Fusion Flipped Series This Month 9:15am @ SWC

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Session 1 Summary: Up in a Tree (July 27)

What are you afraid of? Spiders? The dark? People who twerk? Most of us have at least a few things that scare us. Sometimes they’re surface fears. Simple fears. But most of us also have a few deeper fears. Those are the ones that we don’t talk about as much. And, if we’re not careful, they will cause us to miss out on some really great things in life. Zacchaeus was a little man with some big fear. Fear that controlled him and caused him to keep a safe distance from everyone, including Jesus. In his story we find that getting to know Jesus, and what He really cares about, can flip our fear and lead us closer to Him.

 

Bottom Line:

Jesus wants to love you, not judge you.

 

Session 2 Summary: Losing Control (Aug 3)

Who really calls the shots in your life? Think about the most powerful person you know. Reality is, no matter how powerful that person is, there are some things he or she still can’t control. Jesus met a man like that. This guy had assistants for his assistants. Everyone followed his orders. But at the end of the day, someone he cared about was really sick and there was nothing he could do to change that. However, he understood something about authority that we could all learn from. He understood that when his ability had run out, Jesus’ ability kept going. And trusting Him to be in charge flipped everything.

 

Bottom Line:

When your ability runs out, Jesus’ ability keeps going.

 

Session 3 Summary: Peel the Label (Aug 10)

Funny. Pretty. Jock. Nerd. Popular. Smart. Not Smart. We all have a tendency to label the people around us. In fact, we tend to label ourselves too. We think about ourselves in terms of categories. But have you ever thought you gave someone the right label only to find out that they were totally different? Or have you ever heard someone else label you and thought, “that isn’t really me”? That’s the problem with labels. They aren’t always true. And even if they are, they’re always changing. Nearly everyone who met Jesus had their lives flipped, and in the case of a woman with the worst possible label, He changed her whole identity. He gave her a new label that would last. One that changed her whole world and can change ours too. Because there’s a label that beats all other labels: His.

 

Bottom Line:

There’s a label that beats all other labels: His.

TRANSITION: Thoughts for Parents of Young Teens

see part 1: doubts

transitionThe young teen years summed up in one word: transition

Nikki is 11 years old, and in 6th grade. But she looks more like a 16 year-old. And I’ve had more than one mom comment to me that they would pay big money to have fingernails as nice as Nikki’s. But Nikki still loves to play with Barbie dolls. In fact, it’s not uncommon for her to bring a couple with her on youth group trips. The other kids tease her about it – but she’s naive enough to think they think it’s fun that Barbie is in tow. It’s not that Nikki is neither a child nor a teenager: she’s bits of both.

Then there’s a group of guys I used to call the “Punk Pokemons” (this was several years ago when Pokemon was big). Their group was five 8th grade guys – all taller than me – who were trying very hard to be tough. They wore baggy pants and spiked their hair. And they never smiled. Never. They were 100% committed to looking disinterested. But on a regular basis, they would gather in the back corner of our junior high room at church to trade Pokemon cards (those goofy little trading cards that were popular with kids at the time). It was hilarious to see the snarling wannabe tough guys saying things like, “I”ll give you two Pikachus for one Mewtwo.”

Nikki and the Punk Pokemons are in transition. Not quite adults, but not kids anymore either.

If you ask me to define the young teen years in one word, I’d have to use the word “transition.” Everything about the world of a young teen is somewhere in-between where they’ve been and where they’re headed.

The signs of “work in progress” show up in every area of a young teen’s life, including her faith. She’s finding that her “childish” faith system isn’t working anymore, faith-bit by faith-bit. She begins the search – sometimes consciously and proactively, sometimes not – for a richer, more complex adult faith system. And much of this is accomplished through experimentation.

Here’s what I mean: your young teen might show less interest in church, but more interest in spiritual things. By spiritual things, I don’t necessarily mean youth group retreats and the church children’s choir. For a young teen, the dimensions of the spiritual life are just opening up, and they’re noticing depth and spirituality in music, in movies, in TV shows, in conversations with friends, even listening in on adult conversation.

