This is life or death

No really.

Fuel is required to survive. And as life comes at each of us 1,357 mph, we know our fuel supply quickly evaporates. We need more.

We must ReFuel. Or risk dying on the road.

And, at Ignition, we REALLY believe that middle school small group gatherings are absolutely life giving and death defeating.

Knowing Jesus personally and forming spiritual friendships allows each of us to be changed. Our small groups create an environment of acceptance, loving honesty and biblical truth. We focus on really diving into God’s word and learning how to explore and study on our own, believing that this prepares us for a long, healthy and authentic spiritual journey.

Our leadership team is rolling out an incredible curriculum from YouthMinistry360 called The Thread.

The Thread will completely change how your student sees the bible in two very specific ways.

First, your student will learn the big-picture story of Scripture. So many of us simply don’t have a grasp of the narrative of the Bible. Key characters. Key events. Few of us understand how these elements fit into the story of God and His people. The Thread aims to change this.
Second, your student will learn what the Gospel is, and how it literally courses through the narrative of the Bible. Not only will your student learn the story of the Bible, but they will see that it is a story of unfailing love, as God seeks from the beginning of Creation to draw humankind to Him through the grace of the Gospel.

In addition, this year, we will have three very specific types of groups:

Starting Point

Designed for our brand new 6th grade students. Each gender specific group has dedicated leaders, a flexible schedule and loads of interactive challenges.

Foundations

7th and 8th graders will find themselves challenged to go a little further and a little deeper in their gender specific groups.

Growth

This co-ed group is limited in size and is available by sign-up only. The curriculum is intensified; there will be homework and a devotional. Don’t worry – this isn’t AP Calculus. This group is designed to help students take personal responsibility for their spiritual health and maturity.

So, please be sure to sign up your student here and be sure to indicate whether or not they would like to consider the Growth group.

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The Making of a King

Hey Parents! This week we launch an exciting new series in ignition: The Making of a King.

Every good story has a hero. Think about it. Superman. Luke Skywalker. Katniss Everdeen. They aren’t just random characters. They’re larger than life. Maybe they’re not perfect, but they’re exciting and they’re brave. And that’s what keeps us interested. That’s why we cheer for them.

Believe it or not, the Bible is full of heroes like that. They don’t have capes and light sabers, but they are heroes who fought giants, built arks, became spies, defeated armies, and saved the day over and over. One of the most famous ones is named David—or maybe you know him as King David. Like many others, David’s life was exciting, epic even. And at first glance it can feel like we have zero common with him. Even on our most exciting days our lives don’t exactly feel heroic. But as we take a closer look at the journey of this shepherd boy turned king, we see it wasn’t always a royal fairytale. In fact, as we discover the twists and turns of his road to the throne, his life begins to look more like ours than we ever imagined.

Remember when you were a kid and you couldn’t wait to grow up? There were probably a lot of reasons, but many of them boiled down to one idea: When I grown up, I’ll be in charge. No one can tell me what to do. It was a nice idea, but that’s not exactly our adult reality, is it? In fact, sometimes feels like growing up has left us answering to more people, not less. And what’s worse is when not all these authority figures are exactly ideal for the job. Maybe you’ve experienced…

  • The police officer who is out of line.
  • The governor you totally disagree with.
  • The boss who seems clueless.
  • The homeowners’ association president/tyrant.
  • The in-laws who think they’re in charge.

Nothing is more frustrating. And in moments like that it can be tempting to employ our go-to response. Maybe you tend to lash out, argue, or respond with harsh sarcasm. Or maybe for you it’s more tempting to ignore them or sneak around their rules. Either way, when it comes to a clash with authority, there is often more on the line than we realize. Overwhelmingly, research suggests that our teenagers’ behavior is more influenced by what they see us do than what they hear us say is best.

In his article, I Spy Daddy Giving Someone The Finger: Your kids will imitate you. Use it as a force for good, Dr. Allen Kazdin, former president of the American Psychological Association, says, “Brain research has demonstrated that there are special cells called mirror neurons. When we watch someone do something, our mirror neurons become active in the brain as if we ourselves were engaging in the same behavior we are observing.”

In other words, when watching our behavior, our students’ brains react and grow new connections that tell them to do the same.

That’s why, even with the most difficult and undeserving authority figures, it may still serve us well to treat them with respect. In doing so, our students’ brains will form connections that remind them to do the same.

This week, pay attention to your interactions with your boss, coworkers, government workers, and even your own parents or in-laws. Now, imagine what you would say if you overheard your teenager responding to people in charge the same way you do. Because, if the research is true, there’s a good chance that one day they will.

There will always be people in charge who frustrate us. That’s true for our students as well. In fact, sometimes we are the ones who frustrate them. So, modeling respect for authority is a huge deal. But that doesn’t mean we have to be stoic. This week try mentioning to your student one situation where you are frustrated by authority and how you’re dealing with it. Say something like…

Sometimes it’s hard not to give my boss piece of my mind. He can be really offensive, but I won’t let his rude tone force me to act the same way.

