Preteens and Peer Pressure

Being a preteen is HARD. Anyone that says it isn’t either had a charmed life, is lying or was home schooled. Ok, I’m just kidding about the home school thing. It’s hard for them too. But, seriously, it’s just a hard time in your life.
Peer Pressure: Part of what makes middle school so hard is peer pressure. Sure this exists prior on some level in early elementary, but not to the same extent. Of course it exists in high school, but many kids have learned how to say no by that time. But, when you are 11 or 12 years old saying no to peer pressure feels impossible. I mean, what your friends link of you is important. Or at least it SEEMS important at this age.
The problem with peer pressure is that it can lead us to do things we don’t want to do. Peer pressure can lead us to do things we know are wrong. We do them because others are doing them, because our PEERS are doing them. We do them because we worry that our PEERS will think less of us if we don’t. This is why Peer pressure is a problem.
The truth about peer pressure is that it is about finding value for ourselves. We worry that we will feel less valuable if our friends make fun of us. We worry that we will feel less valuable if our friends stop hanging our with us because we won’t do the things they are doing. The truth about peer pressure is that it is about building ourselves up in the eyes of others, even if it means giving up who we really are.
Where SHOULD we find value? If peer pressure is the result of or leads to us finding our value in the opinions of others, then where should we be finding value? Here is the truth about your value as a preteen, as a person: YOU WERE CREATED IN THE IMAGE OF GOD Genesis says that Adam and Eve were created in the image of God. As descendants of these first humans we are also created in the image of God. This does not make you God, but it does mean that you have value.
A child of God: For those that have received salvation through Jesus Christ, we are also called CHILDREN OF THE ONE TRUE GOD. In a royal family the children of the king derive their position, their value from their relationship with the king. As children of God our value also comes from our relationship with the King, Jesus.
You can be a child of God too. So, I would say to the preteen that is struggling with peer pressure, You can be a child of God too. Make no mistake. Not every person is called a child of God. That is a distinction reserved for those who have trusted in Jesus for salvation. That is a distinction reserved for those who have made Jesus lord of their life. But, the good news is that this is a free gift offered by God to anyone who would receive it.
Talk with someone: At the end of the day, if you are struggling with your own self-worth, talk with someone. Talk with me. Talk with a  trusted teacher. Talk with your parents. Talk with a leader at church. Just talk with someone. You are created in the image of God. You can be a child of God, if you are not already. But, you must be willing to accept these truths.
Even adults: The truth is that many adult still struggle with finding their value in the opinions and words of others. Man of God take the same advice I have given here for preteens. Woman of God give this some thought, make it yours.
Matt Norman

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Is Orange Conference Just For Children’s Ministers?

If you are in ministry, then you are aware of the many different conferences out there designed to help us do what we do, even better. There is also a fair chance that you have heard of the Orange Conference. Unfortunately, there is a fair chance that you think that Orange is a children’s ministry thing. Maybe you think that it is for children and youth. But, it is actually so much more than that. If you lead within the context of the local church, then this conference is for you. 
Start-Up Church: I am very excited about this track. This is a track aimed at church planters. As I am moving in that direction I am very excited to go to some of the sessions on this track and see what God has to teach me through the experience.

Marriage Ministry:
Ok, not every church has a marriage ministry. But, every church has married people. That being true we should all be dedicated to helping the married people inner church have better marriages. This track is designed to help you do just that. 

Social Media:
 It’s funny somehow I managed to get old enough to remember when social media wasn’t even a thing. Now, however, it is a thing and it is an important part of our lives. It is also vital to your ministry. If we are honest we would have to admit that just about every one of us could do a better job with the social media strategy of our church. This track can help.

Special Needs: 
The vast majority of churches have NO strategy when it comes to children with special needs. If you are building a full on special needs ministry or just looking to increase your understanding of some of the unique needs that some of these wonderful people have this is a great option for you and your church.

City Ministry:
Ministry in an urban setting is difficult. Ok, ALL ministry is difficult, but ministry in true urban settings also different. This track seeks to look at these differences and prepare leaders for it.

NextGen Leader:
This is a track for leaders of leaders. Aimed at the people that lead from a family ministry perspective, overseeing multiple levels of generational ministries.

Preschool, Children, Middle School, High School:
These tracks are just as they appear. They are the best and brightest speakers in each of these areas sharing from their own experiences.These are people that are actually doing this stuff in churches all over the country. The knowledge they share is from stuff they have actually done, not just untested theories. 
Bottom line: Orange Conference is for leaders. No matter what you do in the church Orane is a great conference for you.

Matt Norman

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