Global Training

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

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 (

The 7 reasons you MUST start Wyld Life this year.

  1. Middle school kids need Jesus. Because of the ways God created their minds and hearts, young teenagers are often more open to the gospel. “Recent studies we have conducted show that the beliefs a person holds at age 13 vary little during their adult years. The most effective way to influence such beliefs is by teaching people when they are young and still in a spiritually formative stage,” said George Barna, founder of the Barna Group.

  2. You have a longer window to help kids grow in their faith. When kids begin a relationship with Jesus in sixth grade, your leaders get to spend the next six years helping them learn what it looks like to follow Jesus and give their lives away. Imagine the fruit that can appear in those years.

When your area has WyldLife, you will be a part of changing kids’ lives for eternity. WyldLife can also impact parents, donors, leaders and the area as a whole. A healthy WyldLife ministry can produce these significant secondary benefits:

  1. Parent connections. Because parents manage the schedules, transportation and finances of their middle school children, WyldLife leaders must get to know, earn the trust and communicate regularly with parents. Relationships with WyldLife parents can efficiently and organically open doors to parents serving in many ways.

  2. New and longer-term donors. Parents are still actively involved in the lives of their middle school kids, so they will notice leaders who care for their kids. Because of what they see firsthand, they may be willing to give financially throughout their children’s time in middle school and high school.

  3. High school discipleship. WyldLife started in some areas more than 40 years ago because leaders wanted their high school Campaigners kids to know how to share their lives and the gospel with others. When your area has WyldLife, you have a built-in discipleship opportunity for your high school friends.

  4. Bigger pool of leaders. High school students can be great WyldLife leaders, but they need to serve alongside adults who provide maturity and stability. Teachers, coaches and middle school parents are great potential leaders. WyldLife may include only two clubs and two Campaigners a month, and contact work is often done with groups instead of one-on-one. This lighter schedule may make WyldLife an option for some great adult leaders.

  5. Area stability. Staff who start with WyldLife in an area before adding Young Life point to WyldLife as the stabilizing factor. The solid parent support and existing relationships with kids contribute to this consistency.

For more information about how to start WyldLife, visit the WyldLife Toolbox on Staff/Volunteer Resources, or contact your WyldLife divisional representative.

Written by: Julie Clapp, Mission Director of WyldLife


The prophet Jeremiah harkened, “This is what the LORD says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls,’” (Jeremiah 6:16)

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Three years ago we came to a crossroads in Young Life. Our leadership conducted a missionwide listening exercise and clearly heard a few core things.

  • We want to go deeper in Christ as a mission.

  • We wanted to give a renewed focus on the second half of the mission statement.

  • We wanted to have significant depth in our own life in Christ.

  • We wanted to lead our volunteers in a way where their experience of faith was transformative.

These convictions led us to one question:

“What will we offer our staff in response to this clearly stated need and desire?”

This spring we are completing the first year of a three-year pilot designed to answer that question, at least in part. The Good Way is a Training Timeline cohort dedicated to deepening our lives in Christ in the midst of the unique and complex demands of ministry. The feedback expressed to our senior leadership suggests we are meeting a felt need. Here is a representative example:

“This has been the single-most valuable training I have been to in 17 years of Young Life staff. I hope and pray that all staff get to experience The Good Way.”

The Good Way consists of multiple cohorts of 24 senior staff that meet three times across the course of the year. Check out the Staff Resources page for more information and/or to register, then have a conversation with your supervisor to determine your plan. Judging by the feedback, the LORD is making foundational changes in our staff that is generating a new rhythm of rest for their leadership and their lives through The Good Way. We invite you to prayerfully consider whether you are drawn to this offering at this time.

Registration Click HERE.

Written by: Donna Hatasaki (

A MASTER'S DEGREE IN 5 YEARS!  (Look inside) 

Q.  Would you like the letters “M.A.” behind your name?

Q. Would you like to complete a degree in less time and at less cost than you thought possible?

Q. Would you like to complete that degree while working full time with Young Life and completing your normal training requirements?


Fuller Seminary has recently approved a 12-course M.A. in Ministry Leadership degree that is only available to YOUNG LIFE STAFF. This degree program is built on the 50-year relationship of trust between Young Life and Fuller Seminary.

While you’ll travel to Young Life trainings such as New Staff Training, Area Director School, or Winter Training, there is NO TRAVEL or time out of the area for any Fuller classes, since they are all delivered online.

There is some flexibility in the order classes can be taken, but we imagine the typical approach will look something like the plan below. Please note that six of the courses are delivered by Young Life, and six are delivered as online classes through Fuller.

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TEN of these classes fulfill Young Life training requirements. The only exceptions are the theology and Bible electives.  As a part of this partnership, Young Life will pay the upfront tuition cost for each course, and charge staff a $650 transcription fee for each of these classes for FY20; which is about half of the normal tuition cost. Your area, or PDD, account can be used to pay for the transcription fee for all of these courses. Please talk with your supervisor and/or committee chair about your options as you think through how to budget for this degree.

