Archive for category: Brandywine Valley Baptist (Page 24)

Sunday report (October 25th)

26 Oct
October 26, 2009

Our time in Pilot school is over!  They were incredibly generous to allow us to use their space and rooms for the last year and a half during construction, but it will be good to be back in the gym and our classrooms this next Sunday!  This first Sunday back is going to be a PARTY!  However, there is one important detail to remember, with the move into our new sanctuary our service times will be slightly changing.  Student ministry will be using the 9:45am hour for our Student Quest time in the gym. Here’s the new arrangement:

  • 8:30am, Contemporary worship service
  • 9:45am, Contemporary worship service (note starting time is 15 minutes sooner than our current arrangement)
  • 11:15am, Traditional worship service

This week the senior high was on week three of a three week series on Doubt from Simply Youth Ministry. I was teaching on the topic of defeating doubt.  We focused on a couple passages about Thomas, the apostle often nick named ‘doubting Thomas,’ and God’s response to him, as well as lessons we can learn from him about defeating doubt.  In particular, there are three ways that contributing to Thomas ultimately being ‘believing Thomas’ instead of ‘doubting Thomas,’ that we focused on: we need to know God (study His word and be in prayer regularly), be open and honest about our doubts and struggles, and surround ourselves with people of faith that can help us during our times of doubt.  Parents can read John 20:24-31, and then use these follow up questions from the lesson with their kids during the week:

  • Why are we afraid to admit doubts or questions we have? Why do we think we will be able to answer those questions without the help of others?
  • Identify some friends you could be completely honest with about your doubts. Name some adults you can trust to help you with your questions.
  • When people disagree on faith issues they tend act hostile or mean to each other. If you have a doubt or question, how could you approach someone? If someone came to you with questions, how should you treat that person?
  • What are some places you can be around Christian friends to help you strengthen your faith? How will being in these places help you grow?

Chris Z led the middle school class on the topic of ‘Identity in Christ.’  This was the second of two weeks on this topic (we used the ‘Discover who you really are’ study from the Live Curriculum).  One of the biggest challenges for teenagers is developing a healthy self-identity. This week, using the life of King David, we challenged our students to develop identities based on God’s standards, not culture’s standards. Our culture says we should identify ourselves by our physical, intellectual, and social abilities. But God is more concerned with our inner being—our hearts. Abilities and skills and talents matter, of course, but Christians can cultivate lives of character, and identities that reflect God’s heart.  Parents can use the following questions and video (watch the video first together, then use the questions) to follow up the lesson with their child:

  • How do you define “inner beauty” or “inner strength”?
  • What do you think it means to be a person “after God’s own heart”?
  • What plans do you believe God has for your life?
  • Talk about your own experiences in discovering God’s plan and purposes for your life. Emphasize how you appreciate all of your teenager’s gifts and talents and skills, but ultimately what matters is the condition of their heart.

Sunday report (October 18th)

19 Oct
October 19, 2009

Next Sunday is our (hopefully) last Sunday in Pilot School!  Then back to the gym!  Sweet!  One important detail, with the move into our new sanctuary our service times will be slightly changing.  Student ministry will be using the 9:45am hour for our Student Quest time in the gym.  Here’s the new arrangement:

  • 8:30am, Contemporary worship service
  • 9:45am, Contemporary worship service (note starting time is 15 minutes sooner than our current arrangement)
  • 11:15am, Traditional worship service

This week the senior high was on week two of a three week series on Doubt from Simply Youth Ministry. I was teaching on the topic of WHY we doubt.  We looked at three stories from the Bible (Genesis 18:9-15, John 20:25, and Daniel 10:1-14) and the causes behind the doubt in those stories (seemed impossible, lacked evidence, prayers were ‘unanswered’).  One of the points was that as we experience doubt it’s important to stop and see where the doubt is coming from.  Why are we uncertain?  What is causing it?  As we identify the source or cause of our doubt, the response to it becomes more attainable.  Here are some follow up questions from the lesson that parents can use with their kids during the week:

  • What are different ways doubt can enter our lives?
  • Have you discovered the answers to your faith questions by looking at the facts in a different way? If so, what had you missed seeing before?
  • How can you use the cause of your doubts to strengthen your faith?
  • Why is it important to know that nothing is impossible for God? How will that knowledge change what you believe?

