Here's how I remember it….
YOUNG LIFE INTEREST MEETING, SEPTEMBER, 1999
The Time: 7:00 pm -9:00 pm
The Town: Mackay, Idaho
The Location: According to my handwritten directions - the house 5 miles down a County Road on the left hand side just passed the split rail fence.
The Purpose: Interest Meeting to start Young Life
The Agenda: Starting Club at Mackay Jr/Sr High School - enrollment: 92
Coffee, Pie and Brownies
Introduction and Sharing
Discussion about kids at the local School (Mackay,High- Home of the fighting Mushers!)
What is Young Life?
12 Adults (1 local Pastor, 2 Ranchers, 3 Teachers, 5 Parents and 1 Forest Ranger)
3 Dogs were left in trucks parked outside
For much of my 40+ year career with Young Life this has been my life. It involves driving a few nights each week from small town to small town all over the Western United States with names you have never heard of and on county roads you have never been on. It involves traveling all in the hopes of getting to talk with people about bringing Young Life to their community.
One of many pivotal moments was at a YL interest meeting sitting in Hilda Goddard’s living room one fall evening. “We need to tell our neighbors in Challis, ID about this Young Life thing!” was the reaction of Harold, (one man in attendance) at the end of the night. I soon discovered that the “neighbors” in Challis lived at least 60 miles away! My understanding of the word ‘neighbor’ began to grow that night. The gap of distance was overcome by the closeness of circumstance. Even internationally, I have been struck by the countless villages, townships and small towns dotted all around the globe that share common traits and challenges. My constant prayer is that there are people in these places who will reach out to these kids to love them, walk with them and tell them about the hope that comes with a faith in Christ.
Harold, whether he knew it or not, shared the heart and vision of Jesus. He understood how God works through the ministry of YL to not only transform individual lives of students who attended Mackay Junior/Senior School, but to a greater extent, the entire community. The book of Matthew tell us that “Jesus made a circuit of all the towns and villages. He taught in their meeting places, reported kingdom news, and healed their diseased bodies, healed their bruised and hurt lives,” Mt 9:35 (MSG). Jesus wanted His message to get to everyone, so He went places most people would pass by. He had a heart and vision for the next small town!
We pass by our small towns and villages every day, giving them very little thought, but there are so many!
Here are a few interesting observations that I have learned in the past year.
In the United States there are 18,025 small towns.
There are over 32,000 schools in small towns, 18,000 secondary schools.
21% of the US population lives in small towns.
94% of the total sq. miles of the US (3.4 million sq. miles) are considered rural .
At risk behavior statistics in rural communities are identical to urban centers.
Here are some facts that you won’t find on any US government web-site.
Many small town high schools adjust schedules around the harvest or hunting seasons.
The nearest Walmart may be over an hour away.
The local high school may have special parking for students tractors or horses.
It is a community event when a new fast food restaurant opens!
YL leaders have been known to reschedule summer camp dates to not interfere with the County Fair.
…. And there is a pretty good chance that you have a small town ‘neighbor’ right down the street within 60 miles or less. So what do you do?
4 Steps to think about the NEXT school!
Never forget to Pray – get a map and draw a circle with your town in the center of a 60-mile radius. Pray for towns in this circle; pray for the towns that jump out at you; pray as you drive through them; pray for the Lord of the Harvest to raise up workers. Do a prayer walk through the town. TRY THIS: Set an alarm on your watch to remind you to pray at 9:38 (Matt 9:38). Pray each day for one or two of the towns in the circle of your “neighborhood”
Enquire – Ask your Committee, Leaders, Friends, who knows somebody in these towns? TRY THIS: Contact Young Life Alumni & Friends to help you find people in town who may have a Young Life background. Make some calls to pastors, civic leaders, and business people.
eXtend a hand – Get a leader, a committee member, Club kid, friend and make a road trip! TRY THIS: Go to the town, spend time in the community, 1. pray at the school, 2.eat at a local restaurant, 3. meet with a local Pastor.
Take the next step – Mobilize someone in the town to host a meeting of people who care about the kids in their community and need to know more about Young Life. You can check out the Small Town Tool Box to give you ideas for this meeting
There are Small Towns everywhere we go. Slow down, take some time to notice them and then do the NEXT steps. Email Me if you would like to receive the Small Town Newsletter or would like to attend the Small Town Summit in December. To learn more or if you have any questions check out the resources below for help.
Resources to help: Small Towns- The Atlantic Magazine
Small Town Director – JC Bowman – firstname.lastname@example.org, 208-866-0540
Jump Starts – Don Stuber - email@example.com, 360-789-6676,
Ken Purnell - firstname.lastname@example.org, 541-620-0270
I was recently texted an article from the Southwest Airlines in-flight magazine with the headline, “How Many Hours Does it Take to Make a Friend?” Immediately my mind went to a letter written by our founder, Jim Rayburn, in 1952.
“For example, take our “contact work.” By that we mean the hours and hours that our leaders find it necessary to spend with the kids, meeting them where they are, going along with them, living with them.”
While Jim Rayburn couldn’t put a specific number on the hours that are spent by our volunteer leaders, earning the right to be heard, science is trying to.
“The Journal of Science and Personal Relationships” recently published a study by KU Professor, Jeffrey Hall, which reveals:
It takes 50 cumulative hours of hanging out (contact work) to go from 'acquaintance' to 'friend.'
It takes 90 hours to go from 'friend' to 'good friend’
It takes 200 cumulative hours to become someone's best friend.
“We have to put that time in,” Hall said. “You can’t snap your fingers and make a friend. Maintaining close relationships is the most important work we do in our lives — most people on their deathbeds agree.”
That should not come as a surprise to any Young Life leader, and it indeed would not be a surprise to Rayburn.
In today’s world, it is important to note that these hours refer to “face-to-face” time. Social media and texting simply won’t do. None of those technologies will ever replace showing up at the school or a Friday night game.
Let me put this in a Young Life context:
50 hours - Sounds like a weekend camp to me.
90 hours - That’s a great semester of contact work at lunches, games, and just hanging out with kids.
200 hours - Add a 20-hour bus ride to 7 days of summer camp, plus follow-up, and that’s what you will get.
