Stepping into their World
If you saw the news on July 20th this summer, you probably caught some nostalgic interviews and footage of the 50th anniversary of man setting foot on the moon. You may have also heard scientists and explorers talking about Artemis.
In Greek mythology, Artemis was Apollo’s sister. In NASA-speak, it is our NEXT attempt at putting an American on the moon (this time, fitting with the name, a woman). It is exciting to think about. It will also be unbelievably expensive – nothing less than 30 billion dollars, and likely more. So, sometime in the 2020’s, we’ll be doing a more modern version of exactly what we did in 1969.
How did we get in this position? Some people call it “lost knowledge.” Think of it like this – in the 1970’s, we decided to wind down trips to the moon to save some money for other projects. What might have been intended to be a “pause” became a “stop.” The scientists aged or passed away. The mechanical systems rusted. The factories and craftspeople who made components moved onto other work. We accidentally forgot how to get to the moon.
I don’t know about you, but I think our moonshot in Young Life is “showing up” - contact work. We go to campus, to sporting events, and to neighborhood hangouts. We go in discomfort at being out of place, in solidarity with other leaders and Campaigners, and in hopes of being Jesus’ presence. It has gotten harder in many places to go – because of school rules, kids’ busyness, the administrative burdens of running Young Life, you name it.
The temptation is to slowly stop going. To text a kid instead of saying hello in the hallway. To over-engineer the club skit at the expense of cheering at the field hockey game. My challenge to teams is to fight that. At your next team meeting, make a plan to:
Prioritize Contact Work – how can we each be at the school once a week this month?
Identify Distractions – what is eating up your time that we could be handling differently?
Recognize the Cost and Benefit – know what you’d lose if you stopped showing up the school. What fruit have you seen by the discipline of being “on their turf?”
It is easy to slowly stop doing the important things. And it is very hard to start doing them again. It will cost you time, money and energy that we don’t have the luxury of wasting. Kids are waiting for us to take that “one small step” into their worlds. Let’s never stop.
Written by Josh Griffin
Did you know?
The hardest question for a military teen is “where are you from?”
1 of 5 Military teens has made a plan to end their own life (USC survey)
Military teens move 10 times more often than civilian families - on average every 2-3 years. every 18- to 30-months, and start all over again…
Since 2001, more than 2 million American children have had a parent deployed at least once.
More than 900,000 children have experienced the deployment of one or both parents multiple times.
Young Life has focused on military teens since 1959
Young Life has been working to reach military teens since 1959 when Jim Rayburn identified the teen-aged children of U.S. Military Families stationed in Europe as a unique demographic that Young Life needed to reach, reporting to the YL Board of Trustees that, “…these kids are stranded. If we don’t go after them, no one will.”
Since Sept. 11, 2001, the U.S. Military has endured the longest period of sustained armed conflict in the history of our nation, according to the Department of Defense. The current generation of teenagers has known only a post-9/11 world, which has been characterized by the frequent extended deployments of their military parents.
As the “Did you know?” opening statements share, military teens face unique challenges, but the broadening experiences of military life and the military community values of resiliency, service, and sacrifice give these teens high potential to become leaders and world-changers. Helping these teens find faith can help them avoid the negative factors of their high-risk profile and can help them fulfill their full God-given potential.
Young Life Military is authorized to bring the Club Beyond ministry on-installation, “inside the gate,” at individual military installations around the world, and conducts ministry to military teens at these installations in close coordination with Military Chaplains and Installation Commanders. Young Life Military has staff openings at installations in the United States and around the globe, and filling these openings to keep up with the military’s demand for Club Beyond ministry is YL Military’s #1 challenge. Perhaps you are hearing the “call of duty” to serve in ministry to military teens, or you know someone who is hearing that call. If so, please contact Phil Alfrey at email@example.com
Please see this month’s survey question, which asks you about personal connections you may have to the Military. We’d love to hear your story!
Written by Marty McCarty, VP YL Military (firstname.lastname@example.org)
THE FIRST YOUNG LIFE LEADER MANUAL (1942)
Q. Why should we do Young Life?
Q. Aren’t there other organizations out in the world sharing the gospel?
Q. What does healthy Young Life ministry look like?
These were all questions that Jim Rayburn (founder of Young Life) and other staff explored in 1942 at a staff gathering. These questions are still ones we ask today in all sorts of contexts. Regardless of time passing, much of what Jim shared here is helpful for us in Young Life. It’s a good reminder to help us know our role as leaders, boards, community peers, and representatives of the ministry.
Young Life was built on prayer.
You’ve likely heard the story about how, almost 90 years ago, a woman named Clara Frasher gathered with a group of her friends to pray for teenagers at a Texas high school. Through a series of divinely orchestrated events, Young Life began in that very community less than ten years later.
When people pray, God listens.
He does not always answer in ways we’d hoped. He does not always answer in ways that are obvious. He does not always answer in ways that align with our dreams and plans.
But he always listens. And he is always good.
On October 1st, our global mission will join together in prayer. Like Clara Frasher and her friends did almost 90 years ago, we will gather together in person (in offices, homes, schools) and also in spirit (across miles and mountains and oceans and continents) to speak and listen to our Father.
We will do this together as a global mission because God is our Father.
Yes, he is my Father and your Father and his Father and her Father. But he is first and foremost our Father.
Except in the narrative context of private conversations, the bulk of New Testament yous should really be translated as all y’alls.
God’s Word is written to his children. To his followers. To his kingdom — a collective noun comprised of many.
Young Life staff, leaders, supporters, and friends are often self-starters, people with visionary drive, individuals with a sense of entrepreneurial-can-do spirit.
But at our core, we are a family of God’s children, desperately in need of their Father’s loving-kindness, grace, strength, and direction.
Even as we speak to adolescents about discovering and pursuing a “personal relationship with Jesus Christ,” we must never forget that nothing about Christian faith is personally singular.
Even as we encourage those around us to be sure “for themselves” about what they believe, we must never lose sight of the fact that Christian belief is communal and collective, bound as it is to the Savior of us all.