Chris Z led the middle school class on the topic of ‘Identity in Christ.’  He spoke on finding our identity in Christ, how that starts with our hearts (Romans 10:8-10), it involves our minds (Ephesians 4:20-24), involves our bodies (Romans 12:1-3), and reveals itself in our actions (Colossians 3:5-14).  Here are some follow up questions from that for parents to use with their kids this week:

  • What does ‘identity in Christ’ mean to you?
  • Which area do you think is the easiest for you to have your identity in Christ; your heart, mind, body or actions?  Why?
  • Which is the most difficult?  Why?
  • What is something you can do for your heart this week to help it be more like Christ’s heart?

LIVE Curriculum year two available

16 Oct
October 16, 2009

Live Curriculum

I’m super excited!  We’ve been using Simply Youth Ministry’s Live Curriculum for our senior high small groups this year – I have been getting all sorts of great feedback from leaders and students just about every week!  It’s great!  It includes overviews, leader guides, student handouts, and even parent emails, all in digital form so we can reproduce it as much as we want.  Well, I just noticed that the second year’s worth of curriculum has been released!  The subscription actually includes all four years, so by the end of this year I’ll have a balanced small group curriculum that my leaders and students love for all four years a student is in our high school program!  Sweet!

Plus, they managed to work Mountain Dew into the ad.  That’s just another level of awesome-ness.

Student Small Groups update (October 14th)

15 Oct
October 15, 2009

We had a great Wednesday night small groups!  High school attendance was average for this year while the middle school students had their biggest night yet!  The middle school kids all gave a big cheer to Sean and Raven who just got married this last weekend – talk about dedication to their small groups, they showed up this week!!!  Here’s a recap of the night with some discussion ideas for parents to use:

The middle school students covered the ‘Local and Global Missions’ lesson from SYM’s Active Bible Studies.  We focused on Matthew 22:37-39 (the great commandment) and Matthew 28:19-20 (the great commission).  We talked about local and global missions opportunities, from Sojourners Place, a homeless ministry here in Wilmington that our small groups work with, to praying for and supporting our international missionaries.  If you’re a parent of a middle schooler, here are some follow up activities and questions you can use this week:

  • What aspect of missions does your heart connect with most?  Why?
  • Is there something that you, or we as a family, could get involved with regularly?
  • Do you have a better understanding of some of the ways you can get involved in missions?
  • An idea for practical application: participate as a family in one of our church’s Third Saturday missions opportunities.  Dianna Shatley, our missions director, puts together local service opportunities every month that happen on the third Saturday of the month.  Check out our church website, www.bvbcnet.org for more information!

The high school small groups were in week three of a four week series entitled ‘Who am I?’ It’s a dvd series by Chuck Bomar that is absolutely amazing.  Each lesson features a ten minute or so video, followed by Bible study and discussion, all on the topic of finding our identity in Christ.  Ultimately, we are looking at different ways people are defined and some of the ways we try to define ourselves.  The focus of last night was moving beyond vocation – to help students move away from identifying themselves by their future job, their current role, etc., and see themselves and others as so much more.  Our identity needs to be rooted in truth, in how God sees us.  I like the way Chuck Bomar puts it, “Let your life be defined by your character as a follower of Christ.  Here are some follow up discussion questions from the study you can use at home:

  • What was the video about?  How would you sum it up?  What did you think of it?
  • In the video the following statement was made: “Doesn’t it seem shallow to let what we do for a living define who we are as a being?” What do you think about that statement? What do you think he meant?
  • Why do you think it’s so easy to gain a sense of identity in what we do for a living?
  • Read Ephesians 4:28. The context shows how believers should live differently, standing out from the rest of culture. What is the reason this specific verse says we should work or labor? How does this compare with our typical approach to working?

Sunday report (October 11th)

12 Oct
October 12, 2009

We’re counting down on the Sundays left at Pilot School! Only two more and then on November 1st, we reclaim and reoccupy the gym! I can’t wait – the last time I got to teach in their on a Sunday morning was way back when I was candidating for the youth pastor position!

This week the senior high began a three week series on Doubt from Simply Youth Ministry. Chris Z taught and the topic of the day was the question ‘what is doubt?’ The key passage of scripture was Mark 9:21-27. Doubt in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing; in fact it’s normal and can often times help us to strengthen our faith and grow as followers of Christ as we work our way through it. Here are some follow up questions from the lesson that parents can use with their kids during the week:

  • How does it make you feel that people in the Bible struggled with doubt?
  • One of the biggest things we doubt as Christians is our ability to talk to our friends about Jesus, but why? What other doubts do you have about living a life that pleases God?
  • What are ways that you see doubt increasing your faith?

