The Scary Work of Innovation

In numerous surveys, Gary Pisano found that when asked if people would want to work in an innovative environment, the answer was always “yes.” Innovative cultures have a lot of characteristics that strike positive feelings. However, despite the fact that innovative cultures are desired, they are very difficult to build and sustain over time. Gary shares that innovative cultures actually are a scary thing to build, for both the manager and the team. They involve vulnerability, risk, and truly hard work. As Young Life seeks to be more innovative in our ministry, we need to have an accurate understand of what that may entail. Are we willing to do the hard work of innovation in our ministry?

Read the full article HERE.

What Millennials Really Think About Evangelism

Where do Millennials stand when it comes to talking about and sharing the gospel?

Is it right to share your faith with other people?

What does it look like?

The answers to these questions may surprise you. Millennials face more hostility and challenges in a post-christian world, causing new trends in how faith is shared. The way that looks in real life is a different spin on it than it has been done in the past. If you’re wondering what Millennials real think about evangelism, this article is full of hard numbers to understand exactly what they’re thinking.

Read the full article HERE

What's Your Number? Enneagram & Your Committee

Think Young Life Committees are perfect, harmonious spaces all the time? Think again! Our committees are full of broken, sinful, and very DIFFERENT people. We can disagree, get frustrated, and just plain miscommunicate on a regular basis. That’s why tools like the Enneagram can help so immensely in understanding each other.

The Enneagram is an ancient personality type system providing amazing insight into how humans are wired. As with any personality system, it’s meant to be a tool to help you understand your own strengths and weaknesses better. It’s also a great tool to understand others and how they operate. When we look at committee dynamics, understanding how someone approaches the world and why they might react can help us truly love and respect each other.

In The Road Back to You Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile forge a unique approach—a practical, comprehensive way of accessing Enneagram wisdom and exploring its connections with Christian spirituality for a deeper knowledge of ourselves, compassion for others, and love for God. Take a listen to Ian’s overview of the Enneagram and how we can start to incorporate it into our daily lives.

Volunteers March 2019

Volunteers are our greatest asset in Young Life ministry. We can learn a lot from Susan Ellis and her trainings. You CAN be proactive in creating the most meaningful volunteer involvement. We need to create an intentional system for our volunteers. When we think strategically about our volunteers, we can invite them to join us in creating real impact.

Susan Ellis is a well-known name all over the globe and goes deep into how to create effective and meaningful volunteer programs. Take a look at all four videos to get a new perspective on how you are engaging your volunteers in your own ministry:

Write here

The Banquet, ‘Our Finest Hour’


With all do respect, sir, I believe this is going to be our finest hour.”

In the 1995 film, Apollo 13, three astronauts are about to re-enter earth’s atmosphere. The expedition has been exceptionally difficult with a variety of complications, failures, and mishaps.  As the story goes, their re-entry is likely their demise. In this scene, two NASA directors whisper about the ensuing tragedy:

“I know the problems, Henry. This could be the worst disaster NASA has ever experienced!”

Flight Director, Gene Kranz (Ed Harris) picks up on their conversation and offers this iconic line: “I believe this will be our finest hour.”

In Young Life, we have alot of compelling moments-  A week at Camp, the 55 Minutes of organized chaos with a purpose- The YL Club, The most beautiful thing we do via Contact Work…. and the list goes on.  

What if our local Banquets were, in fact, our finest hour?

In the North Puget Sound Region in Washington state, we’re working alongside the Field Events team on a pilot project that offers resources to support local fundraising events. We recognize that most Areas have dreams and hope to create excellent banquets and other such events; and these efforts often can be improved or elevated with the right help.

There’s a huge variance across our mission in what defines a banquet. Your event is unique, and it should be! However, we consistently hear about people reaching out to others to recruit their expertise. If you want a great speaker you pay attention to where one might be and invite them to come speak. We do the same for auctioneers, MC’s, Program teams, graphic designers, and other spaces that you want the very best.

What if our very best resources were offered from a central point?

The Banquet Project is making the valiant effort to offer a menu where an Area can piece together all they need to see their dreams realized. Earlier articles in the 5 For Friday talk about the essentials of a banquet:  two goals of every banquet and three questions to ask after your banquet. Now, we’re asking what any Area could possibly need to reach those goals and answer those questions. The team is compiling this list and forming the access point for Area Staff. Most importantly this effort could change the banquet culture.  

What if we experienced our banquet the way we experience camp?

They each take an exorbitant amount of energy to setup, they peel us apart at times, we spare no expense to make them excellent, and it feels like a small miracle that it all happened. However, our camping effort ends with a full heart and great memories; it spurs our ministry forward and we share the story all year! Could our banquet end with the same enthusiasm? Could you imagine standing at the front end of your main fundraising event and knowing that the end result will be the definition of the following year in ministry?

