October 2019 Global Committees

Missional Community: A Christ-centered community that exists for those outside.  


 We worship a God of community. Three in one, each expression unique, mysterious, and beautiful, working and communing together in perfect harmony. Man was made in God’s image, and from the beginning it was clear that it was not good for man to be alone. As the missional plan of God was revealed (and recorded in scriptures), it was evident that the God of community desired to fulfill His plan through community.  This community would enjoy the benefits of being “God’s people” but with the expressed purpose of sharing with those outside of the community the truth of God’s saving grace and love. The first such community was the nation of Israel and then (and now) the body of believers that share faith in the Gospel reveal this triune God.  

Two thousand years after the book of Acts was penned, God’s plan for missional communities has not changed. We know this and have experienced this in the mission of Young Life. As a missional arm of the body of Christ, our desire is to reach every adolescent with the Good News of Jesus Christ and help them grow in their faith. United as one mission around this passion and yet organized locally in thousands of missional communities around the globe, this is Young Life.  

Each community (or Young Life team) is unique, an eclectic group with diverse characteristics, but unified in their diversity. The global missional community of Young Life represents every denomination, culture, background, educational level, and socio-economic class. Every identifier that our world would use to divide is united in Young Life around the desire to share the gospel with adolescents. The body of Christ fully represented in order that anyone outside of our community might also be given an opportunity to be invited in. A truly missional community.

The blueprint is not new to the Church; it is not unique to (and was not invented by) Young Life. Healthy Young Life teams have as their primary focus - Jesus and not Young Life. These communities gather regularly to worship, pray, and open the scriptures together. There is time for fellowship -- usually around food -- intentionality in asking questions that matter, and a desire to know others as well as the courage to be known. There is laughter that unifies and lightens the mood, not the sarcastic or crude humor of the culture that tears down. There is time to linger, the opportunity to build friendships with people that you might not “choose” as your friends. There is adventure and surprises -- because Young Life people love both. There is a freedom to be who you are and, within the right context, the opportunity to share how you are struggling.  

There is also the mission. Young Life teams get to go out together. Literally, a short term mission experience happens every week. Individually scared, but scared together. Courageous together, creative together, awkward together, succeeding together, and failing together. The mission field becomes the fertile soil for the community to grow in dependence and love, for Christ and for each other. Of course the Lord doesn’t need us or these communities to accomplish His purpose with teenagers. This mission and its community are His gift to us. For this we were created. Only in missional community do we have the “life to the full” that Jesus promises; we were made for this.  

We live in a time where we are exposed to more counterfeit communities than ever before.  Hours daily are spent building a virtual community that portrays a certain image on a social media platform that perpetuates constant comparison. We work with teenagers that have a thousand “friends” and yet are more lonely than ever before. Opportunities for entertainment, activity, and productivity have never been greater, and people are overscheduled, exhausted, and alone. If true community is water, the world has never been more thirsty. A healthy missional community is literally a stream of living water.

And yet, as the mission of Young Life continues in a season of unparalleled favor, one of the threats to our current and future health is the pull away from a movement of missional communities to an organization of ministry programs. The lure of the latter is tempting as it fits nicely in the plans and strategies of man, and it might even give the impression of predictable success. One might view Young Life’s meteoric growth as a strategic cocktail of great leadership, beautiful camps, and prescribed program. That would be a mistake. The favor of the Lord on the mission of Young Life has little to do with these things. Our favor rests in an individual and corporate love for and commitment to our triune God, a desire and commitment to go together, and a passion to know every adolescent that has not personally known or experienced the goodness of these gospel truths.  

As the missional community that has experienced God’s goodness through the ministry of Young Life, let’s not lose sight of our first Love and how that first Love has been so clearly expressed. It was into a missional community that we were invited. Let us not fall into the temptation to make the programs, the properties, or the brand of Young Life into an idol or to give them too much importance. Let us be very careful to not think too highly of our creativity, humor, and courage. An arrogant community that sets itself apart from the body of Christ is not a missional community.  

Jim Rayburn is noted as saying “the best Young Life is yet to come.” The world has set the stage for this to be true. Our invitation is to missional community: life and ministry together wonderfully expressed through the ministry vehicle of Young Life. May God grace us with his favor in our communities, and may our Living God, not Young Life, get the glory.

October 2019 Global Volunteers




Tell me a story.