I was with the junior high this week and gave a talk on giving to God. Our primary passage of scripture was Acts 4:32-5:11, with a focus on giving as worship. We talked a little bit about Ananias and Sapphira and how their sin was not in their giving or the amount of their gift to the church, but in lying to God with their worship. We also used a page from Mark Oestreicher’s Wild Truth Journal: Dares from Jesus for some discussion about giving to God as worship – the kids came up with some amazing responses to what they could give to God! Some of the examples they came up with were service, love, friendship (I love when kids think of friendship as something they can give to God!), time, and money. Here are some follow up questions from that for parents to use with their kids this week:

  • Read Luke 21:2-4. Ask your child why the widow’s gift was so significant.
  • What kinds of things can a middle school student give that would be a sacrifice? (not just money)
  • What are three things you could give up for God that would be a sacrifice? Which one will you do this week?

Student Small Groups update (October 7th)

08 Oct
October 8, 2009

Our church is a busy place on Wednesday nights – it will be nice when construction is finished in a few weeks and all of the different ministries that meet here on Wednesday nights have space to spread out!  Our student ministry program has twelve small groups between middle school and high school – we basically take over the entire west wing and the gym every week!  Last night was another great night – it’s been fun for me to hear so much positive feed back from leaders on the small group curriculum’s we’re using for the middle and high school students.  It’s also been exciting to see the students continuing the conversation started in the groups after the night is over – a testimony to our great small group volunteer leaders!  Here’s a summary of what the groups studied last night:

The middle school students covered the ‘God’s view vs. the World’s view’ lesson from SYM’s Active Bible Studies.  We focused on Psalms 139:13-18, a passage that talks about God’s creation of us, His intense love and interest in each of us, and how much value that places on us – regardless of any messages we might ever hear from the world.  Part of the point was to take a look at what the world values versus what God values in our lives.  Some of the groups illustrated this by having the kids create collages from magazines, using words and pictures to illustrate how they feel the world views them and how God views them.  It was really an amazing thing to see – a creative project like that can sometimes communicate far more effectively what a middle school student is thinking than what they verbalize.  If you’re a parent of a middle schooler, here’s some follow up activities and questions you can use this week:

  • Create collages with them at home.  Use one side of the paper for pictures and words that represent God’s view of you, the other side for the world’s view.  Then talk to your child about why you choose the images and words that you used.
  • What do you think ‘the world’ or our culture wants you to be?  Why do you think that?  Do you feel a lot of pressure to be that way?
  • Is it easy or hard for you to recognize that God created you as a custom masterpiece?
  • What are some ways that you could learn to appreciate how God made you and some ways to take the pressure off yourself to live up to the world’s standards?

The high school small groups were in week two of a four week series entitled ‘Who am I?’ It’s a dvd series by Chuck Bomar that is absolutely amazing.  Each lesson features a ten minute or so video, followed by Bible study and discussion, all on the topic of finding our identity in Christ.  Ultimately, we are looking at different ways people are defined and some of the ways we try to define ourselves.  The focus of last night was moving beyond religion – to help students move toward seeing themselves as a “child of God” more than just a member of our church. There are so many ways we can fall into the false thinking of believing it’s just about what we do. But we have to move past our typical definition of what a Christian is. Take everything away we do as a part of our “religion routine,” and who are you?  Here are some follow up discussion questions from the study you can use at home:

  • What do you think a personal relationship with Christ looks like?  (most will probably list out things like reading their Bible, going to church, prayer)  If someone is doing these things, should we assume they have a personal relationship with Christ?  Can we do all those things and still miss the point?
  • Read Matthew 23:25-28.  The issue Jesus had with the Pharisees was they were all doing the right things, but were missing the point: loving God in every aspect of their lives.  Do you think it’s possible for us to fall into the same trap?  How so?
  • Do you think by coming to church, serving in ministry, reading your Bible, etc., we can sometimes even deceive ourselves into thinking just by doing those things we’re right in God’s eyes?  How so?
  • How can you love God with everything you are beyond coming to church or Bible study?