Our hope is provide every resource necessary to make your banquet the finest hour in your ministry.  Talk to your Regional Director or Committee Chair if you have questions or input—especially if you’re doing something similar in your area—and contact our office directly by replying to this email for more information

Written By:  Blake Raney (



In late January, I experienced my YL Training Timeline class at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City UT.  One day as I waited in line for my 3rd film of the day, the person next to me leaned over and asked, “Are you a filmmaker?” I laughed, “Me? Nope! I’m here with Young Life staff for training!” Another “Only in Young Life” moment.


A group of 15 YL staff joined 250 Students from 22 Organizations, Seminaries, and Universities for a week of looking at the intersection of Faith and Film through conversations with each other Directors, Producers, Screenwriters and Actors.  It was amazing and so instrumental in equipping me in my day to day work with kids. Robert Redford is credited with starting the festival in 1985 believing that “society relies on storytellers”.  Over the last several decades, the chance to share your story at Sundance has become a filmmaker’s dream. Over the course of the Festival over 40,000 people descend on Park City,UT (pop. 8,378). This year, there was an astonishing 14,259 film submissions, of which only a select 112 feature-length films were chosen! The filmmakers are truly cultural theologians in how they identify longing, brokenness, need, and hope.  One short film “Period. End of Sentence” was founded by a high school, listing a bake sale and yogathons as funding in the end credits. It felt like “us,” how we’ll do whatever it takes to fundraise get a kid to camp.

So….how did we end up there? The Windrider Forum gathers a group of believers at the Festival to explore faith in the midst of culture’s primary form of storytelling - film.   The group was named after the Hebrew word ‘ruach’, meaning “wind” or “spirit.” The class was engaging, challenging and informative. Truly, the Sundance Film Festival may be one of the last cultural events that allow the YL Staffer to truly be 1 step ahead of the culture. We were challenged to have eyes to see and ears to hear where the Spirit of God was moving as we watched.

“Filmmakers are the poets and sages of our time” was a mantra we kept hearing. Each filmmaker risks to say something, to tell a story, to ask a question about real issues – mental illness, the death penalty, race, immigration, disability. And yet so many directors paint the world as they see it – broken, dark, unjust, without any sign of hope. The average Netflix user watches 71 minutes per day….numbing, consuming, grasping for something, being spoon-fed some version of truth. When I think about my Young Life kids’ learning about life through a screen, it doesn’t seem fair, it’s not the whole story, it’s not often a complete picture.

One film called “Gaza,” showed raw and broken snapshots of daily life in a war-torn streets of the Gaza Strip. I was trying to have eyes to find a glimmer of hope amidst scenes of wreckage, but I struggled. Another YL staffer later said, “You know, they have Young Life in Gaza.” Young Life in Gaza!! I got tears in my eyes, there it is:  hope! God’s writing a way bigger story sending light onto the streets of the Gaza strip.

So we wrestled with questions - how can we, as believers, become redemptive storytellers?  How do not only be students of students but also be students of the culture? It’s what YL does so well, we go into the world of kids. What if we watched with a different lens – looking for hope?  Then we would truly have a message worth seeing and sharing.

Keep an eye out:

Some of our favorite films to look out for include “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind,” “The Farewell,” “Luce,” and “Moonlight Sinata.” Missed it this year? No fear, you should save the date for the next year it is offered.

Written by: Kaitlyn Ousley (


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32 years ago, my wife and I attended New Staff Training (NST) at Trail West Lodge.  I vividly remember the impact of the teaching, the modeling, and the Christ-centered tone with which the experience launched us into ministry.

Fast Forward to 2019, Lori and I had the privilege of serving as Small Group Leaders at New Staff Training.  Over the past fifteen years, I have popped in for a 24 hour visit to our NST to cheer on these brand new mission leaders as they embark on the adventure of a lifetime.  However, this time was different. This time we treated our visit like a Summer Assignment: engaging as many of the 300 attendees as we could.


  • Shared meals and led a small group of thirteen New Staff (which felt like Cabin Time).  

  • We also attended class each day, giving us a chance to hear what our new staff are being taught these days, and helping them translate what they heard into their context.  

  • We enjoyed how thoughtful the schedule was:  the priority was prayer, personal spiritual life and it was Jesus first.  I promise, I’m not making this up…there were many blocks of alone time to reflect and process; it felt like a good rhythm and pace.

We left our week with full hearts, greatly encouraged and inspired by the amazing people the Lord is sending to join our staff!  That room of 300+ folks truly are the future of our mission. They are an answer to prayer, as we all ask the Lord of the harvest to raise up workers in His field (Matthew 9:38).  We, as a mission, are doing everything we can to encourage and support them as they launch into this Grand Adventure of proclaiming the life-giving love of Jesus Christ across the globe.  

Here are a few take a ways I might ask you to consider.  

  • LISTEN- LEARN:  If you currently supervise New Staff, go buy them a cup of coffee and ask them to reflect on their experience.  Ask them about what feels most relevant to you now a month later?

