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Sundays, 11-1230PM


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Check out this video to see what "Student Takeover" is all about.



Takeover Poster copy


In Chap Clark’s book, Disconnected, he says that parents are responsible for providing the boundaries necessary to help a child grow into the person God has created and redeemed them to be. That’s a pretty heavy task. It requires first that parents know where the child is—an ongoing challenge in itself. And second, it requires that parents know where the dangers lie, where the areas of caution are and what signals indicate that something might be holding the child back.

This Sunday May 22 we are starting a new series in Orchard Jr. High, we are talking with your child about dating. But more importantly we are talking about balance. In a world where finding a boyfriend or girlfriend sometimes becomes all-consuming, we want to remind students that dating is only one of many areas in their lives. Like everything else, it is good in moderation, when it is not taken to extremes. We also want to help them develop healthy relationships, whether those are dating relationships or friendships with the opposite sex, and help them understand the value in leaving a positive impression in the lives of those we come in contact with.

As a mother or as a father, you are in a better position than anyone to know and understand how dating works in your child’s life. Maybe they haven’t dated anyone, but they are constantly thinking about ways to find that perfect someone. Maybe they haven’t been alone since fourth grade. Maybe they’ve been dating the same person for the past two years. Wherever they fall on the spectrum, you are viewing the situation close-up. Their emotions are in it. You, who have more insight and more life experience, can look down the road for them when they don’t have the perspective to do it on their own. Are there dangers ahead? Is there something that might be holding them back from experiencing the life they were intended for?

I would like to challenge you to take a few minutes this month to reflect on your child’s situation—especially in the area of dating. Think of ways you can be creative and helpful as you set boundaries and help them navigate the wonderful and risky world of relationships.

Lovesick Main


Here is an overview of what we are talking about. Listed below each session summary is a “parent cue” to help you dialog with your child about the session. The question is intended not just to be asked by you, but to be responded to by both of you. Use this opportunity to find out what God is teaching your child, and allow your child to see what God is teaching you as well.

Series Overview

So you overslept, missed the bus, saw someone cute, aced the big test and you’re mad at that guy. So how do we know? Because you gave the world your play by play for the day on FB, Twitter and texted about it every five minutes. We live in a world where we know more about the people around us that we ever knew before. But have you noticed something? We can know a lot—too much—and yet not really know what’s going on. It’s so easy to let people know about us, and not really have a place where people really know us at all. So where and with who are you sharing your T.M.I.?

Session One: Say Anything
(April 27 High School - May 1 Jr High)

Well, we know how you feel about that TV show, that movie, lunch and your former best friend. Technology has given the world access to your innermost thoughts. All we have to do is follow your blog, read your status updates, follow your tweets. And while we do care about what’s going on in your life, there’s a time and a place for everything. It’s just a matter of figuring of the where and the when of what’s appropriate.

Session One Parent Cue: Look at each other’s FB page. Is there something you wish you wouldn’t have shared? Why?

Session Two: Dirty Little Secrets
(May 4 High School - May 8 Jr High)

There’s a time and a place to share your T.M.I., but there’s also a person. That’s right. We all need someone in our lives who knows us—really knows us. We need to have someone who we can trust our secrets to, someone who we can tell what’s really going on. Someone we can go to and say, “I really messed this up.” Because when our secrets become visible, when we no longer have to work so hard at hiding them, they lose their power over us and we are free to experience God’s grace and forgiveness.

Session Two Parent Cue: When you are dealing with a tough situation or a mess you’ve created, who do you go to? Why do you go to that person?

Session Three: Open Up
(May 11 High School - May 15 Jr High)

It’s great to have someone to go to when we’ve made a mess, but what about before things even get that crazy? What if we had a place where we could go and say, “Here’s what’s going on. I know what I want to do, but what should I do? How do I follow through by making the wise choice? What would God want me to do?” Because having people in our lives who know our T.M.I. is finding that person or persons who we can share things with, before we end up making some major mistakes.

Session Three Parent Cue: If you are trying to make a decision, is there someone (or more than one) you trust to help you find the best solution? What are some situations that person has helped you navigate?


There will be no Jr. High Student Gathering on April 24. We have an exciting family Easter Service that we want our Jr. High students to attend.


Invisible Children | Orchard Students

click here to download a PDF flier for this event

Wednesday, March 9, 2011, 7 pm
The Orchard Community
101 Barnes Road
Aurora, IL 60506

This year, Invisible Children is following Joseph Kony to some of the most remote places in the world: The Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, and Sudan. For the first time, Invisible Children is going into the battlefield to help protect and rehabilitate the most vulnerable of victims. It’s our most ambitious tour yet; the biggest we’ve ever done.

