A quick update on what's been going on!
This spring, we had some awesome conversations in ccym!
In April, we talked through a series called "Haters." In this series, we discovered that we all have the potential to be a hater and judge others. In a world where people frown upon judging others, it seems like the opposite is happening, and everyone disguises judging others by calling it something else. In other words, judging happens. In all of us. "Haters" helped us to realize that instead of picking up stones to throw at others, we ought to drop those rocks and instead discover the other side of the story that always exists in a conflict.
Personally, this series spoke to me quite a bit. People are so quick to get mad at someone else, or offended and upset by a situation without trying to understand the other side of the story. I've noticed several times in my own life since April where I have thought of this series after experiencing conflict or something that upset me. I have forced myself to assume the best in others and try to give them the benefit of the doubt before I jump to judgment.
This challenge is offered to you as well. Hating happens every single day to all of us. It's the world we live in. But we can be Jesus people by not being so quick to jump to conclusions about someone else and attempt to see the best in them. Talking with them (not arguing!) to get their side of the story. Work to understand instead of to be right. It's difficult, but it leads to relationships not marred by pride.
In May, we explored a series called "Into the Wild." We walked through a bit of Abraham's story together in Genesis and talked about how impressive his faith in God was. Abraham was called into a wild situation. He was asked to leave his own country, promised that he was going to be a father of a great nation, and even asked to sacrifice his own son (don't worry -- it didn't happen -- read Genesis 22 for that crazy story). Abraham, despite how difficult and overwhelming these things were, always said "yes" to God.
God calls us into crazy situations too. He asks us to step out into the wild for Him. He asks us to say "yes" to Him with each step we take. Each step is not always life-changing, but a life of taking "yes steps" certainly will change us. What wild is God calling you into?
This Summer will provide amazing opportunities for us. We are starting with a series called "Inside Out," which talks about the ways in which serving God changes us. But beyond our conversations, we have great things planned for our faith development. This week, many of us are serving in Bible School. Next month, 13 of us are traveling to Guatemala. Later in July, we are going to Impact. We have SO many amazing chances to step out into God's wilderness this summer, and those opportunities will only grow our faith in Him.
Continue following us on Social media, checking for updates on this website, and looking for more ways we are trying to connect with you all! God is taking us in a great direction, and I am excited you all are joining us on His adventure. While our group is in Guatemala, we will be updating this page daily with blogs from our team. We hope you will follow along with us then, and continue praying for us as we prep to serve God and other people there!
Blessings to all of you!
Just a very quick post for you all!! (Parents AND students!)
As I've said before, our new Orange Curriculum offers some awesome resources for parents -- but also for students! Each week, there is a Daily Devotion sheet that Orange offers for each week. There are 5 days covered in these devotions, and they all relate to the lesson for the week (Starting Sunday, continued lesson on Wednesday).
Each month, after we kick off our new series, I will be posting each of the devotions for the month on this page. They will all be added as downloadable files at the end of each short post. These devotions will also be shared on social media, and will be available as hard copies for the kids as well. If there are any questions, please reach out to us!
The month of March is ON! And I'm here to share with you a short preview of what's to come for the month in our time together!
As you *hopefully* know by now, we have begun our partnership with Orange and have taken on this strategy in our church -- and part of what that means for the youth is we are using the Orange Curriculum to assist us in our lessons and stuff. It ALSO means we are continuing to place a strong emphasis on small groups and strengthening that piece of our ministry. It is so important for us to develop those relationships among students and their small group leaders. As they grow closer with each other, as they goof off and chat about life, they are building a trust and a bond that could last a lifetime. We are excited about how we've seen this grow and shape our group already, and we can't wait to see more! Orange also means (a lot more -- but these are some highlights!) that we are dedicated to partnering with you parents and guardians in ministering to these students. You have way more time with them than we do, and we want to equip you with what we can so that you can continue the conversation at home. It's the idea that two combined influences have a greater influence than two separate ones. SO! This page on this site is part of many things that we can offer you as resources to inform you and keep you aware of what's happening in the group, and how you can work with us at home! We also want to offer you the "Parent Cue Card" -- provided by Orange -- which takes you through our series with us each month and gives you some ways to encourage your students along the way. You'll notice for now they are listed as "high school" lessons -- as we learn about Orange and grow some things will change, but for now we are all doing high school lessons together (they are tweaked a bit to fit with all students). These cue cards will be made available on this page at the end of the post as a file download, on our Facebook page, and through e-mails I send out each month. For other info and resources, I'll also update this page frequently, you can follow us on Instagram (crossculture_ym), and you can be put on our e-mail list by just sending me an e-mail! (Find all that info on our contact page!) As more resources come available to you, I will let you know!
We're entering into a series titled "Stressed Out" for this month -- and I think this is something that is going to hit home for every single one of us in one way or another. Student, small group leader, parents, you name it -- we're all stressed. And we do nothing really to help ourselves DO something about it! We groan and complain about everything we have to do, and then we keep filling up our schedules and putting pressure on our futures and... oh boy... my heart is racing just typing this out.
But God didn't intend for us to live like that. He desired for us a life of freedom and joy. During this month, we will be discussing how to trade all that stress for the joy that God provides. We hope that through this series, we can learn what it means to define our lives with freedom rather than stress, so that we can MARCH ON with confidence, joy, and peace in our faith and life journeys!
Blessings to all of you!
A collision is when two things crash together and cause a reaction. When two hands crash together, you hear clapping. When a cue ball smashes into the triangle, the other pool balls scatter everywhere. When a boxer's fist collides with another's face, you see a tooth fly.
