Staff Summer Adventures

Work hard, play hard! As a staff we worked hard this summer to have one of our best Summer Adventures programs to date at the Centers, but we also made time for fun with our families and our friends. As summer somehow already comes to a close, we are reflecting on our favorite memories.

Evan, Executive Director

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This summer has been a blast with our two boys, Owen and Ethan, keeping us on our toes.  We got to spend a whole week on a farm in June with some beloved friends.  Owen’s favorite part was chasing the chickens around and running from the geese!  Sometimes we just need a break from city life and this trip was so good for our souls.

Kendall, Henderson Center Director

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My highlight this summer was spending my first summer with my wife. We went on so many different adventures both in and out of the city! We drove to the Seven Magic Mountains, which was really cool, and we took a road trip to Dallas for my brother-in-law’s wedding. We also spent a lot of time swimming and hanging out with our friends.  It’s been a blast getting to know Katie more and sharing in all these experiences together as husband and wife!

 

Jessica, Las Vegas Center Director

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This summer has been an amazing summer of firsts for my family and I.  It was my first summer on staff with Club Christ, which was awesome!! We experienced our first family trip to Six Flags Magic Mountain. Our family concentrates on life being an adventure and we love to be adventurous together.  We rode roller coasters together and screamed and laughed hysterically. We also went to the Santa Monica Pier where our three daughters tried their first ever funnel cake!! We relaxed on the beach, splashed against the waves, and dug in the sand; creating lasting memories of togetherness. We also sent our oldest daughter to her first summer camp trip where she learned to intentionally get into adventure with God! We have enjoyed the change of pace with summer and are so excited about the new adventures the school year will bring!!

Angela, Program Director 

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This summer has been one of my favorites and it totally flew by! There are definitely two highlights though. I started my new role at Club Christ as Program Director in June. I loved writing the summer curriculum and organizing all of it.  Since then I’ve been working on the teen curriculums for the school year and writing grants; I am excited about this opportunity to grow and strengthen my skills! The other highlight of my summer was that I traveled a BUNCH. In June I went to Denver and Los Angeles, in July I went to Los Angeles/Santa Monica, and in August I went to Prescott, Arizona and Denver again. I traveled to Denver for my best friend Megan’s bridal shower and wedding, Los Angeles for a trip with the Henderson teens and then in July as a mini-vacation, during which I went to Harry Potter world at Universal Studios (#bestdayever), and then for five days in August I led a group of nine amazing 5th grade girls at Kids Camp in Arizona. So many special memories in those trips and I feel very lucky that I was able to experience each one!

“One must maintain a little bit of summer, even in the middle of winter.”

-Henry David Thoreau

The Four Toxic Cultural Ingredients

It’s easy to look around and see the hurt and brokenness of the world; especially in the youth we serve. Today’s culture can have toxic effects on teenagers and that is why Club Christ exists. We want to teach our students about Jesus and how HE lived. Below are just four of the struggles we have seen with our teens and our Biblical responses.

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Narcissism – It’s All About Me

“Hang on, let me filter this before I post on Instagram. I wonder how many likes I’ll get?!” 

Well I know what you are thinking… “It’s that darn social media that’s ruining these kids. All those selfies and Snapchats!”  But really, I don’t think that social media is the problem, it is more of a symptom.  Young people want attention and our culture not only feeds that, it celebrates those who seek fame.  So when we approach this toxic thought with our students, we remind them to think like John the Baptist who said about Jesus: “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” (John 3:30)

Entitlement – I Deserve This Stuff

“What do you say?” “Oh, yeah, thank you.”

That’s a common exchange at our Club Christ Centers anytime we pass out the afternoon snack.  We are careful to teach students the many ways to show gratitude and we are careful to not create or feed a sense of entitlement.  We realized long ago that we didn’t want to be seen as a one-stop-shop for everything, free of charge.  When people offer to donate clothes for our kids we often say, “No thanks.” We don’t want to foster a feeling of entitlement in our students; instead we want them to work hard and earn things, like field trips and rewards.  The Bible has a lot to say about diligence, “The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.” (Proverbs 13:4)

Materialism- More and More Stuff

“When are you getting the new J’s?”

