Middle School Parents – Student Pavilion is Up and Running!

Sunday MorningsStudent Pavilion 9:15am to 10:30am.

Middle School Students grab a Shipley Doughnut or two, worship together, and listen to a talk time geared for them. We end the hour in Fusion Small Group break out rooms by grade and gender.

Wednesday Nights – Student Pavilion 6:30pm to 8:00pm.

Set up an environment geared towards Grades 6-8, 6:30pm to 8pm.  Students begin in the Student Pavilion and move to breakout rooms to end the evening.

What is Fusion? Fusion offers a loving and accepting environment geared for Middle School Students Grades 6-8.  We have events, weekly meetings, and exist to Intentionally Engage Middle School Students by leading them to the heart of the Father.

When and Where does Fusion Meet? ? 6th-8th grades begin in the NEW STUDENT PAVILION on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights.

What happens on Fusion Sundays?  Beginning at  9:15am, students have a Shipley doughnut or five, worship time with a band, talk time, and then break out in rooms by grade and gender for small group time.  10:30am is dismissal time from break out rooms.

What happens on Fusion Wednesdays? 6:30 Bible Study Begins in the NEW STUDENT PAVILION!!!!! –  We have hang out time before things get started, begin with Worship, move to Talk Time, then Students move to break out rooms for real life discussion. 8pm is dismissal time.

What can my Middle Schooler do for dinner? We suggest sending your student to the Oakwood Wednesday Night Dinner for a nice hot meal.  Students are welcome to hang out with us in the New Student Pavilion between 5:30 and 6:30pm.

Can my Middle Schooler play on the playground?  Parents, please let your Middle Schooler know that the playground is for CHILDREN and that they will be asked to leave the playground.

What is Middle School Fuze Night? Fuze Night is a large group gathering for Middle School Students in the Student Pavilion on Wednesday Night.  6:00pm begins with pizza and hang time then we move to high energy music, a relevant speaker, and response time. 8pm is dismissal time. Middle School students are challenged to shine a light for Jesus in their area of influence.

What is All Access? All Access is a foyer event geared for students to invest and invite a friend. The Oakwood Student Ministry, grades 6-12, meet in the Main Worship Center for a night of high energy worship and a relevant message, challenging students to follow Christ. 6:00pm begins with food and hang time, then high energy music, a relevant speaker, and response time. 8pm is dismissal time. Our Believe Weekend Kick-Off night is an All Access Night as well as our Back to School Bash.

Jesus is Loving Barabbas – Video + Questions and Reflection

BARABBAS Questions and Reflection

Barabbas could be given freedom, but deserves the chains and crucifixion that he is destined for.

How are we like Barabbas?

What is one thing you would like to be set free from at this moment?

Jesus has healed, restored, and set free. Why is he facing punishment?

Reflection – Ask Jesus to help set you free from whatever it is that is weighing you down.


People vs the Father

Who does Barabbas think set him free?

Who actually sets Barabbas free?

How have you seen the Father work through circumstances in your life to set you free?

Reflection – Take a moment to thank the Father for those that encourage you and love on you in your walk toward freedom in Christ.


“Jesus knew that the Father would have to treat Jesus like Barabbas, so He could treat Barabbas like Jesus.”

What does this powerful statement mean to you personally?

Reflection – Imagine Jesus on the cross, giving His life for you. Thank Him for taking your place and giving you freedom.


Romans 5:8 says, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Think about that one thing you would like to be set free from again.  What shame does Jesus need to take?  What sin do you need to hand to Him? What are you holding on to that on Jesus needs to set you free from, by His power alone?

Reflection – Take a moment and pray to the Father and say Jesus is enough for _____________.

Maybe there are a few things that you need to fill in that blank for.  It’s okay, Jesus is enough.


When you are done, take a moment to quiet your Spirit and listen to the voice of the Father. 

Parent Cue: How do you Access

By Carey Nieuwhof
You may have a toddler right now who won’t leave your side. You know the kind. The kid who’s glued to your leg, velcroed to your arm, who keeps wanting you to read the same story again, and again, and again. It’s driving you nuts some days, isn’t it?