Even as we pray from the depths of our invisible and individual souls, we must never presuppose an invisible or individual faith. Neither of those would be true faith at all.
On October 1st as we pray for our mission, let us also be people who are praying as a mission.
May we sense the kingdom’s diverse unity.
May we posture ourselves as one-among-many.
And may be embrace our mission’s identity as just one of the many parts of Christ’s body.
Our mission will be stronger if those within it are knit together as one, praying in unison to our Father.
And our mission will be brighter if as a whole we are knit together with the countless other missions and congregations of Christ, our Lord and Savior.
Here is a link to a prayer guide for the day, which offers us an opportunity to pray in unison prayers of adoration and thanksgiving as well as lift up local and global requests for the mission. The theme for the day, Our Father, is based upon the Lord’s Prayer in Matt. 6:9-13, and can be divided up into eight segments which you and your team can offer up on the hour. Thanks for spending this coming Tuesday in focused prayer to Our Father.
REFLECTIONS OF A LIFELONG TRAINER
In YL we train on everything! From our personal spiritual life to direct ministry skills. From fundraising to developing a team. We are all students for life. I have always fostered a teachable posture, but for much of my career I have been grateful to have the carried the label of ‘trainer.’
One of the earliest training recollections I have is a story I heard from one of my ‘heroes’ in the mission, Chuck Reinhold. He shared about one of his fraternity brothers in college. Chuck said that his friend could have run a much better club than he could. His friend was funny, a musician, and had a winsome presence. He would have been a pied piper for teenagers with one exception: he didn’t know Jesus. Chuck’s friend had no desire to know or follow Jesus. I learned early on that as important as our ability to entertain and draw people together there are some things far more important.
I love that our mission places a high value on three things:
My journey with Young Life started with examples of men and women who lived out of a vibrant faith. These men and women were my examples. At an early stage in my faith formation I gained an image of what it looks like to follow Jesus. They taught and modeled that ministry is much more than a place to contribute to God’s kingdom, as important as this is. They kept reminding me that ministry is a work of heart and that it’s the potter’s wheel on which the Lord will shape me. Over the past few decades, I have been molded, refined, and shaped into a different person because of Christ, family, friends, and my experience in ministry through YL.
I once was interviewing a prospective staff associate. As part of the process we spent the day together. He watched me deal with one fire after another—an upset parent, a slacking volunteer leader, issues surrounding our golf tournament, and a finance committee meeting.
At the end of a day of him watching me navigate one crisis after another he said, “If being on staff means I have to live like that I’m not sure I can do it.” This got me thinking: do the people around me see me as miserable, unhappy, joyless, stressed, and over-committed or do they see me as someone who joyfully loves his Lord, is faithful to his call and energized by the things he experiences as he follows Jesus? Or put differently, would I want others to look like me as they walk with their Lord?
I’ve learned that out of the abundance of my heart my mouth speaks. My words and self-talk give me a clue to the state of my heart. Understanding my godly character and relational intelligence begins here. Thankfully, it didn’t take me 45 years to realize the critical nature of these things in a life of a believer and missionary, but I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t reminded of them every day.
After years of training, what I have learned is that ministry comes down to deeply knowing Jesus, and being an example that others will follow. The rest will sort itself out.
Written by Ray Donatucci
My first summer assignment was work crew boss (Pits) at Frontier Ranch in July 1974. It was there that my training as a disciple and as a leader was accelerated beyond anything I could have ever dreamed. Each subsequent assignment was a catalyst for further deepening of faith and finding my voice as a leader. I have learned plenty from good books and classrooms, but I have learned more about life in Christ from YL assignments because of the living laboratory of faith and community that happens there. Being in an intense mission community for a month becomes a model for the possibilities that exist in my community at home. To say that YL assignments deeply shaped my leadership and faith would be an understatement.
Assignments are unique in this way: they are “more.” More laughter, more tears, more conflict, more reconciliation, more joy, more sorrow, more transformation and redemption, more healing and more hope and prayer, and of course, even a chance at more of Jesus.
The ministry leadership learning that takes place on assignments is as fine as there is. The intensity, the modeling, the experiments all lend themselves to better leadership and even character development. Though no one suggests a name change, it would be fair to say that YL camps and camping are fundamentally training environments so that it would be reasonable to refer to every camp as a training camp. Many countries around YL think of camp this way and this shows great insight and higher expected outcomes .
In 2008, Lost Canyon did an experiment with a multi-country assignment team. Kenya, Tanzania, Peru, Paraguay, US, Argentina, and South Africa. Most leaders, began the week (which happened to be all US campers) with a question: ‘How is this going to work?’ Thick accents and cultural hits and misses aside, all involved came away with a bigger view of God and a bigger view of His Kingdom.
We always approached assignments the same way: bring as much of our area or region with us as we could. We would beg, borrow, and persuade to get more work crew and summer staff spots. We wanted to have committee and donors come as adult guests. This not only made for great assignments, it meant we took the “experiences” home with us. These were touchpoints of courage and faith that we know will last a lifetime.
Whether you were watching this happen in Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, Mongolia, Armenia, Ukraine, Zimbabwe, Liberia, Scotland or the Czech Republic, the elements are the same:
Creating environments where the gospel is seen and heard with power.
Kids going from death to life.
Leaders being redirected to a lifetime walk of faith.
Work crew finding community and mission for a lifetime.
Summer staff choosing new career paths.
I have had about 30 summer assignments. Whenever I visit a camp now, Susan sees it in my eyes….I want to do another one, but can I still go to sleep by 10:30?
Written by Mary Caldwell email@example.com
This should be required for EVERY Committee Member
When I was an Area Director I heard about an area that had term limits and a wait list for Committee members. I shared this at a Committee Meeting and you should have seen the bewildered looks – shock, awe, and disbelief. The conversation quickly turned to, “if only people could SEE what Young Life is doing, they’d be all in and we’d have a wait list, too. How do we show them?”
