Our New Associate Pastor!

Tim Chappell has done a great job in recent years as our Family Ministries Director.  Sunday, we were pleased to announce Tim will be moving into a full-time role as Associate Pastor of New Community Church.  This new role will expand much of what Tim was doing in the ministries for students and children.  It will also include being a part of the preaching rotation, as well as some administrative duties.

The addition of Tim will help our church to continue to minister to the whole family.  Family ministry has always been a part of the DNA of our church, so we are all grateful for God’s provision in this area. Tim is married to Jen, and they have two boys, Nathan and Landen.

Tim’s looking forward to all God has ahead for New Community!

Student Rev series & free parent resources

We are starting a brand new series THIS Sunday at Student Rev!

Have you ever turned on the news only to wish you hadn’t? Or answered a phone call only to wish you could un-hear the news on the other end? Whether it’s a global disaster, a school shooting, or our parents’ divorce, there’s nothing fun about tragedy. It can make us feel like we’re walking around in total darkness—where nothing seems quite right and there are more questions than answers. What do we say? What do we do? What happens next? And, how long will it take before things go back to normal? At some point, we‘ll all find ourselves in or around a tragedy, but being there doesn’t mean we have to stay there. There’s a way through the darkness to the other side, to healing— and we’ll get there by trusting the One who is leading us.

Student Rev is open to all middle and high school students and happens every Sunday night from 6:00-8:00 PM. We have a snack bar with food and drinks for sale, worship, message, small groups, and so much more!

When other people go through a tragedy or crisis, it’s hard to know what to say and what not to. Here are some free resources for parents and leaders on what to say and what not to say to middle and high school students who are dealing with crisis.

Middle School

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High School

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Student Rev series & free parent resources

We are starting a brand new series THIS Sunday at Student Rev!

Have you ever turned on the news only to wish you hadn’t? Or answered a phone call only to wish you could un-hear the news on the other end? Whether it’s a global disaster, a school shooting, or our parents’ divorce, there’s nothing fun about tragedy. It can make us feel like we’re walking around in total darkness—where nothing seems quite right and there are more questions than answers. What do we say? What do we do? What happens next? And, how long will it take before things go back to normal? At some point, we‘ll all find ourselves in or around a tragedy, but being there doesn’t mean we have to stay there. There’s a way through the darkness to the other side, to healing— and we’ll get there by trusting the One who is leading us.

Student Rev is open to all middle and high school students and happens every Sunday night from 6:00-8:00 PM. We have a snack bar with food and drinks for sale, worship, message, small groups, and so much more!

When other people go through a tragedy or crisis, it’s hard to know what to say and what not to. Here are some free resources for parents and leaders on what to say and what not to say to middle and high school students who are dealing with crisis.

Middle School

ms
High School

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Catch Them Doing It Right

by  Several years ago, our team was asked to design a program to help public schools teach kids character. One of the tools we provided was a “Value-able” card to award a child with free ice cream when they did something that demonstrated respect, responsibility, or kindness. We gave out enough cards so teachers could catch every kid doing something right at least once a month. But at the end of the first month, 90% of the cards had not been given out. We realized that a lot of teachers, much like many parents, were so programmed to correct kids behavior that they had never learned how to pro-actively acknowledge positive behavior. So, the next month, we included a few tips to help teachers look for specific ways to catch kids doing it right. These Value-able cards became one of the most used tools in the character education program. Teachers loved giving them and kids loved getting them. Here are a few of the tips that we have learned working with teachers and parents who want to help kids know how to reinforce positive behaviors.

Be Specific

It’s easy to say something general to a kid like, “you have a great attitude” or “you’re a good student.” But when a compliment is too general, it doesn’t mean as much. Kids want to know you care enough about them to notice specific things they do. So take the time to point out something that is definitive, especially if you hope they will repeat it.

Acknowledge Effort

Look for ways to praise kids for improving in an area or because they worked hard at something. When you encourage  effort or determination, you are helping them build a strong work ethic. Don’t just compliment for compliment sake. When you compliment your kids for just being “great” kids or for things they really didn’t do, then you run the risk of creating an inflated ego like Gaston in Beauty and the Beast.

Establish a Pattern

I know a mom who used dinnertime once a week to tell her kids something positive she had noticed in them that week. One of her sons secretly told me it was his favorite time of the week. That’s because most of us crave affirmation at some level. Sometimes it helps to establish routine times when you know you will have a consistent opportunity to affirm your kids. That doesn’t mean it has to feel routine. It just means you will create a rhythm for complimenting your kids to make sure that it actually happens frequently.