  • VOLUNTEER:  Every year, the Training Team is tasked with recruiting 30+ experienced staff to serve in this role.  This opportunity may be one of the best kept secrets in our mission. Travel and lodging costs are covered by the Training Department.  You are well-equipped each day with resources and have an opportunity to learn from other small group leaders who have been serving in this role for years. If you’re looking for an opportunity to serve our mission, encourage and steward new staff and hear how we are equipping them for their roles back home,  please contact the training department. (

* ONE NOTE: due to YL2020 coming up, NST will be held in August at WFR (Washington Family Ranch).

Written by Pete Johnson (

The Simplicity (and Beauty) of the Handoff!


In August 2014, I received an email from a Young Life College staff person at Miami University of Ohio that read, “Could you send me a list of the freshman coming our way? We're gearing up for a big year!” After looking into our Alumni and Friends network, we were able to send information on 44 high school graduates that were heading to their way! Five years later we got an update on what happened with those 44…

  • All 44 were contacted and received a personal invitation to stay connected to Young Life and get involved at their school.

  • 25 became Young Life leaders!

  • 14 are still leading post-college!

  • 2 are on Young Life staff or participating in a Summer Internship!

This is one class, one school, one story, in the midst of thousands!

  • Did you know that last year we were able to stay connected to and serve more than 26,600 graduates from the high school class of 2018?

  • Did you know that the office of Alumni and Friends responded to more than 600 staff requests for information on incoming freshman to their universities and areas?

  • Did you know that this effort has ripple effects touching individual lives, families, ministries and mission units in the U.S. and abroad?

  • Did you know that we are working diligently to provide the opportunity to stay connected students in the 103 Countries around the World where YL has a presence?

  • Did you know that we are only scratching the surface of the potential?

Conservative estimates are that there are more than 90,000 high school graduates every year in the U.S. alone who were involved with Young Life. Whether heading to college, the military, or the work force, these graduates are going through a significant transition and many want to stay connected. Giving them this opportunity is an extension of our commitment to discipleship and helping them “grow in their faith.” This effort will also result in more people being capable and willing to serve in numerous ways for years to come.

So, what can you do? (5 EASY STEPS)

  1. Every region in the U.S has an Alumni Advocate/Graduate Manager. Listen to them. See who they are HERE.

  2. Make sure you’re capturing information on the students you and your leaders know. Club cards are not a thing of the past, they are a crucial first step to staying connected to, and serving your graduates.

  3. Check out our Graduate Campaign web-resources, and consider growing your local effort.

  4. Prepare seniors for their upcoming transition and the opportunity to stay connected to Young Life.

Got 3 minutes? Well, we’ve got a video for you!

For more information about the the process of connecting High School Graduates to Colleges and Universities with a YLC presence, follow this LINK.

Written By: Jonathan Schultz (

Listen Up!  The Power of Listening in Discipleship


After following Jesus for more than four decades, one thing has become crystal clear to me: being and becoming a disciple of Christ is our highest calling in life. Period.
Jesus cares infinitely more about our own lives being transformed into God’s planned design than about anything else. All the good and noble activities we do (or fail to do) for the Lord, including discipling others, are simply the methods by which we grow to become more like Him. It will be out of our own overflowing relationship with Jesus that we lead generations of sons and daughters back into the family of God. I always knew this in theory, but I finally knew it in my soul after a season of searching discontent.

Listening to Myself (Unexpected Discontent)

Too often in life, after spending years pursuing and finally achieving our goals – whether those are tied to vocation, education, relationships, accomplishments, achievements, even spiritual advancement – we find ourselves still longing for more. In my own life, this happened after landing a new job, completing a second advanced degree, beginning married life, buying a new home, and more. In some ways, I had it all. I had every reason to be content and satisfied. But there were deeper longings of my soul tugging at my heart, which ironically had been planted and prompted by one of my accomplishments. Completing my MDiv required deep reflection on my spiritual formation and intentional focus on becoming more like Jesus rather than doing more for Jesus. Looking back, I see that the Holy Spirit was tuning my heart and soul to the dial where God was trying to get my attention. Though I lacked clarity about the specific source of my discontent and longing, I needed to acknowledge and name it in order to move beyond it.

We must listen to the rumblings of our hearts and souls in order to grow.

Listening to A Guide (Wise Discipling)

Fortunately, I had a trusted mentor who both sensed the state of my soul and listened to the Holy Spirit’s nudging. “What do you want, Carolyn?” she asked me. And I thought to myself, “I have no idea.” But now that a wise and trusted friend had put the situation into words and had challenged me, I couldn’t ignore things. After a full life of following Jesus, I still needed a teacher and guide to nudge me forward. We never outgrow that need. And when we are in a spiritually dry place, we need it that much more.

We must listen to trusted and wise advisors when God speaks to us through them.