I really disagree with the politicians who are in charge right now. Some of their policies make no sense to me. I’ll respect their office, but I’ll vote differently next time.

It’s really hard for me to be nice to grandma when she acts like she’s in charge. I know I’m grown and I don’t have to listen to her, but I’m still doing my best to treat her well because she is my mother.

When we acknowledge our own struggles, it gives us credibility with our students.

They see that we are still fighting for relationships even when it isn’t easy. And that may just be what gives them the courage to do the same.

©2015 The reThink Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

June ignition Series: HOOKED!

Ice cream is totally my kryptonite.

When it comes to junk food, nearly everyone has a weak spot. Maybe for you, it’s the perfect salty bag of chips. Or maybe it’s beef jerky or those tiny pizza rolls. Maybe you have a sweet tooth and you just can’t pass up a little bit of ice cream, or a few cookies… or both.Whatever it is for you, we all have something that taps into our weak spot, our cravings.

When it’s around us, we just can’t seem to help ourselves.

And it’s more than just junk food, right? That “gotta-have-it-right-now” temptation can pop up in a lot of different areas. Gossip. Movies. Cheating. Temptation is everywhere.

But what are we supposed to do about it? Most of us know that giving in never makes our lives better, so what is it about the things that tempt us that makes us feel so powerless to say no? Thankfully, Scripture has a lot to say when it comes to temptation. And while there’s no promise that our it will ever
go away, we can find the courage to resist it, replace it…

and avoid getting hooked.

New series: Entourage! Who are their peeps

When we hear the word entourage, most of us think of celebrities walking the streets of Beverly Hills, barking orders at their “people”—people that work for them or just get paid to hang out with them. By definition, an entourage is a group of people attending or surrounding an important person. Even if we don’t feel important, most of us want at least a handful of people who like to hang around us—people who laugh at our jokes, go to the movies with us, and simply have our back. King David, his son Absalom, and his grandson Rehoboam were no different. As royals, each had an entourage and through their experiences we see that the choices we make with those around us can change everything.

A quick internet search reveals the worries many parents feel when it comes to their teen’s friends. “How to spot a bully”. “How to spot a bad influence”. “How to spot the wrong crowd”. There is plenty to worry about when it comes to your child’s friends. But what if you have more influence than you think? What if you were able to not only help your teen choose friends, but to directly influence the life choices those friends make?

More and more studies say you can.

A study published in the archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine suggests that teens with friends who have strict parents are less likely to binge drink and make other poor life choices. Check more out here.

Think about that. The students in this study were most influenced by their friends’ parents, not just their friends. In fact, you probably don’t need a lot of research to know this. Have you ever heard someone say, “She is like a second mother to me”. Probably so. Many of us grew up with at least one set of friend’s parents who influenced us. Part of maturing is beginning to listen to multiple voices, multiple adult influences. As parents we have an incredible opportunity to speak into our own children’s lives by using our influence to guide their friends.

Having influence on your child’s friends doesn’t mean you have to be the “cool one”.

It doesn’t mean you have to host or allow parties, throw caution to the wind, and be their best buddy. It also doesn’t mean you have to legally adopt them or have them over every night of the week. Having influence can be as simple as taking one step toward including a friend in your normal family plans.

    • Invite them in. Invite your teen’s friends to spend time at your house. You don’t have to do anything special or make a five star dinner. For a lot of students, the concept of a normal (even boring) family dinner is almost unimaginable. Simply being in a home with someone other than their own parents can offer students a different perspective on things like marriage, work, family, and decision-making. So don’t feel the need to put on a show or have the most fun house on the block. Just allow someone else to be a part of your family once in a while. You may have more impact than you think.
  • Invest in them. Invest time and energy in your teen’s friends. Talk with them, ask questions, and listen. Teens are often more likely to open up to other teens’ parents than their own. Do you know how to fix a car or bake a cake? Can you fish, play tennis, or scrapbook? Offer to show them! Sometimes the best conversations take place while working on something else. Chances are they’ll appreciate the new skill and your own student is more likely to join in if their friends are involved.

Everyone wants their teen to be wise and intentional when it comes to friends. And the best way to teach that skill is to model it. Think about the friends your teen already spends time around.

How intentional are you about investing time in those people?

Are you using your influence to help that person in any way? Is there one teen you could invite to dinner, to hang out, or to be helpful? Use the boxes below to help you figure out how you can be intentional with your teen’s friends.

group of boxes

This series will take us through the rest of May. Feel free to stop in! Also, feel free to ask me questions, challenge me, or add your two cents to the conversation!

Get connected to a wider community of parents at www.orangeparents.org.