Don’t tell me all of the stories. Tell the right story and tell it well!

I’ve found this encouragement, instruction, pro tip—call it whatever you like—to be more than helpful as we continue to work through the Banquet Project in the Northwest Division, alongside the Field Events team at the Service Center. We continue to discover ways that Areas can produce consistent, excellent fundraisers. This one statement is significant:  tell the right story and tell it well.

In the interest of honoring your guests and to be a good steward of your stakeholder’s time, don’t miss this! Tell them what their supporting. Make it clear. Keep it simple. Identify a problem or a void and tell them how Young Life in your community is solving the problem or filling the void. 

Please don’t lose their interest by over-telling the story. 

As a staff person or volunteer leader, you give and receive to this mission in remarkable ways! I’m certain that you could tell all sorts of amazing stories. Believe me, each of those stories have value. Yet, telling a single story and telling it well may be our greatest challenge in our fundraising efforts today. 

Could you tell me in one clear statement what you’re expecting me to know at the end of your fundraising event?

When you plan a banquet, auction, 5k, skeet shoot, game night, or whatever else, are you considering this question:  what is the one story that I’m telling my guests? 

Let’s imagine for a moment that one day you get home in the evening and decide to make a large pot of soup. It’s a good soup and there’s lots of it! Then, you just sit around and wait for your friends to show up and eat it…right? NO! You’ve never done that. When you prepare a meal for your friends, you invite them over first; then you’re careful to think about what they like or if they have dietary restrictions. You’ll consider how many are coming and what time of day it is; you’ll prepare a table or a picnic; you’ll buy wine or lemonade. Whatever you produce, it will be completely dependent on who will be there.

Can we give that same attention to our Banquets? What if your entire banquet plan began with “who’s coming?” Begin every part of your strategy with that filter. What have they seen/heard in our community recently? What drives their passion? How are they currently connected to our ministry? What will offend them? What problems exist in their lives and how can Young Life help solve them? What burns in their gut and makes them stand up and cheer?!

It’s likely that, of everyone at your Banquet, you care the most about the mission of Young Life. Think about that reality for a second. You eat, breathe, and sleep Young Life. I think we owe it to your guest to give them one, clear story to grasp.

Tell them the right story and tell it well.

Like every good recipe for a meal, our fundraiser should include elements or ingredients that come together to make one great thing. Your MC, Program Team, Kid Testimony, Committee Member, Auctioneer, Speaker, and whomever else gets on that stage to share will honor your guests if they blend their messages together to tell one story. 

Here are two videos that author and founder or Story Brand, Donald Miller published recently to support this concept: 



Written by:  Blake Raney (blakeraney@gmail.com)

October 2019 Global Training

We all have really good stories about being on really bad conference calls. 

You might have thought it was a good idea  to do a video call in your pajamas until you accidentally turn on your camera in front of the entire group OR, thinking you’ve muted the phone to yell at your dog, only to realize everyone heard what you said.

Running a conference call is not as easy as it seems. I’m not an expert, but here are a few simple tricks that I’ve learned from a lot of experience and a few bad calls.

The Four C’s of a GREAT Conference Call: 


#1. CLARITY: When you invite participants to join a conference call, the intent, purpose, and goals for the call should be CLEAR. Make sure you have an agenda and are able to stay on task as you host and lead the call.

#2. CONTENT: Technology is AWESOME! We have endless possibilities to connect with people anywhere at anytime. With that in mind make sure your CONTENT is best suited for a conference call.  Do things on a conference call that should only be covered on a conference call. For example; the roll out of a new program or big announcements are great for conference call platforms. Try to stay away from asking for feedback or input - save that for email or one-on-one calls.

#3: CONTEXT: Like I said above, it can be hard to do things like ask for feedback on conference calls because you run the risk of everyone talking over each other so have a plan so give CONTEXT for the structure of the call. Take a brief moment to give an overview of the agenda and mention the different options that participants have to ask questions or give input. Many times, you can anticipate questions people might ask sand take the time to address those on the call. Also, you can call on people by name to speak or answer a specific question if appropriate. 

#4: CLOCK:  Start and end on time! Log into the conference call early so you can welcome people as they join. Don’t be afraid to begin even if a few participants are missing or late. Keep things moving so folks stay engaged and feel free to ask for conversations to continue ‘off-line’ so you can end on time!