When I first started serving at Club Christ, I would see kids wearing shoes worth well over a hundred dollars.  Then I would go over to their little two-bedroom apartment and see a huge 60-inch flat screen on the wall while they are sleeping on mattresses on the floor. It didn’t make sense until I realized that materialism doesn’t just impact the rich, it is alive and well in our inner cities.  It’s in the midst of this that we teach that material things are nothing compared with what a well-cultivated, inner-life, content in Jesus brings. “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” (Matt 16:26)

Oversexualization – Sex Minus Marriage

“What’s the point of getting married? You’ll just end up divorced.”

There is a lot of cynicism among the young people we serve when it comes to marriage.  They are taught to treat sex casually, do whatever you want as long as it is legal and consensual.  But we see the ramifications of this all the time when a kid tells us he doesn’t know his biological dad. There aren’t any quick fixes to this problem but we are doing our best to share with the next generation that “It is God’s will that… each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable…” (1 Thes 4:3-4)

As we begin a new school year, join us in prayer that we allow God to use us to do His work and that more youth in Las Vegas come to know Jesus!

-Evan Hartsell, Executive Director, Club Christ

Millennials just don’t want to go to church

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It has been said that this current generation—Millennials (born between 1990 and 1994) are leaving the church at a rate higher than any other time in history. There have been countless studies on the cause of this mass exodus. Most of these theories boil down to this idea of “authenticity.” What millennials want is for churches, pastors, etc. to be authentic. As a Millennial myself, I agree.

However, there is one area where millennials are performing well-rallying under a cause bigger than ourselves. Look at Bernie Sanders’ recent campaign built primarily on donations and support of millennials rallying together under the notion of free healthcare and education. Look at the Occupy Movement in 2011- young people had no idea why they were camping in a park in New York, but they did it anyways!

Millennials, more than any other generation, are dependent on relationships. And because of texting, social media, news, and the internet, we’re aware of what’s going on in the world and we care. We care about people, the environment, politics, and even caged chickens! And because we care, we join together to support any cause that our close friends and family are passionate about. This generation is driven by relationships. We have this desire to live in close community, to coexist, to support one another.

Does anyone else find it odd that a generation more passionate about relationships than any other generation is struggling to find a home in the Church?

Acts 2:42-47 gives us a beautiful description of the church in its early days:

All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. 43 A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. 44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. 45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. 46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— 47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

Jesus died for His church. But church was never meant to be about a Sunday service—it’s about community. We are designed to live in close relationship with other followers of Jesus- supporting one another as we grow, taking care of each others needs, and celebrating together because of what God has done for us! Christianity finds its fulfillment in community. The Church is a bunch imperfect people saved by grace forming a community that reflects Jesus.

Is this what my generation sees when they look at the church? I wonder if we’ve gotten too caught up in growth strategies and fancy production that we’ve overlooked God’s instructions the church.

Millennials want community. We are part of the ultimate community—a community that is founded on the grace of God, operating in radical generosity, and enduring into eternity. We are a thriving community of imperfect people, following a perfect and loving God. This is what millennials need. This is what we all need.

So what can you do to help this generation? What can I do? Here are three simple steps we can all take to reverse the current trend of millennials leaving the church:

  1. Be yourself. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. If you hate skinny jeans, don’t wear them. If you like classical music, listen to it! You don’t need to change in order to connect with millennials. In fact, you’ll earn more respect by being you.
  2. Be generous. With your time, your talents, and your treasures. Generosity is one of the marks of Christianity. Why would we sell our things to take care of others? Because of Jesus.
  3. Be proud. The biggest mistake we can make is “taming down” our passion or zeal because we don’t want to come across as “weird” or “religious.” Let’s show this generation that God has given us something to be excited about!

What millennials need to see is the group of people who say Jesus has changed their lives actually living like Jesus has changed their lives!  So let’s be the church, church!

Written by resident Club Christ blogger, Kory Hale- youth pastor of Crossroads Community Church and a good friend to our Center and Marketing Director, Kendall. Kory loves his wife Faith and Lion, and is expecting another boy in December.