Listening to the Holy Spirit (Questions and Creation)

I knew I needed to take time to be still, to listen, to learn, and to discern God’s voice. So I cleared my calendar and created a Sabbath. I arrived at 4pm, just before sunset, exhausted, uncomfortable, and slightly irritated by all the unknowns that come with saying “yes” to meeting with the Lord in a quiet place for an extended time. As a people-pleasing task-oriented doer, this kind of thing can be difficult. “Alright, Lord. I’m here. Now what?” The answer had nothing to do with pleasing people or doing tasks.
“Take a nap. Rest yourself. Stay a while.”

So I did. I slept until just before sunrise the next day, waking in my small monastery cell to a brilliant sky filled with morning stars, and the particular beauty of a frozen river in the early stages of thaw. I had nothing but time. I settled myself on the portico, watching birds soar effortlessly, wings fully extended, stretched out on the power of the wind beneath them in the winter daybreak.

I heard the same question my mentor had asked me, this time directly from the Holy Spirit. “What do you want, Carolyn?” But now I had an answer. “I want to soar like those majestic birds who trust the wind, and the One who controls the wind, to live their fullest expression of life. I want that!!”

We must create quiet space where we can be with God and listen to the Holy Spirit.

Listening to Love (Deep Discipleship)

From that day until now, my journey with Jesus as His disciple has deepened in ways I could not have imagined. His well of more is bottomless. The only limits are the ones we impose out of ignorance, fear, or a worldly focus. He will give us life that runs over with limitless love and blessing – but that will likely require us to limit other areas of our lives so that we can remain with Jesus and so that our lives proclaim God’s grace and goodness.

We must listen to God reminding us that being with Him and growing into Him is the most important thing in our lives. That is the first and most important part of our ministry to others.

Written by: Carolyn Harrison, Bronx Regional Director (

The Gift That Keeps On Giving: Student Leadership Project

To read the April, 2018 article HERE to learn about the Student Leadership Project (SLP). Below, you can read a first-person account from Jamisen, a recent SLP Assigned Team Member. She puts into words what many others have said: SLP offers all the things we love most about discipleship and ministry. Here’s what Jamisen had to say about her experience:


This summer I had the privilege of serving on assignment in Minneapolis, MN on Student Leadership Project (SLP). I knew very little about this assignment, but many friends who had previously served encouraged me to wait, see, and be flexible! I arrived at Bethel University with eight other staff people and 20 high school students. Our full group included people from all different backgrounds, ethnicities, and experiences. I’d come from the small city of Lexington, Kentucky. My co-leader was from the Bronx. We had students from California, North Carolina, Washington, and Colorado.  For the next two weeks we would share experiences, learn from one another, serve and encounter Christ in so many new ways.

SLP sets out to take your students who are natural leaders in their schools and equip them to be Godly, multiethnic leaders in their communities. This unique discipleship opportunity allows students (and those on the Assigned Team) to learn from a wide range of Christian leaders and teachers. It also provides them a space to put into practice all that they are absorbing. They do this through a combination of classroom instructional time, small group discussion, and hand selected experiences that expand perspective and push students out of their comfort zone. SLP is set in a big city so that students can experience a wide variety of cultures that are present in the United States. SLP gives students the chance to truly learn how to serve and love every kind of neighbor in every kind of community in the manor of Christ.

Each student had to complete a final project by the end of their two weeks. This project was to reflect what the student was taking home from their experience at SLP back to their communities. When the projects were all displayed, it was a truly beautiful depiction of hope for the future. One student from a town that is 97% white expressed that before his SLP experience, he had never learned from anyone who didn’t look like him. He was so excited to go home and share with the people in his ministry all that he had learned about being a leader in a diverse world. Another student expressed how she was refreshed and affirmed of her calling to stay in her town to influence the kids in her community to pursue their education to change the trajectory of their lives.

I am fully convinced that the 20 students who were sent out from SLP will not only be bringing the gospel to their communities, but will also be the leaders of tomorrow who affect change for the Kingdom of God across the country. 

SLP will have a handful of sites around the US this summer with limited spots available to qualified students.  For more information or to apply for admission into this life changing Leadership Development program, please follow this link

Written by:  Jamisen Manley, Director of Development (Lexington, KY)

Unwrapping the Gift of Healthy Supervision

A recent 5 for Friday ‘ONE QUESTION SURVEY’ asked a simple question about supervision:

“What are the top three qualities you want in a supervisor?”  Hundreds of you responded! Thank You, for responding! Below are the qualities that were listed to choose from:

  • strong leadership

  • emotional stability

  • encouragement and affirmation

  • clarity on expectations

  • empathy and compassion

  • integrity

  • disciplined and focused

  • solid communication skills

  • coaching and mentoring skills

  • flexibility and accessibility

  • clarity on expectations

  • wise and strong knowledge base

  • Confident

  • Others?  _______________





The results may not be surprising because the qualities we want from a boss are understandable.  

