Student Spotlight: Meet Lindsey

“I’m eight years old and I love pirates and animals.”

-Lindsey

Lindsey has attended our Las Vegas Center since she was in 1st grade and she has made AMAZING academic gains. When she first arrived, she was reading on a pre-primer level and over the years has improved so much that she is now reading on a 7th grade level. Her confidence has greatly increased and she is always the first to volunteer to read during Bible Study or share her answer during “Question of the Day” time. Lindsey is always smiling and willing to help her peers.

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What is your favorite thing about the Center? 

I love this Center because they help me with my homework and they help you become better readers. My other favorite things are when we go on field trips to places like Chuck E. Cheese or the Springs Preserve and when we pray. 

What is your favorite subject in school? 

I like all of my classes, but my favorites are science, math, and reading. 

What are your dreams for your future?

I want to help kids and help other people. 

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“We change the world when we simply meet the needs of others.”

-Kristen Welch

Student Spotlight: Meet Maria

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How long have you been coming to the Learning Center?

I’ve been attending for about six years.

 

img_3693Why do you like the Learning Center?

I like to come to the Learning Center because of the supportive leaders and students that I meet!

 

What do you want to do when you grow up? Why?

I want to be a cop or social worker because of the experiences my family has faced in the past. I want to help others, especially those who are facing challenging situations like what I experienced while at Child Haven.

 

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Why do you like going to youth group?

I like it because I enjoy Pastor Kory’s messages and meeting encouraging people.

 

What are you most excited about?

I’m most excited about graduating high school and going to college!

 

 

Maria is on track to be the first high school graduate of our Henderson Learning Center. It hasn’t always been easy, but she is thankful for the support she has received and ready to make the most of her bright future!

Urban Gardening

I once built a planter to sit on my hot, cement porch because I wanted to embrace urban gardening.  I knew Las Vegas would be a tough place to grow fruit and vegetables, but I was determined.  Every morning and night I would carefully fill a giant 8-quart pasta pot with water and walk from my kitchen, over the carpet, and out the front door.  I planted strawberries, tomatoes, and cucumbers in a bag of rich soil bought at Lowe’s. I began watering and waiting, watering and waiting.

Months later, as the summer heat began to bake my little veggies, I finally began to see the fruition of my hard work.  Tiny strawberries bloomed and mini tomatoes turned from green to red.  But it was those cucumbers that SURPRISED me. The cucumbers were huge and while the other two plants withered up in the heat, those cucumbers THRIVED.  I may not have succeeded in every attempt, but with patience I learned that cucumbers were my thing!

I learned two things about ministry from my first and only attempt at an urban garden:

Growing takes a lot of time, attention, and water

At Club Christ we understand that with kids, success isn’t overnight. Each week our volunteers and donors invest their time, talent, and treasure into troubled, disadvantaged youth. Our students memorize Bible verses, practice their manners, read challenging books, listen to their mentors, and finish their homework.  And our hope is that they blossom…Well they are!  As this new school year begins, we have two solid groups of kids who come ready to work hard and we are seeing the results.  Almost all our kids are reading at their grade level, which is beyond their peers at local public schools.  On top of that we are seeing God develop fully-committed disciples of Jesus who are ready to change the world!

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Some things grow better under pressure than others

Many of our students overcome huge odds to succeed. Next month I’ll attend London and Kaylynn’s wedding: London was one of our very first students 12 years ago and I’ve been his mentor ever since.  This will be the first wedding in three generations of his family history.  He is making history and overcoming odds despite immense pressure to follow his peers who don’t value marriage. Young people like London are who we want to see blossom this year at Club Christ.  We are stepping up our teen mentoring program to include an intensive work and college readiness program.  All of this is paired with a unique and powerful faith-based approach to mentoring urban youth.

Our kids are going to SURPRISE you!  They are THRIVING thanks to your support and investment! I guess I am good at urban gardening; I just needed the right soil.

Written by Evan Hartsell, Executive Director 

Mom’s Night Out

IMG_2728Last week the Las Vegas Center held the first ever Mom’s Night Out! It was so much fun to spend time with the mom’s of our awesome Club Christ kiddos.  I loved getting to know them on a deeper level and hearing their likes, their backgrounds, and their hilarious mom stories.  We laughed so hard we cried,  we ate seconds, and then we indulged in dessert.   And did I mention it was all kid-free!?!? It was an incredible treat spending time with these superheroes.  They face some intense struggles: some are single parents, some have absolutely no family in Las Vegas, and some have no idea where the next rent payment will come from.  Yet they all shared about how blessed they are.  They talked about how rich they are because they are healthy and their children are healthy.  I think the most beautiful part of our discussion, was when each mom shared that living in community together was so valuable to them.  The time flew by and before I knew it, it was already to time to clean and pack up all of the delicious leftovers. As we left, all of the moms asked when we would have the next event; they are so eager to gather together again in community! IMG_2731 (1)

I know God has led me to Club Christ and that He has a plan for each child, each mom, and each family.  I am thrilled God allows me the opportunity to come alongside them and go on this journey of life with them.
 “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”
-Helen Keller 
By Jessica, Las Vegas Center Director 

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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