Middle School Students Learn to Live the Dream

By: Teagan Quinnell
I am a firm believer in the saying, “Teamwork makes the dream work.” But what is the dream exactly? In middle school, our dream is to build a community of students and staff that works together for the good and development of the Kingdom.
With middle school being such a pivotal time for our students, we take one day for each grade to live out the dream of establishing a healthy community. Our day-long retreats that fall under the umbrella of CCA’s Discipleship division are a time to engage in team-building activities, laugh together, and share a challenge unique to that specific grade. Here is a sneak peak of what each retreat’s message looked like this year:

    • 6TH GRADE
      Our theme for sixth grade is “You are God’s Masterpiece.” While our new middle school students are navigating their new territory, we want to remind them that this is a journey in which they will be molded by God.

      CCA Bible teacher Mike Leger shared from the passage in Jeremiah 18 where Jeremiah gets a glimpse into how God shapes and molds us like a potter molds clay. It is a beautiful picture as well as encouragement to allow God to shape us. So often, students will allow others to shape them or even the culture to shape them. Yet, the best place to be is in the hands of the Potter.
      “We can’t create ourselves, the Potter creates us” — Levi A., student
    • 7TH GRADE
      Over the years, our seventh grade retreat has focused on the theme of “Washed in the Word.” Seventh grade is a time our students are discovering their identities, moving to new friend groups, and simply trying to figure out where they fit in. So, our challenge to them is to focus on what God’s Word says about us and not on what others try to tell us we are.

      Sean Fryer, pastor of Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale’s middle school ministry Six78, shared a powerful illustration by choosing a student to be the example of what words can do to us versus what God’s Word does to us. Sean used gross food items such as ketchup, mustard, and sardines (oh my!) to represent what it can look like when others call us names. Then, Sean used water to cleanse the student of the gross food while quoting scripture.
      “The world puts negative words and sin on us, but when we accept Jesus, He cleans us.” — Austin K., student
    • 8TH GRADE
      The eighth grade retreat serves as training for the Bahamas Mission Trip that’s taking place in January. These students participated in team-building exercises and games to simulate cross-cultural situations.

      As excitement grows for this trip, the goal is to challenge our students to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Middle School Bible teacher Mr. Fanning shared how each student has a God-given gift, but sometimes insecurity or anxiety can hold that gift back. So, how do we allow God to use our gifts? By allowing God to fill our hearts with the Holy Spirit. Only then are we free to let God use us as vessels for His glory. Here are 5 ways you can pray for missionaries.
      “The human knot game showed us how when we’re in the Bahamas we have to work together.” — Abi H., student

Mr. Fanning and myself look forward to these retreats every year, as they allow us to get to know each grade-level and appreciate their uniqueness as a class and as individuals. They also give us the opportunity to create memories with the students and point them toward the Lord as we kick-off a new school year.
In the spirit of building teamwork, we invite you to help us carry the vision of each retreat. For your 6th grader, encourage them in their identity as God’s masterpiece. Pray and speak God’s Word over your 7th grader. As our 8th graders are about to embark on their mission to the Bahamas, encourage them in their giftings. These messages have a greater chance of sticking if we are speaking them beyond the walls of CCA.
Our dream and vision is for CCA’s middle school to be a safe community where students can thrive and know who they are in Christ. These retreats are an invitation to our students into that dream and vision. They must not only learn to trust in the Lord, but each other and their parents as well because, “Teamwork makes the dream work!”

Teagan Quinnell has been teaching seventh grade Bible at CCA for six years. She has also led the Middle School Discipleship team along with Mr. Fanning for the last five years. Teagan loves to be goofy with her students and challenge them in their spiritual lives.
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