  • We want to be noticed so we want someone to SEE us,  (Accessibility)

  • We want to give input so we want someone to HEAR  us.  (Communication)

  • We want to learn and grow so it makes sense that we want someone to stretch,develop and CHALLENGE us.  (Leadership)

But wait, in the COMMENTS section these desired qualities were also suggested:

  • Spiritually mature

  • Humble

  • Macro-manager

  • Detail oriented

  • Visionary

  • Speaks truth in love

  • Servant leader

  • Innovative/creative

And what about these attributes that didn’t make the list:

  • Loyal/committed

  • Teacher

  • Courageous

  • Listener

  • High EQ, CQ, OQ, SQ (all the Q’s)

  • Holds accountability

  • Health conscious

  • Learner/listener

  • Professional

  • Authentic

  • Trainer

So, what about a second question- “How do you 'get’ what you need from a supervisor?”

We know that no one can be all of the things listed above. Besides, our ability to receive good supervision is filtered through our own perspective.  Although we may never agree on the most important qualities in a supervisor because of our own uniqueness, there are different qualities we need in a supervisor as we grow, mature and change.

Bottom line:  You can’t design your supervisor, but you can design your supervision.

Supervisors, have the conversation with the people you lead. Let them know what you expect and what you can offer them. Let staff know why you believe what you believe about supervision. Importantly, it’s not just up to the supervisor to design.

Staff person, a form of “leading up” is letting your supervisor know what you need in supervision. In no way is it a demand, it is a conversation. Sure, you won’t be asking your supervisor to be MORE confident, but you can ask them to be clear regarding expectations. Maybe you let them know you respond best when you have time to ask questions for clarity or that mentorship is of great value to you.

Together, you can work to meet the needs.

Now what?  So, do you as the supervisor or staff person need to have a conversation? Is it a good time to provide clarity or ask for what you need? If you think yes, then do something about it right now. Make a call now, set up a check-in, write out what would be helpful and discuss supervision. Supervisors want to be effective and as staff people we need to be supported----Have a conversation.

Written by Reid Estes

Leveling Up Our Ministry Model

In our Mission, Methods, and Values document it states that Young Life accomplishes its mission by “going where kids are and building personal relationships with them.”  But, what if “where kids are” is on their screens, online playing video games? Do we go there?


We do if the values we list on our website are correct.  We say that we value “the next kid - developing innovative approaches to reach the uncommitted, disinterested young people around the world.”

According to Common Sense Media, teens spend an average of 9 hours a day online and much of that time is dedicated to gaming. Ask any staff person what keeps kids from coming to club and you’ll be very likely to hear the word, “Fortnite.”  And they’re not just skipping club. According to a recent survey by LendEDU, 35 percent of high school and college Fortnite players admit to having skipped school to play.

So if that’s where kids today are, why wouldn’t we try to find a way to meet them there?  

Some might argue that video games are not relational.  You might picture a kid alone in his room staring at a screen with a headset on.  While that may be true in many instances, significant investors in the US are betting on that dynamic changing.  Arlington, Texas is home to the Dallas Cowboys AT&T Stadium and the Texas Rangers Globe Life Park. Not satisfied with that, this year the city announced it's getting yet another new stadium -- one that will home to one of the fastest growing sectors in the sports entertainment world, eSports.  Arlington is partnering with Esports Venues to open a new 100,000-square-foot, 1,000-seat eSports Stadium right between the Cowboys and Rangers. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones himself has purchased his own eSports franchise to compete there.

The  point?  It’s not just a single kid in his own bedroom anymore.

Hong Kong Young Life Metro Director Josh Powell sees great potential in reaching kids through gaming.  “We were considering opening a gaming house storefront and staffing it with YL leaders as a business to meet and engage kids that we'd never otherwise meet and to practice hospitality, and have a venue for gatherings and ministry events,” says Powell.

This idea came to him when he saw the places where kids were hanging out. “Most of these gaming places in Hong Kong are dark dens of nothing good.  They're packed with kids, mostly boys,” continued Powell. “I was imagining us opening up something similar but with a twist and adding an element of YL hospitality into the mix to see if we might build a profitable and unique ministry opportunity.”   If you are wondering what YL Founder, Jim Rayburn might say about all of this, I think it might be good to go back and look at what he said in the original Young Life training manual.

  • “Why not seize on new methods and different ways, especially when the old have largely lost their hold on young people? Why not seek the MOST EFFECTIVE way of getting a hearing for the gospel?  Are you sold on trying to find the most effective way?”

  • “I am never going to be satisfied with what HAS BEEN done; the job must be DONE BETTER than before.”

  • “The Campaign is committed to getting the Gospel to young people by ANY, AND EVERY  means that God may direct.”

I think Rayburn would say it’s worth a shot to meet kids where they are.  Do you currently have some type of “Gamer” outreach ministry in your area?  If so, would you email me, Brian Summerall, at and tell me about it?  You could be on the ground floor of something new.

Written by Josh Powell & Brian Summerall,


10 Years of wisdom, over 200 podcasts, in 9 minute, bite-sized portions

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men liberally and without criticism, and it will be given to him.” - James 1:5 (MEV)


For over ten years, the Field Development Team has hosted over 200 podcasts for committee chairs, committee members and staff. According to our most recent survey, most committees feel unprepared in the ministry of fundraising. Many staff are looking for a few quick ideas and encouragement to improve their funding efforts.  