If you are a leader struggling to get to that next level of friendship with your kids, you might consider what Hall calls at “context shift.”
“What seems to be the case is that doing something which I call a ‘context shift’ matters, which means that you want to spend time with somebody outside the place in which that you met them,” Hall said.
What Young Life calls “Level 1 Contact Work” (just showing up/being seen) and Level 2 Contact Work (conversing with a kid) has to experience that context shift to move to Level 3, doing something together. Without that critical shift, leaders are left with superficial relationships with kids that have little or no impact.
If you are a volunteer and feel you are stuck at “Level 1,” just showing up at the school or a game for an hour or two every week, ask your team leader to help you make that “context shift” with kids. Pray that God would help you see new opportunities ahead of you do deepen those relationships.
Maybe we didn’t need the “The Journal of Science and Personal Relationships” to tell us these things, but it’s helpful to see the science to back up what Rayburn knew. Those hours and hours of contact work you are putting in are not a waste of time. The Lord is using them!
“…many well-meaning Christians have felt that we are wasting time. Yet it is this time spent with the youngster, before and after his confession of Christ, that has made Young Life something far more than the ordinary youth movement. Not only do we win a hearing among the most difficult and hardest to reach, but after reaching them we stay with them, as a true missionary should. The winning and establishing of a soul for Jesus Christ cannot be done on a hit-and-run basis. The Lord Jesus Himself is our example in this.”
Keep logging those hours, volunteers. Science backs you up. But better yet, Jesus backs you up as well!
In 2017, Axis teams spoke to 24,000 students, provided resources to 80,000 parents, and helped start 1 million conversations between caring adults and teens. The magic of Axis is Culture Translation: interpreting student trends for parents while translating timeless theology, philosophy, and essential questions of life for their teens. Axis believes in the power of life-on-life discipleship between caring adults and the next generation!
“I wish there were 100s of groups like Axis. We are losing the next generation. We need help from people like Axis to reach teenagers.” - Tim Keller, PhD, Author & Pastor
Alpha is a series of sessions exploring the Christian faith, typically run over eleven weeks. Each talk looks at a different question around faith and is designed to create conversation. Alpha is run all around the globe, and everyone is welcome.
The series offers compelling stories, images, questions, and discussion topics well spread throughout each episode to better engage youth, helping them think about how these issues relate to their lives as they discuss with their friends and leaders.
Discount at InterVarsity Press for YL Staff!
InterVarsity Press has offered Young Life staff a 40% ongoing discount! All you gotta do is call 1-800-843-9487 and identify themselves as a "staff member with a ministry partnering with InterVarsity on campus." Our customer service staff will set up the accounts and communicate further instructions, including how to sign in at ivpress.com.
“Asking the right questions can take as much skill as finding the right answers.”
In working with Young Life Committees over the last few decades I have consistently heard the same questions surface from Committee members.
Q. What is my role?
Q. What do you need me to do?
Q. What is our plan?
Sometimes these innocent questions can quickly become frustrations and lead to significant challenges within your local YL Committee. I have seen us try to answer the questions too with lists of roles to fill, sub-committees to join, and ‘sign up’ sheets to fill out but these tactics are bandaids because oftentimes we have not addressed the key questions.
Below, I have listed 3 key questions that every Committee needs to answer. If you answer these well a few things will result:
You will never be at a loss for defining your next Committee agenda.
Every member of your team will have a good chance of having a role where they can serve and thrive on Committee.
Your YL Area will have clarity on direction, purpose and next steps.
Ready? Question 1.
WHO ARE WE? Most Young Life groups love this question and are pretty skilled at giving a compelling answer. It speaks to our purpose, mission and principles. Simply, the answer to this question will lead you toward your Core Values. Although some YL groups may create complimentary Core Values that represent the convictions of their local community and context, the Mission-wide Values and Methods may be a good place to start to remember who we are as a mission and commit to those principles as a group.
Now Question 2
WHERE ARE WE GOING ? This is the #1 question at the heart of every Committee member. Although it can cause anxiety and vibrant discussion, the framework for an answer can be found in a simple Strategic Plan. Young Life Field roles as well as local area duties are framed around what we call the 5 Core Functions: Direct Ministry, Ministry Support, Spiritual, Leadership, and Resource Development. Truly, you cannot find a area of emphasis that does not fit within these five. If done well, via a simple strategic planning process, your committee/staff/adult stakeholders will work to align on a 1-2 year goal in these five areas. Even better, that means your committee agenda for the year is done! All you do now is work the plan! Your regional office can help; click here for some simple templates on strategic planning and a SWOT analysis tool.
Finally, Question 3
WHAT DO WE NEED TO GET THERE? It makes sense that after affirming Core Values, and designing a Plan, then you have to address the final step of assessing what it will take to get there. That is simply A Vision Case. This tool helps you ‘count the cost’ of both people and resources that will be needed to achieve your goals. If you want to hire more staff, start WL at a new school, double the number of kids in Club or going to Camp, there will be a cost to fulfilling that dream. There are several tools for communicating this vision, but some simple templates that we have used recently is HERE and HERE. Your regional leadership or our Mission-wide Development team can help you design a clear tool to engage your community.
A final thought. Every Committee member in the mission of YL got involved to see their community and themselves changed. More simply, they want to see God’s movement in their lives and in those around them. That is a big vision! It order to see that vision come to fruition, these three questions are a good place to start.
Next Step: Ask these questions at your next Committee meeting. Print some of the tools and links above and see how close your local team comes to giving a clear, concise and compelling answer. A good place to start.
Questions/Thoughts/Input- email Tank (email@example.com)
“DON’T COPY ME!!” (said Jesus never)
Preschoolers are famous for shrieking with indignant rage, “DON’T COPY ME!” when an older child or adult copies them. It’s annoying, irritating, and entirely unfunny to the child being copied.
But older children and adults do it anyway because sometimes they (we) are overly zealous about creating and satisfying their (our) own amusement. (Insert an honest confession and admission here.)
Copying little children isn’t especially nice. Copying a classmate’s test answers isn’t at all honest. Copying someone else’s creative production isn’t even remotely decent.
Copying Jesus is another matter altogether.
