Good morning parents, and welcome to the parents of our incoming Freshmen!
Last Sunday was the final Organic Outreach Class and we talked about simply sharing the Gospel. We tend to over complicate what it looks like to share our faith, and Kevin encouraged us to not overthink it. He shared 7 strategies for naturally sharing our faith. If you didn't get the chance to attend and these updates have sounded interesting, feel free to reach out to me for a copy of the book this class was based on!
We received very positive feedback from the adults about our students again. I am truly blessed to lead the group that I do, and seeing them (despite preferring our normal Sunday school) engage with these past two classes has been awesome.
Our final IMPACT was a celebration of everything that God has done over the past year, as well as a time for the upperclassmen to let the incoming class know what our high school youth group is all about. I'm always touched by the way that our current students describe youth group and the kind of relationships they have with one another. We welcomed over half of the incoming class and were joined by Christy to talk about the kind of things that they can expect from our weekly events. It's always exciting to have new students come in :)
From this point forward, the incoming freshmen are invited to our weekly stuff! We have Wednesday coffee at 2:45, Fellowship Fridays at my house from 6:00 till 11:00 pm, and all sorts of other fun stuff throughout the summer!
Again, I hope to have that schedule set in stone very soon.
Thanks again for a fantastic year, and keep checking for more updates through the end of the schoolyear!
Good morning parents!
This past week was a doozy. I'm sure most of you have heard what we have talked about at IMPACT, so let me quickly talk about Sunday school first!
Kevin talked to us about having conversations with unbelievers and how we don't have to proselytize to be effective evangelists. Lots of conversations will happen naturally if we are loving the world like Christ, and we can be an incredible witness for Him every day. Only one more week of Organic Outreach!
This was also day 2 of In God's Image for 2019. We talked about dating and how Christ followers should assess the relationships they are having with the opposite sex. We touched on how pornography is no longer considered a primarily male problem, and how we have ways to help with that as a church. And with topics like this, there was definitely some disagreement. Here is what I proposed in a nutshell. Buckle in :) (if you don't have time to read it all, just hit the bold stuff for an idea!)
Students today live in a world that is saturated by sex. Sex sells products, it indicates desirability, and it has become more normalized than ever before. Imagine that every child born from this moment forward were to have glasses that overlayed their vision with entertainment and advertisements. By the time these babies grew up, it would be seen as normal to have these glasses, and comparatively weird if you did not. I imagine it is not all that different for our students right now, with things like social media and the advertisements that surround them. Why does this matter?
If you were to be one of those children who was given glasses at birth, you wouldn't even know that what you were seeing or experiencing was not "normal" by the standards of the previous generation. I think that I sounded a little crazy to our students this past Sunday, because I was trying to point out the not-normal nature of what they call dating.
Maybe I am naive to think that things were not this way when I was in high school, but it certainly seems that the term dating now encompasses a set of societal expectations that are pretty different from when I was in school (less than 8 years ago!) Students profess love to one another regularly, probably without any idea of how God designed love to look. Kissing seems more casual and doesn't seem as shameful to do in public. Heck, the musical the Zeeland High Players just put on decided to forego stage kissing and just have the actors kiss for real. Students who are in a dating relationship today are expected (or feel expected) to give one another a fairly high level of physical affection. This was the case for me as well, but it seems like it is more intense now. As I walk through the halls at the high schools, there are students doing things with one another that I wouldn't have dreamed of doing with my significant others, much less in public.
So I began our lesson last week by asking why we date. We date people to get to know them, to figure out what we like in future partners, and to enjoy the feeling of being desired. I threw a curveball, and asked students why we couldn't get everything that present day "dating" has to offer without the exclusivity and expectations of a dating relationship? After all, you don't need to be dating to get to know somebody, or even identify things that you are attracted to in them. And if all of those things are possible without the possibility of heartbreak and the reality of physical temptation, why would you place yourself in a commitment like that?
An exclusive relationship ends one of two ways, no matter what; either you break up, or one member dies. So as we think about that in the context of dating (even high school dating), there are some questions that naturally are raised. Questions like "Is this person someone who I can spend the rest of my life with?" and "Would I want this person raising my kids someday?"or "Does this person challenge me to be a better follower of Christ?"
At this point you may be thinking "Noah, they are just kids, chill out man." I wouldn't blame you. It's possible that even you as a parent might disagree with what I told the youth two days ago, and that is okay. Maybe my perspective and intent would be helpful. I remember the regret I had over emotional and physical steps I took toward girls that would not ultimately become my wife. I remember the conversation that I had with Dynelle after we started dating (after getting to know one another as friends ;P) where I told her that there were certain things I would not be able to do with her for the first time. I was devastated. I want to protect our students from that same devastation. Culture is getting more and more casual about sex and physical affection by the day. If my encouraging students to ask these hard questions early prevents them from falling into the mindset or trap of casual sex or physical affection, I will have succeeded.