For other helpful tips like asking people to mute their phones and what to include in a follow up email, CLICK HERE .

Written by Kimberly Silvernale (kimberlygraceyl@gmail.com)

October 2019 Global Discipleship

Recording Discipling Moments: Organic & Formal

All discipling (“helping others become more like Jesus by…”) falls into two basic categories.


As leaders spend time with students outside of a small-group or other structured spiritual context, they may have the opportunity to guide conversations and experiences towards spiritual things. These conversations, plus leaders’ attitudes and actions, all provide potential discipling moments.

Though it may sound counter-intuitive, organic discipling only happens if leaders are prepared for the possibility. You can plan for organic discipling by honing these skills:

Be a good conversation starter.

  • Have good conversation-starting questions ready, always, everywhere.

  • Some students are quiet, cautious, and don’t believe an adult would be interested in what they have to say. Prove them wrong.

  • Don’t give up if your first question flops. Students are too often on the receiving end of someone who “gave up.” Don’t be one of them.

Be a good listener.

  • Take careful note of everything they say.

  • Do not plan a response while they are talking. Just listen.

  • Ask relevant and engaging follow-up questions to keep the conversation going.

  • Be on the lookout for moments when a follow-up question could make a natural turn towards faith, truth, doubt, God, and following Jesus.

Be aware of your surroundings.

  • Note where you are, who else is present, and what’s happening.

  • Be on the lookout for ways you could naturally and safely serve or help someone.

  • Model natural and enthusiastic service and kindness.


As leaders spend time with students in a planned spiritual context (such as Campaigners, or a small group, or a one-on-one) and engage in a planned experience (whether worship, service, or study), they intentionally guide both conversations and experiences to a place of learning and growth.

Though it may sound counter-intuitive, formal discipling is often most powerful when it feels organic. But in order for formal discipling to feel truly organic, it must be carefully planned and skillfully executed. In the case of a small group Bible study, these steps will help you prepare for organically styled discipling:

Know the Bible passage inside, outside, upside down.

  • Make it the focus of your personal daily Bible reading for the week prior.

  • Read what comes before and after it — an entire chapter at least, and the full book if possible. 

  • Read what wise teachers and theologians have said about it. Free online commentaries abound.

  • Serve the meal (the specific passage of your planned reading and discussion) but be sure it is grounded in solid nutrition (the overarching doctrinal truths that shape and inform the passage).

Lead students towards truth by way of guided discovery.

  • Telling students “what the Bible means” is not the goal (though you should have studied this for yourself and should feel confident about your own knowledge, and you should make sure the conversation doesn’t lead down a road of untruth).

  • Use guided questions related to observation and understanding (e.g. “Why do you think Jesus said that to the women?” or “What do you think the woman expected Jesus to say?”) rather than factual questions (e.g. “What did Jesus say to the woman?”)

  • Teach students how to notice things before asking them what they noticed.

Be flexibly focused.

  • Welcome questions and doubts, counting them as opportunities for increased understanding and growth.

  • Be ready with your own observations based on your personal study, but allow for students to observe something unexpected and (sometimes) far more profound.

  • Do not force the passage towards “personal application.” Sometimes the most profound result and most appropriate response to scripture is simply having spent time in God’s Word, immersed in His written revelation, listening to the voice of God meet us there. There does not always need to be an immediate follow-up action step. Demanding scripture to function in this way is to reduce it to a behavioral handbook.

Between both organic and formal discipling, it’s safe to say that any time a leader is with a student, there is the opportunity for discipleship (living my own life in pursuit of becoming more like Jesus) and discipling (guiding, encouraging, and helping another person live their life in pursuit of becoming more like Jesus).

Written by Crystal Kirgiss (crystal.kirgiss@comcast.net)

October 2019 Global Innovation


Ok, made you ‘click!’  We may have gotten your attention with the title, but it’s going to be worth it.

Copy of bookshelf-2.png

Now let’s give you the big vision: YOUNG LIFE INNOVATION SHARK TANK! In a mission full of ENTREPRENEURS we are hoping to identify The Next Big Thing.  It could be a new ministry model, game-changing idea, or training approach that will go viral across the mission. In our- close to 80 years of history as a mission, the list of innovations is impressive: Young Life College, YoungLives, 15 minutes of silence, The Crud War, The Big Cookie, ‘Got milk?’ Club, Capernaum, Oct-a-Ball, YL Connect, Deaf YL, ...and the list just goes on and on. 