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Champions for Christ

At Club Christ, our summer program is unique because each week a team from a different church in Las Vegas comes to serve. It is a great way for more people to learn about us and see the work we do. The first week at the Las Vegas Center we had a team of interns from Grace City Church volunteer and they were an awesome group to kick off the program! One of the interns, Chevy, shares about his experience.

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Last month, a group of us from church were able to be part of an amazing thing happening in Las Vegas! What is it you ask? Club Christ! The program is truly life-changing for the kids and their families, AND even those who volunteer. We were only there for a week, but in that short amount of time, it was outstanding to see the children’s desire to learn, both academically and spiritually.

During the week I taught writing and math, and performed in a Bible skit on the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. The kids are writing their own books this summer and so we were there to help them choose a topic and begin brainstorming ideas. They are mind-blowing: so smart and full of wonderful ideas, with way-creative imaginations, plus handwriting better than my own! Their writing topics included adventures with Batman, traveling into the future, and pirates searching for gold.  When I taught math, kids were completing the math worksheets in seconds, faster than I could check their answers. With so much spare time for fun, we had them do problems that I thought would be hard (23 x 187), but with ease they finished, and I had to come up with bigger and bigger numbers (22,583 x 14,873) which they could solve in minutes!

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The kids we served are truly amazing and respectable, well-rounded and intelligent young kids, just ready to be poured into with the love of Christ and to be trained as champions for Christ! How amazing is that?! Keep it up Club Christ!

Chevy is 19 years old and currently a junior at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. He is studying Pastoral Leadership and believes he is called to plant a church in San Francisco. He enjoys being active (hiking and biking especially), serving the Lord (volunteering, mission trips), and spending time with people. His favorite Bible verse is Philippians 4:13I can do all this through him who gives me strength. 

We Almost Lost Him

I knew this kid was different and it wasn’t just because of his strange name… Myzaveon showed up at Club Christ in 2004, our very first year.  He was a scrawny little 5th grader with a twinkle in his eye.  He was bright, funny, and had a love for God that set him apart.  Over the years, he matured into a young man who didn’t want to follow in the footsteps of his cousins who were involved in gangs.  But it almost all came crashing down one afternoon when he was a junior in high school.

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That particular day another Club Christ teen walked in the door and said, “Myzaveon got kicked out of school today.” I freaked out and thought, “No way, Myzaveon!?” Turns out that another student picked a fight with him while he got on the school bus, which led to a scuffle and the bus driver reporting the whole incident to the principal.  Since the Clark County School District has a zero-tolerance policy for fighting, Myzaveon was immediately expelled.  I thought, “Man, are we losing Myzaveon too?”  Over the years we have had kids pivot away from us and get into all sorts of trouble.  I immediately began praying.

After sitting Myzaveon down and making sure that he had learned his lesson from this experience, I reassured him that God still had an amazing plan for his life.  He looked at me and said that he made a mistake and he would never do it again.  He was right.  Since that moment, I have not only seen Myzaveon make wise decisions, but I have witnessed him choose to make a difference in the lives of troubled youth by becoming a mentor at the local recreation center in the community where he grew up.

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Be sure to check out the video link at the end of this post to see a snapshot of who Myzaveon has become: a leader, a mentor, and a shining example of what Club Christ is here to do.  Our vision is to empower urban youth to transform their communities for Christ.  One way we would love to see their community transformed is for young men to value marriage and to make a covenant with their wives before having children.  I’m proud to say that Myzaveon married his lovely God-fearing fiancé this past year and they are doing wonderful.

I knew this kid was different.  It was because God set him apart.

Written by Evan Hartsell, Executive Director, Club Christ

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9ouz4uyIcY

The Best Week of Their Summer

Last week we had the awesome opportunity to send seven of our Las Vegas Center teens to Ignite Summer Camp with Central Church. They spent five days in Prescott, Arizona and made new friends and grew in their faith! We asked two of our students, Nathalie and Ashley, to share their experience with us.

What was the best part of camp and why? 