Even rereading what I just wrote sounds harsh, but I think reality is harsh sometimes. The notion that the person you begin dating at 15 will be the same person at age 25 is ludicrous. High schoolers need to grow, and hopefully they are growing with a strong system of support and not basing any of their worth on a dating relationship.
If you've made it this far, you're a trooper. I feel a little like I just word-vomited a lot of thoughts on a page, and I could have missed something or come across as rude when I did not intend to. If there is anything you want to clarify, tell me, or just give general feedback please email me. I would love to hear what you all think of this (specifically the fathers who don't want their daughters dating until 30, I feel like we would get along.)
In God's Image is always hard to do well. How can I properly stress the importance of healthy relationships without coming off as a prude and remaining helpful? I hope at the very least it has caused some conversation at home this year. If it hasn't, ask your child what they thought. It might be interesting :)
Next week we are inviting the 8th grade students to join us for IMPACT and our end of year fiesta! After that, all incoming freshmen will be invited to all summer events that will be on the calendar later this week!
Thanks again for keeping up with what we are talking about. Ill throw my lesson plans here again so you can see the madness that is my lesson planning style, and see the heart behind it all.
This past week in High school, we continued our journey through Organic Outreach with Kevin Harney. This week we were challenged to be praying for people, as well as with them. There is incredible power in prayer that we can tap into. We are presented with opportunities to pray for and with others every day, but our own shame often gets in the way. Kevin challenged us to look for those natural opportunities to pray for others and to act on them when they present themselves.
Impact was the first week of In God's Image, and we covered what I would call the "basics." I will attach a copy of my personal lesson plans so you can see my notes and everything if you would like! We talked about how God made men and women differently, how we think and process differently, and how we work well together as a result. We talked about the covenant of marriage and how seriously God sees the joining of man and woman, and how special the creative act of sex is within the context of that relationship. We addressed how sex is supposed to be a good thing, and how the church has maybe not done the best job of talking about it openly in the past. We also touched on homosexuality and non-binary genders and how we are to respond to them as Christians. We have split into different gendered groups in the past to talk about dating, but I don't think we are going to this year.
We will instead be focusing on taking a "long view" of dating, and how to protect yourself as well as your future spouse. I may be biased, but being a lunch supervisor at the high schools has made me acutely aware of all the pressure students face to be in relationships. So much of what I see will surely be regretted later in life, and nobody seems to be talking about the lasting damage that physical intimacy can cause.
Alongside dating, we will also be addressing pornography and its affects on the brain, as well as its effects on relationships. There is no greater problem within the modern church, in my opinion. It is destroying our young people and compromising otherwise healthy marriages. Here are some statistics that might help open your eyes to the severity of the problem:
What has historically been regarded as a male-only problem is very clearly not any longer. We will be tackling this head on next week as well.
If you could be praying that God works as we have these extremely important discussions, that would be fantastic!!
As always, thank you for stopping by!
If you would like to join us in prayer this week, you can find our prayer requests HERE! Thank you!
Good morning parents!
This past week in Sunday school, we were challenged to pray with unbelievers. That may sound crazy, but Kevin was quick to show is that we have opportunities every day to invite those who don't believe into prayer with us. It struck me that someone who is willing to invite unbelievers to pray with them probably needs to be comfortable with a lot of other things first. They need to be comfortable praying with other believers. They need to be comfortable praying aloud. They need to be comfortable praying at all (and a shocking number of believers are not), and they have to believe that prayer is worth it. We live in a culture that feeds off embarrassment and makes us feel badly if we do something that might mar our outer facade. Prayer is a good thing, but public prayer tends to be something that even the most devoted Christians shy against. Our challenge this week was to become a better pray-er. Maybe that just means praying personally. Maybe that means praying aloud just by yourself, but whatever the case, it cant hurt any of us to talk to Jesus a little more this week!
During Impact we continued our BASIC series by Francis Chan, and we focused on fellowship. Something that is completely unique to the Christian experience is the idea that all those who believe are co-heirs and our adopted brothers and sisters in Christ. This is an incredible gift if we lean into it. Being able to know that a group of people see you for the value you have in Christ and not for your faults or the things that you offer them is a beautiful and foreign thing in today's world. The fellowship we have with one another here on earth is just a foretaste of the fellowship we shill share when Christ returns, but it's still a beautiful gift we should lean into.
Next week we will be starting In God's Image! We will start be recognizing that God made men and women differently before spending some time the next week breaking down what that means for dating as a Christian!
Thanks for stopping by!
I'm Noah. I do High School things. Expect this page to update every Tuesday morning!