Tag: kelly woods

How to Make the Most of Your Summer – Junior High Edition

Folks, can you believe that summer is here?! I am pregnant, so that means I am NOT looking forward to 90+ degree weather. Oh wait, I NEVER looked forward to the 90+ degree weather! But, thankfulness prepares the way for the Lord, so I’ll be thankful for snow cones and air conditioning and sunscreen.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the junior highers being home for the summer. I think it’s safe to say that even if they have a job, it is a minor one at 12 and 13 years old. Maybe they babysit or mow lawns, but overall, what do they do with all that time? I hope they get the opportunity to play outside and go to camps and have fun being a “kinda kid” for awhile. But, the fearsome reality is that a lot of them may spend their summer staring at a screen.

And, another sad reality is that sometimes they learn those habits from us. Their parents, leaders, extended family, older siblings, etc.

“As parents become more attached to technology, they become detached from their kids, who in turn attach themselves to their devices.” – Mark Foreman

So, this summer, lets try something different.
  • Shut off the TV
  • Power down the iPad, iPhone, iTouch, iMac, iEverything
  • Look one another in the eyes and talk. Go outside and play some ball. Parents, leaders, older siblings, grandparents, let’s model how to let go of the screen and be present for these junior highers.

Another great opportunity for our junior highers to make the most of this summer is Jump Camp! This camp will be for incoming 7th and 8th graders on August 1st – 4th in Latham Springs. Registration will open June 1st and you can watch for more info here. Take advantage of this time for your kids to unplug, be outside, play and learn this summer!

By Kelly Woods, Junior High Pastor

When Junior Highers are the Example

Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity (1 Timothy 4:12 NIV).

It is amazing how much I learn from 12 year olds.

Seriously. Anytime I spend time with students in our junior high ministry, I am amazed at their insight and wisdom. The world seems to think junior highers aren’t that awesome. Don’t you hear it all the time?

“I would never want to relive my junior high days.”

“Wow! You pastor junior highers?! That must be a calling!”

But, it’s true. My middle school years weren’t my best. I’d enclose a picture in this blog if I could find one I wasn’t at least slightly embarrassed by. Let’s just say, YIKES!

However, we believe something different about these students. We believe valuing them opens our eyes to see the great things in them. The other day, I was meeting with a student for discipleship. We ended up playing a game with her and her little sister.

She so lovingly and patiently helped her sister to play the game, enjoying her child-like take on the rules and letting her make mistakes.

She led her sister well and I was taught something.

It is true that teenagers change the world. But maybe, they don’t only change the world; they also change us.

In Response

What would happen if all of us valued a student enough to learn from them this year?

By Kelly Woods, Junior High Pastor

Back to School: Junior High Edition

I was in Hobby Lobby the other day and realized they already had their Christmas stuff out.

Inwardly, I felt a sense of panic. Do they leave it out all year? Or do they put it out in July?!

Did months go by without my knowing it?! What day IS IT? Am I behind? (And this coming from the woman who has already bought Christmas presents for a few family members and friends. I love to be prepared!)

So, when you see the sign in Target about back to school, take a deep breath. You aren’t that behind. The first day of school will come and go. Your kids will make it through. They will learn valuable lessons, and really, witnessing you as their parents operate out of peace will teach them how to do the same.

Why don’t we look at these last few days of summer like a fantastic opportunity to make memories?

Here are some ideas:

  • Go to HEB and get the bacon mac and cheese Lays chips, just because it’s weird and probably tastes super good.
  • Head to Cameron Park and toss a frisbee around or take pictures trying to do handstands.
  • Have your kids write themselves a letter about their hopes for this school year, seal them up and open them over Christmas break to see how far they got in reaching their goals.
  • Turn on your favorite music and have a dance party in the kitchen.
  • Write thank you cards to your youth leaders (wink-wink) expressing your gratitude for such a wonderful Summercamp and Jump Camp experience!
  • Wake up your kids before the sun comes up, drive to the Waco Dam and watch God wake up the morning.
  • Go to Hobby Lobby and buy Christmas decorations, because, hey! They already have them!
Doing something unexpected and spontaneous ends the summer in a meaningful way.

Fun time together as a family is irreplaceable and doesn’t have to be expensive.  A few days after school starts, you may miss how much those kids were around this summer… even if they are sleeping til noon and eating all the food in the house.

By Kelly Woods, Jr. High Pastor

Junior High Lock-In

Who wouldn’t love a night filled with roller-skating, wild games and all-out fun with Jesus? Our 7th and 8th graders from all over Waco certainly did. Check out the pictures and contact Tiffany Fay with any questions about our Junior High Ministry.

Thanks a ton to Kassie Light for the awesome photos.

Living Missionally

“Therefore got and make the disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you and I am with you always to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

When I preach to the junior high students, each year I ask them, “Who are you discipling? Who are you reaching out to, teaching and baptizing?” Many of them look back at me with blank stares that say, “Aren’t we too young to do all of that?”

