Middle Status has a bad rap

Middle child. Middle aged. Middle seat.

Middle school.

None of that sounds good. No one wants to be in the middle of anything. When we are in the middle, we feel confused, frustrated, STUCK. I can count on one hand the number of people who have told me that they had a great Middle School experience. Most of them share the same sentiment: Middle School sucks.

But what if we could shift the lens and see the middle from an entirely different point of view?

In their book, It’s Just a Phase So Don’t Miss It , Reggie Joiner and Kristen Ivy unpack each phase of a child’s life until 18 with remarkable insight and a revolutionary perspective on what it means to be a Middle School Student.  For example, did it ever occur to you that the one thing those crazy, hormonal, overly dramatic Oscar contenders need more than anything is affirmation? These students are on a desperate search for the “WHO” of their personal story.  They are stretching their understanding of the world, which suddenly got MUCH bigger than the playground, and how they see themselves fitting, or NOT fitting into it. I suspect if you look back, you’ll see some of that struggle in your own rear view mirror as well.

Imagine what could happen when we AFFIRM a middle schooler’s personal journey of discovery, providing them a safe place to ask questions and discover their God-given design and purpose.

Another powerful revelation: Middle School students think like Engineers. And Engineers are problem solvers by nature. And God, Jesus and their personal faith journey are all ripe for deconstructing, unpacking, repacking, retooling and rebuilding.

Imagine if middle school students had the freedom to express doubt and confess brokenness in an environment that fosters healing, discovery and restoration.

“Every child deserves a champion, an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.” Rita Pierson

Suddenly, the MIDDLE has become a very MAGICAL place.

Who doesn’t want to be a part of that?

Join us January 15, 22 and 29 in the brand new Middle School space for our ministry open house. We invite you to discover what incredible experience just 2 hours a month with these engineers can be. You can sign up right here to let me know you’re coming. Don’t miss it!

For more information on the PHASE book, research project and resources, check out the website JUST A PHASE

This Sunday, 11/30, in ignition

There is power in hearing someone’s personal story and there is tremendous hope in sharing our story with others.

This Sunday, for one week only, we’ll offer an opportunity for our students to share their stories. The last time we did this in October, we ran out of time for the students who wanted to share how God has been working in their lives.

So, for both the 9:15am and the 11:00am, we are inviting you (our students) to come and share your stories. I have a attached here a quick and easy worksheet to help you get thinking about the parts of your story to share.

Parents – you are invited to join us as well, if you would like, to hear the voices of these amazing students.

Hope to see you there – and very HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Brave faces of Real church

As if last week’s middle school Sunday gathering wasn’t powerful enough, we wrapped up the second part of our series “The Other Story” this past Sunday. I can honestly say I was completely blown away.

Cheryl opened with a beautiful story from Luke, chapter 7. As is His style, Jesus so adeptly points out the dangers and damage that comes from judging people by what we think we know about them, all the while missing out on the heart of his or her story. Our value, our hope and our future is found in the way Jesus see us and redeems us.

In order to best describe the journey for her personally, Cheryl wrote an amazing spoken word piece that kept us all on the edge of our seat and moved us beyond words. Alicia shared the miraculous story of her rescue and recovery from a horrific accident, and how God’s faithful provision and presence in a dark time redeemed her heart and her faith.

Then, students were invited to speak. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect – whether anyone would be willing to stand up and do such a scary thing as share their personal story. I definitely wasn’t fully prepared for what happened next.

An avalanche of the Holy Spirit began to flood the room.

Meghan was the first to stand and bravely share how her encounters with Jesus at church camp led her to seek out a church family that “fit” her. After a long and often frustrating search, God brought her to Seneca Creek and she has found a new set of friends and deeper connection to the community of God.

Soon, student after student raised their hands to stand. So many, in fact, that we ran out of time.

Meghan, Andrew, Nicky, Orion and Andre each bravely shared intensely personal stories of their journeys with Jesus, God’s faithfulness in dark and troubling times and the hope that they have for a future walking beside the King of Kings.

It was incredible. Adults, who don’t normally serve in Middle School and who happened to be there on Sunday, have since approached me to share how moving and powerful the morning was for them personally. In fact one person was very clear and said this:

That? That is real church.

I couldn’t agree more. So much so, that, in order to give the other students who didn’t get a chance to speak, we are doing it again. Sunday, November 30th will be Part 3 of The Other Story.

If you are so inclined, feel free to join us. In the meantime, however, I would ask you to pray for our students. Getting up in front of your peers is always scary, but sharing these stories of pain and redemption is not only scary – it’s extremely hard. Pray for their courage and that their relationship with God would be strengthened in the process.

And, in case you are curious, here is a quick view of our brave faces from this past week.

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The Power of A Sunday

By now you may have heard about the amazing Sunday we experienced in ignition this week. Six of our leaders shared their personal faith stories. Very personal stories. Very powerful stories. I, for one, have been forever changed by the courage each of them exhibited, the authenticity each of them displayed, and the hope each of them shared.

Jeff described the journey that brought him here to our area just a few short months ago.and how it has molded and shaped him in painful ways, requiring that he shift his self-sufficient nature to one of pure reliance on God.

Kecia shared how God has healed the scars from a horrific childhood, replacing her mistrust and feelings of unworthiness, and reshaping her past into a platform for grace, mercy and joy.

Courtney bravely told us how she has begun to understand that she indeed has a story of redeemed faith, replacing idols in her life with the One True God, and clinging to Him in a current season of pain and turmoil.

Ken opened his life to us, explaining how he has always known that God has had a plan for his life, painting a picture of purpose even in the face of abandonment, adversity and tragedy.

Amy beautifully told of how God has intertwined her life with that of her son Mikey in a way that has emboldened her faith, strengthened her connection to the God of miracles, and gave her hope in her most hopeless moments.

Mikey challenged us to rethink our circumstances, sharing how years of unstable and inconsistent leadership around him forced him to take personal responsibility for his own spiritual journey, and pursue knowing Jesus in new ways, despite the shifting environment around her.

Honestly, the spirit of God was nearly tangible in the room. The honest stories and beauty of God’s hand in the lives of people we know were inspiring and challenging reminders that we too have a story to tell and maybe, just maybe, there are people who need to hear it.

This week, the Other Story continues. Two more leaders will share their stories and some of our students will share how God has been working in their lives.

I cannot wait…

New Amazing Series: The Other Story

Join us for a very special two week series starting THIS Sunday. Oh…and students – we want you to participate!

Other people’s stories not only teach us more about who they are, they enrich our lives as well.

We often overlook people that we don’t think are that interesting, that cool or that much like us. Sometimes it is someone we see every day at school and sometimes it is someone we only see once a year. But when we take the time to stop and listen, we are reminded of how powerful someone’s story can be. We see that our preconceived notions and judgments weren’t just wrong, they were harmful. And not just to the person we have left out. To us as well. Because when we judge and label, we miss out. But when we sit and open our ears to the deep message of someone else’s life, we open ourselves up to seeing what God has done and learning something new about them and about ourselves.

For the next two weeks we will be all about sharing stories. First, this week, you’ll hear from some of your amazing ignition leaders as they share their personal journey of faith. Then, next week, we are inviting the STUDENTS to share their stories.

It’s going to be amazing.

God has so much to say through our lives, we just have to stop long enough to listen to each other.