Last weekend (February 23-25), 24 of us took the short trip up to Mt. Asbury in Newville for our annual 8.1.2. Retreat (8th-12th grade students). We experienced an awesome weekend of learning about heaven, playing football in the rain, having great conversation, playing games, doing puzzles, and just being together as a group. As usual, we left exhausted, filled (spiritually and from all the great food), and a little closer to each other.
Personally, this was one of my favorite retreats that I have been on with this group. From the people that went along, to preparing the lessons, to the games we played (Charming does not always mean handsome, Team Kerchow!!!!), to the moments of reflection and small group times, it was a great weekend. But I really think what we learned about heaven was super valuable for all of us, and I hope that message can stick with all of us who were on the trip, and it can be spread to others as well.
Heaven is something that we hear a lot about, but at the same time, we don't do much to learn about it. We see a lot about it in TV and movies, in comic books and memes, and this image of souls fluttering off to a retirement home in the clouds kind of sticks with us. We think of heaven as this location we go to after we die, and so it means little to us as Christians other than an escape plan from this Earth.
But what if heaven was so much more than that? What if it was more than something our souls experience after we die?
Jesus reveals heaven to us in His time on Earth. In His parables, He often started by saying, "The kingdom of heaven is like..." and then explained what it's like. Then He acted that out. He was literally bringing the behavior of heaven to Earth. He was not saying, "Oh hey, this is what heaven is like -- you'll get to go there sometime." NO! He talked about it, then He backed it up by SHOWING us what it looked like. He partied with sinners. He elevated lowly people to a place of honor. He served others. He healed others. He showed what restoration looked like in our daily lives. And then He told us to do the same. Heaven is not so much a location, but a reality defined by God's will being done.
There is so much evidence in the Scriptures that God intends for heaven to be on Earth. His Creation was declared as good. In Revelation, the "new Jerusalem" comes down to the earth. Jesus told us to pray "your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." WE are the ones to continue Jesus' mission of bringing heaven to earth. We are the ones to cause the attitude of heaven to crash into our world. We are called to create a collision of heaven and earth.
There is SO much more to this that we discussed over the weekend, but the challenge the kids were left with was, "how will you create collisions of heaven and earth in your life?"
Collisions of heaven and earth are not always humongous moments. Sometimes they are simple and sweet. If you ever have connected to God through music -- that's the worship of heaven colliding with earth. When you see two people make up after a fight -- forgiveness laid out in front of you -- that's heaven colliding with earth. When a church invites a stranger in for a meal -- a collision. Moments where you see Jesus create, restore, reconcile, and love through other people -- Heaven and earth are colliding in front of you. And you can create those moments for other people, just as Jesus asked us to do. So, next time you need reminded of your mission as a Christian, think of how Jesus created collisions of heaven and earth, and asked us to do the same.
So... Here I am!
I have failed you all. I promised to update this every few weeks, and I simply have failed to do so. But, here I am. I trust you will give me grace and believe when I say this page will be used frequently moving forward.
Our youth ministry has recently adopted the Orange Strategy, and we are looking forward to using the XP3 curriculum that Orange provides. For those of you who don't know, Orange is more than just a color (although it is my favorite!). It's a belief that children and youth are numero uno in the church. In other words, an "Orange Church" will put the needs of children and youth first by surrounding them with mentors, encouragement, support (spiritually, emotionally, financially) and tools they need to succeed in finding Christ and building their relationship with Him. This is new for our church, and though there's still work to be done, it is exciting.
The reason it is "orange" -- is because it puts a strong emphasis on surrounding students with Christ in all areas of their life. It takes the love of the family (red) and combines it with the light of the church (yellow) to create an atmosphere of Christ wherever they go. Parents are the first ministers in a child's life with this strategy, and part of our job as a youth ministry is to equip parents with the tools they need to succeed in this. Our second job is to surround students with adult mentors (small group leaders) so when they are at the church, they have other positive voices speaking into their lives. The love, combined with the light, makes an Orange individual! You can learn more on thinkorange.com
In addition to new curriculum, one way we can help you is having more of a presence on social media. By following us on facebook an instagram, you can see and take part in what we are discussing as a youth group, and how parents can follow up with their children and take part in being ministers in their lives. This page will also be updated frequently with the series we are going through each month, and what conversations have come from those small group discussions.
There is SO much we want to be able to offer to you all, both students and parents, and I ask again for your grace and patience as we work through adding these elements to our ministry. I fully believe these tools will be beneficial to every one of you who has a part in cross culture youth ministry, whether you attend as a student, small group leader, parent, or newcomer. You are valued and we are blessed to have you!
In a culture that puts more of an emphasis on careers and success, we hope to speak life and Jesus into you all. We hope that as you spend more time with us, you can be inspired and encouraged to live like you belong in the culture of the cross of Christ. Keep checking back here as we share with you what we are learning on Sundays, Wednesdays, and throughout the rest of our weeks. Thank you all so much for your support!
This post is meant to be short, simple, and sweet! I am hoping this page on our website can offer a place where students, parents, and really anybody who wants, can see what we've been discussing in CCYM. Once every few weeks, I will share what our lessons have been about, what our conversations have been like, and what we have studied in the Bible. If nothing else, I hope this can create further conversations with friends and family at home. I'll also update this page with any news we have to share regarding our events, lessons, students, or church. Check back as frequently as you would like to! Thank you so much!!