What if I told you that the most strategic way to build a vibrant committee, and let’s get crazy here – a WAIT LIST of potential committee members – was to do the same thing your area is already doing with kids, but with adults? TAKE THEM TO CAMP! We constantly tell kids that Young Life is something that they need to “see to understand,” and yet, we convince ourselves that describing what we do to adults will paint a full picture. Our words won’t do justice in translating the abundance, intentionality, connection, quality, sacrifice, and transformation we see at camp in the same way that being in the room for a Say So will.
Jim Rayburn’s original vision is still the central focus of the adult guest experience: The adult guest experience is a window on the mission for adults to discover and further their understanding of the mission, both locally and mission wide.
Did you know…
We have 15 Adult Guest lodges in the U.S.
There are 154 Adult Guest Host openings every summer.
Adult Guest Hosts get to reserve TWO rooms to bring their friends!
With 918 guest rooms available in a summer, we can accommodate up to 1,836 adult guests for full week stays.
Between 2016-2018, on average, an individual who participated in the adult guest program increased their annual giving by 21%.
Okay great, so you’re a believer – now, what? What if your area established and implemented an Adult Guest camping strategy? Here’s a quick timeline to follow:
September – With your Area Director, identify 2-4 people on your committee who have never been to a Young Life camp.
December – Convince them to attend camp as adult guests and work with your Area Director to sign them up.
Summer – While they’re at camp, encourage them to think about their prayer list, or the people in their community who should be “on this trip next summer.”
November – Have those guests serve as Adult Guest Hosts and bring their friends next summer.
What if someone on your committee pursued adults in the same way a leader might pursue students to go to camp? With intentionality and relational connection? Not taking NO for an answer? Looking for “key” or “strategic” guests who could impact your local ministry? Praying to “fill a cabin (or guest lodge, in this case)” starting in August?
It’s worth the risk – chase after adults, believing that seeing hundreds of lives transformed by the gospel in a week will impact them and turn them from a participant to an influencer or vision carrier!
By Kristy Clifford (firstname.lastname@example.org)
WHAT HAS 5000 LEGS BUT NEVER STANDS AROUND? Summer Staff
In all of my Young Life experiences, the deepest relationships with students came from taking them to camp and coming back home with them to live life together. While we call this outreach camping, there are just as many discipleship experiences where kids build a community of unlikely friends, living and sharing life with each other.
So how, after all these years of life-changing, community-building, discipleship-shaping experiences, did I miss the goldmine that had been directly in front of me for the same amount of years?
What goldmine? The Summer Staff Experience. I am embarrassed to say that I did not prioritize this in any of my Young Life positions—until now.
Some of my favorite moments of Jesus’ life are when he was walking, eating, and sitting by the fire with his disciples. They talked honestly about life, unpacked the day’s events, and shared important yet uncomfortable feelings. It’s where they worked on being human. Irenaus, an early church father, said, “the glory of God is a human being fully alive.” This is where the glory happens, where we come alive: in real, authentic, life-giving community.
All this happens on a Summer Staff assignment—hard work, service, challenges of jobs, living in community, processing uncomfortable feelings in a safe space, daily learning more about Jesus—and it typically leads to one thing: transformation. If this is true, then let’s get to it! It is who we are, what we do, the second half of our mission statement, a pillar in YL FORWARD (Deeper). Besides, we have a Bible full of Jesus modeling shared experiences with people that he hoped would join him in shaping the world into his image for his Father’s glory.
Taking college students deeper into the heart of Jesus is a part of who we are, from YLC staff to AD’s in college towns. Let us not overlook the goldmine of Summer Staff while searching for a different speck of gold on the ground. These students are in front of us and so is this opportunity, right now!
Here are five practical ways for staff to strategize with their college students:
1. PRAY: Summer Staff can be a pivotal moment in a students life. Ask the Lord to help you identify specific College Age students who are ready for the challenge of SS.
2. LIST: Start a list (now) of students you want to personally invite to do Summer Staff
3. ANNOUNCE: Starting now!- Start announcements at Club, etc., about Summer Staff.
4. INVITE: Starting on or before October 1 - Start personal invitations.
5. TRAIN: Invest in students before, during, and after their SS Experience. Need a goal? If you train and place 5-10 students you would be in the top. 20% of staff in the US utilizing Summer Staff!!
The Young Life College Summer Staff Pilot has provided YL staff across the country like Brittany at Palm Beach Atlantic University an opportunity to bring students with them on assignments. Lily, a sophomore at PBAU, said it was an easy decision to serve on Summer Staff because her leader Brittany invited her and would be her SS Coordinator, and she’d spend a month in Colorado with several of her friends. “It was truly a life-changing experience that I couldn’t be more grateful for,” Lily said. “One of the coolest things about the experience is that I get to go home with five people who were at Crooked Creek with me experiencing this change and growth."
Let’s be a part of the 5000 legs that don’t stand still, inviting students into a transformational experience—and then celebrate their change at home with them.
Written by: Kenny Nollan (email@example.com)
SHAKING UP THE YOUNG LIFE CAMPING MODEL!
I have the privilege of hearing incredible stories from around the globe of leaders and staff using camping activities with friends of every age. There have been some amazing sightings of innovation in action, as we all strive to maximize every opportunity to share the Good News! Let me share with you just a few…
Did you hear the one about…?
217 young men and 40 of their leaders attended Young Life’s Basketball Camp in Erie, PA.
“Fowling” became a new free time activity at Timber Wolf Lake. It was a big hit!
Escape Rooms have been a great cabin unity game at Cairn Brae.
Kids of all ages and abilities went Adventure Camping this summer with their leaders! Of note,
WyldLife kids went backcountry hut camping, a brand new trip option with Adventures RMR Backcountry this summer.
Capernaum kids went Adventure Camping at Pioneer Plunge, Adventures Northbound, and Adventures Wild Ridge.
Young Life College students helped 17 camps prepare for summer by serving at “Work Week.” All combined, they performed over 50,000 hours of labor to help prepare an extraordinary environment for kids to encounter Jesus!
360 families experienced camp and heard the Good News together at Trail West this summer. They came from 26 states and 79 of those families have a spouse serving in the military!
202 kids came to camp in the U.S. from overseas this summer. And, 1,321 Americans have traveled to 28 countries so far this year with YL Expeditions. YL kids, leaders, adults and families are connecting around the world!
