What was life like for you in middle school? For me, it seemed my brain was permanently detached from my body (in the interest of full disclosure, not much has changed). My ears were too big, my braces and/or retainer caused me to whistle when I spoke, I frequently tripped over my own feet, I attempted to manipulate scenarios so I could sit at the “cool kids” table during lunch, my voice cracked at the most inconvenient times, and I fell in love with almost every girl I saw.

In other words, I was a walking circus freak show.

Thankfully, God rescued me from my odd body, a roller coaster of hormones, and an ever-diminishing level of self-esteem. As I look back on my life experience in middle school, I learned how to calculate the area of a triangle and diagram a sentence, but that’s about it.

Don’t get me wrong: I had a happy childhood and parents who loved and sacrificed for me. There were dozens of people who invested in my life and I’ll be forever grateful for their instruction. The problem was me. I can’t seem to remember making a difference in anyone’s life…

Fast forward to the present day. Let me tell you what God did through a handful of middle school students at Cleveland Middle School in Garner, North Carolina.

Five students felt a burden to reach their campus for Jesus. They were unsure how to proceed, so they called in the big guns: Joel Rowland, our student pastor and area director for First Priority, agreed to meet and provide some guidance and encouragement.  Here’s the timeline of what God did in a mere 28 days:

  • Week 1: Joel met with 5 students in a classroom at Cleveland Middle School. Together they prayed that God would fill that room with students who needed to hear the gospel.
  • Week 2: Ten students showed up–the group doubled in attendance!
  • Week 3: Jaws dropped when 30 students walked into First Priority. The very room they prayed in was full!
  • Week 4: In just 28 days, 47 (yes, 47!) students filled the classroom, but that’s not the best part of this story. On that day, 16 students said “yes” to Jesus and trusted Him with their life!

Five teenagers responded to the prompting of God. As a result, 16 of their classmates had their lives and eternities changed.

God is still in the miracle business. It doesn’t matter if you’re a corporate executive who thinks she has more money than time, a single parent who is constantly exhausted, a retired wayfarer who wonders if anyone still cares enough to listen, or a middle school student who is fighting a losing battle against acne–God wants to use you to accomplish the mission of helping people find and follow Jesus.

If you’d like to partner with us as we change the world, take a few minutes and join one of our volunteer teams. It’s always an adventure and you never know what God’s going to do next.


What’s coming up:

  • SHORT-TERM MISSIONS IN CUBA. The Church @ Clayton Crossings’ mission to help people find and follow Jesus extends beyond Johnston County. This year we’re offering two mission trips (April 21-28 and June 30-July 7) to visit with our partner churches in Cuba. For more information, please contact Adam Durovey (missions@claytoncrossings.com) or you can submit an application online at com/missions.
  • SUNDAY MORNING PRAYER TEAM. Are you looking for a place to serve? You can join our prayer team and pray for one of our worship services while it’s happening! To sign up or for more information, visit ly/CCPrayerTeam.
  • DADDY-DAUGHTER DANCE. The Church @ Clayton Crossings is hosting the annual Daddy Daughter Dance on Saturday, March 18 from 6:00–9:00pm. This year’s theme is “Denim and Diamonds”. This treat for dads and kids features a catered dinner, DJ entertainment, dancing, and a professional photographer. Tickets are only $20 per person–register online at ly/DDDance2017.


What I’m reading:
Saturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life by Jeff Vanderstelt
A History of Christianity in the United States by Mark Noll


About me:
John Sanders is the non-stuffy pastor at The Church at Clayton Crossings. His primary mission is to help people find and follow Jesus. Additionally, he longs to write like the child of Aaron Sorkin and Dave Barry, preach like W.A. Criswell, look like Bradley Cooper, and eat like he’s seventeen years old. A more complete (and less snarky) bio can be found here.


Let’s be friends:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jtsandersiii
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jtsanders3