Jesus himself tells us to copy his behavior by serving as he did (John 13:14), obeying as he did (John 15:10), and loving as he did (John 15:12).
Paul tells us to copy Jesus’ attitude (Phil. 2:5).
Peter tells us to copy Jesus’ way of living (I Peter 2:21).
So copy away. Copying the living Word that was (and was with) God in the beginning is a very good thing. So is copying his written word.
For everyone who has ever struggled to engage with the Bible, to journal about its profundity, or to immerse themselves in sacred scripture, here is the easiest devotional/contemplative/intentional/analytical way to interact one-on-one with God’s word:
JUST COPY IT.
That’s it. That’s the secret sauce.
1. Open up your Bible to a particular passage (anything will do – a Psalm, a story of Jesus, an epistolary teaching, an Old Testament episode).
2. Open up your journal (anything will do – lined, unlined, leatherbound, spiralbound).
3. Pick up a writing instrument (anything will do – ballpoint, rollerball, #2 graphite, Staedtler markers in 24 vibrant colors, fountain pen).
4. Copy (all the words from the Bible passage, into the journal, word for word).
You needn’t follow the original formatting, i.e. you can use UPPER CASE AND lower case at YOUR DISCRETION. You can use various colors. You can change your handwriting style. You can underline or highlight or bold. You can turn a long list into a
left-aligned bullet list.
You can write VERY BIG or very small.
You can do whatever you want, as long as you copy all the words.
That’s it. Really. Truly.
Deuteronomy 17 provides guidelines for future kings, including a specific imperative that a new king must copy for himself all the words of God’s instruction. Not “just because,” but so that:
- he would have a personal copy of God’s words,
- he would learn to fear God and obey him,
- he wouldn’t become proud,
- he would remain wholly faithful to Yahweh.
It’s right there in Deuteronomy: JUST COPY IT. For good (and kingly) reasons.
We are not on the road to Old Covenant kingship, but still, let’s JUST COPY IT. For good (and disciplined) reasons, so that:
- we would slow down and spend more time with the words,
- we would see new things as our eyes and brains and hands work together,
- we would learn to identify and remember small sets of words as cohesive thoughts,
- we would notice repetition, emphasis, structure, and intent.
Copying God’s word is easy. It is never a waste of time. It transcends age. It requires no special training, education, or knowledge.
Most importantly, it will change you in sure and subtle ways, as God’s word always does when we simply take time to read it, relate with it, and rest in it.
Some other things:
1. A new journal is supremely motivating.
2. A stellar pen is almost absolutely necessary.
3. The Psalms are an obvious starting point.
4. White space is your friend. Don’t cram as many words as possible on a page. Spread out. Take it easy. Triple space.
5. After copying, think about these things:
- What did I notice about the act of copying?
- What did I notice about the content of what I copied?
- What did I notice about these words after copying them that I’d never noticed after simply reading them?
Written By Crystal Kirgiss (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Recently at one of our “Brilliant at the Basics” cohorts (where regions bring selected staff to Dallas to train in Ministry Strategy and reaching more kids), the question came up, “Why have club?”
In other words, “Can’t we just hang out with kids, do contact work, go to camp, and start Bible studies?”
Before I jumped in with any quick answers of my own, I wanted to know what other, younger staff, staff thought. I texted my friend Caitlin Carr, Young Life Area Director, who happened to be eating with a group of her campaigner girls when I reached her. She was able to take advantage of the moment and ask her campaigner girls why club was important to them.
Here’s what they said:
“Club was the first step we took in trusting you.”
“Because you came to our school, and seemed normal and invited us to something that was fun, we went. If you had invited us to something with Bible in the title, we would have bailed fast.”
“It was a social event that ended up changing our lives.”
“It was the first place in high school where older kids were nice to us - we all wanted to be a part of this crazy fun party they all talked about.”
“You never rushed us into anything. When I think back, all along we were taking steps together and with you... but you let us get to ‘here’ on our own terms.”
“Those boys that go to Young Life would never want to go to Bible study. They come to meet girls. Because y'all are the one group of people in their lives not calling them "bad kids" y'all let them be exactly who they are... and someday they'll get it - that's what Young Life club is about.”
I think Caitlin’s girls got it right.
Young Life without some regular form of club (a relational, fun, non-threatening, proclamation gathering… not necessarily five songs, skits, and announcements) can be like a bus without tires. We’re loaded up with kids and ready to go somewhere, but it’s difficult to move anywhere.
Club is a natural product of excellent contact work. As leaders know kids and kids trust their leaders, it’s natural if all those leaders are gathering somewhere on a weekly basis, that the kids that know and trust them would want to be there as well. It’s a weekly celebration of relationships.
If club numbers lag, it can be a weekly barometer revealing a lack of quality contact work.
John Evans, trainer of Regional Directors, puts it like this:
“Club keeps me honest. Club and numbers are not THE critical standard, but they are a gauge. They let me know we are reaching a certain group of kids.”
Don’t get me wrong. Contact work drives everything, but Club is a natural result of it. One leads to another
Summer camp is wonderful, but not accessible to everyone. Weekend camps in some parts of the world are filled to the brim, but in most areas, happen only once a year and have limited space.
Club is a weekly opportunity celebrate relationships and for EVERY kid in your area to hear a leader they know, stand in front of them, open the Bible, and proclaim the gospel in a way they can understand, relate, and respond to. There’s no deposit required, no scholarship money needed, and no limited number of seats available.
Why have club? To quote John Evans once again…
“Club still works… At the end of Monday night when club is over, I'm thankful. Kids had a great time, heard about Christ and were with people who love them. I'm convinced this is as powerful as anything we say.” To read John Evans’ entire article on the importance of Club, click HERE.
By Brian Summerall (email@example.com)
“Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matthew 9:38)
"I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their words; that they may all be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in you; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me" (John 17:20, 21)
Lists. We use them all the time. Every time I go to Costco I have a hand-scribed list from Marni. I see others just like me in the grocery store… lists on paper, lists on phones, and calling in for a verbal list. Everyone in the famous movie that was on Schindler’s “list” actually lived. It was a powerful list.
