This past Sunday, we officially finished our Listening across Generations class. It feels like just a few weeks ago that we were tossing that idea around and wondering if something like that would be received well. By the grace of God, it went VERY well. We averaged about 65 attenders who were interested in getting to know our youth better and were willing to listen and share with them. I couldn't be happier with the way that our church rallied around that class. The conversations I have had surrounding it have been nothing short of electrifying, and I truly believe that this could be the start of a "ground-up" change in the way we interact across generations. God is good :)
Impact was a continuation of last weeks harder questions, once again touching on predestination and the problem of sin and God's culpability in it. I often find that the answers in those situations are less satisfactory than I would like, but we continue to talk them through. Knowing that God is good isn't enough, so we needed to use an analogy. If we are fish all swimming down a stream to destruction, He is like a man who is grabbing us and tossing us into a stream that leads to eternal life. The idea that God would choose some fish and not others has been a difficult one to process. Is God responsible for allowing the fish to do what they would naturally do? Surely not, but something still feels "off" to us. So then we just barely scratched the surface of how it feels to have a perspective that places God outside of time and trusts His goodness fully. It was some pretty heavy stuff for a Sunday night, but we had some unbelievers super engaged again.
Next week we will return to talking about OT stories in a different light, hopefully in a way that is a little more gentle this time :)
Thanks for stopping by to check in! Have a great week!
This past Sunday we wrapped up the second to last chapter of our Growing Young class, and it went awesome. I could not be more encouraged by the turnout and the support we have seen in that class. We talked about being good neighbors this week, and how we can show love to our community without giving up on our convictions. We had some insightful discussion about how we as a church treat "hot button" issues in our culture. We talked about things like homosexuality and abortion and how we can love people without condoning behavior. Next week we will have members of the exalting team joining us to talk about what worship really is, regardless of preference. If you have been able to attend, thank you for all your support in making that a positive experience for our kids!
IMPACT was a healthy return to our norm. We brought up some very hard questions and had students thinking about why our lesson three weeks ago affected us so strongly. We talked about things like perspective and how we as created beings don't inherently deserve anything, touched on predestination, and even got into the problem of suffering. I'm sure that this was the first of many long weeks discussing some serious theology in that time slot. Initially I was hesitant to do that because Sunday nights are designed to be accessible to students who may not have existing or developed faith. This past week though, one of those students was very involved in the conversation and I think that this may be interesting for believers and unbelievers alike. As always, if you would like to be a fly on the wall sometime, we would love to have you!
I hope you all have a wonderful rest of your week!
Happy Tuesday parents!
This past Sunday was a nice slowdown from the more serious topics that last week brought. This week in Sunday school we talked about how churches that "grow young" tend to be churches that are prioritizing young people and families everywhere. This doesn't mean that we are throwing away the traditions of the older generations, only recognizing that the only kind of sustainable growth within our church is growth that brings in younger people. Luckily, this is something that I think FRCZ does pretty well already. We definitely have room to grow, but we need to celebrate our victories when we can :)
Youth group was a tad more casual to offer time for some students to continue processing what we talked about last week. We talked about God and his sense of humor in the old and new testaments. Things like Elijah telling the prophets of Baal that their god was "relieving himself," or little details about the language that both Jesus and Paul use throughout their ministry. The takeaway from this is that we often take ourselves a little too seriously as Christians. Sometimes we tend to be a little like the pharisees and interpret scripture more as a rule book than good news. I made sure they understood that this was me encouraging them to abuse mercy or go crazy, but sometimes its ok joke with one another.
Next week I hope to talk about why certain topics impact us more than others. We may be diving back into something that causes some foundation-shaking, but I feel like this is the best place to be shaking a foundation.
Thanks for checking in on what we are doing! I appreciate you all!
