The Clubhouse: Student Ministry

April 21st, 2013
prayer cards for the congregation

Front and center on the Students page of the Ginghamsburg website is a quick video by Chris Freeman, the Director of Student Ministry. Chris explains how the student ministry centers on their love of Jesus and being a Christ follower. What comes next are the three areas in which the ministry is focused: community, discipleship, and service.

“…you need to know that service is such an important part of what we do as well. We believe that God wants to use students right now to change his world and so we like to give you as many opportunities as we can to allow you to give and invest in the community around you…” Chris

One ministry that students may participate in is The Clubhouse a non-profit partner with Ginghamsburg Student Ministry. The Clubhouse prepares teens with a service opportunity to provide free, faith-based programs to students in grades 2-6 who have limited opportunities. Teens serving at The Clubhouse must be entering seventh grade and may participate up through twelfth grade. The Clubhouse Director is Cheryl Bender. I recently chatted with her about The Clubhouse and her work there.

How did you personally get involved with The Clubhouse? And how long have you been serving there?
I have been with Clubhouse for the last twenty-two years and very passionate about working with teen leaders to reach out to children as mentors. As a teen I received amazing hands-on experiences that helped shape my faith and thinking, to be who I am today. I was blessed to have those experiences as my friends from other churches didn’t have the same challenges through hands-on service. Through Clubhouse I am able to further these opportunities to the next generation of teens who want to serve others for Jesus in real ongoing ways in their neighborhoods or those near them.

You have a LCSW degree, did you ever dream you’d be working with a church to help children in this way?
Actually I’m a Licensed Social Worker with a Clinical Psychology background. I knew that I would work in a faith based organization but not necessarily in a church setting. I was truly blessed to have grown up at Ginghamsburg Church that has vision to do things outside the typical church model. So when the position of Clubhouse Director was established it was like a natural fit for me to do what I had always treasured. Building teen leaders through service learning and providing a supportive relationship structure for children a win-win for both ages. Teens developing skills and finding out more about how to use of their faith to meet real needs around them. And then providing free afterschool and summer challenges for children that need as many positive caregivers as they can get!

What has been the greatest reward for you as the Director?
Simply seeing ordinary teens giving their time to do extraordinary things with the children. Through investing their time they develop relationships with the children. Challenging them to make wiser decisions, planting seeds for future dreams and caring about the day-to-day things like not just doing their homework but understanding how they do it! Also, watching teens find out more about what God has placed them on this earth to do with their lives.

How many children, teens, and adults are involved in The Clubhouse?
Each year Clubhouse has over 400 teens and 90 adults that serve the 400 children that attend. Over the years Clubhouse has had 6,000 teen mentors working with 7,500 children.

When you first started The Clubhouse what was the greatest challenge?
My biggest challenge was actually people not believing that teenagers could design and lead an afterschool program long term. However it didn’t take long for other churches, communities, and funders to see the simple effective way Clubhouse works. I've included some letters from Clubhouse children who are now adults who wanted to share more of their experience! I hope you enjoy reading their stories. Click on the pdf The Clubhouse testimones below.

Ways to Serve at The Clubhouse

Clubhouse iComprehend – for teens in seventh through twelfth grade
Teens who can simply read and do fifth grade math are needed at The Clubhouse and more importantly the children need YOU. We provide the training, and you bring the care for kids grade 2-5 to do more than get their homework done!

Clubhouse Adult Servants
Adult members [of Ginghamsburg] are invited to help The Clubhouse teens by providing homework help, tutoring, behind the scene organization, sharing your hobbies, driving students from two area schools to The Clubhouse, or basic data entry. 

Clubhouse Prayer – How the Congregation Serves
Members commit to cover one Clubhouse child in prayer along with their family, school and neighborhood. Starting in January, Clubhouse provides prayer cards.

Faith Days - teen leaders
Creative themed days with small groups of 2-4 children participating in interactive games, crafts, discussions, and journaling for the purpose of building the faith of the children.

Sport, Art & Life Skills - teen leaders
Teens design and share with children a sport, art, dancing, music, or other activities they choose for the purpose of teaching basic skills to interested groups of children. Teens create a six week program proposal or help co-lead with another teen leader.

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