After a JAM PACKED weekend with Worship, Challenging Teaching, Student Hangouts, Small Group Discussions, and Fellowship with the people of JESUS, we celebrate 19 decisions to follow Christ and 18 students that followed in believer’s baptism.
Whether you are jumping back in with us or joining us for the first time, we hope that these messages and worship songs bless you on your journey in following JESUS.
What is one of the most potentially awkward and uncomfortable conversations to have with your middle schooler? The one about sex, dating, and relationships! That’s why we’re spending four weeks talking about just that in our new series, Awkward. A conversation like this one may be awkward, but it’s so important! Some students may be curious about it while others may be uninterested. Some may be embarrassed while others may be experiencing some of these things for the first time. And some may have never thought about sex, dating, or relationships before. No matter where your middle schooler may be, it’s important to lay the foundation for healthy thoughts, habits, and behaviors around sex now so that they’ll have a better framework to make decisions as they grow.
Sunday, Feb 7 – Session One
What we do with our desires matters.
Wednesday, Feb 10 – Session Two
1 Corinthians 6:12; John 10:10
Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.
Sunday, Feb 14 – Session Three
How you treat others and yourself matters to God.
Wednesday, Feb 17 Session Four
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Focus on becoming love before looking for love.
Reach out to your kid’s Small Group Leader this week. Let them know that you appreciate their voice and presence in your middle schooler’s life. Empower them to be a safe person your kid can talk to about things like sex and dating. Thank them for being a trusted adult your kid can go to with difficult and potentially awkward topics.
If there’s one thing we all know and understand, it’s the feeling of an awkward moment or experience! So, challenge your family to come up with the ultimate awkward list. Together, think of as many moments or experiences as you can that could easily be labeled “awkward.” Whoever can come up with the most potential awkward moments is the winner of this awkward family challenge!
Find an easy way for your kid to talk to you about sex and dating. To do this, come up with a code word or phrase your middle schooler can say, write, or text to you to let you know they need to talk about something that’s potentially awkward for them. This will give them an easy way to come to you and give you a chance to mentally prepare before the conversation happens.
Conversations about sex have the potential to be . . . well, awkward! So do your best to plan ahead. Think about how you want to respond before the conversation happens. Prepare for the way you want to handle talks about or experiences with sex and dating in your house so that when the time comes, you can respond rather than react.
We are celebrating 19 decisions to follow Christ, 18 that were baptized, and all that were blessed to make much of the name of Jesus this past weekend. Thank you for helping us say “YES” with Covid safety, when so many other events have been “NO.” It has been a “different” year, but we are trusting in the SAME GOD. All Praise to HIM!
If there is one common theme that surfaces every time I talk with parents of middle schoolers it’s this: it’s really confusing and really hard. Why? Because change is what marks this phase of life, and change isn’t easy for anyone.
I have worked with middle school students in educational, athletic, and ministry settings for more than 14 years now. Although each context was uniquely different, there were still a few basic things about (most) middle schoolers that remained the same no matter what.
1. They push their parents away.
This is normal. Middle schoolers want freedom. They aren’t kids anymore, and when they are treated that way, they revolt. They push back on everything from bedtime to chores to going places by themselves to social media. They want to make their own choices. They are tired of being told what to do and when to do it. That’s the tension of living somewhere in the middle. That’s why it’s so important as a parent of a middle schooler to have adults you trust in their life other than you. Those adults can stand in the gap between your teenager and you (and help them see you are right after all).
2. They may act one way with you and the complete opposite with someone else.
You get a call from their teacher, coach, or small group leader, and hear a story about how helpful they are around the classroom, or encouraging they are during group time. And you instantly think, “Seriously? My kid? I can’t even remember the last time they said anything encouraging to their siblings, or the last time they helped around the house without complaining.” It’s confusing when they act different with different people. Why do they do that? It’s not that they are being fake, they are just trying on different parts of their personality to see what fits them best.
3. What their friends think matters more than anything else.
This is difficult, because as puberty begins to change them from the inside out, middle schoolers are desperately trying to fit in. Peer approval will always trump advice from adults (especially their parents). They can’t be seen wearing those pants, hanging with those boys, or walking around in public with their parent. The point is, teenagers in the middle school phase care more about what their peers say than anyone else. This isn’t just your kid.
4. They exaggerate (and sometimes lie).
When you find yourself wondering, “What happened to my kid? They didn’t use to be this way,” know you are not alone. This is middle school. Something happens at the 8th grade dance, and your kid is huddled in a circle crying in the bathroom with her friends. If it’s trending, they are talking about it… non-stop. Friend drama is basically an all out brawl (with words or rumors). It thunders outside, and they act like they’ve never been in a storm before in their lives. They see a snake outside, and it’s most certainly trying to eat them. Their teacher is obviously the most unfair person on the whole planet. Oh, and they didn’t copy that homework or cheat on that test; they were just scratching their head! You get the point. It’s a phase full of all out exaggeration.
5. They are incredibly insecure about what is happening to their bodies.
They feel like they are the only ones going through this thing called middle school. And when you feel like you are the only one going through something, you feel like all eyes are on you at all times. Normalizing what’s happening to and around them is important, but be sensitive to the fact that when you bring up what’s happening to their body, they may get even more insecure at the fact that you are noticing. If you are trying to get your middle schooler to do something in front of their peers and they resist, there is probably a physical explanation for it. Sweat stains. Period leakage. Wrong bra. Gas. Food in their braces. Acne. Though it’s all normal, it feels isolating to them. So don’t push them.