But they’re in transition! They’ll continue to have pieces of childish faith and elements of an adult faith at the same time. Just as you would never try to rush the physical growth of your child (by pumping them full of hormones or steroids), it’s a bad move to attempt to rush this spiritual transition also. But you can help them: by listening, discussing, staying open and not threatened. Watch for these signs of transition in faith, and ask open-ended, non-threatening questions to help them develop their faith-thinking.

Share more openly about your own spiritual journey: your longings and doubts, your hopes and a-ha moments, places where you’ve seen God active in your life in the past week.

And most of all: be aware that this transition means they won’t stay this way for long; so cherish this time!


Mark Oestreicher is a partner in The Youth Cartel, a veteran youth worker, and a parent of a 20 year-old daughter and 16 year-old son. He speaks frequently to parents, and is the author or co-author of six books for parents, including A Parents Guide to Understanding Teenage Guys, A Parents Guide to Understanding Teenage Girls, A Parents Guide to Understanding Teenage Brains, A Parents Guide to Understanding Social Media, A Parents Guide to Understanding Sex & Dating, and Understanding Your Young Teen. With his own “apprentice adults,” he co-authored a book for teenagers: 99 Thoughts on Raising Your Parents.

DOUBT – Thoughts for Parents of Young Teens

THOUGHTS FOR PARENTS OF YOUNG TEENS, PART 1

i’m starting a new series of occasional posts with this one. i’ll probably post about one per week or so. but these will be a random tidbit of input for parents of pre-teens and young teens. if you’re a youth worker, feel free to copy and paste these into a parent newsletter or email (though i’d appreciate a credit line), for forward them a link.

young teen doubt 1Welcome to the World of Doubts

A nervous set of parents met with me. Tears came quickly. Judy, the mom, spoke in-between honks into her tissue: “Johnny, our 7th grader… [honk!]… he’s always been such a good boy. And he’s always loved Jesus.”

The dad nodded.

Judy continued: “But the other night at dinner… [honk!]… Johnny said, ‘I’m not sure I want to be a Christian anymore.’” [honk!]

A big smile broke out across my face.

Their faces made it obvious they were somewhere between confused and offended by my grin. So I explained:

Questioning and examining (usually called “doubting”) Mom and Dad’s faith system, or her own childhood faith system, is a necessary part of early teen faith development.

Did you catch that? Parents (and plenty of youth workers) are usually threatened, even frightened, by their kids’ doubts. But teenagers who don’t go through this process will reach their early 20s with a stunted (childish) faith!

Let me back up and explain a bit more fully.

The Task of Discovery

Stephen Glenn, a psychologist who published a bunch in the 70s and 80s, developed a helpful little timeline (I’m modifying the ages Glenn suggests to account for our current context). He said the first few years of life are all about “discovery”. The next few years (4 – 7, roughly) are all about “testing”. And the years from 8 – 10 are focused on “concluding.”

Then a shift of seismic proportions–-usually called puberty–-comes along like massive storm waves crashing against a sea wall made of chalk or sandstone. Wave after wave, erosion takes place–erosion of all those nice pre-teen conclusions. And the cycle begins again: 11 – 14 are years of “discovery”; 15 to 20 year-olds tend to focus on “testing”; and those in their 20something years (now called “emerging adults”) shift to forming conclusions.

Can’t you see that in your young teen? They’re in the midst of a massive adventure of discovery. That’s why they want to try everything–four sports, three clubs, five friendship groups, a new hobby or collection each month. They’re trying to gather data about the world, about how people interact, about values, about reactions. And, about what it means to be a Christ-follower.

So wrestling with “what do I believe?” becomes a wonderful question for young teens to ask. That doesn’t mean we fan the flames of their doubts (“I can’t believe you still believe that!”). It means we come alongside them in their doubts, rather than interpreting those questions (that data collection) as a real rejection of faith.

How Should Parents Respond?

Don’t freak out. When you hear doubts squeaking out, take a deep breath. Thank God that your budding teenager is still willing to verbalize this kind of thing with you. A strong negative reaction will teach your child that she shouldn’t share in the future.

