This past Wednesday we had the chance to talk about perseverance and what it means to persevere in our faith. Jesus gives us many examples of perseverance in his life with the biggest being his death on a cross. That he took the shame, was beaten, mocked, humiliated and hung on a cross, all for us, so we don't have to suffer. We watched a video that showed how well known people, like Albert Einstein and The Beatles and how they faced hardship in their lives but were able to overcome those things and do great things. Students were encouraged that even when they face hard times, that God is with us, that He will help us to overcome. We looked at Romans 5: 3-5 which reinforces this and ultimately gives us hope. It says, "Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into or hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us." So when times are hard, we should hold fast to the Lord, turn to Him, because it is in Him that we have hope.
The 5/6 grade class had the privilege to hear from Noah Kamper and two of his sons. The Kamper's are missionaries in Costa Rica and are in the states visiting and living in the mission house. They shared their experience of living in and doing God's work in Costa Rica.
The 7/8 grade class pondered the question, Can you be a Christian without going to church? We had great discussion about community and what the church provides in terms of community and how it should be diverse and inclusive. This lead to conversation of how students can be bold in their faith to interact with someone who is different from them and how we are doing as a youth group and as a church with being inclusive. Students also created pictures and scenes using different shapes and slowly joined together to create one picture. This allowed students to think about the importance of community, the ideas and perspectives that others bring as well as support that comes from a group of people.
Last Wednesday we were missing more than half of our team of leaders! I am grateful for the parents who were able to step in and it was great to see how the energy changed (in a good way) with some new faces in the room. As for the lesson, Bill led students to think about the cost of discipleship and the difference between "cheap" and "costly" discipleship. First students looked through Black Friday Ads, picking out cheap and costly items and then transitioning into cheap and costly discipleship. Students discussed how discipleship is more than just talking the talk. It is about putting into action what we say we believe and living a life following after Jesus. Your students are such great kids and I am grateful for the opportunity to know them, talk with them, and love them.
The 5th and 6th grade class invited Noah, the high school director, to join them for Sunday School. They came up with questions for him to answer and spent time getting to know him and his faith more. Students especially loved getting to hear Noah's most embarrassing moment.
7th and 8th grade students dove into answering, "Can someone lose their Salvation?". Matt led the discussion and started with challenging students to draw a picture of Salvation. Many of them struggled with this but as we worked through the hour they were able to define salvation and better understand how we gain salvation. We read and talked about the prodigal son and many realized that everyone is offered salvation and can receive it through a relationship with Jesus and that even when we turn our back on God, that God never leaves us or takes away our freedom from sin.
Last week at IMPACT Dynelle led us in discussion about loving others because Christ first loved us. She challenged students to think about someone who is hard to love, a sibling, someone at school, a friend and try to have a different response. Instead of a response of annoyance or frustration, to take an approach of love. We see Jesus acting out of love time and time again while he was living on earth and even when he was being accused, mocked and hung on a cross. I've included the video we watched if you would like to take a look. Ask your student who they are going to approach/repond to out of love this week.
We reflected on the Gather Event, discussing boldness and bravery. How important it is to be honest with ourselves and the struggles we are dealing with in order to give them to God and allow Him to work through us to bring healing. We broke a pot to help students understand that we are all broken, that we all struggle but that God wants to work in those situations to help us grow and become stronger in Him. Students took a piece of the broken pot and wrote what they are struggling with on one side and how God is bringing healing. It was a pretty powerful representation and time to reflect.
The Gather Event last Wednesday was amazing! We joined hundreds of other middle school students from churches in Holland and Zeeland for worship, to hear speakers, to reflect and to take communion or consider what a commitment to Jesus could mean. The speakers shared about boldness, but from a different perspective than what we might normally consider boldness from. The speakers encouraged boldness with ourselves. The boldness not to hide things going on in our lives, to seek out people who can help us through the hard times. We were given signs to evaluate if we're hiding and time to reflect what we are hiding and how we are hiding it. The next speaker shared ways that we can choose to live bravely, to live boldly. To help us move out a situation that feels too overwhelming. To practice gratitude, to label our emotions, to ask ourselves if we can make a wise decision and then to make connections. The third speaker reminded everyone of how much we are loved and valued by our God who created us. That even when we see ourselves as broken and worthless, that God sees us as beautiful and whole.
It was a powerful night. Most students wrote their reflections on a note card and they may be willing to share those with you!
Hey parents! Your kids continue to ask good and challenging questions in Sunday School. It has been a joy to see them ponder and grow through conversation.
In 5th/6th grade the group was discussing Prophets and that prophets are truth tellers. How they too are called to be truth tellers, to share the good news of Jesus Christ with others. They will continue to wrestle with what is truth and what a life following Christ looks like so I encourage you to keep having conversations about truth, about why it is hard to always tell the truth, why it is hard to be a Christian and how to respond when they feel God is calling them out of their comfort zone.
7th and 8th graders also talked about truth but more specifically if the Bible is true. Kids wrestled with the difference between truth and fact. Matt used the example of siblings having an argument/fight and how when it comes time to explain to mom and dad what happened, they both have different stories. They experienced the same thing but they have different perspectives. This led to conversations about stories in the Bible where some of the details can't be proven as truth but that we see enough "evidence" from the Bible overall that we can know in our hearts as a fact that Jesus is the son of God. That he came to earth to live, die and rise again to conquer satan, sin and death and give us new life. Praise the Lord! Continue to ask your kids what it means to have faith, to believe the truth of the gospel even though we don't always feel we have concrete proof.
Bill led students in a team activity where students had to make a copy of a structure that they were only allowed to look at one at a time and only for 10 seconds at a time. There was also an advocate who helped teams, gave hints and extra time to look at the structure and a critic who discouraged teams and led them astray from the task. The passage used was Luke 5: 18-25 where 4 friends bring a a paralyzed man on a mat to see Jesus and the faith of the friends prompted Jesus to heal the man. We then discussed in small groups whether students themselves are advocates or critics, why that is, and how to "train" to be an advocate instead of a critic. I encourage you to ask your student if they see themselves as an advocate or a critic of themselves and of other people and why that might be. Challenge them this week to take an advocate mindset and check in with them to see how they are doing.
5th and 6th grade students talked about faithfulness. They discussed why God has called us to be faithful and to share His love and grace with others. There were some great questions and great conversation. Kids were wondering why people follow other religions and what happens to people if they don't believe in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I would encourage you to continue this conversation with your students to help them understand the importance of not only our faith but sharing it with others.
7th and 8th graders dove into the lesson, "Who wrote the Bible, God or humans?". They focused on 2 Timothy 3:16 which says, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness," and asked questions like, "Do you think the people who wrote the books in the Bible knew their writings would become holy?" and, "Did they know their work was inspired?". See what your students think about these questions!
Last night we headed down the street to rake leaves for some neighbors. The students got right to work and had a lot of fun along the way.
Dynelle shared the word of the Lord with us last night and helped students develop a sentence to describe the bible in order to easily share it with others. We talked in small groups about what holds kids back from sharing their faith with others in their daily lives. Kids said fear of being judged, embarrassed, or rejected were big reasons they hold back from sharing the Gospel. Ask your student who they have shared the Gospel with and a time they were too afraid as well. Discuss ways to be more bold in faith to have those conversations. Your kids are ready and willing to have these convos!