Sunday report (October 4th)

04 Oct
October 4, 2009

Our community has been rocked by a horrific car accident; you can read one of the news articles about it here.  Basically, a local family was in a fatal accident early yesterday morning resulting in both of the parents and the younger of their two children dying at the scene.  While the family was not from our church, it impacted our student ministry in that the middle school son that died in the accident attended school with many of our middle school students, and the high school daughter that survived attends the local high school that most of our high school students attend.  We spent a good part of the student hour talking about the accident, praying for the family and friends, and talking about help that is out there for those who are grieving, and how students can support those who are grieving.

For parents in our church, I have some extra copies of the book, Emergency Response Handbook for Youth Ministry, which has a chapter on helping teenagers deal with and respond to death.  Last year I gave copies of the book to all my volunteer leaders – it’s an invaluable resource.  Below are a few highlights from the chapter – parents, email me (MatthewMcNutt@bvbcnet.org) to get a copy of the book.  Teens respond to tragedy and process grief differently than adults – I hope this can be helpful.

Grief has predictable stages. The many stages of grief include shock or denial (this isn’t happening to me), anger (why is this happening to me?), guilt (it’s my fault), bargaining (I’ll be a better person if…), sadness or depression (I don’t care anymore), and acceptance (I’m ready for whatever comes next).

Grieving is different for each individual.The grief process will look different for each student. Once a student begins to feel his or her emotions, he or she will not progress through the stages of grief in a linear fashion, by completing one stage and moving to the next.

Care Tips:

  • Listen. The most beneficial thing that you can do for a grieving teenager is to be a good listener. The bereaved student will need a safe place to share feelings and thoughts. While listening, don’t give advice until asked for input.
  • Normalize the student’s feelings. You can help your grieving student see that any feelings he or she has about the loss are normal. Don’t place expectations on how the student should feel—any feeling is normal and should be accepted.
  • Allow normal activities to continue. As soon as possible after a death, reintroduce activities into the student’s life.
  • Don’t forget about the family. The loss has likely had an impact on the student’s parents, siblings, and extended family members as well.
  • Encourage the expression of feelings. As time passes, continue to facilitate the expression of the student’s feelings by asking open-ended questions about the deceased person, such as:
    • What’s your favorite memory with [the deceased loved one]?
    • Which quality did you most appreciate about him [her], and why?
    • What would you most like to tell him or her?

What Not to Say

  • “I know just how you feel.” Grieving is such an intensely personal process that you have no idea how someone feels, even if you are grieving yourself.
  • “They’re better off.” It may be true but still don’t say it.
  • “They’ll always be in your heart.” Of course, the mourner will always have memories, but right now they’d rather have the flesh-and-blood person.

What to Say

  • “I don’t know what to say.” Honesty is refreshing.
  • “Do you want to talk about it?” Sometimes it helps to talk, and other times silence helps most.
  • “Do you know how I can best help you?”

Small Groups update (September 30th)

01 Oct
October 1, 2009

In spite of the Phillies big game (and win), we had a great small groups last night!  One of my goals is to post a follow up every Thursday morning.  If you’re a parent of a teen, I’ll be including a summary of what the groups studied and some follow up questions you can use to interact with your kids on what we’re studying.

The middle school students covered the ‘Get below the surface’ lesson from SYM’s Active Bible Studies.  We focused on Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, a passage that talks about the importance of being together, how we help each other succeed.  We used it in connection with the value behind small groups, how as we get to know each other deeper we are able to trust each other more, lean on each other more, and help each other pursue God more effectively.  If you’re a parent of a middle schooler, here’s some follow up activities and questions you can use this week:

  • Read Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 with your child
  • Why is it important to know other Christians?
  • How can your unique personality, interests, and abilities be used by God to help others?
  • What is one way you could encourage or support another member of the small group or your family this week?

The high school small groups started a four week series entitled ‘Who am I?’ It’s a dvd series by Chuck Bomar that is absolutely amazing.  Each lesson features a ten minute or so video, followed by Bible study and discussion, all on the topic of finding our identity in Christ.  Ultimately, we are looking at different ways people are defined and some of the ways we try to define ourselves.  The focus of last night was moving beyond deception – are we lying with our identity and how we present ourselves?  If so, why?  And how do we want to be identified?  Very important questions!  Here are some follow up ideas for the dinner table:

  • What did you think of the video?  What happened in it?  (It was a powerful illustration – really got some of the kids worked up)
  • What is identity?  Why is it important?
  • What sort of things do people at your school do to mask the truth about what hey really are?  What do you think about that?
  • What do you want to be known for?  Why?  (This is a GREAT one for you to be answering as well!)

