Recently at one of our “Brilliant at the Basics” cohorts (where regions bring selected staff to Dallas to train in Ministry Strategy and reaching more kids), the question came up, “Why have club?”
In other words, “Can’t we just hang out with kids, do contact work, go to camp, and start Bible studies?”
Before I jumped in with any quick answers of my own, I wanted to know what other, younger staff, staff thought. I texted my friend Caitlin Carr, Young Life Area Director, who happened to be eating with a group of her campaigner girls when I reached her. She was able to take advantage of the moment and ask her campaigner girls why club was important to them.
Here’s what they said:
“Club was the first step we took in trusting you.”
“Because you came to our school, and seemed normal and invited us to something that was fun, we went. If you had invited us to something with Bible in the title, we would have bailed fast.”
“It was a social event that ended up changing our lives.”
“It was the first place in high school where older kids were nice to us - we all wanted to be a part of this crazy fun party they all talked about.”
“You never rushed us into anything. When I think back, all along we were taking steps together and with you... but you let us get to ‘here’ on our own terms.”
“Those boys that go to Young Life would never want to go to Bible study. They come to meet girls. Because y'all are the one group of people in their lives not calling them "bad kids" y'all let them be exactly who they are... and someday they'll get it - that's what Young Life club is about.”
I think Caitlin’s girls got it right.
Young Life without some regular form of club (a relational, fun, non-threatening, proclamation gathering… not necessarily five songs, skits, and announcements) can be like a bus without tires. We’re loaded up with kids and ready to go somewhere, but it’s difficult to move anywhere.
Club is a natural product of excellent contact work. As leaders know kids and kids trust their leaders, it’s natural if all those leaders are gathering somewhere on a weekly basis, that the kids that know and trust them would want to be there as well. It’s a weekly celebration of relationships.
If club numbers lag, it can be a weekly barometer revealing a lack of quality contact work.
John Evans, trainer of Regional Directors, puts it like this:
“Club keeps me honest. Club and numbers are not THE critical standard, but they are a gauge. They let me know we are reaching a certain group of kids.”
Don’t get me wrong. Contact work drives everything, but Club is a natural result of it. One leads to another
Summer camp is wonderful, but not accessible to everyone. Weekend camps in some parts of the world are filled to the brim, but in most areas, happen only once a year and have limited space.
Club is a weekly opportunity celebrate relationships and for EVERY kid in your area to hear a leader they know, stand in front of them, open the Bible, and proclaim the gospel in a way they can understand, relate, and respond to. There’s no deposit required, no scholarship money needed, and no limited number of seats available.
Why have club? To quote John Evans once again…
“Club still works… At the end of Monday night when club is over, I'm thankful. Kids had a great time, heard about Christ and were with people who love them. I'm convinced this is as powerful as anything we say.” To read John Evans’ entire article on the importance of Club, click HERE.
By Brian Summerall (firstname.lastname@example.org)