We have a variety of options for staff to pursue academic degrees with any of our excellent partners, and each offers significant discounts. This new degree consists of fewer classes, at a lower total cost, than any other degree available to staff.

What would this look like for me if …

… I am just coming on to Young Life staff and starting my training track?

    • Staff who will begin with Young Life this summer/fall and come to New Staff in August can register at that time.

… I started with Young Life in the last two years and took my training for credit?

    • You can easily move into this degree program. Please refer to the FAQ document on the Staff Resources page linked below.

… I have been on staff longer than two years?

    • You can still move into this program; specific requirements will vary from person to person based on what classes have been taken for credit already, but in most instances it will make sense to move into this degree. Please refer to the FAQ document on the Staff Resources page linked below.

You can find more information on the Fuller/Young Life Partnership page on Staff Resources.

Staff who have taken classes for credit from Fuller will receive further information from Fuller and Young Life.

We’ll provide informational conference calls for interested staff this spring and summer. Dates and call information are posted at the link.

Bottom line: If you’ve thought about completing a master’s, this is a FANTASTIC option. The major roadblocks of time commitment and affordability have been greatly reduced.

We encourage you to check the link and take the next step!

Written by: Ken Knipp (



Social media can be an enormous asset to your ministry! You’ve seen other areas of Young Life thrive on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and you’ve decided it’s time for you to follow suit. Social media is a huge opportunity for building community digitally, but it’s also a territory that can be very overwhelming. Because we know you’re eager to jump in and spreading the word about your ministry, here are our top five ways to FAIL on social media when you start firing off posts (DON’T DO THESE THINGS).


Don’t Start Something You Can’t Maintain

  • Don’t forget about your accounts or your audience! Establishing a pattern of consistency is key to keeping that audience and community engaged.

  • Don’t spread yourself too thin by creating a page or account you don’t plan on using.

  • Social media marketing done right can be very powerful for building a community and connecting people in your ministry. Depending on the size of your ministry, you may actually need several people dedicated to keeping your social media presence fresh and engaging.


Don’t be Overbearing, but Don’t be Absent Either

  • Be smart about how often you post, and find the sweet spot for your ministry. If you have enough good content, try posting once a day. Otherwise 3-4 times a week should keep your audience engaged.

  • Depending on the type of ministry you’re representing, social media can be a great way for kids and parents to stay engaged. Make sure you keep up with both messages and responses.

  • Keep your social media efforts natural and authentic. Your online presence should be an accurate extension of your real-life ministry. Think photos vs. flyers (promotions).


Don’t Have a Bad Design

  • Create a plan for how you want your account to look as a whole, and make sure it makes a great first impression! Today your social media presence can directly affect how people view your ministry (sad, but true).

  • For Instagram in particular, remember that your last 6-9 posts give a user their first impression, so try and keep your posts cohesive. If the goal of your social media efforts is to foster community, you want the visitor who lands on your page to want to be a part of that community.

  • Use a Young Life logo as the profile photo! For logo help, see here.


Don’t Post Things You Shouldn’t

  • Don’t post confidential or personal information about kids.

  • Consult parents for permission whenever possible.

  • It’s not a good idea to post personal opinions on a Young Life area or club account, especially political opinions. These can be divisive, and it’s just not worth the battle (at least not on a digital/public forum). Be smart about what you share on your personal accounts as well, as you are an extension of your area’s/ministry’s account.

  • You’re speaking and posting on behalf of your ministry as a whole.

  • Avoid using the first person, “I” when posting.


Don’t forget to have a plan

When it comes to your personal social media accounts, you’re totally free to “wing it.” But when it comes to marketing your ministry or organization, you need to have a plan. Developing a clear direction and sticking to your goals will greatly improve the effectiveness of your efforts.

Social media can be a powerful and integral part of your ministry strategy. It’s a great way to develop a community and spread the word about events, dates, and announcements. Our hope is to provide you with tips and tricks to use in your ministry and find new innovative ways to reach young people around the world!

Written by: Blake Anderson (


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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 (


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



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.

October 2018 Training

“Our staff are always out of the area.”

“I am being pulled out of the area and away from my family.”


How often have you heard, said or had these thoughts? If you are on staff, you can feel pulled in different directions. If you are on committee, you’re invested in the local area but also recognize that there are reasons for staff to be out of the area. If you are a spouse you feel the strain of the ministry schedule every day, not to mention when your husband of wife is out of town with Young Life.

What is the appropriate amount of time out of the area and how do we have a discussion about it? How much time are staff actually out of the area? While we will not be able to be exhaustive here, hopefully we can help to direct the conversation and put some better definition on “time out of the area.” In 2013 we did a study about what takes staff out of the area and for how much time. The study included 438 staff from all divisions. While the study is now five years old, the results are still very relevant. Below are some highlights and insights to help foster conversation between staff and committee, supervisors and family.

Below are general categories, the averages from our survey and general insights.

My Area: I am out of the area but it is related to the local ministry.

  • My area’s summer camping (one week).

  • My area’s weekend camping (one or two weekends, outreach, discipleship).

  • Volunteer leader/committee development ( weekends).