More than fifteen years ago, I challenged a campaigner group to pray for ten of their unsaved friends. A mom called me and asked if I could come by while her son was in school. I came by and she marched me into her son’s bathroom and there on the mirror was a scrappy piece of paper list of ten kids names. “What is this?” I told her that these were the kids her son was praying for… all were in 9th grade. Today, everyone on that list knows Jesus and 4 of them are on Young Life staff.
We list out projects. We list out prayers. We list out who can come to a gathering. We have wedding lists. We have Christmas card lists. We are list people… and today, I want to challenge you to consider a new type of a list. The “Discipleship List.”
The Discipleship List was an assignment that really stuck with me when I went through the official “Young Life Practicum I and II” sometime in the late 80’s. This list has two parts. First, who are the kids that you are discipling? Second, what are you wanting them to learn, experience, and do while they are under your tutelage?
It starts with YOU knowing the kids that you are discipling. (Discipling means teaching them to follow Jesus with their life, to love the word, prayer, to have fellowship, to be obedient, and to strive to follow the great commission.) The famous quote, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” You want to have a plan for who you are discipling.
Again, it starts with a list. Who has the Lord laid on your heart to “pour into.” We call it so many things in Young Life. There are phrases you might use that I don’t: my campaigners, small group, discipleship group, student leadership team, green beret campaigners, student leaders, etc. I would say it is as simple as a list. Who are the kids that you are going to give it all to? You are pouring your life into them – you are available to them always, and your life is an open book. They know they are on your list, and you know they are on the list.
I remember going to a restaurant that was owned by long-time Young Life supporter Bob Farrell. Sometimes when you went to his Stanford’s restaurant you would see a person following the waiter or waitress around the restaurant. They literally just followed. At times, it even felt a little awkward. Well, it was actually a beautiful thing. They were “in training.” Bob wanted them to see it all, the full scope of what it meant to take care of multiple tables, crunch time, mistake orders, etc. Who is following you around? What are you wanting to make sure they see?
My first year of Young Life training my trainer Jeff said, “What do you want to make sure your sophomore followers of Christ leave with in two-years?” Oh my, did this open up my mind of the possibilities! I wanted them to know so, so much. You could, and should, make some notes right now, on what you want your kids leaving within 6 months, in a year, in 2, or even 3 years. (If you have a Wyldlife and a College ministry – you could have a 6-year plan.) What do you want to make sure they know about Jesus? About the Holy Spirit? About the Word? About scripture? About lifestyle evangelism? About service? About how to “do Young Life?”
In Young Life, at least in this 5 for Friday, I would hope people would make a “list.” Who is in your life? What list do you want to make sure they end up learning, experiencing, and doing?
Here is a sample list to get your mind going – would love to have others add to this list by sending me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
My brainstorming of what a list could look like of what to impart:
Have an accountability relationship/partner
Treat your body with respect – temple of the Spirit
Be able to write down 50-75 high school/junior high students by name from memory
Develop a plan for your disciples
Practice Spiritual Disciplines:
Be a “come with person” – bring people with you to club, church, run errands
Lead a Campaigner Group
Give your testimony
Go on Work Crew (Summer)
Go on Work Crew (Weekend)
Do a service project
Have a quiet time for 30 straight days.
Do the Thread Journal — and give one away
Have a list of 10 non-believing friends
Be a student leader for Monday Club
Speak well of others
Written by Eric Scofield (email@example.com)
Have you ever wondered how your favorite YL Administrator seems to know all of the different resources available in Young Life that you haven’t heard about? We are pulling back the curtain to share some of our favorite game changers with you. Below are 5 things that Young Life can do for you that could help Field staff do their job more effectively and efficiently.
1. STAFF RESOURCES: Yes. www.staff.younglife.org The website that we all visit every single day. Did you know there are great resources on the staff website? A few of our favorites.
Rental Car Discount Codes: YoungLife has negotiated discounts with six national rental car companies! The next time you’re traveling for business and have to rent a car these codes will save you money!
Publisher Discounts: Looking for great donor or leader gifts? Check out our negotiated rates with 13 publishers before you buy books!
Computer, Printer and Phone Discounts: Need a new laptop or printer for your YL office? Make sure you contact the Help Desk for information on how to save BIG with Apple, Dell, AT&T and Verizon.
2. THE YOUNG LIFE PODCAST: Any time Young Life people gather, ideas start to flow. The Young Life Podcast gives the Young Life family a platform to hear and learn from a diverse group of pioneering fellow staff with a variety of cultural and leadership perspectives. This is ‘cabin time for your commute.’ Like a cabin time, there will be a wide range of content, conversations between leaders of all types, an equal playing field, laughter, prayer and encouragement to continue the conversation. You can follow them (@younglifepod) on Twitter and Instagram. Incredible guests, including Donna Hatasaki, Veronica Tutaj, Kristy Fox, Millie Carter and Newt Crenshaw, among others. Don’t want to listen online? Visit them HERE.
3. FIELD DEVELOPMENT PODCAST: The YL Funding Help podcast is committed to helping Young Life staff be more effective fundraisers to help maximize time for ministry. Our Field Development office has over 200 podcasts available under 6 minutes each, ranging in topics from Committee to Donor Engagement and Events and a lot of great guest speakers. Visit them at http://ylfundinghelp.org
4. STAFF DEVELOPMENT, MANAGEMENT AND EVALUATION TOOLS: As we enter ‘evaluation season’ YoungLife has some wonderful resources for all types of staff evaluations. Everything from ‘annual reviews’ to ‘360 Evaluations.’ Simply type ‘HR Toolbox’ in the search feature on the staff resources page. Additionally, staff management resources are available to help you navigate the management process and support you in making good personnel decisions in your local area, Region or Division.
5. GRANTS & FOUNDATIONS: Young Life’s Grants and Foundations office exists to tell Young Life's story with excellence to help you connect with foundations for further funding sources. To get started fill out the Foundation Research Request Form so our research assistant can begin to find foundations in your area which are seeking to support missions like yours. Have questions? Call the Grants & Foundations office at the Service Center.
Have questions about more helpful Young Life resources? Call Mission Assistance at the Young Life Service Center and they will help answer your questions. Administrators!! Want to help communicate more of this helpful information to your staff? Contact Kimberly Silvernale or Jen Reynolds for best practices!
