How do we honor God online?
This was the topic of our two-day spiritual focus, NEXUS, held Wednesday, August 29 and Thursday, August 30. The first full week of school brought the secondary students a chance to set their minds on God and ask themselves the hard questions about their technology usage, at NEXUS. Students were able to have a change of pace and spend a couple hours each day fellowshipping, assessing and praying. NEXUS is a time set apart by SCCS to help its students have a right focus for the year. It is important for them to build relationships together but also witness each other growing in relationship with God. Pastor Kennedy encouraged students to really think of the meaning of NEXUS, which is to focus or be centered. This year’s focus was specifically about honoring God online. As SCCS has partnered with parents to bring a new technology initiative to the school but also provide safety for the students, we want to encourage students to think about their screen time and how it affects their walk with the Lord. The school wanted the topic of having a God centered focus, especially when using technology, to be at the forefront of the students’ minds.
Mrs. Clapper led a time of team building and fellowship each day as students could compete in games and also build relationships. It is a time for all secondary grades to bond while gathering-whether students have been at SCCS their whole lives, are new to the school or are a part of our homeschool ILP group. On Wednesday after a time of worship and prayer, Dr. Jones brought a message of relationships to the student body. Dr. Jones was able to share his story and speak on God’s design for the relationships students have with one another. He encouraged students to pick another person from school and pray for them every day. We are to be a body of believers that put others before ourselves, Dr. Jones told the students. “Having the right relationship with Jesus Christ, your family, your friends and people you do life with needs to happen now. We are not guaranteed tomorrow.” Senior Megan Dombrowski said, “Nexus is an amazing time to take a break out of our week for two days in a row and to really focus on a specific topic. This year is so relevant and relates to my personal life. I loved listening to Dr. Jones and his encouragement to us.”
On day two, students were able to spend time together eating (food is always a favorite for teenagers), worshipping and listening to the day’s speakers. Though many students use technology as a main form of communicating with each other, researching information and posting for entertainment most are unaware of just how dangerous the internet can be. To illustrate how quickly online usage can become unhealthy and alarming, Captain Marquez, from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Special Victims Bureau came to speak to students about how critical it is to stay safe. He said, “Technology is amazing, but you must be safe. Make sure you always know personally who you’re communicating with (you’ve actually met the person). And remember nothing you do online is truly secret. It can all be found and often has lifelong consequences.” He told stories of teenagers who had become victims of online predators and implored the students to always take precautions when using the internet. It was an eye opening time for many students. Courtney, an 11th grader said, “Today made us more aware of the internet and the dangers that are out there…”
But even though students learned of the danger of technology, what do they do about their hearts? What does God say about technology and how to use it? They were encouraged to focus on technology’s impact on their relationship with God and others. Grace Baptist Church Care Pastor and SCCS parent, Dan Broyles, brought the word of God to the audience. He said that what gets families in trouble is secrets, and technology allows for a host of secrets. “We are as mature as how we handle our secrets. God wants us to be transformed in the private part of our lives that people don’t see.” It is important for teens to know that they can come to God with their secrets. God calls us to bring our secrets to Him because He wants us to have a clean heart before Him. Mr. Broyles also challenged the students to get off of their phones, video games, and other devices. To think about what God was actually doing in their lives and in the lives of their friends. He asked for them to not lose their curiosity, and simply settle for instant gratification of information and entertainment online.
Dr. Jones wrapped up the student portion of the event with a challenge to all students. “God calls us to a higher way of life. What are your aspirations, your big dreams? God has big dreams and big dreams for us; that’s the life God desires for you. Ask Him to show you how to not settle, but to have the wisdom and courage to chase the dream God has given you.” He also had the students spend time praying for the person they had chosen the previous day. It was an important time to follow through on the pursuit of relationships.
Thursday evening parents had the opportunity to listen to technology expert Scott Burnett on ways to keep their children and teens safe. Does your child’s computer or phone have a filter on it? Do you know how to see where they have been on the internet? Those were some questions that Scott challenged parents on. He outlined for us the precautions to keeps kids from going where they shouldn’t on the internet. He said that today’s cell phones are more technologically advanced than the first rocket. Yet we send them off in our children’s pocket! They have access to information like never before and we must think about where they are allowed to use this technology, what rules need to be in place so they know their parents’ expectations and how to make a safe usage strategy for each child in the home. It was an enlightening evening. Scott provided numerous options for apps, filters and devices that can give parents a handle on what their kids are doing online. It was a great night learning about how SCCS is keeping its students safe as well as providing parents with a means to do so at home as well. We are thankful for God using NEXUS this week to give a heavenly perspective on technology and relationships.