It’s hard to believe, but one day, they’re going to withdraw. Ask any parent who has middle schoolers. Or teenagers. It happens . . . they withdraw. And you know what happens to most parents? Most parents have no idea what to do. So they do this: When their kids withdraw, they withdraw.

Why wouldn’t you? I mean it kind of works like that in life, doesn’t it? When someone doesn’t want to be your friend anymore, you eventually give up and withdraw—which only makes sense. You can’t be friends with someone who doesn’t want to be your friend. Except that in this case, they’re you’re family. The dynamic isn’t as straightforward. So what do you do?

As a father of 2 sons, now 19 and 23, I can give you a few pointers. Now, I’m not an expert by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve just been confused by it long enough and have enough scars to write a few hundred words on the subject.
Basically, if you’ve got a kid who thinks Minecraft is far more interesting than Mom, or a son who doesn’t want to watch movies with you but seems to want to watch anything and everything with their friends, what do you do?

1. Get Over Your Hurt. Just admit it: It kind of hurts a little. You pour your heart into your kids, get up at 5 a.m. to take them to practice, do homework with them on nights when your brain should have had a rest hours ago, fund everything, and suddenly they find you . . . uninteresting.
As much as that kind of stinks, you’re the parent. Get over it. Your job isn’t to be their friend, it’s to be their parent.

2. Be Around. When my oldest started high school, he told me, “Hey dad . . . why can’t you just be like other dads and simply hang around more?” It was weird for me to hear that, because I was home a lot. But he was right. I was always busy. Being a driven person who loves what he does, I was always working on a new project or writing something new.

The penny dropped. So basically I just needed to hang around and do nothing, or at least not be preoccupied? I didn’t know if I had a category for that. But I tried. I decided to hang around the house night after night with no particular agenda, just to see what happened.

The first night my oldest son went out after supper to hang out with friends and my other son was tied up with something else. I thought, well this is stupid. I wanted to go get busy with something. But my wife persisted. So I decided to give it more time.

And after a while, we started connecting much more. No agenda. Nothing pressing. Just by virtue of being in the same space in the same time repeatedly, we connected. And I learned this: While being around is no guarantee anything relationally significant will happen, not being around is an absolute guarantee nothing relationally significant will happen.
So be around.

3. Leverage The Ordinary. Your rhythm changes as your kids get older. Tucking your five-year-old into bed is an amazingly glorious ritual. Tucking your 15-year-old into bed every night is just weird. You lose a lot of the rhythms of childhood when your kids get older. And if you keep invading the space they spend with their friends, you lose major points.
But there are other opportunities. Meal times are a case in point.

Take the time to eat a meal together . . . not in the car . . . not standing at the kitchen breakfast bar sucking back a smoothie on your way out the door, but at a real table, with real chairs, with real forks and real knives. And chew your food. If you take 15-30 minutes to have dinner together and turn off all your devices, amazing things happen. Amazing things like conversations. No matter how busy our lives get, we always try to sit down together for five dinners a week. If you prioritize it, it can happen.

Another great opportunity is during your drive time. I know, you feel like a taxi service. So leverage that. Turn the music off . . . or up, depending on your mood. Don’t talk on the phone. Stop texting (especially if you’re driving), and talk. Conversations in the car can go deeper faster because you haven’t got the pressure of looking at each other.

So what happens when all this happens?

Well, you grow up. They grow up. And sometimes, they develop a habit of coming around.

I’m writing this after having lunch with my eldest son and his wife at a Mexican restaurant they found near their place in Toronto. He had called the day earlier and said, “Hey Dad, you and mom want to come down after church? We’d love to hang out with you guys.” My other son now calls and texts from a university out of town . . . even when he doesn’t need money. Imagine that.
Just remember this. When your kids withdraw, don’t withdraw. It’s so worth the fight.
Get connected to a wider community of parents at TheParentCue.org.