Sunday report (September 27th)

29 Sep
September 29, 2009

Okay, so this is about 48 hours later than I intended it to be … oops!  My mom was in town for the weekend, which was good, but it meant I wasn’t around my computer much!

There is a level of excitement in the student ministry that is hard to explain – with only three more Sundays left at Pilot School before we get to reoccupy the gym, there is an energy that is building!  Personally, I can’t wait – the only time I ever got to teach in the gym on a Sunday morning with the student ministry was when I was candidating!  The entire time I’ve been on staff the construction project has been happening and I’ve been leading a Sunday morning student program off property.  October 25th is going to be an exciting Sunday for all of us!

This past Sunday attendance was down a bit.  Nothing too surprising considering the weather – on the rainy days some teens tend to stay in the service with their parents rather than walk across the parking lot, through the soccer field and over to Pilot School.  Makes sense to me – I didn’t walk, either!  I drove!  Jeff M. started a series with the senior high while I launched the same series with the middle school students.  The topic is stewardship, and one of the questions is how are the students going to be involved in the upcoming capital campaign at the church.  It’s actually a good question, and one of the things we talked about is how the students ARE the church, and NOT the future church.  Yes, they are the future leadership of the church – many of those kids will be the future committee members, deacons, even Pastors and staff, but that doesn’t take away from their current role as part of the church now at all.  And as the church we play a role in the campaign as well.

Follow up discussion ideas for parents would be:

  • What role do you and your children play in the body of the church?
  • Does your child see themselves as a valuable part of the church, like God does?
  • As a parent, what strengths, gifts and abilities do you see in your child that God has given him or her?
  • In what ways can we pray for the church during this campaign?

Next week we’ll be continuing the discussion on stewardship with the students.  George F. will be teaching the senior high, I will be teaching the middle schoolers.

Small group update and parent suggestions

24 Sep
September 24, 2009

Small groups last night were GREAT!  Meeting on Wednesday nights is still kind of a new thing for us – only the second week so far.  In the past our church had student ministry small groups on Sunday nights, but it felt like it really crowded up all of our student ministry activities.  Special events, Sunday morning, and small groups all seemed to happen in the same 24-48 hour period of time, which basically meant that kids had to pick and choose what they would attend.  Moving them to Wednesday nights has a couple advantages; kids are meeting to study the Bible and pray together every few days instead of just on the weekends, and it’s really opened up our weekends for other events!  One of the things I’d like to start doing is posting a weekly update; not just on how the night went, but also provide some tools for parents to follow up with their children on what we studied in the various groups the night before!

Last night we had a higher number of kids than the first week, which was nice.  There was a lot of energy, which was also fun.  There’s just something exciting about having a ton of kids out to see each other and get into the Word together!  Very, very cool.  The middle school students covered the ‘Experiencing Time with God’ lesson from SYM’s Active Bible Studies.  If you’re a parent of a middle schooler, here’s some follow up activities you can do this week:

  • Read Ephesians 6:19-20
  • In this passage, Paul asks for prayer; why?
  • What is Paul’s mission?
  • Have your child bring the answers back next week!

The high school small groups were in the second week of a two week study entitled ‘Secrets to Praying Well,’ from the Live Curriculum.  To get an example of what it means to pray that God’s will is accomplished, we turned to the Old Testament Book of Psalms to see how David prayed. Our focus was on Psalm 31. Throughout these verses, you can see David struggling with people around him. He turns to God for help, because God is David’s rock and fortress. Like David, we all go through tough times, and we may feel like everyone around us is trying to cause us harm. And like David, we all need to turn to God in prayer.

Using David as our model, we talked about several ways we can pray—the “how” of prayer to build on the “why” of prayer from our previous lesson. Start by affirming your trust in God. Thank God for answered prayers, protection, provisions, and changes in your life. Be specific when you pray. And continue pursuing God’s will and purposes for your life.

This week, if you want to take some time to follow up with your child about prayer and what we studied. Here are some potential questions:

  • What prayer habits are you developing?
  • How would you characterize the way you pray?
  • How are David’s prayers different from your prayers? What do you really like about the way David prays?

You might also want to take time to talk about how God has answered specific prayers in your life—maybe even some of the prayers from your family prayer time this past week. Continue to encourage your child to pray for God’s will.