6. They want to have fun, but they want to be taken seriously.
You can’t be boring, or they won’t want to spend time with you. They don’t want you to just allow them to have fun; they want you to have fun with them. At the same time, they want you to be real with them. They want to be taken seriously. They don’t want surface answers. They want direct, real explanations. When they tell you something that seems silly to you but real to them, you can’t laugh. You can’t dismiss it. You have to engage it with a matched level of seriousness to show them you care.
7. YouTube is Gucci.
According to many research studies, 80%-95% of Generation Z seeks advice through YouTube channels and videos. The most searched videos are about real stories, day-in-the-life videos, behind-the-scenes videos, or how-to videos. They want to know about relationships and dating, teen trends, advice on how to do new skills, and more. If they don’t know how, they go to YouTube. If they don’t know what it is, they go to YouTube. If they want to become famous, they go to YouTube. So basically, you should be on YouTube, too.
Parenting middle schoolers is no easy task, which is why understanding where they are and what’s normal will help you stay sane as the parent. Remember: It’s not just your kid, it’s just middle school.
Discover what’s changing about your kid or teen over the next 52 weeks, the 6 things your kid needs most, and 4 conversations to have in each phase. The Phase Project, including these Middle School Phase Guides, is a synthesis of personal experience, academic research, and gatherings of leaders and educational experts from across the child development spectrum.
Okay, so the Verizon guy… wait the Sprint guy… whoever he is with, gave us a simple phrase that sticks out in my mind all the time. Our family totally changed services here in New Braunfels in order to HEAR ONE ANOTHER. From where we live currently to where we go out and about, we continuously found certain areas where our calls were dropped. Then, as we moved out of the “dead spot” we magically connected again. Needless to say, we made a move TO BE HEARD.
That same question, “CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?” seems to come up as we focus on prayer as well.
The BEST example we have is JESUS HIMSELF, as he preaches His first (and need I say LONGEST) sermon that cuts to our hearts, even today. In this Sermon, presented on a mountain, he directs His people to think about the “WHY” when it comes to prayer.
“Don’t be like the hypocrites, for they love standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full” (Matthew 6:5 NIV).
“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then, your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:6 NIV).
WHAT IS THE REWARD?
When we create a space and a place to CALL ON the Lord, we get more than an instant download code for 20% off on a flash sale. When we make time to focus on the person of JESUS and call out to HIM, we get more than three wishes for all our dreams to come true. Our REWARD is far greater than a “good day” or a material possession.
OUR REWARD IS A DEEP RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS.
Isn’t that what our hearts truly call out for? I believe we are moved to choose a payment plan and upgrade to a new cell phone because we value the close relationships in our lives. We desire to connect with others on a deeper level, and we want to guarantee a secure connection.
How does the value with our Father translate to our daily lives?
I believe that an intentional TIME and PLACE builds a foundation for a deep encounter with the God of the Universe through Jesus Christ. How have you created an intentional time and place this week to connect? How have you seen the ultimate reward work out in your own daily walk with Jesus?
Devotional Thought: When our feelings get us down, God’s truth can pick us back up.
Warm Up: What am I feeling? Write different emotions onto sticky notes for your family members (one for each participant). Without looking at them have each participant place their emotion on their forehead. Ask family members to pair up and guess their “feelings” by acting them out to each other. Rotate around the room and encourage those participating to have fun by overdoing it on the emotional side.
Questions for Follow Up
When have you felt overwhelmed or down by your emotions?
How do your feelings tend to shape your day or week?
How do you think God reacts to our emotions and big feelings?
The Video: Peabod is a hip-hop artist from Seattle, Washington that gets the whole overwhelmed feeling. While most of his music is meant to bring happiness and lightness to life, this song shares a little bit of a different vibe. Play Peabod’s music video for Big Feelings.
List any emotions depicted or experienced in the video while watching. Share your reactions to the video as a family.
In Lamentations, we find someone that can relate to the struggle of being overwhelmed with emotions and feelings that could ruin anyone’s day. Jeremiah shares some raw emotion about his feelings of hopelessness and loss as he reacts to his circumstances around him.
How did Jeremiah change his mindset to give him hope?
What truth about God do you find in these verses?
What action do you need to take when you are feeling down?
How can you find hope to get back up again?
Our emotions and feelings can change our outlook on life and get us down for a day, or even a week. However, God’s steadfast love and mercy can get us back up and give us hope no matter the circumstance. When your feelings get the best of you, change your mindset and begin focusing on who God is to get you back up again.
What is one emotion you’ve felt overwhelmed by recently?
What is one scripture you can find as a family that God can use to help you the next time you feel overwhelmed?
On a scale of 1 to 10, How important is it to you to: Fit in? Be popular? Be unique? Describe yourself as a part of the body. (An eye, hand, foot, etc.) Why did you select that part? How connected are you to your local church body? What can you do to help the “body” function better?
The drummer boy wanted to use his best ability for the King, so he played a drum. How does the TRUTH in Colossians 3:17 help you think about your gifts and talents? What are you involved in, right now, that you can use for God’s glory? How can our family pray for your gifts, talents, and abilities this week?