*For assistance regarding how to access the links above, please contact the Global Innovation & Training office HERE.
We all have pictures in our mind of what Young Life camp looks like, right? However, there are a few camps happening this summer that look a little different from what we typically picture in our minds. Let’s take a look at two camps to see what I mean: one you know and one you don’t know.
Let’s start with the one camp you probably don’t know: Nyarugusu. You don’t know it because it’s not a Young Life camp; it’s a refugee camp. Located in western Tanzania, between 139,000 and 400,000 refugees from DR Congo and Burundi live here in tents. Some have been here for over 20 years and some have just arrived. Over half of these residents are under 18 years old. They have fled warlords, rebel groups, tribal wars, genocides and food shortages.
One of these residents is a Young Life leader Pascal (name changed). He decided to follow Jesus at a Young Life camp in Congo and became a Young Life leader before he and his family were forced to flee insecurity caused by rebel groups. Pascal is recruiting leaders and working with our team in Tanzania to begin Young Life in Nyarugusu. We hope to bring kids from this camp to a very different kind of camp soon.
Now let's look at the camp you know: Timber Wolf Lake. Fast forward to July 3rd of this year. Picture 46 kids rolling off a bus at the welcome. Some are in headscarves, most laughing and speaking to each other in Arabic, a Burmese dialect or in Kiswahili. They are from Syria, Myanmar, Congo and half a dozen other places. All of them are from Southport High School in Indianapolis. Their leaders, Joe and Rachel Snyder, direct the area on the south side of Indianapolis where tens of thousands of these refugees have been placed. Many of them are part of the club at Southport High School. On July 3, 2018, they will experience a new type of camp...and Jesus' love for them.
- Across the world there are currently 22.5 million refugees and over 65 million people displaced internally in their own countries. More than half of these people are kids.
- Over 56% refugees live in sprawling tent camps in Africa and the Middle East.
- Over 3 million refugees live in the US.
There are hundreds of thousands of kids, most of whom have experienced trauma people in Western Europe or the US cannot imagine. Most of these kids do not know, or may not have even heard of Jesus, and are being gathered in unprecedented numbers into our countries and neighborhoods. What an opportunity we have as a mission that cares for kids who are lost and looking for a place to belong!
In YL Africa/ME we are committed to figuring out how to reach these kids. And people like Joe and Rachel are showing us all how to do it in our own cities. Ministry to widows, orphans, strangers and captives—this is real gospel ministry. God has positioned Young Life perfectly to be His hand in the lives of these kids and God is literally dropping these kids from the worst and hardest places on the planet into our backyards. Wow! Join the leaders in Africa, the Middle East, the Snyders and others as we figure out how to love and reach these kids and their families.
Written By: Steve Larmey
**If you, or someone you know, is working with refugees in a YL context please email (firstname.lastname@example.org ) The YL Global Innovation and Training office so we can help them connect to others who are reaching these students in these unlikely places.
Welcome YL’s newest TLA (Three Letter Acronym)
We do love our TLA's in YL. I’m sure you can think of a few right now. Today, we want to focus on one really important TLA: IDP.
“The IDP, or individual development plan, is a tool to assist employees in career and personal development. Its primary purpose is to help employees reach short and long-term career goals, as well as improve current job performance. An IDP is not a performance evaluation tool or a one-time activity.”
This amazing tool (which comes in many shapes and forms, ours is at the link at the end of this article) is for you, me, and every person that works for YL. It’s a simple, structured way to think about your development as a person and an employee of YL. It will make all of us better servants of the Kingdom.
More Clarity Around The IDP:
- The IDP is not your set of goals for the year. It is focused on your personal and professional development.
- You are responsible for developing your IDP. Hopefully you will discuss this on a regular basis (3 or 4 times a year) with your supervisor, but it really grows out of your particular desires for growth as a staff person.
- It is a tool that will help you get clearer about what your gifts are and what you are really passionate about.
- It is to be used regularly! It is simple, one page, and made for efficiency. You can add as much to it as you want but it is great ast is: 4 simple (and rich) questions.
Experience is a great teacher... IF you learn from it. Similarly, the IDP will be a great tool... IF you use it. JUST GET STARTED! Right now follow these links (or put it in your schedule to do):
Look at the IDP, find some time to fill it out, and then schedule a time to go over it with your supervisor. This conversation could help decide your next YL training, camp assignment, or even ministry assignment. You can also get input from a mentor, your committee chair, or anyone who knows and cares about you. Now put “review IDP” in your schedule every four months. You’re on your way. You’ll never regret it! This is one of the best investments you can make, in yourself, in Young Life, and the Kingdom.
Written by: John Evans
During my first week on YL staff, I got a call from my Regional Director. He had sent out a letter and survey to our area committee about the new season of YL in our area. At the end of the letter he asked them about their ongoing involvement on the local committee. He was calling to tell me that all of them had chosen to step off the committee at this time....ALL of them.
Because I didn’t really know what a YL committee did, I wasn’t overly concerned by the news. It was two years later, after operating without a committee, after knowing that anything that needed to be done in the area would have to be done by me, after feeling more and more alone in my life and ministry...that I begged a couple I had just met to help me build a committee. I’m still not sure why they said “yes,” but they did and I soon learned what a gift it is to have a group of adults who shared God’s call to reach kids in our local area.
From that first committee couple (still some of my closest friends) to our Board of Trustees, I am amazed at the caliber, character, and commitment of those God leads to serve on a YL committee or board. Almost 40 years later, I am even more convinced that we cannot and will not reach all the kids God has called us to reach without them.
Committees Today: Our Recent Survey
We recently sent a survey to committee chairs and staff across the mission. The good news is...we got great feedback! The even better news is that committees want to be more involved with staff in reaching kids. Here are a few of the highlights:
544 Committee Chairs (CC’s) and 619 staff completed the survey
70% of CC’s were donors first
1/3 of CC’s were involved with YL as a kid
78% of CC’s and 58% of staff view “partnership with AD” as primary role of committee
CC’s view themselves as having a significant role in the spiritual health of the staff and leaders in their area
Consistent communication between AD and CC (44% of AD’s meet with their CC’s 2x/month or more) is key!