Stretch Your Vocabulary

Words are more powerful than most people imagine. So what we say to our kids over time really does matter. If you are not a verbal person, try using a starter phrase. The right phrase can keep you from getting stuck and never saying anything at all. Hallmark has built an entire industry around the idea. Here are a few phrases to get you started. Just add a personal or specific sentence and  practice motivating and encouraging your kids to keep moving in a positive direction. Put these somewhere (like on your phone or computer) where you will see them and use one of them each day of the week. You have really improved . . . (It will encourage them to keep growing.) I love the way you . . . (It will encourage them to celebrate their uniqueness.) I noticed how you . . . (It will encourage them to demonstrate character.) Thank you for . . . (It will encourage them to express gratitude.) I can tell how hard you worked . . . (It will encourage them to develop responsibility) I bet one day you will … (It will encourage them to find hope.) I like hanging out with you because . . . (It will encourage them to value relationship.) You have helped me learn . . . (It will encourage them to show respect.) You can add your own, but here’s the point: Start being intentional and use words over time to effect the direction of your kids future. Reggie Joiner Headshot_bw 2013Reggie Joiner is the founder of the ReThink Group, a nonprofit organization providing resources and training to help churches maximize their influence on the spiritual growth of the next generation. He is one of the founding pastors of North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, GA, where he served as the executive director of family ministry for 11 years. Reggie and his wife, Debbie, live in Cumming, Georgia and have four grown children. Follow him on Twitter, @ReggieJoiner.

Cats and Dogs

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Ah, middle school.
The smell of axe wafting through the air.
The endless group texts.
The hormonal mood swings.
It really is a magical time, isn’t it?

When my oldest son was a middle schooler, my wife and I were blindsided by the changes. We were constantly second-guessing ourselves, and wondering what we were doing wrong. Our parenting, for the most part, had worked well up to that point. Now we found ourselves immersed in some kind of mystery with cryptic clues.

Then we went to open house at the middle school. Those types of gatherings usually have me scanning FB updates on my phone for the duration, but the person at the podium had me hooked with a promise. She had solved the mystery of the middle schooler.

I went all Joe Hardy and leaned in. (I wanted to be Shaun Cassidy back in the day.) She read this poemWhen Children Turn Into Cats by Adair Lara.  The poem says that elementary kids are little dogs, middle schoolers are like cats.

Dogs are happy to see you when you walk in the door.
Cats may or may not acknowledge you as you come in, it depends on their mood.

A cat comes around when he wants something—food, attention.
A dog will sit there and just “be” with you.

A dog will let you pet him.
Many times, a cat will shrug away.

Light bulb moment. My son had become a cat. It all made sense.

I got it. I remember being that moody teen, annoyed at the sight of my parents for no apparent reason. I enjoyed being in my room for hours alone.

And now I was on the other side having to deal with that kid. (And as a side result, the appreciation for my own parents grew even more.)

So my wife and I developed a system to help us wade our way through these murky waters.
We would label moments as “cat days”or “dog days.” Notice I said moments, because with a middle schooler, it can all change very quickly.

And it gave us perspective.
It didn’t feel so personal.

It gave us the objectivity to realize our son was changing, and to adjust to the change.

Fortunately, it was a phase. Now that our oldest is 17, we have very few cat days.

But we still have cats in the house.
This time they are twin 13-year-olds.
But hopefully mom and dad are a little wiser this time around.

TIM WALKERTim Walker works at Orange and is a husband, father of three boys, editor, writer– well, you get the idea. More of Tim’s words can be found at www.timswords.com.

Middle School Changes

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I can’t say I feel old enough, but it’s true: we have a child in middle school.
A new school. A new chapter. A whole new world.

And as much as we sometimes feel like a deer in the headlights, thankfully, we’re not on our own during this transition to middle school. We have experts—parents, teachers, friends—around us who are already giving us insight into the middle school mind. They are people who’ve been there, know what we’re going through, and can help us along the way. Here’s some of what we’ve been learning.

The Middle School Changes

There are four major areas where middle school kids are changing.

Physical Changes: 

In general boys and girls develop at different rates. Most of the girls seem like giants compared to many of the boys who still look like they could be in fourth grade. This will change over the course of middle school. Kids will grow up. Yet as they grow, the body doesn’t grow at a standard ratio. The upper body may grow faster than their legs, or their feet might grow faster than the rest of their body, or kids might even start looking like bobble-heads again. They don’t call these the “Awkward Years” for nothing.

