The time of Middle School entering into high school is, by far, some of the hardest years teenagers have to deal with. It’s that “in between” time when kids are turning into adolescences and are trying to find out where they fit in.
Sadly, the media has greatly targeted this age bracket and is trying to set the standard for how they should dress, talk, act, and what their worldview should be. This can create some very conflicting messages when they are confronted with the truth of Jesus. This truth says that they are valuable, intricately created, not to be looked down upon and that their life has meaning; exactly opposite of what the world tells them.
Here at Cutting Edge, we greatly value teenagers. We believe God has a specific plan for each of them and that He wants to use them at the age they are right now to change the world for His glory. During the summer months, we have a lot of new faces come out who are just finishing 6th grade and are now old enough to come to Cutting Edge. To show them how glad we are to have them here, and really give them a sense of identity within the place, Pastor Jim has created “Summer Slam”. Summer Slam is a three-day event in July that is built to welcome all students who are entering into 7th grade. It is also open to all of our 8th and 9th grade students. This year it will be Monday, July 9 to Wednesday, July 11. These three days are centered on a creative theme (normally one we choose from a current and popular movie) and through that theme we teach the Word of God to them. We combine this with plenty of summer- friendly games (most of which are very messy!) and a whole lot of food! The event concludes with a giant pool party and barbeque followed by an official welcome during the Wednesday night youth service in The Underground.
This year, we have chosen our theme to be from the blockbuster hit, The Avengers. Opening on May 4, it made movie history when it grossed an unbelievable 1 billion dollars in the first two weeks! Given its awesome story line and massive following within teen culture, we couldn’t refuse the amazing opportunity to use it as a tool to reach the students of this year’s Summer Slam!
When I personally first started coming out to the youth ministry nearly 12 years ago this summer (wow, that flew by fast), Summer Slam had not been created. I can remember finding it a bit difficult for me to find where I fit in. However, since we have been putting Summer Slam on since 2007, we have found that it has had a tremendous impact in getting the students connected with one another and the ministry. One of our juniors in high school who is now one of our student leaders said that it was Summer Slam that really opened the doors for her to get involved with being a part of other ministries within Cutting Edge. She spoke for her friends when she said that it was the biggest thing to look forward to in junior high!
We are praying that this summer we will be able to reach into teenagers lives and meet them right where they are, showing them that the Lord has a plan for their life. Summer Slam will hopefully be the catalyst for that kind of an amazing summer!
Gabriele Aquilino, Youth Staff