There is help available. Hosts Pat Rhoades and Greg Lehman share insights from their work in Young Life Development.  From time to time, there are insightful guests and stories from the field.  They offer an entertaining and engaging look at topics such as area fundraising, community ownership, donor care, relational best practices and more. Utilizing this resource with your Committee could be a game changer for fundraising in your area.

  • Consider listening in with your Committee and staff

  • Subscribe to the podcast (new episodes twice a month)

  • Pick a podcast to listen to before your next Committee or financial team meeting and discuss what you could use in your area to strengthen your fundraising.

  • Follow Field Development on Twitter

The Young Life Funding Help podcast can be found at on iTunes and Google Play by searching for “ylfundinghelp”. Successful area funding requires opening our hearts and minds up to what the Lord wants to do. Remember that you are not alone!  Visit for the latest podcast!  “Jesus said, ‘If? There are no ‘ifs’ among believers. Anything can happen.’” - Mark 9:23 (MSG)

Here are links TOP 10 PODCASTS  to help you get started:

  1. Walking by Faith in Fundraising - This podcast asks the important question: “Does your area live by faith and not by sight?” Faith is generated through practice; we get to use fundraising as our generator.

  2. Helping Donors Catch Young Life - This podcast gives advice to help donors catch the vision for Young Life.  It can be hard to explain in words, but we can help them see and experience what we do.

  3. Who to Ask:  This Podcast talks through how to decide who to engage with and who to talk to in your funding strategy.

  4. The Why Behind Events - In this episode we discuss how events fit into our year-round relationships with donors.

  5. Levels of Engagement - In this episode we discuss how to understand the levels of engagement of your donors to better help you cultivate them and bring them deeper into the ministry.

  6. Keeping Donors Happy - In this episode we discuss how to invite your donors in as partners within your ministry instead of leaving them on the outside.

  7. The Value of a Question - In this episode we discuss how to invite donors in by asking questions and inviting them in to be a bigger part of the story.

  8. Raising More Monthly Donors - In this episode we discuss the importance of monthly donors and how to engage more monthly donors.

  9. Understanding Your Donors Why - In this episode we discuss the importance of understanding your Donor’s “Why” in order to cultivate and engage in closer relationships with them.

  10. What Fundraising Is Really All About with Brent Cunningham - In this episode we discuss ways to have a healthy (and possibly a different) perspective on fundraising.

Written by Pat Rhoades



In Young Life there are no spectators because it is harder to explain the Gospel then to experience it.  The same is true with the Incarnation, understanding salvation, God’s love, and even your local YL Club and Camp.  You have to ‘come and see.’ None of the principles and elements of the mission are reserved just for adolescents.   The best week of your life isn’t just for teens. Young Life camp can make a profound impact on the adults in your ministry too.  Not to mention, camping for your adults can make a huge impact on your local ministry in the long run!

Q.  Do you have a need for more adults to join in your area ministry?

Q.  Do you want to reconnect with alumni, friends and former staff in a manner that is natural, fun, and benefits both them and your area? Are you looking for a world-class window into the mission of Young Life?

Look no further! What better place to get adults excited about the Young Life ministry than at camp? Let adults have the best week of their life too and catch a glimpse of how they can help support your local ministry. Inviting adults to Adult Camping trips increases awareness, ownership, and investment in the ministry.  

Here are some ways to get Adult Camping Plans started:

  1. Make a yearly plan of all camping opportunities NOW and mark them on your calendars.  Work backward to see when you need to start prepping the adults in your community.

  2. Add a role to your committee for someone to take charge of the Mission Community.  Assign your Mission Community Director the job of engaging adults on these Adult Camping opportunities.

  3. Reach out to those who are in charge of the men’s, women’s, couple’s, and family camps and see if there are ways to help support the event itself.  Often, there are opportunities to help with registration, skits, worship, and more. Knowing these needs may help you find ways to engage the adults in your community and help them have deeper buy-in for the trip.

Spending a little time investing in an Adult Camping Plan for your area will reap amazing dividends for your adult friends and your area ministry. We all know that a Young Life camp experience with kids serves to solidify relationships as distractions are minimized and shared-experiences abound. Similarly, getting away with adults from your area can truly accelerate the process of building trust, knowledge, and a desire to serve. Whether being an adult guest at summer camp, experiencing Trail West, or attending a weekend retreat or family camp during the school year, a Young Life camp experience creates space to listen and learn, opportunity to grow in relationship to God and others, and a clear path to meaningful opportunities to serve!

Jonathan Schultz



“Fundraising in this city shouldn’t be this hard.” That was the driving thought that brought together a group of friends of Young Life to figure out how to raise more support across Cincinnati for all of the seven distinct areas. As we unpacked this issue, we discovered just how stretched the staff were in each area. The numbers that stuck out the most to me were 12 staff, 400 volunteers. That’s roughly 33 direct reports for each staff person. From my perspective, we were in desperate need of middle management.