Macedonia hosted its first summer Young Life camp ever! There were 63 campers and over half chose to receive a Bible.
58 Capernaum friends and 23 YoungLives teen moms served on either Work Crew, Summer Staff, or Assignment Team this summer. That is the most ever in one summer!
Over 9,500 volunteers and staff shared a common daily devotional this summer – Rooted, by Crystal Kirgiss.
This school season, our camps are planning to serve around 230 YL weekends. All combined, at our camps and through the other creative ways you are camping with kids, we will exceed 103,000 Young Life guests in the U.S. this school year!
What a privilege it is to work together to extend appealing and meaningful invitations to kids to encounter Jesus and grow in their faith. Thank you for striving after the best ways to reach kids in your community. I can’t wait to see what we say yes to next, as we continue to serve Christ together and set leaders free to minister to every kind of kid!
VP of Camping
ROOTED AS ONE MISSION
What happens when almost 10,000 people across the Young Life mission are bound together by a unified focus on several key Biblical passages and truths? What happens when God’s word is laid before almost 10,000 people in ways that are intended to shape and form their Biblical engagement not just for a month but for a lifetime, not just at a head level but also at a heart level?
For the first time in the mission’s history, this summer all US Work Crew, Summer Staff, Assigned Teams members, Assigned Team spouses, camp interns, camp staff, and the entire Camping Department engaged with the same discipleship materials: a 30-day guided devotional called Rooted. They were joined by their counterparts at Rockridge (the Young Life Canada camp property), the work staff and assigned teams at Cairn Brae (our Scotland camp), and the Summer Staff at Pico Escondido (our Dominican Republic camp). In a few especially delightful cases, they were also joined by Assigned Team children as young as ten.
The vision behind Rooted was wide (all the camps, all the people, all the boxes of all the books) and deep (rich layers of scriptural contemplation and spiritual growth) and long (habits and practices to last a lifetime).
In a certain sense, our mission-wide venture (such as it was, for there is enormous potential for growth at the global level) was a sort of built-in liturgical lectionary experience. Throughout the summer months, we all read the same scriptures about being firmly rooted in Christ (Psalm 1, John 15, Galatians 5, Colossians 2:6-7, and more). Knowingly or not, we corporately inhabited a space of shared communal scripture. We heeded Paul’s encouragement to the believers of Colossae to, “Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill all y’all’s lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. (NLT, southern style)
Friends from the same town, who served on Work Crew at different properties, read and studied the same scripture passages. They considered the same daily challenges. They engaged in the same reflective practices. They returned home, from different places, with a shared experience.
Summer Staff and camp staff, working in different departments, came together as time and context allowed, and engaged one another with simple yet profound issues of, “What did you think about…?” or “Tell me about ...” or “I’d love to hear what you wrote about ...”
Members of the camping department, from their offices in Colorado Springs, read alongside thousands of high school and college students, prayed for them daily and specifically as prompted by the parallel scripture passages, and inhabited the same scriptural context.
Whether new to their faith or deeply entrenched in their faith, people of all ages, serving in all roles, learned and practiced meaningful and replicable ways of engaging God’s word on a daily basis, both corporately and on their own.
As one Work Crew Boss noted: “The thing I loved about it was that all across the mission, we were literally on the same page.”
We hope and pray that continues, not just literally each summer, but also metaphorically each day. For we are all children of the same Father, serving the same Christ, filled with the same Spirit, living the same mission, and pursuing the same vision.
Paul’s vision for the Colossian believers should be our vision for all our students, all our leaders, and all our staff:
And now, just as all y’all accepted Christ Jesus as all y’all’s Lord, all y’all must continue to follow him.
Let all y’all’s roots grow down into him, and let all y’all’s lives be built on him.
Then all y’all’s faith will grow strong in the truth all y’all were taught, and all y’all will overflow with thankfulness. (Colossians 2:6-7)
We are an all y’all mission, flowing from an all y’all faith. For a few months this summer, we strived to embody all y’all at our camps, not just in our gospel proclamation but also in our devotional practice.
Rooted was the first of what will be an annual publication for the summer camping experience.
The 2020 devotional will focus on true Biblical identity of God the Father, God the Son, God the Spirit, and God’s Children.
We received requests from staff all across the field for copies of Rooted, both for their own use (so they could follow along while their students served on WC or SS) and for area use (Campaigner groups, leadership, etc.).
We are hoping to offer a field version of Rooted (exact same book, minus the intro letter to WC/SS).
We are dreaming of similar styled content for extended field use in small group discipling contexts.
Written by: Crystal Kirgiss firstname.lastname@example.org
Putting on a fundraiser can be daunting, frustrating and overwhelming. Or… It can be awesome. After speaking and singing at 400+ Young Life fundraisers I’ve seen it all.
Here’s my top 10 list, ranking what things are most important to focus on when you are striving to ‘up your fundraiser game’ (ranked from least important to most important). Drum roll, please!!!
10. PROGRAM. Good program characters can add the YL flavor to a fundraiser, but be careful because skits and games can end up being huge ‘time suckers’ which can be counter to a tight event. If you do it- Make it great!
9. FOOD. It’s important to make your fundraiser feel inviting, but don’t spend a gajillion dollars on food! Most people just want to have something good and simple. Go for elegance over extravagance.
8. A/V. Invest in a sound system that suits the needs of the venue and hire a pro to run it. It is worth it, I promise!! If you are using videos, make sure you have the A/V person practice showing them several times over before the event. How many times have you been to a banquet where the video failed? My answer… WAY too many.
7. VENUE. Choose a place that facilitates great communication with your guests. Outdoor venues can be great, but they also come with the biggest risks: uncertain weather, sound issues, etc. That is stressful!! Choose a place that is right for the size and ‘feel’ for your audience. Also, it’s often overlooked, but lighting matters! Ambiance matters! People will focus and enjoy themselves much more when you have cozy lighting with a spot lit stage.
6. CONNECTION TIME. YL fundraisers can be one of the greatest ways to bring a community together. Make sure you carve out time for people to mingle, laugh and connect as a community!