Intellectual Maturity: 

Our middle schoolers are more “worldly” than any previous middle school generation. They have access to the world at an unprecedented level, finding all sorts of information within seconds from a device that sits in the palm of their hands. Our kids are digital natives and know how to discover anything they want whenever they want. Yet, developmentally, so much of what they find is beyond what they can understand. They are still quite shallow in their thinking and act more like children than adults.

Emotional State:

Have you ever wanted to ask your kids, “Who are you and what did you do with our son?” Sometimes it seems like our kids are three different people trapped in the same body. Sometimes they can help this, but most times they can’t. They are hormonal, moody, and often irritable at a moment’s notice. On top of the hormones, they have a fragile self-concept. Because it’s still all about them, they take everything personally, while wondering if they’re good enough.

Social Development: 

Middle schoolers are experiencing a growing dependence on peers to find self-worth. They want to make friends and hang out with them without parents around. They will start to detach from family and begin to develop their independence.

Yet because these kids are unsure of who they are and who they really want hang around with, their friend groups will change. Kids who were best friends in elementary school might become casual acquaintances. Don’t be alarmed if your kids shuffle through different friend groups throughout the year. It’s just part of the process of growing up.

Throughout all of those changes, it’s important to remember this: Parents are still the most important people in a child life. 

We can help our kids through this process.

We were promised won’t be easy. So, stay tuned next week for some practical tips to help you, as parents, survive the middle school years.

Do you have a kid starting out middle school? What changes have you noticed already?

Dan Scott works at Orange in New Product Development and is the Art Director and Large Group Director for 252 Basics. Dan and his wife Jenna have four amazing kids: Liam, Ellison, Addison, and Taye. You can read more from Dan on his blog, DanScottBlog.com, or on Twitter, @DanScott77.

One Question Every Daughter Should Answer About Dating

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I have three daughters. So I have been through the ups and downs of dozens of dating relationships at our house. And now that my daughters are in their twenties, I think it may be safe to talk a little about what I experienced watching them date as teenagers. I can honestly say for the most part, I enjoyed building relationships with a number of guys they dated. There were actually times when I was sad when one of the girls broke up with a boyfriend because I kind of had to break up with him too. (I wish someone had written a book years ago telling dads how to break up with their daughters ex-boyfriends) But the point of this blog isn’t really to dump on guys or to give expert advice about how to guide a daughter through the dating years. I really just wanted to share a question that came up with my daughter Rebekah during dinner several years ago. We had gone out to eat so we could talk about dating. (Actually it was one of those casual emergency dinners parents sometimes have when siblings give them the real scoop about what one of their other children is up to at school.) Just in case you ever need to have one of those meetings, here’s a simple formula to follow. It could help you influence your daughter’s dating habits.

  • Make a reservation at her favorite restaurant.
  • Order your food then ease into a conversation about sex and dating.
  • Explain why no guy over the age of 13 can ever be trusted. (except for you)
  • Make a list of qualities she should look for in a guy before she dates him. (These are basically the same qualities Jesus demonstrated in the New Testament.)
  • Give her stats on why girls who wait until after college to date have better marriages. (It’s okay if you can’t actually cite sources.)
  • Quote a lot of scripture. (Make sure you have a handout with Bible verses she should memorize.)

And in case that doesn’t get you very far, you could resort to simply asking a question like this, “Since I know you are probably going to date at some point, could you and I make a list of what we both agree should be clear indicators that you should break up with a guy?” This question actually happened by accident. I’m not even sure it was my idea. I think it was actually hers, but it led to a very interesting and authentic conversation. By the way, don’t forget something: Most daughters will need to date and break up before they can figure out how to date the right kind of guy for them. So this is an exercise that could give them some practical cues to help them know when they should consider breaking up with someone. Interestingly enough, after we finished writing out our list, I realized I hadn’t added any original thoughts. Sometimes your daughter may surprise you with her wisdom. All of the ideas were hers. I can’t remember everything on her list. But here are a few reasons I do remember her saying she would break up with a guy:

if he doesn’t respect me

if he loses his temper

if he trashes his mom

if he’s lazy

if he’s doesn’t want to know more about God

if he only talks about himself

if he’s mean to the waitress

if he pushes me to do something that he knows I know is wrong

The most important thing about the list is that when it was done, it really was her list, not mine. I do remember thinking that her list was better than anything I would have written. So, if you have a middle school or teenage daughter, try this question out.