For the Congo Tour, Invisible Children is very excited to be... premiering a brand new documentary film which is centered around a Ugandan boy featured in The Rough Cut, Tony Bazilo. It is a follow-up to his introduction in The Rough Cut and a more in depth look at his testimony growing up in war torn Northern Uganda as well as his experience dealing with tragedy related to rebel/terrorist movements. It will introduce our new missions in the DR Congo as well as set-up a platform for our Ugandan guest speaker (David Okech Ocitti, a former LRA abductee and current Gulu University honors scholarship student) to take the stage and share his personal testimony on growing up through Africa's longest running conflict. This is the promotional video we just recently released to give you a preview of the film:


Not That Into You | Devotional

Should I Stay or Should I Go?
by Sarah Anderson

Many of you have probably heard the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand. Each of the four Gospels tells this story, or versions of this story, when Jesus, on the side of a mountain about ready to teach, decides to feed the mass of hungry people who came to hear Him. It was a big task, one that the disciples weren’t sure they could handle, but with one boy’s lunch sack of fish and bread, Jesus miraculously multiplied the food and fed each empty belly. He even made enough for leftovers. Most of what we know about this story stops here, but following the miracle, the story goes on. Not long afterwards, Jesus and the disciples cross a lake only to find more people waiting for Him on the other side. The crowd had heard what Jesus did with the bread and were thinking this was the kind of guy they could really get on board with. But their motivations and their intentions weren’t fooling Jesus—He knew what was going through their minds. He knew their flaky devotion had more to do with what He could do for them and He called them out on it. So, while still holding their attention, Jesus launches into some pretty heavy teaching—teaching that caught the crowd off guard.

The people who had been waiting on the other side of the lake listened for awhile, but it didn’t take long before they started grumbling and then arguing sharply with each other. The problem was that what Jesus was saying didn’t make a lot of sense. The people were confused, offended, and frankly, probably disappointed in what Jesus was asking of them—so much so that the Bible says many abandoned Him. They turned their backs on Him. In other words, Jesus didn’t live up to the expectations the masses had in mind, so they decided maybe He wasn’t for them after all. And, they left.

Maybe you know the feeling. Maybe you can relate to the masses. Maybe you have heard some cool stuff about this Jesus guy, and experienced some really amazing things through relationship with Him, but then all of the sudden, He asks something of you, or He confuses you, or suddenly starts to seem distant. Maybe your expectations go unmet and before you know it, you are left with a choice to make. Do you stay or do you go?

The crowds left. And I can imagine the scene was a little uncomfortable. Maybe they all left at once, or maybe one by one—as Jesus continued to baffle and bewilder. Regardless of how it happened, by the end of His teaching only twelve remained—the twelve disciples. And after the crowd disbanded, Jesus turned and asked those who lingered, “You do not want to leave too, do you?” (John 6:67 NIV). And in the substantial pause after the weighted question Peter looks at Jesus and answers, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68 NIV).

Peter and the rest of the disciples heard the same message the crowd did. They probably had the same questions and dealt with the same confusion as those who walked away. But Peter vocalizes what the twelve knew and the crowd didn’t. “No one else can do what You do. No one else talks like You talk. No one else offers what You offer—not just bread to eat, but words that satisfy. We may not get You all the time. We may not understand what You want so badly for us to understand, but where else would we go, if not here? Who else would we turn to, if not to You?”

There is going to come a time when we find ourselves in the same place as the disciples did. When this happens and we get before God and confess our confusion and admit our disinterest, He asks us, “You don’t want to leave too, do you?” And this is the point where we need to make a choice—when we need to make a call. Do we really believe that Jesus holds the words of eternal life? Do we really believe it is worth sticking it out—despite our uncertainty, our confusion, our expectations? Do we really believe that this relationship—as difficult as it may be at times—is worth fighting for? And if we do, then we have the chance to say, like Peter, “Lord, to whom shall we go? I haven’t got this all figured out, but I know this. You have the words of eternal life.”

And that is a great place to start. The best place to start. Not with answers, not with clarity, not with complete and total understanding. Just a simple statement that says exactly where you are—with no place else to go, and the confidence and the faith that being with the Jesus is the best place to be.


The Cover Up

By Sarah Anderson

I don’t know about you, but there are some things I just don’t need to be taught how to do. Some things just come naturally to me—like covering things up. Chances are you know this. We know how to sound good, look good and even act good, when deep down there may be a mess about ready to erupt inside of us. For whatever reason, we aren’t always that great at admitting when something is difficult, when things confuse us, when life doesn’t make any sense or when God seems far away. Rather than run the risk of being judged or looked down on, we put on a pretty smile and figure it out ourselves.

It’s stupid really. Because pretending usually doesn’t fool anybody, and it certainly doesn’t fool God. There is a story in the book of Mark where we meet a man who got this. Take a look at Mark 9:17-27. In the story, a dad brings his son, who is possessed by an evil spirit, to Jesus. It seems this boy is thrown into convulsions and unable to speak when the spirit takes hold of him. And the boy’s dad is feeling hopeless. He simply wants his son to be healed from a childhood marked by his horrible affliction, but no one can figure out what to do to help him—the disciples themselves tried to free the boy with no luck.

The dad is in a tough spot. He is out of options. Out of answers. Out of opportunities. So when his son is brought to Jesus, the father pleads with little expectation of any change, “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us” (Mark 9:22 NIV). It is an honest request. “If you can do anything, take pity. Help.” Here is a guy at the end of his rope. Here is a man who has nowhere else to turn but to a Jewish rabbi who has a group of ragtag followers and the tendency to declare Himself God. At this point he is willing to try anything.