5. SPEAKER. I’ve been the ‘keynote speaker’ for most of my 400 plus fundraisers, but I’ve also attended plenty of YL banquets as a guest, and I can tell you this for sure… Who you choose to speak and ask for involvement and financial support matters! A great speaker will not only engage your guests, but they will also take the opportunity to share the gospel and inspire them to get involved and give (in the form of invitation, not obligation). When you hire a ‘professional’ to cast the YL vision and ask for involvement and funding, it almost always translates into more engagement and more money pledged. That’s a fact, Jack (Just ask ‘Ash’☺)!
4. STAFF Presentation. Other than the kids you are ministering to, who do guests want to hear from the most? YOU! They want to hear where you’ve been, where you are and where you are going so they can get a vision for what you are building in your area. ‘Area updates’ can either be a boring numbers ‘blah, blah, blah’ or an opportunity to inspire your guests with ‘God stories’ and amazing accounts of Him moving in your area!!
3. TIMING of the Night. You may be surprised this is #3, but timing is essential! I’ve been a part of too many fundraisers that go way too long. If your guests run out of the room when your banquet is over (or even before it ends), you probably went too long and lost out on a big opportunity. You’ll know you’ve timed it right when your guests linger after the final ‘thank you’ has been said. 1.5 - 2 hours in length is the ‘sweet spot.’
2. KIDS! When people are deciding to support a ministry, they want to see who they are supporting. If you are able, do whatever you can to get kids involved. You can do this with kids welcoming guests, serving dinner, sharing individual stories at dinner tables, cardboard testimonies, etc. Also, individual kid testimonies can be the most powerful and compelling part of a fundraiser, so invest time and work into training kids on how to share their stories effectively. Kids are key!! They are only 2nd to #1 and that is….
1. JESUS. Of course I was going to say this! He is the reason you give your life to serving in this mission. Fundraisers are a unique opportunity to share Jesus with so many who may not have otherwise heard about His transforming love. You have already ‘earned the right to be heard’ with many parents and supporters because you have spent your life giving to their kiddos. Invite Jesus into every detail and the rest will follow.
In conclusion, my biggest advice is this... Keep. It. Simple.
Go for ‘sleek,’ avoid ‘clunky,’ and make sure Jesus is the lens through which all is communicated. If you do that, you will have successfully ‘upped your fundraiser game’.
Jonah Werner is an award winning musician and speaker who has played music for YL all around the world. He’s done 33 month-long YL assignments and has a deep passion for the mission. You can bring Jonah to your area fundraiser! He speaks, entertains with music and story and is a professional at asking for involvement and funding. His hope is to ‘take the work out of the fundraiser for you! Contact him at http://www.jonahwerner.com You won’t be disappointed!!
Also, see what other staff are saying about Jonah as a YL banquet speaker HERE.
Singer/songwriter Paul Simon once immortalized Kodak Kodachrome film in a #2 Billboard charting song.
They give us those nice bright colors
They give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world's a sunny day.”
That sunny day lasted for quite a while as Kodak captured 90% of the US film market in its heyday and became the world’s fifth largest company. However, the bright colors and greens of summer came to a dull end in 2012 when the company declared bankruptcy.
What went wrong? Was Kodak blindsided by the digital camera wave? Actually, no. Steve Sasson, a Kodak engineer invented the first digital camera in 1975.
The problem was that management saw digital as a threat to the sale of Kodak film and instructed Sasson not to tell anyone about it.
As writer Avi Dan put it in Forbes Magazine, “Kodak made a classic mistake: it didn’t ask the right question. It focused on selling more product, instead of the business that it was in, story telling.”
Focusing on the wrong thing and not asking the right question can have the same detrimental effect on Young Life as well. Kodak mistakenly thought they were in the film business.
What business are we in?
Fundraising? ‘NO’...Camping? ‘NO’ ...Ministry Management? ‘NO’
We are in the business of -
Relationships...Going where kids are.
Contact work...Earning the right to be heard
Sharing the gospel...and giving students a chance to respond.
When we serve AT CAMP during the summer it is to leverage and develop the relationships we have fostered over the year. When we plan for year toward our FUNDRAISING BANQUET, it is to hopefully showcase the effect and impact that the gospel is having on adolescents in our community. The funding need will follow. . We go to TRAININGS and RETREATS so that we can sharpen our ministry skills. We DELEGATE and DEVELOP TEAMS so that we will have more time to be in the lives of kids.
Perhaps the one thing you should never stop doing as a staff person is contact work. It has proven to be the non-negotiable of ministry and one of the historical ‘marks’ of YL. After all, there is not a staff person who got into this gig to sit in an office all day. So go. Go to the game tonight. Show up at school today. Go to the pep rally. Camp out at Starbucks or Chipotle closest to the school. What could be more fun or energizing for the other parts of our job? Go.
PERMISSION, TO DO WHAT WE’VE ALWAYS DONE.
GO, SHOW UP IN THE LONELY PLACES.
SHOW UP IN THE STANDS,
IN THE HALLWAYS, AND CAMPUSES.
SHOW UP WHERE NO ONE ELSE WOULD THINK TO GO.
GO. SHARE YOUR LIFE SIDE-BY-SIDE WITH A KID.
IT IS THE METHOD OF CHRIST. IT IS THE METHOD OF YL.
THERE IS NO OTHER THING.
THERE IS NOTHING BETTER. GO.
GO, WASTE SOME TIME WITH A KID TODAY.
GO, IN THE NAME OF JESUS.
Contact work may not be the most photogenic thing we do , but it is the most beautiful.
‘GO’ by Lauren Bocci
Highs and lows..Roses and thorns...Brownies and frownies...Happies and crappies.
However you might word it, “best/worst” icebreakers have become a traditional opening schtick in many smaller-deeper-discipling-Campaigner groups.
They’re easy. They’re foolproof. They’re prep-free. They don’t require deep reflection. They focus on “me and what happened to me” – always a popular topic.
