On Wednesday, June 8, 2011, 27 middle school students and 5 staff people left Hayward, WI @ 4am and bussed down to the Wisconsin Dells, WI to spend the day @ Noah’s Ark Waterpark. It was a great day! The students had a blast! The staff had a blast! I rode on every single ride again! It was fun!
This was the 8th year that I took our middle school group down to Noah’s Ark. This tradition started all the way back in 2004!
Last Sunday afternoon, May 1, 2011, the middle school students went down to the Patriot Paintball course in Chetek, WI and had a blast! The students (and the leaders) really enjoyed themselves.
The only negative part of the event was that it was really cold!! Note to self: Bring gloves next time!
I’ve been reading a book entitled: “Middle School Ministry: a comprehensive guide to working with early adolescents” by Mark Oestreicher and Scott Rubin. Any book written by people who work closely with this particular age group consists of either extreme frustrations or extremely humorous stories. Marko and Scott’s writing and stories reveal two adults who view ministry with early adolescents as a humor-filled, life-long calling. I’m only halfway through the book and I have side-splittingly laughed constantly. I had to share one such story (found on pages 43-44):
The setting: A tiny, hot, fart-drenched small group room at church.
The context: Marko’s middle school guys’ small group–all 6th graders.
Marko: “So Potiphar’s wife…”
Shane: “Oh! I’ve heard this! Isn’t she the one that said Joseph raped her?”
Marko: “Yeah, that’s right. She wanted Joseph to have sex with her…”
Matt: “We’re starting sex ed. next week in school.”
Shane: “We did it in our class a few weeks ago.”
Zack: “You did it in sex ed.?”
(Giggles all around.)
Zack: “That must be a new teaching method!”
Shane: “Ha! No, I don’t think our teachers have a license to do that.”
Zack (very serious, to me): “You need a license to have sex?”
Marko: “You have to apply for one down at the DMV.”
Marko: “No. Back to Potiphar’s wife…”
The guys joked about needing a “sex license” for the next three years that we were in small group together.
“The Bible is about God continually working to fix this world through his kind of special people in order to make his kind of world.”
We’ve interacted with this statement by walking ourselves through Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth and 1 Samuel. We learned how humanity came about, fell into sin, and needed to be redeemed. God started his redemption plan through his covenant with Abraham, which initiated the “special people of God” or his representatives on earth to show the world what he was like. God was going to “fix” this world through his special representatives in order to re-make his world.
This has been somewhat heady for middle school students, though we have had fun in the process. Right before the Christmas break we talked about how the author of Samuel was comparing and contrasting the boy Samuel with Eli’s boys, Hophni & Phinehas. It was an either or kind of thing.
I thought about the simplicity of that, and, conversely, the complexity of what we’ve been doing so far. I felt like we needed to take a sort of time-out to talk through what “God’s kind of world” looked like.
I came across a series entitled “Two-Faced” from LifeChurch.tv for middle school students. This series perfectly fit the simplicity of explaining what “God’s kind of world” looked like. And to this point we have done the 3 out of the 4 lessons so far.
As you can see from the graphic at the beginning of this post, we have two posters hung at the front of our room. One is labeled “Flesh” while the other is labeled “Spirit”.
The first lesson brought the topic of gossiping vs. encouraging (flesh vs. spirit), the second talked about the issue of stealing vs. giving (selfishness vs. generosity), and the third relayed the two opposing notions of lying and truth-telling.
These last 3 Wednesday night conversations have really brought some concrete and clearly labeled adjectives to what “God’s kind of world” looks like.
Generally, I have found in working with middle school students over the last 7 years that they “believe” in God, but don’t really know what that means… and to top it off, it’s generally not being reinforced at home, so the 2 hours a week they are at “church” often seems like a losing battle…
I often ask myself the question: What does God want for middle school students?
This CNN article is a worthwhile read: Author: More teens becoming ‘fake’ Christians
Doors opened at 8:30p and after we checked everyone in, we went over the rules of the Lock-In. Here is a run-down of what the evening’s activities were:
- 9:30p – Dodgeball games
- 10:30p – Snacks and free time
- 11:00p – Hide and Seek
- 12:30a – Snacks and free time
- 1:00a – Shuffle Your Buns and the Key Game
- 2:00a – Hide and Seek (take 2)
- 2:45a – Minute to Win It (60 seconds) games (kicking shoes on a table from 9′ away and keeping 3 balloons in the air)
- 3:15a – writing Letters to God and prayer time
- 3:45a – Snacks and free time
- 4:00a – Movie Time: “A Diary of a Wimpy Kid”
- 5:30a – Snacks and free time / others can sleep
- 6:00a – Breakfast: Donuts from the Hayward Bakery and some milk, OJ, and Apple Cider
- 7:00a – Lock-In OVER
There ended up being over 100 middle school students at the Lock-In that night! It was awesome! We had the best time just playing and goofing off and eating all the snacks that everyone brought. Below is a video from the evening: