Thursday, February 9, 2012

St.A.Y. Up


This is a bit late, but I wanted you all to know what's going on over the next few weeks.

Our High School Winter Weekend fell apart because of confusion over the age groups involved at the event. Certain mixed High School/Middle School groups were welcome, depending on percentages of each group. Ours didn't meet an appropriate percentage, so we couldn't attend (Thus, why you never heard much about the weekend).

We will be having High School Group this Sunday night instead of having the retreat over the weekend, so keep those calendars open, high schoolers!
Feb. 16 - Confirmation
Feb. 19 - Middle School Group
Feb. 22 - Ash Wednesday
Feb. 29 - High School Group
The youth ministries is going to partner with the outreach committee to market an upcoming shoe drive for Christ's Home. The drive will be announced soon, and will begin later this month. New shoes will be collected and donated for the children at Christ's home who are in regular need of shoes. Their supplies are running low, so the youth will be asked to market this drive both inside and outside the church. Please consider buying an inexpensive, new pair of shoes for a child in need. Boys and girls shoes of all sizes are needed, but younger children's shoes are the priority. See Linda Vataha on the Outreach Committee for more details.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Sunday School and Worship

For a few years now, the youth group has joined the adults for the singing portion of Sunday morning worship. We tried to include the youth in Communion as well, but it became very difficult to get the timing right.

In an effort to integrate the youth people of the church - youth and children - Pastor Wendy and the Sunday School teachers will be finding ways to help the youth people experience and understand what worship - and the worship service - is all about. A big first step is happening this Sunday, as Pastor Wendy will be celebrating Communion with the youth and children while the singing portion of the 9:15 is taking place. This will become our (St.A.Y.) first-Sunday-of-the-month routine for the time being.

It is important to remember that the youth - our 6-12 graders - will be looked to as leaders in this. The children will be following their behavior. The youth will have to lead the way in participating in the Communion liturgy, being reverent and respectful, and helping the little ones understand what's going on.

Please talk to your youth about this responsibility. As always, no one is forced to take Communion, but we do ask that if your youth will be joining our group during this time that you stress their role as examples, no matter what choice they make about taking Communion.

If you have any questions, shoot me an email. Thanks!

St.A.Y. Up - Love


**Please note the change to Middle School Group this week**

Gotta love it when we're all together at youth group! Our High Schoolers and Middle Schoolers played a few classic youth group games, and then had a really incredible discussion about the love of Jesus.

We had a movie night on Saturday, and during the movie, there was an obvious awkward moment when the Jesus character told the people around him that he loved them. A number of our youth even laughed, overcome slightly by the strangeness of the scene.

So last night, we dug a little deeper, discussing what made it so strange to be told by someone like Jesus, "I love you."

When someone we're close to seems to know everything about us, we're not surprised. But when someone who we barely know seems to know everything about us, it can be strange. If we don't know Jesus very well, we might not want him knowing everything about us. Or we might not believe that he actually does. Then we might wonder if since he's so powerful and all-knowing, why did it seem like he wasn't there with us when we were going through our darkest, saddest times?

But that's what was so great about this movie: it pointed out that it's us, not Jesus, who are setting up barriers. Someone knows everything about us, even our most horrible sides, and he loves us unconditionally! And our response? When things are good, we tell Jesus "Leave me alone!" When things are bad, we say "You weren't there for me!" Jesus is there all the time, loving us so, so much, no matter what the circumstances are.

Confirmation Group this Thursday, Feb 2 from 7-8pm

Middle School Group this Friday, Feb 3 from 7-8:30pm. Because turnout looks like it will be low on Sunday (because of something on TV that night), we're making youth group available on Friday. I've never done this before, as I don't want to encourage changing our schedule for the sake of sports, but since so many youth have indicated they won't be attending Sunday night, we want to at least make something available for our Middle Schoolers this week. This means that there will be no group meeting on Sunday night.

Monday, January 23, 2012

St.A.Y. Up - Idolatry


High school group was fun last night, but we're definitely missing the friends we lost after our middle school/high school split in September. Continually encouraging your youth to set time aside for his or her relationship with God is so important. If that doesn't happen at youth group, it becomes extra important for that to happen at home. (Of course, my hope is that our young ones are taking the time to strengthen their spiritual muscles at home anyway, but you get my point.)

Last night, we talked about idolatry. It's such an important part of the biblical story, as over and over again God's people fall into it. We don't have idol statues the way they did in the Bible, but that doesn't mean we're not guilty of idolatry. We are constantly putting things before God - especially ourselves. We put our interests, concerns, and priorities before God, ultimately worshiping ourselves in a way. 