Some people bristle at that idea, but I teach management, so I have a special appreciation for it. What’s more, Jesus only had 12 direct reports; should our staff people have roughly three times that? Fortunately, we already had some of these middle managers in place — volunteer team leaders (VTLs). So we decided to invest more in VTLs by creating a basic handbook and gathering all the VTLs across the city once a semester.

We created the handbook (click here to download) with the idea of it being a short, quick-reference tool for all VTLs, but especially with new VTLs in mind. The aim of the handbook is to give an overview of what a VTL does, why they do it, what are the expectations for each responsibility, and what are some best practices. This serves as a baseline for new VTLs to understand the role. We introduced these handbooks at one of our first all-city VTL meetings.

The vision for the all-city VTL meetings was to encourage, honor and train the VTLs. Every staff member in the city strongly wanted to convey their deep gratitude and appreciation for what VTLs do. We executed on this by holding our 2.5 hour meeting at a unique location, catering lunch, and bringing in a top speaker to develop the VTLs. Our speakers were typically former staff or local business leaders who would teach on leadership skills. Our aim was to develop them more broadly than to train them solely for Young Life leadership. Themes were conflict management, learning from failure and personal growth among others.

The second half of each meeting involved structured sharing among VTLs. We organized VTLs in different ways each meeting — by ministry type, by club size, by tenure as a VTL — and gave them a topic to discuss — preparing for camp, initiating new leaders, team conflict and more. The VTLs consistently told us that the sharing time was the most beneficial time for them. Encouraging each other, commiserating, and sharing ideas proved to be the best nourishment, which in turn makes them more ready to serve and lead their teams.

Typical Meeting Schedule

11 a.m. to Noon — Speaker

Noon to 12:30 p.m. — Lunch

12:30 to 1:30 p.m. — Small Group Discussions

Over the last three years of meetings, we have consistently heard from VTLs that these times together encourage and honor them. New VTLs join other leaders of leaders in community, and veteran team leaders learn that it does not have to be lonely in leadership.

Get our handbook and make a plan for VTLs in your own ministry! (click here to download)

Written by: Chris Welter (


teachers think

There is a large pool of potential volunteer leaders in your area right under your nose. Many have a vibrant faith, love teenagers and all of them are on campus doing contact work every day.

Who would that be? Teachers!!

Let me ask you a few questions:

  • Do you actively seek out teachers to be members of your team?

  • Do you do contact work with teachers, seeking out believers, striving to know them and helping them to become missionaries to their classroom?

I highly encourage you to do this. Teachers do more contact work with kids day in and day out than you or I would ever be able to accomplish. Partnering with teachers to know more kids will help ministry grow and go deeper.

During my 11 years in the classroom, I found myself connected much deeper to kids than my 10 years as a non-teacher volunteer or my last five years on full-time staff.

Our area has been blessed to currently have over a dozen teachers actively serving in my area. Some of these teachers simply lead a Campaigners group, while others serve in a full-on capacity. Many of our teacher-leaders have a minimal role in club but a considerable role in introducing our other volunteers to kids from their classroom.

When allowed, our teachers champion club and Young Life events. In more closed schools, they merely introduce kids to leaders at after-school events. I spend much of my time with teacher-leaders, encouraging them on how to be intentional with kids.

Here are just a few examples of the impact teachers can have when they are involved in their local Young Life area:

  • They can spend one passing period per day being intentional in the hallway.

  • They can use their before-school duty station to start conversations with kids they don't know well.

  • They can spend one planning period per week connecting with other Christian teachers to pray for the school.

  • Imagine what happens when a new teacher catches a vision to invite a cabin full of kids to summer camp.

Much of the expectations for teachers is the same as is is for my other leaders, but some of it is more flexible. I seek to be intentional to avoid events during busier school times (quarterly exams, meet the teacher night) or not expect to see them at club on those days.

Ultimately, I discovered during my time as a teacher-leader that ministry gave me life even when I was overwhelmed by my teaching load. Being connected to students deeply through the Young Life ministry gave me a greater purpose and led me to pursue my calling versus just having a teaching career. Leading Young Life during those years kept me in the classroom for years longer than if had I simply been teaching my subject.

Seek to help teachers find their calling and fulfill the calling to truly be missionaries in the classroom through the mission of Young Life.

For more information or resources for connecting to this vast pool of potential volunteers in your area, contact Carrolton Area Director Michael Cone at

Learn more about teachers in the mission HERE.



The longer you serve on Young Life staff, the more you will be confronted with three simple questions. They are asked at banquets, summer assignments, staff conferences and trainings. They will be posed by adult guests, committee chairs, staff associates, senior staff and peers. On the surface, the questions seem harmless, but if you look closely, they reveal one of the secrets of the mission. Here they are:

Question 1: “When did you come on staff?”

Question 2: “In what communities or schools have you led Young Life ?”