Exercise curiosity. Young teens rarely have the self-awareness to verbalize their doubts in helpful and constructive ways. We have to look beyond the presenting evidence for the question(s) forming in the background. And we have to ask.

Encourage verbalization. In other words, talk about it! Healthy dialogue is often all that’s needed. Ask questions, rather than preaching.

Share in first-person. Your pre-teen or young teen will “catch” more from your life than from your words. When you do choose to share words, try not to be too prescriptive (“Johnny, what you need to do is this….”). Instead, share from your own life. Respond to doubts with your own story, including your own doubts (past or present).

Pray. Isn’t that one obvious? Your child is going through the most formative and tender years in faith development. Talk to God constantly!


Mark Oestreicher is a partner in The Youth Cartel, a veteran youth worker, and a parent of a 20 year-old daughter and 16 year-old son. He speaks frequently to parents, and is the author or co-author of six books for parents, including A Parents Guide to Understanding Teenage GuysA Parents Guide to Understanding Teenage GirlsA Parents Guide to Understanding Teenage BrainsA Parents Guide to Understanding Social MediaA Parents Guide to Understanding Sex & Dating, and Understanding Your Young Teen. With his own “apprentice adults,” he co-authored a book for teenagers: 99 Thoughts on Raising Your Parents.

VBS WEEK!!! WEIRD ANIMALS

WeirdAnimalsLogo_HR

VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL @ OAKWOOD 9AM to 12PM JULY 14-18

With over 1,000 children attending the OAKWOOD VBS this week, we have been super busy around here!

It is amazing to see Oakwood come together and transform the Church into a FUN ENVIRONMENT geared for KIDS.

Pray for God to continue to do a work this week, especially THURSDAY MORNING as we share the Gospel in a creative way.

 

Here are the main Bible Thoughts for each day:

MONDAY – Even when you’re left out… JESUS LOVES YOU!

TUESDAY – Even though you’re different… JESUS LOVES YOU!

WEDNESDAY – Even when you don’t understand… JESUS LOVES YOU!

THURSDAY – Even though you do wrong… JESUS LOVES YOU!

FRIDAY –  Even when you’re afraid… JESUS LOVES YOU!

 

WHAT DO MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS DO THIS WEEK?

I am running the recreation team, so many students are outside leading games.

We also have a place for Middle School students as crew leaders.

WE are ALL IN for VBS and have LUNCH HANGOUTS each day for Middle School Students.

 

 

Laredo Family Mission Trip

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We had a great weekend on the Family Mission Trip to Laredo as we Intentionally Engaged the Las Lomas Colonia with Pastor Mario Garcia.

The Vaquero Church Plant is well on it’s way.  Just 18 miles East of Laredo, we discovered 1000 households needing the love of Jesus Christ.  This country-like area is 30 miles from the border.  The roads leading to the location are dirt roads, and it is not uncommon to see Vaquero Peoples riding a horse down the way.  If you are in the area on Saturday afternoon, you might even witness a PARADE of Vaqueros following a truck cranking out Tejano Music.  These people need the love of Jesus and Mario Garcia is starting a strong church basing from a Men’s Bible Study held out at a ranch in the area.

Cabrito means GOAT!
Cabrito Means Goat!

We met this Bible Study group and shared Cabritos with them!  The guys meeting on Friday for Bible Study and an occasional cookout are then invited with their families to the Vaquero Church Sunday afternoon.

LaredoFamilyMissionTripJune2014
Family Mission Trip June 2014

Oakwood families set out on the journey Thursday night for a 3 hour trip to Laredo.  We spent Friday and Saturday painting the interior of the Worship Center, updating a shower, throwing a block party/carnival, cleaning the inside and outside, and decorating the place with a Vaquero Church theme.  We also had time to add walls inside a house of one of the Vaquero Church members that is being trained for ministry.

We came with Galatians 5 on our minds and hearts.  As we are looking at the FREEDOM we have this July in the great country of America, we realize there is a GREATER FREEDOM in CHRIST.

Galatians 5:13

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.