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Ashley: Well, the best fun part was when all of the middle school girls played Jamaican Pool-Pool; it was SO intense! And then my favorite part of service was when Drew, who leads the band, spoke about the Word of God and told us stories about Jesus. He was really encouraging and reminded me how Jesus, an innocent man, died for people who sin every day.

Nathalie: I would have to say the last night service was the best because it was amazing to see how many people recommitted their lives to God and I learned that I can start over fresh. And anytime we worshipped, just to look around and see other kids with their hands in the air, praising God just really effected me. I felt like I actually belonged to a group of people who are Christ-followers just like me.

How are you different since returning to Las Vegas?

Ashley: I am different because now I know the importance of staying close to God and I really want to stay close to Him. I am following the reading plan they gave us and I am reading my Bible every day.

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Nathalie: This experience has changed me in so many ways. It has made my faith grow stronger and stronger and helped me realize that I am a bright and smart girl. I feel like I have a second family because I met new people and grew close to them. I know that God loves me and has the best planned for me. I can trust Him!

What would you tell your small group leader? 

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Ashley: I would tell Christina a huge THANK YOU for staying there with us for a week and helping us grow in our faith and have fun.

 

 

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Nathalie: Tayler, thank you for everything! You cared for me when I was hurting and helped me when I needed it. Thanks for making me do the activities. You were the BEST leader!

 

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

-1 Timothy 4:12 

Alisa’s Unlikely Journey

The beginning of Alisa’s story is one that is too common for first generation Mexican-Americans living in Las Vegas.

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Raised in a home with an abusive father for the first few years of her life, Alisa struggled with trusting others. Her mom, a single mother who only spoke Spanish, struggled to provide financial and educational support. With an inability to read, it appeared Alisa and her siblings would become another drop-out statistic.

But God… 

Eight years ago, Club Christ opened a new Learning Center in old Henderson, and after hearing about us from her older siblings, Alisa was excited to learn to read and make friends. That’s where she met then Center Director, Kendra, and the volunteers. Slowly, her life began to change. A few weeks later, Alisa first learned about Jesus and God’s special love for those who are hurt and fatherless. She discovered that He has THE plan to make it better and that gave her the freedom she needed to trust others, especially Kendra.

Two years later, Alisa made significant progress in her reading and opened her life up to God. Sadly, due to a mold infestation that caused the housing complex to be torn down, Alisa and her family were forced to move abruptly and quickly find a new home. She wasn’t sure if she would ever see her friends, Kendra, and the Club Christ Learning Center again.

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Her mom struggled to find consistent work and without a community to support Alisa and her siblings in school, they began falling behind. Though her progress in reading began to fade and the stress began affecting her family, Alisa never lost hope. She took solace in a Bible given to her by Kendra and continued to trust that God would provide.

God proved to be faithful and three years after they were forced to move, Alisa’s family was invited to move back into the housing complex in old Henderson. She reconnected with Kendra and was encouraged to come back once the program started. Alisa and her brother Alam quickly re-enrolled and became faithful students of our teen leadership program, and begin to attend theSOCIAL, the youth group at Kendall’s church, Crossroads Community Church.

One month later and through the help of generous donations from our donors, Alisa and Alam were able to attend summer camp with theSOCIAL. They would never be the same because they made the decision to give their lives to Jesus! On this retreat away from the violence of the community and emotional stress of their struggling mother, Alisa learned, in her own words,”God, who is the Creator of the entire world loves me so much, that He wanted to take away my hurt with His love!”

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Today, Alisa is free from the fear left by an abusive father and is full of dreams, allowing God to use her to impact the community. Alisa continues to work hard in school, faithfully attending Club Christ and theSOCIAL, loving her family and trusting God. When asked what Club Christ has done for her, Alisa responded, “Before I came, I did not know Jesus existed. I now know God wants to change my life and use me to change the lives of others. Club Christ will help me work hard and build a better life when I get older.”

Alisa’s story is a success story not of our organization or theSOCIAL alone, but of God’s ability to change the lives of people who are lost, broken and hurt. It is our privilege to share this story with you, and we thank you for your continued support of Club Christ.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: 

The old has gone, the new is here!”

-2 Corinthians 5:17