These first two are obvious and even expected. They speak to your tenure, experience and to some level, your resume — where you served, roles you have had and the ministry context. However, there is a third question, and it may be the most important. It speaks to your lineage and DNA in the mission.

Question 3: “Who Trained you?”

This third question speaks to something totally different. In a ministry that values relationship, contact and teaching, the question of where your training came from speaks to your ministerial family tree. In many ways Young Life is an “oral tradition” ministry that is passed down from person to person, and the role of the supervisor/trainer is to ensure that the principles and values of the mission are passed onto the next generation. Jesus did this the best, and if a disciple is a student, then a disciple-maker is a trainer (1 Corinthians 11:1). That is why we see some phrases continue to surround the Young Life mission:

  • “Incarnational Supervision:” The premise that the relational style that we employ with students should be our model with supervision.

  • “The greatest expression of love is wasted time:” In an age where time is currency, the most important investment we could make is the ability to spend time with those we supervise and train.

  • “Walk alongside” Leadership: The biblical style of training that doesn’t just send but goes with.

  • “Young Life-caught, not taught:” The realization that the beauty of good Young Life work is in the nuance and details. Not necessarily taught in the classroom.

  • “I do it — you watch; you do it — I watch; YOU do it”: The beautifully inefficient and wonderfully effective slow style of local training.

I have been on staff for 28 years in 12 different schools, several communities and a geography that started within a school district and has grown in scope every year. I learned a good bit in every community, role and setting, and have had countless mentors, coaches and trainers, but I smile every time I am asked question #3 because I get to answer. “Ray Donatucci was my trainer!” Ray is one of the most senior staff in the mission, incredibly gifted and a legend in Young Life. The mere fact that I am associated with his training grants me access to any room in Young Life.

The Secret of Young Life is: “Everyone is a Trainer!”

This is what has enabled our mission to flourish for 77 years. We have a world-class Training department that is the envy of much of the non-profit ministry world, but the majority of our training (over 75 percent) occurs locally, and that is at the heart of a ministry of presence. We have over 70 courses, classes, experiences, and cohorts that facilitate the growth and development of all of our staff at every age and stage, but if the local training isn’t intentional and dynamic,all of our missionwide training is wasted.

That is why Ray entered my mind immediately. Words he said, priorities he instilled and challenges he extended my way all had their effect. It is one of the secrets of Young Life. The slow, subtle, transforming style of training.

Biblically, we often hear about rabbinic teaching where students would walk so closely to the rabbi that they would “collect the dust” from their sandals. That is Young Life training at its best because it leaves a mark on the person being trained. There are lots of avenues for training from several perspectives — missionwide to divisional and regional — but with the conviction that we are all trainers and it is all of our responsibility, everything changes!

Now, two questions for you:

1. If everyone is a trainer — who trained you? Maybe take a moment to thank them!

2. If everyone is a trainer — who are you training and how? Maybe go spend some time with them and leave a mark.

In Young Life we never just SEND someone to training, we prepare them for being SENT.

Written by: Ken B. Tank.


The video above is in my “hard-day” list of bookmarks in my browser. Regardless of the challenges in front of me, I know I can take three minutes to watch it and leave encouraged. It tells the almost-mythical-but-true tale of how Young Life started. It wasn’t Jim Rayburn — it was Clara Frasher, a kind older woman, who sat on a front porch across from Gainesville High School with her friends praying for the students for years. It would be awhile before Jim showed up to birth Young Life, but those prayers were the beginning.

I’ve been blessed to have a prayer warrior on my committee or support team since I came on Young Life staff 18 years ago. I want to be one, but I’m still a work in progress. Lately, I’ve been swept up in the trend of "prayer moments.” My team prays every day at 12:11 to remind us of Revelation 12:11 and the triumphant blood of the Lamb. I’ve heard of others who pray at 9:38 (Matthew 9:38 — Lord give us the harvest workers!). The options are endless.

For others it isn’t tied to a particular Scripture, but to an action. Maybe you pray at the same intersection every time you approach the school. Or decide as an area team to pray whenever you brush your teeth or turn on your car. One committee I know had a conference call … every day … at 5 a.m. …to pray for a season (s/o to D.C. YoungLives!).

Here’s the point: As a community of believers, and particularly as committee, we make all types of commitments. To raise money. To visit club. To bake cookies. My challenge to you today is to make an area-wide prayer commitment. It might manifest itself in a couple of annual events (pray at the schools, prayer vigil at the Young Life house), but I’d say make it routine. Martin Luther said our prayers should be “short, often and strong.” Choose a verse, a time, a landmark or something else that unifies your team, and start praying. Start sharing at monthly meetings and at leadership gatherings how you see the Lord moving because of your faithful obedience. I firmly believe you’ll be glad you did.

Clara Frasher’s 1933 prayer echoes around the mission and Kingdom today. May we be thoughtful, strategic and prayerful in adding our own voices to that glorious chorus, one hope-filled word at a time.

Written by: Josh Griffin (