Attention to the definition of Committee roles and purpose is vital.
The use and involvement of set subcommittees to work alongside the committee at large is on the rise and is healthy for growth.
There is a desire for more training for CC’s from Region/Division/Mission levels.
More contextual work needs to be done in how committee looks like in different types of settings.
There is a desire for collaboration and shared best practices among CC’s.
So what do you do with this information?
Stop and thank God for the men and women in your ministry!
Pick up the phone and verbally express gratitude to them.
Focus on the connection between CC and Area Director on a more regular and deeper level.
Click this link for Committee Resources and look for more to come from Global Innovation and Training to help staff and committees grow together in our call to reach and teach kids.
discipleship: becoming more like Jesus by...
discipling: helping another person become more like Jesus by...
- Followers of Jesus embrace and enter their own life of discipleship in a myriad of ways – devotional, contemplative, communal, sacramental, missional, practical, theological, and more.
- Followers of Jesus embrace and enter the process of discipling others in a myriad of contexts – relational, conversational, missional, instructional, collaborative, and more.
Those a lot of different words, so let’s take a look at how we practically do that. I like to think in terms of Discipleship Anatomy to help us identify and lean into these different contexts.
- Meeting with a small group of people to talk about life and faith.
- May include friendly chit-chat, discussion, prayer, Bible study, creative activities, etc.
- (Relational. Conversational. Devotional. Instructional.)
- Meeting one-on-one to encourage and guide someone towards personal development and spiritual growth.
- May include everything in Face-to-Face, plus deeper levels of guidance, challenge, exhortation, encouragement, etc.
- (Relational. Conversational. Devotional. Instructional. Pastoral.)
- Specific eye-to-eye times of deep challenge, guidance, correction, affirmation, counsel, and heart-to-heart difficult conversations.
- May include prayer, Bible study, deep conversation, pastoral listening, etc.
- (Relational. Pastoral. Instructional. Exhortative.)
- Activity-driven context for those who may not yet be ready or comfortable with solely face-to-face connection, who are still learning how to converse comfortably, or who need to move in order to focus.
- May include play, action, competition, interspersed with questions, conversation, listening, etc.
- (Relational. Active. With-ness. Conversational primer.)
- Working together in service or mission.
- (Relational. Missional. Collaborative. Service-centered. Sacrificial.)
- Part of every discipleship/discipling context – the joining of two or more followers of Jesus in prayer, partnership, solidarity, and unity.
- (Relational. Sacramental. Kingdom-focused. Other-centered. Communal.)
The mysterious beauty of all these contexts is this: not only do leaders disciple their students and help them become more like Jesus, but students also disciple their leaders. As leaders listen, converse, respond, guide, encourage, and simply be with students, leaders themselves will become more like Jesus. In other words, the act of discipling others will circle back on itself so that spiritual growth flows both ways, and the hearts of everyone are changed. This is the most powerful and sacred discipling context of all. Let’s pursue it with a passion.
Written By Crystal Kirgiss, VP of Discipleship
Back in the mid-eighties, John Vicary and I drove a van of kids to Frontier Ranch. He was the Area Director of Waco, and I was a really mediocre college volunteer leader. Sure, I could play guitar, lead songs, and perform skits, but my contact work was severely lacking. I was a walking example of “form without function.”
I’ll never forget that trip, as it changed everything for me. It wasn’t just the fact that a big offensive lineman named “Mackie” would sing Neil Diamond songs at the top of his lungs from the middle seat. It was the fact that I got to experience a year of contact work in one week.
Think about it: In the span of 7 days,we did the following:
Took a 28-hour road trip
Ate 21 meals together around a round table like a family
Sang 50+ songs at the top of our lungs together
Laughed incredibly hard
Experienced high adventure, fear, and trust
Lived in extremely close quarters (those old cabins were small!)
Leaned in and listened to God’s word
Talked about the things that are important in a safe environment with friends
Made critical life-changing decisions about Jesus
If all of those things happened in a year, it would have been an outstanding year. But in 7 days? It was the best week of our lives. And it changed the way I did Young Life. I finally got it. It was so MUCH more than my guitar skills, song leading, and skits. Contact work clicked.
A day after we got back, I called John Vicary and asked, “Do you think Jonathon and Rayford (two guys from our cabin) would want to go to a movie or do something this summer?” I’m sure he smiled when he answered, “Yes, I think they would.” That started a summer of movies, water volleyball at every Baylor apartment complex pool we could sneak in, too much fast-food, and hanging with those guys and all their friends. I even filled in for their baseball coach when he had to miss a game. (I never played baseball.)
Life from then on would be lived with kids and just two years later I found myself on staff. What will you do with your “year of contact work in one week” this summer? Don’t let it be the end of your ministry year! Let it be the start of living life with your kids. You’ve got relational capital. Cash it in!
Here are just a few suggestions…
There will never be any easier contact work then the first few days of camp. Be rested and ready before you go so you don’t miss out on reaping the dividends of a week well spent.
Let your leaders know that camp is actually three weeks. One week is out of town, and the other two are back home.
During those two weeks, it’s time to run hard! Kids want to be together. Take advantage of that fact and build a foundation of contact work that will carry you through the year.
After those two weeks, start summer campaigners up and own a night of the week. Cabin time does not have to end.
Lastly, speak vision into your kids over the summer and prepare impact they will have over the coming school year through their Young Life club.
And if you are not sure if your kids really want to spend time with you after camp, do what I did and call your staff person. I have no doubt they will smile like John did when they respond with a resounding, “YES.”
For summer contact work and resources, click HERE.
Written by Brian Summerall
Ever wonder how you pack for a Young Life camp in Uzbekistan?
Author: Gary Parsons
A YL Staff leader’s packing list can include anything from t-shirts to shaving cream to candy and costumes. We asked Gary Parsons to give us a little insight into what goes into packing and preparing for camp over in ___________.
“You load up the biggest bag you can carry of potatoes on your back and hike up four hours to the site where you will be hosting kids for a week of camp and then you repeat that hike five more times to get the rest of the food and supplies up there before the kids arrive. It’s a good time for prayer as you seek God for the hearts and lives of these kids and their families, communities and future of their country. You pray for the wars to stop, for Christian persecution to end and for clubs to be safe from government raids. That’s the Uzbek version of our 10 hour bus ride to camp.”