Breaking ice is a noble and necessary endeavor, especially in a group of adolescents who are often still learning the fine art of thoughtful conversation. But if the goal of our smaller-deeper-discipling contexts is spiritual growth and formation, it might be time to move the needle on our ice-breaker strategies. Perhaps now and then, we could be a little less predictable, a little more reflective, and a lot more focused on how “me” relates to God and others.
What if we started with something like this:
“What’s one way you brought help or hope to someone this week?”
This question (riffed from Lindsey Osborne, Midwest Divisional Training Coordinator) invites people not to reminisce about their perceived experiences of personal life (i.e. talk about me for my own sake), but rather to reflect on their actual engagement with Christ-centered faith (i.e. talk about how God and my understanding of him is affecting the way I think and act).
That’s a significant shift in both perspective and processing.
Many students haven’t yet made the connection between following Jesus and daily life. This type of question helps connect those faith-and-life dots in significant ways, first internally as they reflect and sort their thoughts, and then verbally as they articulate their experiential reality and spiritual awareness.
Research shows that articulated faith shores up foundational faith. In other words, “saying becomes believing.”
When we provide opportunities for our friends to speak honestly about how their faith impacts their attitudes and actions, we effectively cultivate formational space. In truth, many of our adolescent friends have no idea yet that their faith actually is impacting their attitudes and action ... that is, until they discover it through a well-timed and intentional question.
Open-ended statements can work just as well. How about starting with something like this:
“This week I struggled to obey (hear/believe/etc.) God when...”
Completing that kind of statement requires self-awareness, honesty, and humility, all of which are vital to a growing and lasting life of faith.
Starting with a thoughtful and reflective opener isn’t a buzz-kill. It’s energizing and empowering. It’s meaningful. It’s life-giving. Whatever their age, people appreciate being challenged and given the chance to talk about real things, deep things, things that are bigger and beyond themselves.
Take time to brainstorm a collection of opening questions that offer a range of depth and reflection. That way, you’ll have plenty of options to keep you from getting stuck in the “high/low – happies/crappies” loop.
What were you afraid of this week, and what did you do about it?
How did God bring joy to your life this week?
What’s one doubt or question you had about following Jesus this week?
How/when did you help someone this week?
What’s one thing God taught you about himself this week?
This week, God....
This week I prayed about ..... because .....
This week, I thought of God when ....
The week, God helped me ....
-Written by Crystal Kirgiss, Vice President of Discipleship (email@example.com)
Everyone in Young Life would agree: we want to grow Young Life in new communities, believing that every kid deserves a chance to hear and respond to the Gospel and to be loved regardless of their response. We also want to start things in a healthy way.
But everyone in Young Life would also agree that launching a new Young Life Area can be daunting and exciting. Every step forward requires deep community support, sustainable fundraising practices, and committed/engaged leaders and staff.
There are plenty of stories – successful and unsuccessful – of new startup areas across the entire Young Life mission. Learning from these stories is extremely important, as helps us build on valuable practices and avoid common pitfalls.
As such, Jon Houghton and Annie Udell (Young Life Chicagoland) have compiled “Pathway to Healthy Young Life Launch,” a guide to establishing a healthy and sustainable new area. This startup strategy emphasizes the importance of a communication hierarchy (when to communicate what to whom, and how). It also gives helpful milestones to achieve along the way, leading you through the process of recruiting adults, securing financial support and, eventually, hiring a dedicated staff person. The purpose of this document and its resources is not to eliminate the need for guidance from someone who has the lead the start up process previously but to minimize the need for guidance and streamline the process. Our hope is that this will give you and the people you lead confidence that there is a coherent plan.
What does it take to get YL started?
- Prayer for a vision and guidance of new areas to reach
- The launching group must have an understanding of the mission of Young Live
- Establish a local Committee
- Understand the Financial Structure and Raise Money
- Hire Staff (some communities will choose to hire a staff person at this point and some will focus on recruiting
- Recruit and Train Volunteer Leaders
Learn more about the steps above in the full Pathway to Healthy Young Life Launch guide HERE .
By Jon Houghton (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Time to plan your Summer 2020 Discipleship Adventure Camp
“Are we there yet” echoes through the forest up the mountain, across the glacier, up the inlets on a daily even hourly basis on our Beyond Malibu trips. The answer is often “no” followed by ”it’s just around the corner,” “it’s when we get out of the forest,” or “it’s not long now.” These responses are more describing the journey rather than the end.
Adventure camping experiences are a great opportunity to turn the “Are we there Yet?” question into a conversation about how the journey we are on can translate to our journey of faith and our journey in life.
Adventure camping experiences are in large part about the journey. On adventure experiences you do the best you can with what you’ve got, from where you are, right now. You are focused in the moment on solving the next step. Soliciting help from those around. You are embracing the moment and journey.
These are tangible experiences that serve as a great metaphor for our lives and faith.
Young Life Beyond Malibu seeks to change lives through adventure ministry. Week-long challenging sea kayaking and mountain adventures in British Columbia, Canada are designed to challenge high school and college students, and adults of all ages to explore who they are in Jesus Christ and their relationship to God.
Looking for an adventure of a lifetime?
We have 8 National Young Life Adventure camps that are designed to help you encourage your high school friends in their journey with Jesus Christ. They range from camp based adventures to Pioneer experiences to hiking on islands in Lake Superior, or in the San Juan mountains of Colorado or the coastal mountains of British Columbia Canada to sea kayaking on Lake Powell and the inlets of the coast of British Columbia. There is something for everyone.
Considering going Beyond your regular camping plan? As you contemplate the journey that you are taking your Young Life friends on whether students, leader or committees and you think of Going Deeper in your area, consider including one of these adventure camps, which are focused on providing discipleship experiences for your participants, in your camping strategy. Start planning now! Consider a graduating senior trip or a student leader trip as they go into their senior year, or a milestone trip as students move from accepting to walking with Christ.
Young Life Adventure Camps:
Scotts Valley, CA
Lake City, MI
Scotts Valley, CA
Mt. Nebo, WV
YL Adventures Pioneer Plunge.
Written by Rob Duyker (email@example.com)
Recently I was at a meeting with a prospective investor to one of our Young Life camps. This person said something that many have said in a variety of ways, and we need to have an answer. Does Young Life have an impact? Do you have statistics or hard facts to back up what you say?