In this series, we’ve been talking about the idea of “all access”—the idea that we have all access to God, which gives us access to hope and purpose. But your teenager also needs to know they have an all-access pass to talk to you. That’s certainly easier when they’re younger. Bath time and bed time give you clear opportunities to talk. But as schedules get busier and the conversations become more complicated, it may be helpful to remind your son or daughter that they still have your attention.
This week, try texting them or writing a simple note to let them know you’re still available to them. It doesn’t have to be long or emotional. Try something like this:
Hey, I heard you’ve been talking about “all access” at church. I know sometimes it may not feel like you have or need all-access to me, but I want you to know that you can talk to me about anything, anytime. No pressure to start today. Just wanted you to know.
Honestly, you may not get a response. That’s okay. The goal is to simply re-give them permission to talk to you on their time and when they’re ready.

Why Your Kids Need Someone Else to Talk To

Why Your Kids Need Someone Else to Talk To

I remember the day I turned thirteen. I was thinking of my red three speed bike with the banana seat, sissy bar and raised handlebars. I loved it, but I knew it was a kids’ bike and soon I’d have to ride a ten speed like every other teenager. I wish I could say I was excited about becoming a teenager, but the emotions were really mixed.

For one thing, ‘teenager’ wasn’t a great word back in the late seventies. At least from the perspective of a thirteen-year old, most adults seemed to either fear them or loathe them.

Secondly, I was the oldest child in my family of four kids and the only son. So I didn’t really have anyone to look up to in my family who could show me what being a teenager was like. I knew some teens for sure, but I knew they were into things that I probably didn’t want to get into. In the moment, going back a year to being twelve or even eleven seemed like a better option than turning thirteen.

I don’t remember having anyone to talk to about any of this. I could talk to my dad, for sure, but how do you have a conversation like that? I wasn’t even sure what I was feeling, let alone did I know how to articulate it. And while there were lots of adults around me, I didn’t really understand that I might be able to talk to them about life.

Ever been there as a kid?

Fast forward a few decades. I’m a father now with two sons who are four and seven years past their thirteenth birthdays.  I remember when they turned thirteen, I tried to initiate a conversation with them, just in case they felt like I did. Let’s just say the conversation was super friendly and super short. They either didn’t struggle with it, or, maybe, they didn’t feel like talking to their dad about it.

All of which reminds me of the importance of a wider circle.

I’m so thankful my kids are growing up realizing that there are other adults they can talk to that actually want to invest in them. They each have a small circle of a half dozen or so adults or young adults they have meaningful relationships with. Some have been mentors to them, others have been small group leaders or church staff.  Others are family members, friends and neighbors. They don’t need to be alone, and they’re not alone. I know they’ve had many conversations with their wider circles–some of which I’ll never know about. And for that, I’m incredibly grateful.

Do your kids have a wider circle of influence? Maybe it’s a small group leader at church, or a teacher who’s taken a special interest in them, or an uncle or an aunt they feel comfortable with. Whoever it is, it’s just important that someone is there. And as an adult, you can help foster those relationships.

Oh, and by the way, I still ride a bike.  And while it’s not red, it’s a ten speed road bike that I like even a little more than my beloved banana seat bike. Growing up wasn’t so bad after all.

Who have you got in your children’s life that can provide that wider circle of influence? What are you doing to encourage those relationships?

Open Your Home – Parent Cue

by Autumn Ward
It can be difficult to know how to influence our teenagers. We give advice. They act like we’ve lost our minds. We give encouragement. They roll their eyes. Even when our teenage sons and daughters are respectful, it can feel like they’re not listening. But we all know who they are listening to. They’re all listening to their friends.
At this phase, one of our greatest opportunities to influence our kids is to have a relationship with their friends. And, it isn’t always as difficult as it sounds. Having influence with a teenager doesn’t mean you have to wear skinny jeans and know the names of pop stars. It doesn’t mean you have to throw lavish parties or have the coolest house on the block. Sometimes having influence is as simple as having them over to your home.