Dating (**gasp**) in Middle School? NEW SERIES starts April 26

Relationships are a joy. But they can also be painful, devastating, all consuming and overwhelming. As parents, we know this all too well and some of us try to do everything we can to protect our children from the possible pain of breakups, emotional rollercoasters and those girls or guys we are certain are nothing but trouble. In fact, most of us joke that there’s no way our little girl/boy will date until they hit 30!

But the truth is, they will date eventually and this can be a good thing.

What isn’t a good thing is when our kids allow any one relationship to define who they are so much that when the relationship dissolves, they are left broken and feeling like they have lost a sense of who they are.

What isn’t a good thing is when our kids allow any one relationship to define who they are so much that when the relationship dissolves, they are left broken and feeling like they have lost a sense of who they are. Even worse is when they feel like a failure because of their relational mistakes. And sometimes we as parents do more to make them feel like their mistakes are insurmountable than we do to encourage them with forgiveness.

Let’s be honest. There are more than a few areas in life where a crash course would be helpful.

Relationships with the opposite sex is certainly one of those areas. For a lot of students, “dating” is something they just fall into—they think they are old enough to do it, so they do. And, whether we like it or not, whether we have prohibitions and age restrictions in place or not, often our kids talk about “dating” someone when all it amounts to is texting, saying hi in the halls, or sitting together at lunch.

Instead of pretending dating just doesn’t happen in Middle School, let’s be frank and make church a safe and appropriate place to talk about this stuff.

The Bible has a LOT to say and it’s important that we unpack this in a healthy way.

Just because they are in the thick of the most hormonal and relationally charged stage of life, doesn’t mean they have a CLUE about how to “date” well.

Just because they are in the thick of the most hormonal and relationally charged stage of life, doesn’t mean they have a CLUE about how to “date” well.They need to learn the basics. They need to understand the fundamentals. They need a crash course on relationships with the opposite sex (particularly when they “like like” someone), and we want to give it to them.

So the question we want to be answering these next couple of weeks is, if we could pick the top three things we want students to know as they prepare for this season of life where “dating”, or getting ready to date, plays such a huge role, what would those three things be?

  • What do we look for?
  • How do we know when it is time to end it—and then how do we go about ending it?
  • What do we do when we find ourselves with single status? (which, by the way, is EVERYONE’S status at 12 years old – just sayin’)

These are the basics. Our way of beginning at square one. And the hope is, with the right start, their time spent “dating” will set the course for their future relationships in the right direction.

Stay tuned as we keep more information coming your way each week on the above topics. Feel free to ask questions and even come on downstairs on a Sunday morning!

Ignition Mission: What’s the big deal?

Reality check: July is just around the corner.

It’s tempting to think of the upcoming trip to Cincinnati as just another summer programming “thing” from the church. It will fill a space on my calendar. It gets my kid(s) out of the house. It will show my kids how much they have and maybe they’ll appreciate it more. It’s one less thing I have to plan.

The truth is, mission trips are far more revolutionary than a van ride to sweat in the sun for a few days.

Long before even our first meeting as a team, the Holy Spirit is at work building that revolution. Each team is build from the heart up, starting with the initial prompts from God to step outside of where we are most comfortable. In so many ways, the mission team becomes a microcosm of what it means to live in Christian community, guided by the hand of God in very real ways.

And it doesn’t stop there.

One of the primary reasons we go on these trips is to train and equip our students (and our leaders and parents) in kingdom work that can, and needs to be, done right here in our own backyards. Our neighbors need us in ways we can rarely see without looking through the lens of bringing heaven to earth, or building God’s kingdom right here. This trip provides exactly the right set of “prescription” lenses.

And I’m not the only one who believes this. Take a moment to check out THIS VIDEO of what other student leaders are saying about the experience of partnering with Engage:Service.

So, as we approach the critical “drop dead” date to get on the team, I ask that you prayerfully consider sending your student and maybe even joining us on this incredible journey. All the details can be found in our Ignition Mission 2015 Packet and you can also download an official Ignition Mission 2015 Application.

The absolute final date to bring in your application and deposit is March 29th.

I look forward to having your student(s) and you on this year’s team!

Important Opportunity! Don’t miss this!

At Seneca Creek Community Church, we have defined our vision in the following way: To ignite a movement of the gospel that will transform our world with the H.O.P.E. of Christ! The gospel is the HOPE of the world and we, the Church, have been entrusted with that hope.

In ignition, we believe that students are in a unique position to live out this calling.

And, to that end, from July 13-18, our very own ignition students will embark on amazing summer missions trip!

Join me Sunday, February 8 at 12:30pm for a brief information meeting where all the details will be available. This meeting will cover all of your questions about timing, location, student eligibility, etc. If you are even remotely interested, please plan to be there with or without your student. Several veterans of the trip will be there as well so come with plenty of questions! This is also an excellent opportunity to serve together as a family!

If you are interested, please RSVP to heather@senecacreek.org so I can plan appropriately!