Historically, what I have said are these two statements:
90% of all adults who profess to be followers of Christ made this decision before their 18th birthday, and this is the target audience for the Young Life mission.
33% of all summer campers meet Jesus for the first time. (This is based on our own camp director reports as to how many Bibles we gave out, how many kids went on new believer walk, and those who stood at “Say-So.”)
These are true statistics I am sure, but there has been no way to “footnote” them that I know of so that we can put them in a foundation request as a statistic with a bibliography or a citation.
Young Life Forward, i.e., Newt Crenshaw our very own president, has an Executive Campaign Committee gathered around him as he leads us. They said to Newt nearly two years ago, “You know, if you could say, ‘Barna says,’ this would be very helpful in documenting what we already know: Young Life has an impact.” And so, we commissioned Barna to do just that.
Who is Barna? “Barna Group is a visionary research and resource company located in Ventura, California. Started in 1984, the firm is widely considered to be a leading research organization focused on the intersection of faith and culture.”
Young Life wanted to put into the hands of our area directors, regional directors, SVPs, and our executive campaign committees across the mission some gunpowder. We know that Young Life is making a difference, but what do donors say, staff say, alumni say, students say, as well as pastors and believers in the U.S.? We aimed to find out!
Thousands upon thousands of unique people filled out surveys, and Barna consolidated, scrubbed and did their own version of analytics on this data to come up with the following:
4.9 million U.S. adults participated in Young Life as students and are still practicing their faith today.
6% of pastors are Young Life alumni.
1.1 million adults CREDIT Young Life as the MAIN influence in developing their faith.
3.2 million adults CREDIT Young Life as ONE OF the main influences in developing their faith.
Before participating in Young Life, 22% of our alumni say their faith was very important in their lives.
Today, 85% of alumni say their faith is very important.
You can see for yourself, and truly, this is just a fast highlight reel to get you excited to digest this material for yourself.
We know, you know, and people out there need to know that Young Life is making a difference. This may be an entrée for you to consider serving up in some way, shape or fashion. Here are a couple of fast ideas for you to consider:
Take the poster, digest it a bit, and send it alongside a letter from you to all of your current investors.
Have this poster be a “placemat” at a thank-you dinner this summer, or for that matter, your fall banquet.
Share this with your local committee and use it as a discussion starter as well as a brainstorm for how you could use this in your local area.
Equip leaders and staff to at least have two or three notable quotes at their fingertips to be able to use.
Share with school officials who are insiders and may find this survey helpful as well.
There are growth areas we have as a mission, and as you look at this survey you will see them. We have a lot of room for growth for sure. I will let you see these for yourself and how they might be fleshed out in your area/region.
Young Life is having an impact, and this will not be our last survey. As for now, let’s aim to use what we have until another one is completed.
Read the full summary HERE.
Around the world, it is estimated that anywhere from 0.2%-2% of Deaf people say they know Jesus. In the USA, that statistic is slightly higher at 2%-4%, but when you consider that 96% of Deaf people would say they DON’T know Jesus, that makes the Deaf community one of the most unreached people groups in our communities. That’s what makes Deaf Young Life so special and so needed.
I’m honored to be part of this unique and special ministry. As a senior in high school, I found myself on a soccer bus with a Deaf freshman who had made the team. My school had a mainstream program, so I went to school with Deaf students right in my own classrooms for years. As I got to know this girl, I invited her to come to Young Life and eventually she started bringing a few other Deaf friends to club too.
I felt a distinct tug from God to start a club just for this community, so in 1997, we started the first club at the Oregon School for the Deaf in Salem, Oregon. A few years later I stumbled upon a club happening at the California School for the Deaf in Fremont. We started collaborating with the California club for camp and other club ideas.
Deaf Young Life club looks a lot like any other Young Life club you’d walk into on a Monday night. It’s the same everywhere, but different everywhere at the same time!
The logistics of an all-Deaf club is where it starts to look a little different. Deaf kids often live further away from the actual school they attend because school districts will often place all Deaf kids in one school to help meet their needs. Travel to club can be a little tricky. Music sounds a little different sometimes with mainly a drum beat that kids can feel, and it’s really loud. Physical touch (tap on the shoulder) or flashing lights is how we get everyone’s attention.
Theater, improv and story is important in Deaf culture, and we incorporate that into club. Deaf culture is highly interactive and interrupting with questions is not uncommon at an all-Deaf club.
I remember being just shocked to learn one of my girls didn’t know what the cross meant. Around Easter, one of the girls finally heard the gospel through sign language and said “THAT’S what the cross is about? I had no idea.” She had been going to church with her family for years and never fully understood it because English was not her first language, and no one had ever shared it with her in her main language.
I’ve learned so much more about this community over the years. Deaf people are so unreached, and starting down this path raised that awareness tenfold. My eyes were opened to the fact there simply are not many resources focused on reaching Deaf teens.
In a lot of ways, we’re building something new here. There’s a lot of potential, with 100 Deaf schools in the United States and only a handful of ministries. Young Life has four active Deaf Young Life ministries and countless clubs around the world who have Deaf students popping in.
But, we can do so much more!
Where to start?
Do you want to plug into Young Life ministry to the Deaf? Do you want to help start a club specifically for Deaf teens? I’d love to help you find a way to plug in.
Be aware. For Deaf students, being Deaf is how they identify culturally. The culturally correct term is Deaf or hard-of-hearing, not “hearing impaired.” If you aren’t sure, use what term they use or use “Deaf.”
Remember that visual cues are vitally important for anyone with hearing loss. Don’t assume everyone can read lips, or even if they do, that they understood 100% of the message.
Pray for our Deaf teens. Be aware of the needs in your own town and ask God if there are ways He wants you to get involved.