This week during Sunday school, we emphasized the need for a warm community instead of cool programs. The Fuller Youth Institute found that churches who were focused on being relational instead of being exceptional were growing more consistently. "Cool" programs and tons of available activities doesn't make a church a cut above the rest, it tends to leave them exhausted. Instead, we hope to find ways that we can offer less rigid structure and encourage more relational learning. Our youth group has done this since before I was even here! We have half an hour of fellowship time every week designed to let students get to know one another and their leaders better! Next week we are going to talk about how we can prioritize young people and families everywhere without making it seem awkward!
Youth group was a bit heavier than I intended for it to be. We have started to talk about some OT stories that people have probably heard if they were brought up in the church, but have probably never read and understood. Last week we talked about Esther and the reality of the fear she must have felt to stand up before the king. We talked about Haman and his arrogance, and the irony of Mordecai's honoring. It seemed to go very well and we received a lot of positive feedback! So I thought, "The book of Daniel would be perfect for something like this!" I may stand slightly corrected.
This week we talked about Daniel. Daniel would have been an upper class Jew who was stripped from his family at 18, and basically brainwashed into a Babylonian. Except he wasn't brainwashed, and neither were his friends Shadrach Meshach and Abednego (Those are their Babylonian names, but we are most familiar with them, so I will use them here :] ). Daniel and his friends are seen standing up to the culture they live in time and time again. When told to eat the royal diet, they ask to be fed vegetables instead. When told to bow to a statue the king erects, they don't.
What we see in these young people is an absolute priority on the faith they have. There is nothing that they value more! They have had their families stripped away, culture brainwashed, and still refuse to give up on their faith, even in the face of being hurled into a blazing furnace. The practical application I was going for was "Faith should be our number one priority." I think that what was heard was "You need to be ready to lay your life on the line for your faith RIGHT NOW" and that was a little much for some of our students. If your son or daughter came home late, its probably because we stayed a little later trying to dry some tears and calm some fears. While faith DOES need to be our number one priority, we do not need to live a life in fear that someday someone is going call our lives into question because of our love for Jesus. Too often we forget that the same God who spoke the world into existence from nothing, who raised up the Jewish people and cared for them throughout history, who exists outside of time itself is the same God who knows us by name and loves us dearly. So while we may need reminding of this fact, I promise to try and be a little more gentle in the future :)
Friday night is back on! At my house this week, and there will be pizza!
Happy Tuesday parents!
This past Sunday we spent our Sunday school time together talking about empathizing with today's young people. We all know there is nothing new under the sun, and all the issues that students today face have been faced before. The problem with that though, is we tend to assume the conditions under which these things happen are the same - and they aren't. Students today live in a technology saturated, oversexed, selfish world in ways that even I didn't 8 years ago. Broken families are becoming the norm, a friendship is measured by likes and streaks, and role models are more often found in the media than the nuclear family. So instead of bemoaning our differences, we encouraged all generations to try and be more understanding of one another. To "sit on the curb of one another's lives and listen." This might be weird or awkward at first, but I truly believe it's the first step towards a truly unified church.
IMPACT was a bit of a doozie. I had a student text me a bunch of questions regarding out Sunday school class and thought it might be interesting to talk about it for a little while before we jumped into our lesson. Boy was I surprised. It seems like a majority of our students are feeling like Sundays are not for them. They feel like they are specimen under a microscope, feel pressure to accurately represent a whole generation, and worry that the questions do more to divide than unite. While it was really good to hear all of that, I certainly did not expect to spend our entire 45 minutes on that, so our new teaching method will have to wait one more week!
On the opposite side of the spectrum, we have heard nothing but praise from the other people attending Sunday school, so we are going to press on!
Thanks again for stopping by! Have a great week!
Good morning parents!
This past Sunday we had our second "Listening across generations" class and we talked about Keychain Leadership! If you weren't able to attend, the basic idea behind keychain leadership is simple - to identify the things or areas you have control over, and to begin empowering young leaders to do those things alongside you. Eventually, there will have to be someone or something doing every job that currently exists, so why not begin to train our youth now? It also has the added benefit of giving our youth a sense of purpose and belonging when they are able to help with and in the Church.
