thinking if you could just fix them, things would be better. There is no doubt our teenagers have some attitude adjustments that need to be made and some issues that need to be dealt with. That comes with the parenting territory at any age. And while we are taking a look at how we can help them through their teen years, it’s also a good time to take a look at our own actions and reactions within our family to figure out how we can actually escalate or diffuse the tensions that arise.
As we experience anxiety in our own marital relationships, work relationships, friendships and even our own view of ourselves, it’s important to remember not to project these anxieties onto our children.
Because your teenager it not your best friend.
Your teenager is not a licensed counselor.
Your teenager is not responsible for the tension between you and your boss or you and your spouse or you and your other children.
As Rhett Smith (MDiv, LMFT-A), a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate, and part-time pastor to youth and families at Highland Park Presbyterian Church in Dallas, Texas explains in his article entitled “Managing Anxiety in the Family: Strategies for Changing our Relationship Dance” (fulleryouthinstitute.org), “If we really want to have healthy families, often we need to begin with the adults in the family taking responsibility for themselves. Rather than point the finger at our kids because they might be convenient scapegoats for our anxiety and conflict, real transformation lies within a family’s ability to do the hard work that relationships require.”
While this is solid advice, it can be really difficult to do! In the book Parenting Beyond Your Capacity, Reggie Joiner points out that one of the best tools to help you walk the journey with your teenager is to “Widen the Circle.” In other words, it’s important to invite other healthy adults into the life of your family; adults who are committed to your children and your family for no other reason than that they care. And this is also a great way to begin to develop processes for taking a look at how our family functions and how we can develop the most healthy family possible.
With this in mind, your student will be invited to participate in an XP, or experience, that encourages them to choose some wise people to help guide them through middle and high school. And, we have also encouraged them to include you in the process. Look forward to some more information after week 2 of this series.
Our teenagers are dealing with so many pressures and competing voices. Our best bet is to set them up for success by being their champion and a safe place for them to unload their woes and worries. While this may not be an easy thing to do, it is important for us as parents to start with ourselves and look at how we play into the tension within our family relationships. We are the best place to start when addressing the health of our families.
3. Action Point
While it may seem like there are very few things we can agree with our students on while in the middle of these tumultuous teenage years, we probably all have a similar goal in mind for our families. We want to be functional. We want to be healthy. We want to do everything we can to set ourselves up for success. And this may require some hard work—on everyone’s part. But, as parents we should be leading the way here.
So, as you get a glimpse into how your family is changing and evolving, sit down and ask yourself the following questions, taking the time to be introspective and answering honestly—as difficult as that might be. Then sit down with your teenager and ask them the specified questions that follow.
- How can you learn not to be reactive but to take a step back and get some perspective on the tension and issues within your family?
- What can you do to help your children see a patient and in-control parent in the midst of conflict?
- How would you feel about letting someone else into your family dynamics in order to bring the most health to your family relationships?
- Who would you consider to be trustworthy to confide in about your family and the potential issues and struggles you face?
- Are you opposed to seeking outside counsel from a pastor or Christian counselor? Why or why not?
- Think about some families that you know and enjoy spending time around. What makes them comfortable and fun to spend time with? Try to share a particular experience that you’ve had with this family.
- What are some things you have seen or experienced this family do that you admire?
- What are some things that you would enjoy doing together with your own family?
- What are some characteristics of you’re your family that you really like? Why?
- How do you feel about the interactions you have with each of the people in your own family? Is there one person you have an easier time relating to compared to the others? Is there one person you have a harder time relating to compared to the others? Why do you think this is?
- What is one way that you would like to see your family change and grow?
- What can you begin doing this week to make that change happen?
After answering the previous questions, ask your teen to help you make a list of 5 family goals for the following year (i.e. have a family meal together once a week to connect and re-assess the above questions, commit to spending one radio/cell phone-free drive to or from school per week to just talk, research and set up a family counseling session, etc.).
To Read Rhett Smith’s entire article, go to http://fulleryouthinstitute.org/2011/06/managing-anxiety-in-the-family/
Get connected to a wider community of parents at www.orangeparents.org.
As we run race and explore our way through the woods and property surrounding our building. We’ll be spending time thinking and talking about our walk with Jesus
in terms of the “race for life” the author of Hebrews encouraged us that we ought to “…run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the
pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him
who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” This is the Race For Life we’re talking about-the Jesus life.
To experience this Jesus life we need to be READY- We’ll talk about preparation, searching our hearts and as God told Israel through the prophet Hosea 10:12
we’ll begin to ‘break up the hard ground‘ of our hearts. We’ll ask what’s holding us back? What areas of our lives have remained resistant to what God
might have in store for us? How might we use this quiet time this weekend to seek the Lord? Are we ready to take the life he offers in Jesus?
It’s important that we have our sights SET on the right finish line before we start this race. Jesus told us in John 10:10 that he has come that we may have life, and have it
to the full. This life is a life in his kingdom and isn’t necessarily the life we’ve always wanted. The sermon on the Mount lays out all kinds of ways in which Jesus’ life to
the full is different from our expectations. Is Jesus life the one you want? How might the Jesus life be different from our expectations? Is this Jesus life what we were focused on all along? What kind of
work readying did your heart need in order to focus on the right goal?
Now that we’ve got our hearts ready and goals set all that’s left is to GO. Go for that goal and everything will be smoooooooth sailing right? Right? Well maybe not. Jesus says in Matthew 11:12 “the
kingdom of heaven is forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.” This race for life isn’t a walk in the park. Walking with Jesus might just be one of the hardest things we’ll ever do. Not bad hard,
but good hard. Walking with him will take endurance. Are we ready to run this long challenging race? Who will remind su that we need to ‘break up our hard ground‘? Who in our life will be there with us
when we GO? Who will help us keep our eyes on ‘the pioneer and perfecter of faith?’
As we jump into a new year we really aim to set it in the hearts of students that God designed us to live in community and that our unique interests, concerns and wirings offer something to the community of Christ. Over the next few weeks we are going to be diving into a series intended to help our students embrace healthy community. Our hope is that they will learn to practice these foundational principles in their groups and carry it into their day to day life as they grow and learn how to be Christ to their peers.
Below is a brief overview of each week with Scripture references
We accept each other (unconditionally) because He accepted us.
- Mark 9:50b
- Romans 12:14-16
- Romans 15:1- 7
This means, you have permission to be your Monday- Saturday self here
Questions to ask:
- In what ways might our group make you feel accepted/unaccepted?
- What makes it difficult for you to accept people?
- In what ways do you feel that God has accepted you?
- How can you practice acceptance with someone who is far from Jesus?
We practice confidentiality because we respect one another and want everyone to experience acceptance
- Galatians 6:1-5
- 1 Thessalonians 5:8-11
This means you can admit your doubts and ask questions here.
Questions to ask:
- Have you ever had something you shared with someone get spread all over when you really didn’t want it to?
- Do people trust you to respect them and not talk negatively about them to others?
- Are there things that you’re scared to share because you think you won’t be respected?
- How have you handled these situations with not yet believers?
We are honest with each other because we all want the best kind of life Jesus offered, that requires change
- James 5:13-16
- Hebrews 10:23-25
This means I admit my faults and call you out on yours in love
Questions to ask
- What’s the hardest thing about being honest with others?
- Who in your life do you feel like you can be honest with about most anything?
- Do you feel that you have open and honest conversation with God?
- Have you ever shared honestly about your faults with not yet believers? This is a great way to build report with them.
We are working very hard this summer to ensure smooth transitions for both of these groups as they make the significant shift in our ministries and beyond. Please take a look at the letters that detail the plans for the next few months.