Written by Araya Williams (firstname.lastname@example.org)
What can your weekly Young Life club learn from a world-famous, fine-dining restaurant? I wasn’t sure of the answer to that question myself until recently. I stumbled across the Season 2 opener of the “Building a Story Brand” podcast in which author Donald Miller interviews Mark and Brian Canlis. These two brothers own and run Canlis, an upscale restaurant in Seattle, Washington. Ranked one of the top 20 restaurants in America by “Gourmet” magazine, the staff at Canlis know how to put their customers first while delivering unforgettable experiences.
As I listened, I could not help thinking of applications when it comes to kids’ experiences when they walk into our clubs. Below are three questions I began to ask myself as I thought through the Canlis experience and the Young Life experience:
Does our Young Life club create a sense of belonging or exclusivity?
It would be interesting to go back to the first time you walked into a Young Life club. I asked my seniors to do that every year. I wanted them to think back to when they were a lowly freshman and felt insecure about showing up.
According to Miller, at Canlis, “You walk in wondering even if you belong here. You walk in going ‘I hope I fit.’ And within seconds you get this overwhelming rush from their customer service that you belong here — that you have always fit here. Any insecurities you’ve had are absurd.”
Is that the feeling kids get when they show up at club? Are they greeted? Is there something for them to do (corn hole, giant jenga, frisbees, T-shirt table, leaders and seniors greeting, music playing) rather than standing around awkwardly as crickets chirp?
How do popular dress-up theme clubs (Disney, Harry Potter, America) affect whether kids feel like they truly belong just as they are or don’t fit in? What if you are the kid who can’t afford a new costume every week? What if the “America” theme club does not necessarily make everyone feel welcome in today’s political climate?
Club is our widest open door and it always should be. Kids should always feel welcome and within seconds know “any insecurities they had (about fitting in) are absurd.” Let’s do our best to remove all obstacles to opening that club door wide so that all are welcome.
2. Are we trustworthy with two of our kids’ most precious assets — their story and their time?
Each student walks in the door of club with a unique story and a finite amount of time in their day. They have chosen to give it to you to care for that hour. They come from different places that day, and I don’t mean just geographically. Their SAT score came and it was not as high as expected. They just broke up with their boyfriend or girlfriend. Someone just asked them to prom. Mom and Dad just had a fight. They just got their first new car.
It is our charge to take those kids, no matter their story, and welcome them to a place where they can see, hear, and experience the gospel.
The staff at Canlis understand being a good steward of their customer’s time and story, and so should we.
“They understand that a guest walks in the door and tonight needs to matter. That guest brings their most valuable asset … almost like a treasure … their time. They walk in the door with this fragile memory, and they are offering it to you and saying ‘can you take care of this.’ They’re coming to make sure tonight will matter, and that’s what our staff get so excited about.” — Mark and Brian Canlis.
Is that what you still get excited about? Like the Canlis staff, is that what your leaders get excited about? Or has club become something you “have to do” and “paint by numbers” rather than something you GET TO DO and a work of art that you can’t wait to share with your kids?
We have the greatest job in the world! Kids run in the door, laugh hard, sing loud, engage with leaders, and then we get to open up the Bible and talk about Jesus. May we always say like Canlis, “That’s what our staff get so excited about!”
3. Do you have a strategy or do you simply follow the rules?
“Pay attention to strategies and not to rules.” — Brian Canlis
Let me try to make sense of this in a Young Life context. Young Life rules might include raise money, form a committee, have a banquet, turn in your GPS and R1 and R2, do your Concur, have an assignment.
I’m certainly not saying not to do the above Young Life “rules.” I just wonder if in our day-to-day experience if our attention is in the wrong place. A staff person who recently went through our “Brilliant at the Basics” training in Dallas said, “We got back to our areas and tried that ‘Ministry Strategy’ stuff but quickly got distracted by other things.”
Other things than charging the hill and going after the next kid? That’s focusing on the rules my friends. Again, no great coach’s inspirational speech ever began with the words, “Boys, we’re going to go out there and not kick the ball out of bounds! Now go get ‘em!”
Start and end with strategy, not rules.
Do yourself a favor and listen to Season 2, Episode 1 of the “Building a StoryBrand” Podcast with Mark and Brian Canlis. There are so many more applications to our ministry in what they share. And you might want to stop by Canlis next time you are in Seattle. I guarantee they will be trustworthy with your story and your time.
Middle school kids need Jesus. Because of the ways God created their minds and hearts, young teenagers are often more open to the gospel. “Recent studies we have conducted show that the beliefs a person holds at age 13 vary little during their adult years. The most effective way to influence such beliefs is by teaching people when they are young and still in a spiritually formative stage,” said George Barna, founder of the Barna Group.
You have a longer window to help kids grow in their faith. When kids begin a relationship with Jesus in sixth grade, your leaders get to spend the next six years helping them learn what it looks like to follow Jesus and give their lives away. Imagine the fruit that can appear in those years.
When your area has WyldLife, you will be a part of changing kids’ lives for eternity. WyldLife can also impact parents, donors, leaders and the area as a whole. A healthy WyldLife ministry can produce these significant secondary benefits:
Parent connections. Because parents manage the schedules, transportation and finances of their middle school children, WyldLife leaders must get to know, earn the trust and communicate regularly with parents. Relationships with WyldLife parents can efficiently and organically open doors to parents serving in many ways.
New and longer-term donors. Parents are still actively involved in the lives of their middle school kids, so they will notice leaders who care for their kids. Because of what they see firsthand, they may be willing to give financially throughout their children’s time in middle school and high school.
High school discipleship. WyldLife started in some areas more than 40 years ago because leaders wanted their high school Campaigners kids to know how to share their lives and the gospel with others. When your area has WyldLife, you have a built-in discipleship opportunity for your high school friends.
Bigger pool of leaders. High school students can be great WyldLife leaders, but they need to serve alongside adults who provide maturity and stability. Teachers, coaches and middle school parents are great potential leaders. WyldLife may include only two clubs and two Campaigners a month, and contact work is often done with groups instead of one-on-one. This lighter schedule may make WyldLife an option for some great adult leaders.
Area stability. Staff who start with WyldLife in an area before adding Young Life point to WyldLife as the stabilizing factor. The solid parent support and existing relationships with kids contribute to this consistency.
Written by: Julie Clapp, Mission Director of WyldLife