So, if you have an idea that could be a game-changer as we endeavor to reach more kids than ever, THIS IS YOUR CHANCE! If you can dream it, then we can help you build it!  So here are the details: 

  • INNOVATION SHARK TANK -  All across the mission, staff are submitting ideas that will help us reach more kids then ever and we will help the most compelling ideas scale across contexts, Regions, and Divisions. We are essentially creating a YL version of SHARK TANK

  • GOAL- Identify some the next innovations that could be a game changer in ‘reaching more kids” than ever before.

  • WHO CAN WIN?  Anyone! Just have a well-thought-through model in your local context that can be scaled. 

  • WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO? The first step of the process is a simple email to TANK (kenbtank@gmail.com) and answer the following questions.  .  

    • 1.  Your Name, email, and contact phone #.

    • 2.  Division, Region, Area name

    • 3.  Brief description of the idea. (2-3 Sentences)

  • WHAT KIND OF IDEAS DO WE WANT? We want well thought out, compelling, scalable project ideas. We want something that you have been doing locally would be the best. If you win, you will get coaching and design support, as well as possible funding to help scale your project. Some SAMPLE IDEAS  that others have suggested are: 

    • A new ministry model 

    • Student leadership initiative

    • A camping model, tweak, or new design

    • Volunteer Team Leader training

    • A contact work initiative 

    • Creative club ministry (lunch, school or community based etc.) 

    • Ministry cohort training for a Region or Division

    • A volunteer leader recruitment/training or development idea

    • Contact Work initiative within a Division or Region 

    • Campaigner vision initiative tied to evangelism and discipleship

    • Creative core ministry/specialized ministry growth initiative

    • Student Staff Pilot (new model or curriculum) 

    • Teacher/Coach volunteer initiative 

You get the idea?   

What we know for sure is that... 

A good  IDEA, can become a MOVEMENT,  


PILOTS that work, become MODELS and,

MODELS can then become a MINISTRY,

And a good MINISTRY could be THE NEXT BIG THING! 

Come with your best, game changing, exponential, leveraged effect idea!  Help us reach the next kid through the next big thing and change the world! We will wait for your email! 

- Young Life, Global Innovation and Growth Office


September 2019 Global Volunteers

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

September 2019 Global Innovation

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 palfrey@military.youmglife.org

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 (mmccarty@military.younglife.org)

September 2019 Global Committees


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.

September 2019 Global Discipleship

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.

September 2019 Global Training



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:

  1. Godly character

  2. Relational intelligence

  3. Ministry skills.

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

Global Training August 2019


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:

  • Hard work. 

  • Fervent prayers. 

  • Creating environments where the gospel is seen and heard with power. 

  • Joy inexpressible. 

  • 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 mcaldwell@sc.younglife.org

Global Committees August 2019

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 (kclifford@sc.younglife.org)

Global Volunteers August 2019



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 (knollan@sc.younglife.org)

Global Innovation August 2019



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…?

  1. 217 young men and 40 of their leaders attended Young Life’s Basketball Camp in Erie, PA.

  2. “Fowling” became a new free time activity at Timber Wolf Lake. It was a big hit!

  3. Escape Rooms have been a great cabin unity game at Cairn Brae.

  4. 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.

  1. 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!

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

  4. Macedonia hosted its first summer Young Life camp ever! There were 63 campers and over half chose to receive a Bible.

  5. 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!

  6. Over 9,500 volunteers and staff shared a common daily devotional this summer – Rooted, by Crystal Kirgiss.

  7. 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!

With Gratitude,

Chad Sievert

VP of Camping 


Global Discipleship August 2019



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 crystal.kirgiss@comcast.net


July 2019-3.png

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.

Global Volunteers July 2019 - YOUNG LIFE’S KODAK MOMENT

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. 

























Contact work may not be the most photogenic thing we do , but it is the most beautiful. 

‘GO’ by Lauren Bocci 

Global Discipleship July 2019 -THE ART OF THE ICEBREAKER QUESTION

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 (crystal.kirgiss@comcast.net)

Global Training July 2019 - PREPARING TO LAUNCH


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

volunteer leaders)

- 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 (jonhoughton2@gmail.com)