In her article Open Your Home on ParentCue.org, author and mom of three, Autumn Ward, talks about the benefits and the costs of spending time with her kids’ friends:


I love beautifully decorated homes with every little thing in place; a candle quietly burning, fresh flowers in a vase, soft music playing, spotless floors and bathrooms, freshly polished furniture. . . and vacuum lines on carpet.
As much as I would love to say this describes my home, it does not. I mean, I still try. I haven’t totally given up on the dream, but I learned a long time ago that hosting kids in my home does not, in any way, help my straight-out-of-HGTV dream become a reality.

The sleepovers.
The football team hanging out.
The basketball team hanging out.
The soccer team hanging out.
(We’ve had a lot of teams over the years!)
The gang dropping by for a snack.
The impromptu bonfires.
The school study groups.

They’ve all left their mark on my home—literally.

The basement walls we finally painted got a layer of Dr. Pepper sprayed on them three weeks later.

The ceiling fan light fixture got shattered by a body pillow being waved in the air by one young man who was trying to fan away body odors.

The recliner no longer leans back all the way and kind of tilts to one side after a group of guys decided to see how many would fit in it. (The answer is five, in case you’re wondering.)

Oh and the handprints. The walls of the staircase going down to my basement have the handprints of just about every teen we know.

Recently, after my son’s high school graduation, I found myself staring at all those scuff marks and handprints. As I ran my hand across what would be ugly to most, I uttered a “thank you” to God. I thanked Him for helping me open my home, because when I open my home, I open my heart. And in exchange, I received so much more than a beautifully decorated, clean house:

The sound of teens worshiping in my basement.
The laughter of boys being boys.
The excitement of girls talking over one another.
The huddle around the oven waiting for food.
The hugs from kids I barely knew.
The title of “Mom” from kids who aren’t mine.
And the “thanks Mom” from the kids who are.

In that moment, I found myself overwhelmed with gratitude for the opportunity to care for, influence, and shape the kids who play such a role in the life of my kids—their friends.

Parents, open your home. Let your house be the hangout, the host home, the place where teens can be. Don’t wait until you think your house is “good enough.” All kids want is a place to be with the friends they want to be with.

Yes, it’s exhausting and will cost you. But I promise you, it will be worth it.
This week, try investing in your kid’s friends by offering to have them over. You don’t have to plan a party. Just ask your kid what they’re doing this week. Maybe it’s . . .
•studying for a test.
•watching Netflix.
•shopping for a homecoming dress.
•watching the game.
Then ask, “Do you want to invite ______ to come over while you do that?”

When their friends come over, make an effort to just “be around.” You don’t have to watch the movie with them, but be there to greet them. Ask how they’re doing. Offer snacks. When you do, you’re communicating that you care about them and you’re making an investment that will pay off over and over again.

The Other Person Your Child Needs


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We’re miles apart connected through cell phones, but the smile I feel in her voice sinks into my bones. With me, through moves across the country, career changes, moments when I was feeling sorry for myself, and times I needed to celebrate, Sibyl always had the words that hit the spot. She’s never shied away from saying what was hard  (she once told me to get off my butt and get started). But her words mattered because they were spoken from someone who knew me and loved me.

We know as adults we need these voices in our lives, but there’s someone who needs them even more: your child.

Wait a minute, your child has you, right? You’re the awesome parent who loves them more than anyone else in the world.

Exactly. You see your child through parent eyes, filled with hope and an achingly deep love that wants them to always try their best, always step into that next opportunity, always get that A, because you know they can do it. You were there the moment they made their grand entrance. You’re the one with the naked baby butt stories they beg you not to tell.

No way can an outside voice ever take your place, but they can fill a different seat at the table that you can’t.