The commitment is the same in neighborhoods all over America as it is across the world. Loving kids unconditionally wherever they are and whatever circumstance we find them in, doing everything we can to create an opportunity for them to hear the gospel and to know the love of the Father.
In Matthew 4:19-20 Jesus calls us to be fishers of people, “‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, 'and I will send you out to fish for people.' At once they left their nets and followed him.” Dale Bruner said it best when talking about this portion from Matthew, “Come be my students and I will turn you into fishers of people. Jesus furnishes his invitation with an exciting promise. It is the promise of catching persons and of being effective with people.” As leaders go off to camp this summer across the globe we must hold on to this central truth, that every day we must follow Jesus with all that we have and trust his life living in and through us to bring the gospel alive in the lives of kids we serve.
The calling is the same across the world whether it be in Uzbekistan, Nicaragua or Texas. What we pack in our bags physically may look very different, but what we pack spiritually is filled with the same life of the Holy Spirit and the same calling to be fishers of people. In John’s gospel chapter 15:16, Jesus says, “you did not choose me but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit - fruit that will last and the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” This summer all of God’s resources, wherever you serve in the world are available to you through this truth. Ask God and he will supply all your needs.
Camping Internationally may require some creativity in what we pack but no matter where you are we BRING the same thing- a heart devoted to Christ and passionate toward adolescents. If you want a checklist of what to pack for camp this Summer- double click HERE!
Author: Julie Gertenrich
Two years ago, myself and 30 other Young Life staff received an invitation to a new training course called the Legacy Leader Project that was researched and designed by staff as an “advanced leadership” training course.
I didn’t know what to expect, but when I got off the plane to the first training I was struck by the diversity of other YL staff who would be joining in with me in this group. Our first meeting brought me literally to tears. Senior Mission leaders welcomed us, and each proceeded to offer a heartfelt apology. The apology consisted in their realization that to be a staff person of multicultural ethnicity or a woman on Young Life staff has often been a lonely, sometimes wounding experience in our mission. They shared their frustration, wanting to change the face of leadership in the mission, and yet year after year, it continued to look the same. The Legacy Leader Project was their attempt to provide training and preparation to be able to launch us to advance. For me, the honesty of this conversation was worth the price of admission. To me it signaled a new day had dawned for us in the mission of Young Life.
We started with a two- day training on the spirituality of the Enneagram Personality Test. It has been one of the most significant tools for self-awareness and growth in my whole faith life. Rather than a static assessment tool, within the Enneagram there is both movement for health or disintegration and I can finally understand others who are wired differently. It has been huge not only for self-understanding, but as a way to understand others.
The Legacy Leader training team alone was stellar. We also spent time with Christena Cleveland, Ruth Haley Barton, and Shane Claiborne. We played a ministry version of Shark Tank where we entered into a competition to win grant money for ministry projects. In the end, we were each given a $2,500 grant for a ministry project to grow and match at home in our areas. I was able to grow my $2500 grant to $30k for a leadership pipeline and Staff Associate in my area, through prayer and sharing vision.
In a mission with leadership that doesn’t look or act like you, it's hard. It’s hard to see yourself sticking around for long, to believe you belong, and to see your longterm value in the mission. The Legacy Leader Project was a loud statement to me: “We believe in you. You belong. We value your voice."
Many of us in this first cohort have recently taken jobs as Regional Directors or Associate AD's. I just was hired as Metro Director myself. Through Legacy Leader training, I am walking into this role equipped with tools and confidence! I want to be known for my leadership, my heart for Christ and kids, and my development of others. As you have conversations with your supervisor regarding your development, ask if they can submit your name to receive an invitation to be a part of Legacy Leader Project.
Author: Jacque Abadie
After 77 years of ministry, the one thing that Young Life has plenty of is - MANUALS! From medical benefits, to payroll, to Wyldlife skits there is a manual that explains, informs and tells the reader what to do in a few easy steps. With an organization our size-manuals are needed to insure common language, understanding and quality of ministry. That has never been more true!
That being said, in 2 Corinthians 3:2, Paul mentions that “You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone.” While Paul is speaking in regard to the validity of his message, the concept is the same: people indwelled by the Holy Spirit are our most powerful resource. Like we have become fond of saying, “God’s method is men and women!” That is why all throughout scripture believers are describe in terms like salt, and light, a wellspring, a garden, an aroma, etc. All things that draw people in and attract others. The strongest argument for the existence and presence of God is our own transformation because the manual (letter) is written on our very selves.
Recently, I helped our Region compile resources for a Volunteer Team Leader handbook (another manual). As a region we wanted to affirm our commitment to the care, support, encouragement of the VTL’s and their important role in holding so much of ministry together (much like a linchpin in a wheel). The goal was to provide a simple notebook for an Area Director to walk through with a team leader over the course of a year. While the handbook turned out nicely, it quickly became clear that it was not the best and never would be the best. The reason why was simple. The very best Team Leader Training Manual is YOU!
While a handbook allows for a good progression of topics and resources, at best, it serves as an outline. The real work is the relationship between a staff person and a team leader. The way we walk alongside others is simply one of the ‘secret sauces of YL.’ Nothing can top the consistent cycle for a growing team leader than a rhythm of Watch, Do, Reflect, then Repeat. Reading a section of the handbook may only take minutes, while the life on life training cycle may take many hours. At the end of the day, it may not be efficient, but it is effective.
So as you prepare to train team leaders this year, here are a few questions to consider.
Have I set aside consistent time to meet with my team leader(s)?
Am I facilitating modeled competencies for them to witness?
Am I getting to watch their work?
Are we reflecting on the competencies that are being practiced?
In the same way we are incarnational ministers, let’s strive to be incarnational trainers for the linchpins in our ministries. Volunteer Team Leaders are one of the precious resources of the YL ministry and deserve our best. Of course, if you would like a copy of the handbook you are welcome to download it here. But remember, YOU are the handbook that will provide the best training!