And it seems that Jesus knows this man’s situation. He picks up on the subtle condition in the man’s request. “If you can” the father had asked, and Jesus responds with, “‘If you can?’ Everything is possible for him who believes” (Mark 9:23 NIV). This is the chance a desperate dad has been waiting for. “Anything is possible?” He wonders. “Even healing? Even freedom from this spirit? Even a chance at a normal life?” But what Jesus is asking for is belief, for faith, for hope in an outcome that has seemed stubbornly illusive and far from a reality. Jesus is asking for trust, and after all the disappointment this dad has seen and experienced, he isn’t sure he can muster any up.

Mark records this happening, Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24 NIV). This is a man in a desperate situation who knows Jesus can handle his desperate faith. In one swift profession, a father makes clear his craving for healing and for hope, and his utter lack of confidence in both. He knows that all Jesus is asking for is belief, but after all these years of disappointment, he isn’t sure he has much to offer.

It isn’t often that we live that honestly—not with one another and certainly not with God. If someone asked us if we “believe,” if we have faith, if we have hope, many of us would answer with a confident “of course,” even if deep down we can’t figure out what we think or who we hope in. But this man with the sick son looks into the eyes of Jesus and tells him exactly where he is. “You want me to believe? I want to believe, but I am not sure I do and I am not sure I can.” Jesus was not mad, disappointed and certainly not surprised. And do you know what He does? He heals the boy. Not based on the grand amounts of faith a fearful father can muster up, but in spite of his lack of faith, coming on the heels of his honest confession. “I do believe, but I don’t believe. And I need more than just a healed son. I need help with the part of me that doesn’t know who You are or what You can do.”

There is freedom in coming clean—with your struggles, with your mistakes, with your unbelief. God does not run and hide from your honesty. In fact He embraces it and is able to work in spite of it. The possessed son was healed. And in a way, so was the dad. They got more than just a solution to a physical remedy. They had an encounter with God—who wanted nothing more from them than belief and an honest confession of what they were lacking.

If you encountered Jesus today, what would you cry out to Him? Think beyond what you need. What would you honestly and sincerely tell Him? “I do trust You, help my lack of trust!” “I do want to follow You, help where I don’t.” “I do think You exist, help me when I just don’t feel sure.” “I do think You have a plan, help me when I don’t think that plan includes me.” “God, I’m not that into You, help me.”

You may be surprised what happens when you get that honest with God. You may get more than what you came for. You may get an encounter with a God who can handle your doubts, your disappointment and even your disinterest—and who works in spite of it.


In Your Corner

by Jessica Synan

In high school, no one wants to talk about “honoring your parents.” It just doesn’t come up in conversation. Everyone talks about how annoying their parents are and how many restrictions they have to deal with. There’s always something to complain about.

A friend of mine (we’ll call her Leah) recently called to inform me that she had smoked marijuana the night before. Leah is seventeen, a state-ranked swimmer and a struggling Christian. And you know what? Even though she could get away with whatever she wanted to do, she still hated her mom for being too much in her business.

Leah really didn’t see a need to honor her parents in her actions and decisions. She only cared about her life. She didn’t understand that her actions reflected on her parents, that they hurt her parents and that she was putting up giant walls in those relationships.

A few weeks later, after she and I had engaged in several difficult conversations, she finally decided to talk to her mom about the stuff that was going on with her. Of course her mom cried. A lot. And Leah felt even more horrible because she could see just how much her lifestyle of selfishness hurt her mom.

I talked with Leah and let her know that even though this time of healing in the relationship with her mom was painful, it was worth it in the long run. She needed someone “in her corner,” and I knew that her mom was the perfect person for that job. Things weren’t easy. They still aren’t. But at least Leah is now on the right track toward honoring her parents.

Are you like Leah? Even though you believe in God, do you still do things that don’t honor your parents? Do you need to sit down and have a serious talk with your parents about some of the things that have been less-than-honoring in your life lately?

It’s not an easy task to start really honoring your parents, but God promises that when we honor them, it will “go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth” (Ephesians 6:3 NIV).


The Good Fight (Family Series)

by Damian McCrink

Dear Parents of Teenagers,

As the Student Pastor here at The Orchard Community, I am excited to announce an upcoming series for you and your student. We know that we only have a limited window of influence in your teenagerʼs life, but as parents you have a lifetime of influence. In student ministry we often stress the importance of having a right relationship with oneʼs parents. We also know that the teen years can be a difficult season that can cause a strain on relationships within the family. As a parent of two toddlers, my wife Nancy and I have learned to choose our battles. I know this is even more the case in the teen years. The Good Fight series gives you and your teen something to fight for: your relationship with one another. I encourage you as we begin the New Year to be a part of this three week series. I am not promising that all of your problems will be solved, but I do believe it will be a good starting point for building a healthy, long-lasting relationship with your teen. During our time together we will have fun games to play, worship led by our youth, and group teaching. There will also be a break-out time where you will hear from other parents who have survived the teen years and others who are just on the brink. Please join us for this exciting series. I look forward to the journey.


Damian McCrink
Student Ministry Pastor