Let’s face it. Somewhere between Lululemon and man buns, you’ve lost your coolness (okay, you haven’t lost it, you just can’t find it at the moment). You’re still essential, but now, there’s more your child needs. They need an additional, I-know-what-you’re-feeling voice. Here’s why:

They need a listening ear that’s not you, because sometimes it’s about you. Geesh, I don’t want my child talking to someone else about me! Actually, you do. Remember that time you made your daughter march back to her room (okay, she stomped) because the shorts she had on didn’t cover the essentials? She felt like you had ruined her life. When she talks to her friends about it, they’re on her side, which isn’t always helpful. When she talks to another wise adult she trusts, they can help with the why behind the what and help her see you’re on her side too. Which is incredibly helpful.

They need someone to sit with them at ground zero. As parents, we want to get them past what hurts and help lift their eyes to tomorrow. But when something hurts, it hurts today. Your child needs someone to talk to that remembers what it feels like to sit at the lunch table alone, left out of the Friday night party, or dumped by their best friend. As parents, it’s tempting to talk them out of feeling sad. It’s okay, there are lots of other parties. But often, they are not ready for this conversation yet. This is where an outside person can “sit in it” with them and help them process their feelings, giving them time for perspective to seep in.

Some things are too itchy for a parent’s ears. We want our kids to talk to us about the hard stuff. Pornography, sexting, what their best friend got arrested for last night, that decision they made that turned out to be a terrible one. But this is where an outside person can be extremely valuable. They can listen without freaking out, bring some wise words and help your child see why they do need to share it with you. A wise outside voice they trust who also reinforces your family relationship and your family values is like gold, and it keeps your child from feeling isolated with things that feel too big to talk about.

If your child already has someone they can talk to that you trust, like a teacher, coach, small group leader, mentor, let your child know you’re okay with it. Be supportive of their conversations, letting them know they can share what they talk about, but don’t force it. And honor the relationship by allowing time for it.

But what if your child doesn’t have an outside voice?

Ask a leader in your church or at their school if there are any young adults they know well who may already be volunteering and would be willing to mentor or be a big brother or sister. Relationship is key here, so make sure it’s someone your kid can connect with.

If your church has small groups for children and students, encourage your child to join. Remember, that other voice doesn’t always have to be one on one. Sitting in a group of kids the same age with a great leader can be an incredible start.

Wherever you find the other person your child needs, get to know them, invite them to have coffee, and thank them for investing in your child.

Check out more Parent Cue Posts here

How to Build Lasting Integrity in Kids

Icebergs and Ice Cubes

Check out the growing leaders blog here

An iceberg has been used over and over again by instructors to illustrate hidden realities. We often talk about the “tip of the iceberg” meaning there’s a larger amount of unseen substance than what’s visible. It’s an analogy. The iceberg is one of our most popular Habitude images when we teach leadership to students.

It has everything to do with integrity.

I believe the ten percent that lies above the water line represents our skills. They’re visible. Everyone can see them. But, they’re only the tip of our influence. The 90 percent that lies beneath the surface represents our character. And it’s always what is below the surface that sinks the ship.

Consider the Titanic for a moment. That tragic shipwreck that killed hundreds of people on board wasn’t due to the tip of the iceberg. It was that massive amount that’s invisible. It’s true about most failures in life, as well. I don’t know anyone who’s derailed their life with a technique flaw. I do, however, know several people who’ve derailed their career or their marriage or their friendships due to a character flaw.

When we teach our children character, (whether they’re six or sixteen), we cultivate substance beneath the surface. It can’t be seen, but in the long run it will surely impact the substance and direction of their lives. It’s invisible but important. The fact is, the majority of our influence lies in qualities beneath the surface.

My guess is—you’re a parent who wants to raise your children to be people with integrity. You want them to live by values, to be honest and ethical and to build a solid reputation. It’s a noble goal, but one that’s not easy to achieve today.

Why Is This so Challenging to Develop?