Our Impact time slot was pretty standard. We had a new face, some rousing super smash brothers, and I talked for longer than the kids would have liked :) We spent our lesson time talking about how the church views doubt and how doubt isn't something that we need to be ashamed of. We read about Thomas and really tried to put ourselves into his shoes as we mulled over the things that cause us to doubt. Hopefully, if we remove that stigma our students will be more likely to come to us in times of doubt to seek answers.
Next week we will be talking about empathizing with today's young people in Sunday school, and trying out a new teaching method on Sunday night that is a little more scripture focused than we have been. Ill be sure to let you know how it goes!
Thanks for checking in and have a wonderful week!
Good morning parents!
This past week is what we are going to call our official kickoff Sunday :) We had fantastic attendance and were able to introduce the incoming students to the flow of High School youth group. We also managed to squeeze in some fellowship time and a couple of rousing 9-square games. Our conversation centered on how Sunday School went (more on that in a second,) and some pro-tips from our upperclassmen on how to survive High school youth group :) Hopefully if your student is new, we didn't scare them too badly!
Then there was Sunday School! We had 32 adults total signed up to come to our Sunday school class. I was thrilled with that number, but I got a very pleasant surprise Sunday morning when nearly 80 PEOPLE came to sit and have a discussion with our students. To say I am thrilled is an understatement. I am so encouraged by the support that we are getting from every generation at FRCZ and the interest in reaching unchurched and dechurched youth. I'm excited to share with you that 4 of the 5 students that attended the Wednesday class are not even members of our church!
Our Friday night outreach has also been wildly successful in the past few weeks. We have seen at least 4 new faces at game nights in the past two months alone and every single one has come back at least once, and we had one of them attend Bible study this morning!
So in my opinion, this year is starting off GREAT. All of our programs are now officially off the ground, and I am excited to see where they go. If you have any questions or feedback, I always love hearing from parents!
Thanks for checking in, and have a wonderful rest of your week!
With this past weeks Exit 89, the official Sunday programming is done until next school year! Speaking of Exit 89, we had a great time! We hung out, played super smash bros, had some worship, and talked about finding our identity in Jesus Christ. All in all, it was a pretty fun and hopefully easy way to get the freshmen acclimated.
Even though our regularly scheduled youth group stuff is over, that doesn't mean we aren't doing anything! We have Summer Sundays to look forward too, and the students that will be joining us in Chicago will be meeting a little sooner to start our planning!
Also, plenty of spontaneous activities will happen throughout the summer, stay tuned for those to pop up too! Most of those invitations come through the group chat, so feel free to let me know if we can add your student!
Feel free to email or call me any time, and I'll see you back here next fall!
WHAT A BEAUTIFUL DAY! I didn't even need a sweatshirt this morning!
Good morning! Exit 89 was tons of fun. This first week was designed to help the incoming freshmen understand what the high school flow is like, and we talked about the things that our group values. We played some quality 9-square and I think the night accomplished what it intended to. We only had a few of our incoming friends, but i hope that next week we see a bigger turn out!
Thanks for keeping up with everything that we have going on!! If you have any questions, feel free to let me know!
If you had told me that I would someday cancel a youth group event in mid-April because of cold weather......I would have laughed at you.
And I laughed at myself for believing the hype and cancelling when it was just fine at 7:30 when the rain was supposed to be pouring down. AND THEN all of our local school districts collectively lost their minds and cancelled school on Monday. I felt loads better about cancelling Exit 89 then :)
So next week will be the first Exit 89 at the regular time slot, and we will just pretend like we pushed the dates back a week. Sorry if the cancellation this week caused any issues, and I'll see you all next week!
I'm Noah. I do High School things. Expect this page to update every Tuesday morning!