What tends to happen when we make idols out of things other than God is that our priorities get all messed up, and we stop seeing the world the way God sees it. We stop seeing people as valued, as God's beloved children. We start putting ourselves first, rather than doing what Jesus did: "The first shall be last, and the last shall be first."

Can you identify the idols in your life? Maybe as a church family we can listen to God's commandment: "You shall have no other gods before me." After all, God does know best.
Movie Night this Saturday, 1/28 at 5pm. We will be meeting at Pastor Wendy's house and watching The Encounter. Make sure to bring warm clothes in case we can do a fire pit outside.

Combined Youth Group this Sunday, 1/29 at 7pm.

Monday, January 16, 2012

February Newsletter

I’m writing this newsletter the morning after youth group. Last night’s youth group was a combined group meeting: high school and middle school students met together. It was a large group, and it was really special having us all together.

It made me miss the days when combined group meetings were normal, when we all met together. We’ve been meeting separately for awhile now, but this is a change that takes some getting used to. Maybe the youth don’t realize it, but we adults are experiencing a lot of the same frustration and sadness over our youth ministry changes that the youth themselves are experiencing.

When we split the Sunday night meetings into high school and middle school groups, we did it because we believed it was the right thing to do. The needs of students at different developmental stages demanded that we take action, that we provide experiences that are better designed for the groups we’re ministering to. It’s working, but it takes time, and it takes a lot of hurt as we go through change.

We as St. Andrew’s church members need to feel the pain of the youth ministry. We need to hurt with them, pray for them, and show them what it means to be a church that works together and perseveres through change.

We also need to take a serious look at our own Sunday morning experiences. Are we committed to doing what’s right for young people? Are we committed to go through some hurt and change on our end so that they can grow and learn as well?

If I can be a little bold here… what if I include myself in this category of “young people”? Try not to think of me, Joshua, but think of young adults: young singles and married couples, college students, first-career and first-child people. There are actually quite a bunch of us at St. Andrew’s, most of whom are not in leadership, whom are only marginally connected.

When we split the youth group, it hurt, but it was the right thing to do. If we re-focus on young people, on making sure that our core values are communicated to them, it might mean painful changes for us. It might mean handing over authority, or investing time in someone who is brand new to a ministry.
Maybe you’re not even a ministry leader, but you can still invite some young people out to (or over for) lunch. Be bold and courageous.

Thursday, February 2
7-8:00pm – Confirmation Group

Sunday, February 5
7-8:30 – Middle School Group

Friday – Sunday, February 10-12
High School Group Winter Weekend

Thursday, February 16
7-8:00pm – Confirmation Group

Sunday, February 19
7-8:30 pm – Middle School Group

Wednesday, February 22
Ash Wednesday Service

Sunday, February 26
7-8:30pm – High School Group

St.A.Y. Up - Cyberbullying


We had a really special youth group last night. After playing a couple rounds of manhunt, we got to listen to a guest speaker.

Her name is Kayla, and she's a senior at Hatboro Horsham High School. She brought attention to the realities of bullying - especially cyberbullying. Bullying over social networking sites, through texts and voicemails, and even through things like online gaming has really gotten out of control. And when someone gets bullied, it doesn't just affect that person at that moment. Kayla shared how it can affect your health, how it makes people scared to leave their homes, and how it even leads to young people taking their own lives.

Very importantly, Kayla shared the message that if you have been the bully, then simply saying your sorry can be a life-changing experience. It can seem hard, but it really is a very simple thing to do: saying your sorry can not only help the person you've bullied, but it really can change your heart.

Thank you, Kayla! And thank you, youth group, for being very respectful and attentive.
Confirmation this Thursday, 1/19
High School Group  this Sunday, 1/22. If you would like to host this, please let me know.
SPECIAL EVENT on Saturday, 1/28 at 5pm. Pizza and a movie here at St. Andrew's. Bring warm clothes in case we're able to roast some marshmallows afterwards.
Combined Group on Sunday, 1/29. Fifth Sundays are always combined groups, so make sure to come out and see your friends in Middle and High School!

Monday, January 9, 2012

St.A.Y. UP


High School Group was fun last night, doing skits and playing games. We also had an interesting conversation about our "typical day."

Sometimes it's good to reflect on our morning routines, to think about who we talk to and what we talk about. It's also very important to invite Jesus to go with us throughout the day, to be present with us in our conversations, and to be our friend and helper - as well as our lord whom we serve and honor - in all that we do.

We do need host families for high school group, so if you would like to invite our high schoolers over - whether just once or on a regular basis - please let me know. All that is required is an open room where approximately 10 people can gather.
Upcoming Events

Combined Group with Guest Speaker, Kayla Armstrong - Sunday, 1/15
Confirmation - Thursday, 1/19
High School Group - Sunday, 1/22
Combined Group - Sunday, 1/29