Becoming a person of integrity is difficult because our society places so much emphasis on what we can see. Our talent. Our Facebook profile. Our selfies. Our appearance. It’s almost always about our image not our integrity. If our kids display any special gifts or leadership qualities, it can be doubly hard. Consider these four statements:

  1. Their talent has the potential to carry them further than their character can sustain them. Without direction, their gift can mold them into someone they don’t intend to become. They’ll be tempted to use their gifts to go places their character isn’t robust enough to guide them or keep them aligned with good ethics.
  1. Trouble comes when their integrity doesn’t keep pace with the momentum created by their intelligence. Sometimes our intelligence is much stronger than our character. Our moral intelligence isn’t strong enough to give us clarity to make good choices. Smart kids can rationalize almost any misbehavior or poor decision.
  1. There is no correlation between giftedness and maturity. It’s easy to assume that a talented athlete, student council member or performer must be a mature leader. Not true. A person can have great gifts . . . and be the most immature person in the world. Unfortunately, they can still have influence. We must help our kids see the difference.
  1. Their commitment to integrity can be easily eroded by their love of progress. If a student lacks integrity, it doesn’t mean they’re inherently bad people. It may mean they are leaders and this is pushing them forward. Leaders want to make progress! Because they love progress they can compromise a commitment to integrity.

In addition, we live in a day of pluralism and tolerance, where we’ve taught our children to value and accept all points of view. This is a good thing. Unfortunately, kids can unwittingly fail to distinguish perspectives that are just plain wrong or unethical. The unintended consequence can be that kids fail to develop the ability to discern right from wrong. They don’t want to be judgmental, so they withdraw from making even moral judgments. This inability will be conspicuous as they begin their careers.

What Can You Do?

Let me suggest a handful of action steps you can take with your kids:

1. Make a list of values.

One of the two greatest goals you can model and teach to your children is to help them create a list of 4-6 words that describe the person they hope to become as adults. Call it a list of personal core values. Then, help them find ways to live up to those values weekly.

2. Challenge them to add value to others daily.

Next, in addition to living by values, give them perspective on adding value to others. Help them to perform one act every day that adds value to someone else. Try doing it yourself. Living by values and adding value are what makes people valuable to teams.

3. Make it a game to do what you disdain.

Challenge the family to choose something every week that you each don’t like to do, and do it daily. It may be a chore around the house, like taking out the garbage. Keep score on parents and kids. This creates a habit of doing right—even when it’s no fun.

4. Dinner check ups on integrity.

At dinner, talk about a weekly opportunity each family member had to practice something that displayed integrity when no one was watching. Anonymous acts of character. Affirm any growth in each person.

An Iceberg Not an Ice Cube

These simple acts can begin to cultivate kids with robust character. Kids who grow below the surface. Solid. Stable. Steady. Interestingly, there is such a thing as an iceberg that has very little substance below the surface. It’s called a “whistler.” They have nothing more underwater than what’s above. They’re like a floating ice cube. Do you know how you can identify a “whistler?” They consistently make noise as they drift.

Let’s raise our kids to have substance below the surface.

Monday in the Life of a Middle Schooler

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Check out http://justaphase.com/oc16/monday-in-the-life-of-a-middle-schooler/

Monday in the Life of a Middle Schooler

“You can’t speak the truth in love if you don’t love who you are speaking to.” – Reggie Joiner


What was life like for you as a middle schooler?
What is life like for middle schoolers today?


Crisis: Puberty – the turning point
Questions: Who do I like? Who likes me?
Goal: Provide stability.


Crisis: Self-Awareness – the turning point
Questions: Who am I?
Goal: Help them discover uniqueness.

This is where empathy begins:
knowing and loving our middle schoolers.
And empathy is where influence begins.

Understanding our people helps us minister effectively and maximize our influence.


We need to affirm their personal journey.


  • They are known.
  • They are loved and liked.
  • They are listened to more than they are talked to.
  • They are met at their level.
  • They get quality time with you.

*Affirmation is the fuel a middle schooler needs to face Monday.*


  • Remind them they belong.
  • Give them Biblical teaching in a relevant way
  • Match them with a leader who will check-in with them during the week
  • Encourage them to lean into their community.
  • Pray for them regularly
  • Give them starting points so they can draw close to Jesus on their own
  • Utilize social media to encourage throughout the week


“For this reason, I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” – Ephesians 3:14-19

Middle School Pastor at Saddleback Church
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