A visitor to Metamora, Illinois, who wanders into the Campus Life Center may find students playing foosball or video games, cramming for exams, or studying the Bible. Depending on the day or time, the center offers a place for students to connect with caring adults and explore their faith. Although the center opened last year, Chris Genders envisioned a teen hangout almost a decade ago. After years of ministry involvement, Genders left his position as youth pastor at Great Oaks Community Church, Germantown Hills, Illinois, to oversee the center and create strong partnerships with area churches and schools.
Twenty years ago, when Chris Genders was teaching special needs students and serving part-time as a youth pastor, he discovered a passion for ministering to high school students. In the years that followed, he served in various ministry roles but maintained a vision for student ministry. In 2007, Great Oaks Community Church asked him to lead their small groups ministry, but within months, he was helping lead the student ministry, too. A few years later, Great Oaks asked Chris to lead their student ministry full-time.
From there, the vision grew for a teen center. That vision grew in funding and scope, launching in 2019 through a partnership with Youth for Christ (YFC). Now, Chris serves full-time with YFC as the Director of the Metamora Campus Life Center which seeks to partner with area churches and schools to reach more students.