Author: Brad Banks, Divisional Training Coordinator, South Central Division
Once when my son was an infant, I changed his diaper and found an undigested black bean. He was nursing at the time so this wasn’t just weird—it was impossible.
It turns out my wife had eaten at Chipotle the day before. As best we could figure, the bean had simply fallen into our son’s mouth while mother and baby fed, then traveled from point A to point B wholly undigested. His tiny body could digest milk just fine, but it couldn’t handle solid food.
The author of Hebrews uses similar imagery. In 5:12, he critiques his readers’ lack of spiritual progress. He wanted them to go deeper, but they weren’t ready. They had reverted back to spiritual infancy and become like babies who “need milk and not solid food.” This critique doesn’t necessarily apply to our Campaigner friends (who often are new believers who actually do need milk), but it does inform our approach to Campaigners and those entrusted to our care.
Regardless of our ministry focus, one of our primary responsibilities is to walk alongside our friends as they discover the Scriptures for themselves, serving not only as their guide but also as their digestive aid. This means we must be spending time in Scripture ourselves, reading and digesting the solid food it contains. Without a doubt, this is THE most important step in preparing for Campaigners.
But all too often we spend irreplaceable hours poking around online instead of peering directly into God’s word. We scour blogs and other resources, ultimately consuming the digested meals of others. You can survive on that, but shouldn’t we aim higher than survival? Consider an alternative.
FIRST digest the text for yourself.
1. In a single sentence, summarize what the passage said THEN.
What did Paul write to the Philippians? What did Jesus tell the Pharisees? Immerse yourself in the words and passage. Then filter the passage through the immediate context, the culture in which the text was written (think in terms of the first-century or ancient Israel*), the covenant that governed God’s people (Old or New), and the person of Christ (how did his life and death influence the inspired words?). This carefully filtered view will frame and guide you through the next step.
2. In a single sentence, summarize what the passage says ALWAYS.
This requires interpretation. Some passages are easy and obvious: “Do not lie.” (Colossians 3:9) Others should bring pause: “You shall not allow a sorceress to live.” (Exodus 22:18)
3. In a single sentence, summarize what the passage says NOW.
Arrive at an imperative that speaks to you today. So for example, Exodus 22:18 might become, “Take sin seriously.”
THEN digest the text with your Campaigner friends.
Repeat the same process above, but invite the observations and experiences of everyone in the group. As you read and discuss God’s word together, use good questions that will unveil what your friends see, uncover how they feel, and unearth what they think.
What you will find is that together, you’ve feasted on what’s true and eternal. That will be far more satisfying than sampling something that’s pre-made or pre-packaged.
**If you’re interested in knowing more about the first-century world of Jesus or ancient Israel, check out these resources:
The NIV Application Commentary (Zondervan)
Old Testament Today, 2nd Edition (John H. Walton and Andrew E. Hill, Zondervan)
IVP Bible Background Commentary, NT Edition (Craig S. Keener, IVP)
Author: Valerie Morris
Have you ever tried to herd cats? I have literally tried this when we got three kittens a few years back and I can attest that the expression is true to its meaning 100%. Cats are fast, agile, smart, and have a mind of their own. This is often how many Young Life committees can feel too. Committees are often full of fast-moving, savvy and smart adults, who all have their unique perspectives and expertise. This is a true gift if you’ve got it, but when you have so many perspectives coming together, how do you get going in the same direction? The answer is in the Committee Chair.
The Committee Chair is a vital role within any Young Life ministry. You might be surprised to find a few parts of this role that you hadn’t considered before. It might just change how your entire committee operates moving forward.
I asked a few of my friends around the mission about what the role of Committee Chair entailed and here are a few common themes that kept popping up in these conversations:
Bridge - Young Life ministries need their committees, and committees need staff and volunteers who are on the front lines each day doing ministry. The Committee Chair is the core bridge, or liaison, between these two groups. He/She comes together with the Area Director to truly partner and help make sure that both groups of people are all going in the same direction.
Encourager - Committee Chairs have the opportunity to encourage committee and help them to stay engaged and focused, throughout all seasons of ministry. They also are vital encouragers of the area director and staff too.
Organizer - Organizing meetings, logistics, and schedules is often where we first go to when we think about the role of the Committee Chair, but the reality is that this is just a small part. Albeit an important part, it’s just a fraction of what the Chair’s role involves.
Accountability Partner - The Committee Chair is the ultimate accountability partner in the area. A Chair will meet regularly with the main staff in the area and help keep them accountable to life, ministry, and spiritual goals. However, a Chair is also there to keep the committee accountable to doing what they said they were going to do.
Friend: Young Life is all about relationships, which is why it is no surprise that the Committee Chair is a friend and focused on being intentional in relationship with the Area Director and committee. That friendship can have a business side to it, yes, but it also is focused on transparency, longevity, and partnership.
Visionary - It can get lonely at the top, which is where many of our staff operate from. The Committee Chair is someone who has committed to invest in an intentional relationship with the Area Director. Together, they can dream and cast vision for what Young Life could look like in the local area. Since both the committee and staff/leaders can’t do it without the other group, it makes sense that the Committee Chair AND Area Director would cast vision together.
Shepherd - The Committee Chair is someone that has spiritual maturity and discernment. He/She is someone who is seeking wisdom and willing to pursue that. They are there to help ensure the spiritual/financial/emotional health of the staff, committee and the local ministry.
Mobilizer - Every person on a committee is vital and brings different skills to the table. Committee Chairs speak into the strengths of those on the committee and find opportunities for them to shine and thrive.
Cat Herder - Committee Chairs ultimately help pull people going in different directions (leading, ministry building, fundraising, networking, praying, event planning, etc.) and attempt to get everyone moving in the same direction.
As I got all these descriptions and perspectives in from leaders in Young Life from all over the world, and from all types of roles, it became pretty clear to me that the Committee Chair is one of the most vital roles within a local ministry. It’s a role that does many of the unseen things and overall direction of the ministry. It’s easy to read a big list like this and get overwhelmed by all that you could be doing. But, as soon as I got tempted to go down that road in my head, I turned it back to what a possibility this role is and the impact one role can have on Young Life ministry and the gospel.
Special thanks to a few folks for creating this picture of the Committee Chair role: