Fishers UMC Blog

I’m Not Sharing my Gumballs

I blogged about my 300 gumballs last fall, but I think it’s important enough to revisit. I spent some time with a calculator and a calendar and all the figuring led me to the fact that there are approximately 300 Sundays from the time a student starts junior high until their high school graduation.

Three hundred is NOT very many!

As we plan, I have to consider our goals, our core values, & student needs. Goals take time to meet. Values take time to develop. Needs take time to identify and serve. As I pray about how to best serve junior high students and their families, I will often think about the gumballs. People will sometimes come into the student ministry office, my family included, and ask for a gumball. I just won’t share them. And by now, they’d likely chip a tooth after a year on the shelf.

I need the visual reminder. Seeing the gumballs from my desk chair is a consistent visual impression of the fleeting time that Fire & Water has with students. And of the fleeting time parents have with their students. As the needs of our ministry evolve, I have become aware of an increasing need to equip parents to disciple their student. A desire for increased intergenerational involvement came out of a series we did about the church last spring.

To help foster parental discipleship & break down some generational silos, junior high Bible study is changing this year. We will join the Who is Jesus? study on Wednesday evenings this fall. The study is open to anyone junior high age and up. I have been encouraging students to attend with or without their parents. I invite parents to be a part of the group as a joint study will foster spiritual discussions in the family. There is childcare available for anyone younger than junior high age.  I’ll be there to sit with junior high students who come alone or who don’t want to sit with their parent(s), but we’ll encourage intergenerational conversation and relationship building.

So, if you have a junior high or high school student I hope you’ll consider bringing the family on Wednesday evenings. If you don’t, I hope you will come too because we need what you have to offer the conversation. The study begins on September 6th. It is not cumulative, so you can come as much as you are able. Bring a Bible and meet us in the Narthex outside the Sanctuary at 7pm. Let me know if you need childcare.

I am excited about this way forward. A parent/child study was where God led me in early summer and the next day Troy shared that he was leading this study in the fall. Most certainly a God at Work moment! I pray you’ll consider being a part of this study and how you can impact the 300 Sundays for our Fire & Water students.

Liz Simmonds
Director of Jr. High Student Ministries

Because people like numbers…in the 300 Sundays we have approximately:
290 Sunday school lessons
175 Sunday evenings
180 Bible studies
6 mission trips
6 winter retreats
6 other retreats
Many serving opportunities including 24 Bingo times & approximately 192 Supermarket Sweeps Thursdays
Immeasurable conversations
And more
There's a certain weight to those numbers. And a hope. How may we use the time best? Asking for our church family will join me in prayer for  our students and that we may use our time wisely. 
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The Way of Jesus

In the wake of recent national events, I wrote the following on my Facebook page.  It seemed to resonate with a lot of people, and so today I share it with you.  May we offer the world a better way – the Way of Jesus.

“Sometime around 1960, my father - a baby at the time - was left at an orphanage in South Korea. He never knew his biological parents, who, I can only assume, made the most responsible, loving decision they/she could during a very difficult time. Thankfully, my father was adopted by an American couple - one of whom immigrated to the United States from England with her parents when she was a little girl.

A few years prior and completely unbeknownst to my father, my mother's father fought along the 38th parallel in the Korean War. Once or twice, my grandpa would tell me stories of his time in the war. They were pain-filled memories, but also ones of hope. My grandpa fought in the U.S. army alongside the South Koreans and other persons of color within his own regiment.

I am the product of a South Korean man and a U.S. Caucasian woman.

I am proud of that. And I am proud of them.

I am especially proud of them and for the memories I have during the particularly difficult times when they, we, my sisters, and I have been victims of racist remarks, labels, assumptions, actions, and behaviors.

I begin with their story, because their story is my story. I am the "hyphen." I am Korean-American. Perhaps this is why I feel such kinship with the God-Man, Jesus the Christ. He is the paradigmatic "Hyphen" who invites all who follow him to live a similar existence - as persons who walk with one foot on earth and the other in the Kingdom of God. Of course, Jesus-followers know that their allegiance to Christ takes priority over their allegiance to any particular flag. Sometimes we forget or too quickly conflate the two.

I also share this because I believe, very deeply, that we are #BetterTogether. I know that is not easy, that it takes work, that it takes humility and the willingness to learn from those different than ourselves. I also know this is a work we MUST be about and for which we must diligently strive, particularly we who call ourselves followers of Jesus.

There is no place for racism. There is no place for national rhetoric rooted in fear. There is no place for partisanship, denominationalism, or even something as basic as school-allegiance to divide us any longer.

This is a call for diligence. This is a call for repentance. This is a call for forgiveness. This is a call to no longer be afraid.

For it is most certainly true: "There is no fear in love. For perfect love drives out fear." 1 John 4:18


Pastor Jared Kendall
Associate Pastor

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