The answer is a big, giant NO.

Nowhere in the above verse does Jesus give any qualifications for being called into ministry. Parents, this applies to you. Teachers, this applies to you. Nurses, children, business people, administrators, nannies, students, veterans – this, living missionally wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, applies to you.

But some of us need a jump start. How do we begin this life of making disciples daily?

Might I suggest the Church-Wide Mission Trip to Baton Rouge? These trips are an opportunity to deepen your relationship with God, your connection to the church, your relationships with your family and last, but not least – deepen your ability and confidence to reach out to others, make disciples, teach and baptize. All believers in Christ are called to this lifestyle of ministry.

Sign up to join us in Baton Rouge today!

By Kelly Woods, Junior High Pastor

House Weekend 2013

Students spend lots of time throughout the weekend in their Lifegroups, learning about community and relationships in the church. They spend time in the Word of God asking, “What if the words on the page actually came to life in our midst?”

On Saturday night we worshiped and sought God together, and students put aside the things that were distracting them from God and returned their focus to Him. It was powerful!

Pray for our Junior High and High School students, that they would become devoted followers of Jesus in their youth and lead those around them into the Kingdom.


It’s Back to School time! Our awesome youth pastors have some tips on how to get back into the swing of things and set your family up for a successful year.


There are just so many things to add to the schedule right now! Having a planner and hashing out things early is a great stress-reliever.

I love it when I hear that families have prayed and asked God for a specific word for the next season of their lives. Is this a time to rest? Press in? Serve more? Change places of service? Spend more time together? Hearing God on this is so important.

Younger kids all the way to junior highers will think having a family mission statement is cool. If the students themselves are invited into writing it, they will own it.

I harp on this quite a bit when I meet with parents, but open communication is such an asset to practice as a family. If everyone is open (speaking the truth in love), you can deal with anything. Kick off the year right by discussing past hurts, current relational needs and fears of the future.

Tough times and busy seasons don’t have to feel that way if you can enjoy them. Practice thankfulness and being present in the moment. Rejoice in today – after all this is the only time you get to experience today.

Ahhh, school.  New shirts, new shorts, new shoes, freshly sharpened pencils, and a possibly even a new backpack to hold all my stuff.   I have so many memories when it comes to the first day of school…  to be exact, I have 18 of them.  Sadly for me, those times are past.  No longer do I get to have the argument with my mom about how I should get to wear my new shoes before the first day of class. I don’t have to worry about where I am going to sit or who I’m going to hang out with at lunch – I am on the outside looking in.



Take the mystery out of the everyday by putting all significant events on a calendar for easy reference. Get prepared, not surprised!

I know you’re busy with homework and friends, but I think you’ll find that spending intentional time with your parents will strengthen your friendship, trust and ability to have fun together. Besides they’re the ones who come running when you need help.

Choose three things that help you keep a good perspective, attitude, and health in life. A good question to ask yourself is, “If I don’t __________, then my life tends to seem hectic, overwhelming, or hopeless.” After you choose these three things, ask yourself how you did in each area that week.

Friends change often in high school and that’s ok! But intentionally choose the friends you know will influence you to follow Jesus and make an effort to spend the biggest amount of your free time with them.

Just like us, Jesus loves to laugh at all the funny things that happen in high school. He loves it even more when it’s WITH you. Pray for your family, your school, your friends and for the lost!

Give Me One

“I will always praise the Lord.” -Psalm 34:1 (CEV)

I am totally obsessed with Jesus:  who He is, what His plans are, what He is doing, what He likes… basically everything about Him.

There are an awful lot of things we could be obsessed with: money, popularity, friendships, our families, our health, our grades, our jobs. None of these things are bad in and of themselves, but they are not meant to be our all in all.

Sadly, we can even be obsessed with our pain: who has hurt us, our past, our failures.

Notice today:

What do you think about the most? What occupies your time? What mesmerizes you? What defines you?

For all of us, may it be our One and Only, Jesus.

By Kelly Woods

Junior High Pastor

Be a Part of Something Bigger

In my role as a youth pastor, I’ve met with and ministered to many people who feel isolated. They may have a large family, live in a great neighborhood and have many friends around, but for one reason or another, they feel alone.

I believe that our adversary, the devil, loves to separate people from each other. He is the ultimate stealer of real heart friendships and deep community. God’s desire is to give us abundant life – our relationships flourishing through our love relationship with Him. What does this have to do with building our Antioch campus, you may ask? This building takes all of us – each one coming together as a part of a body, a community, a team. We have a goal to reach and it’s going to take all of us to get there. And after all, isn’t that exactly God’s heart, to pull people together toward a common purpose? We are not made to be isolated and alone; we are made to work together side by side with people we love.

How do you put this to action? Talk to your friends and people in your Lifegroup. Ask them how you can do something together to raise money for the building. Pray together with them that God would provide and make a way for completion. Let’s do this thing together as a family!

By Kelly Woods – Junior High Pastor