We said, "See ya later 2017", at Youth Group and Sunday School this past week. We wrapped up youth group with a fun 'Play it Forward' activity where students split into groups and dispersed downtown and around church to complete challenges and pass them on to others. Students had a lot of fun! We ended the night with hot coco, donuts and card making for those who are homebound from our congregation.
As for Sunday School, the 5th and 6th graders enjoyed donuts and watching God's Not Dead. The 7th and 8th grade class watched videos from lessons that weren't covered this semester and had conversations about questions like, "Do cremated people go to heaven?" and "Why did Jesus go to hell?". Students have begun to embrace diving deeper into these kind of questions and discovering that sometimes there isn't a black or white answer. See you next year!
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.
My name is Josiah from Grand Rapids Michigan and I follow Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Also middle schoolers are cool.