Insight: Although I am out of the area, I am with kids, leaders, and/or committee from my area. This impacts my family if they are not with me, but this should be considered area work.

Other Areas: Part of a staff’s job description is to be available to serve other areas in assignment team roles, whether it is in the summer or during the school year.

  • Other area’s weekend camping (one weekend, if applicable).

  • Summer Assignment. (one month, if applicable).

  • Assignment Team Training (three days, two nights, if applicable).

Insight: Serving others is important for our mission to function. These are great opportunities for staff to grow and develop skills that will benefit the local area. Summer assignments are generally a great blessing for families if they can attend but difficult for them when they cannot. Some of the staff that are more stressed about time out of the area are also those who say yes to too many extra weekends (two or more) that are not related to their area.

Regional Staff Meetings: As a supervisor, the regional director will gather the regional staff for development, encouragement and organizational alignment. Some regions can meet for a day. Others, due to the geographical scope, need to hold overnights. (Average of nine days throughout the year. Some grouped as overnights)

Insight: The biggest impact on family and local ministry is whether or not the meeting includes an overnight.

Training and Staff Development: Staff will be out of the area for theological and practical development.

  • National Training School: New Staff Training, Winter Training, Area Director School, Training Timeline, others (one week).

  • Ministry Summits: YL College, YoungLives, Capernaum (three days, two nights).

  • Regional Training Groups: (14 days throughout the year if applicable).

Insight: Young Life has a rich history and rhythm of training conferences and ongoing training in the field. These are relatively consistent with other professions. All of these are designed to have direct impact back into the local ministry and staff.

Vacation: We need to make sure that staff are taking time off for their health. The amount of time varies greatly due to how long people are on staff. The conversation here should not be about taking time off (unless it is being abused), but rather when the time is taken. There are better times during the ministry year to take time off and should be coordinated with the supervisor per the new PTO policy.

So what is the right number of days/nights out of the area? As you can see it depends. Not all time out of the area is the same. Not counting summer assignments (not everyone has an assignment) nor vacation, the average staff will be out of the area with Young Life for four to five weeks worth of days and about two-thirds of those will include the nights. That means that most staff (including assignments and vacation) are still in the area for 40-45 of the 52 weeks.

Because opportunities come up that can take staff out of the area for additional time, we encourage a healthy conversation between staff, supervisor, committee and family to maintain an appropriate schedule. Have a regular and ongoing conversation to understand the reason and impact (positive and negative) to being out of the area.

— Written by Mike Cramer ( )

The Best Way To Spend 8-10 Hours A Week

Pastor Rick Warren (The Purpose Driven Life) says, “The best use of life is love. The best expression of love is time.”


In Young Life, one of the ways we let kids know we love them is through the time a leader gives in contact work. Job descriptions for a Young Life leader often list that contact work commitment as 8-10 hours a week.  

What that 8-10 hours a week looks like can look vastly different in various parts of the world.

In Munich, Germany, a week of contact work looks like the following for Nicki Walter. Nicki leads in a community of Munich public schools where he does not have access to campus. 

Monday: Grab coffee in the afternoon with one of our students who I’m mentoring.

Tuesday: Spend the afternoon playing soccer with some boys in a neighborhood park. At some point we might work on some graffiti together (in a legal spot!).

Wednesday: Grab some food or ride the subway with some guys after Campaigners.

Thursday: Hang out at the skatepark or the basketball court at a nearby park.

Friday: On the weeks when we don’t have club, I’ll plan some sort of organized event that our leaders can also bring friends to.

Saturday: Go to a soccer game for some of my kids, or we might have a breakfast in the park.

Sunday: Often I have students interested in trying out a church, so I’ll take them to church with me, or we might go try out a new church as a group.

As you can see, lack of campus access in no way hinders Nicki from going where kids are, earning the right to be heard. For every day of the week, he’s got a plan to be with kids.

In Hertfordshire, just north of London, the story is different for Beth Ann Hunter. She has access to the campus through volunteering at the school.

To get the broadest access to all kinds of kids, we’ve worked hard to volunteer at the schools. Usually just popping into the cafeteria to speak to kids is looked at as just plain weird, so we have to be a lot more creative. We have done all sorts of things — helped with school plays, gone to plays, musicals, concerts and talent shows. We’ve helped with accelerated reading challenges, and volunteered to run games at lunch times or in the library after school. Several of our schools have the library open where kids can hang before being picked up or taking their bus. The librarians have allowed us to interact and run games with kids there. In the U.K., many times the school will give access to someone who is willing to run an assembly on any topic, but especially on the Christian religious holidays as the teachers don’t always feel passionate about these assemblies.

For those of us in the states who might be reading this, I hope you are encouraged by the fact that contact work can happen without campus access, stopping by the cafeteria, or Friday night football games.

The common denominators between Nicki and Beth Ann seem to be time, a plan, and a willingness to show up. Notice, also, that none of these plans included texting, Snapchat, or online games. There is no substitute for physically showing up in a kid’s world.

After all, that’s what Jesus did for us.  

“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood” (John 1:14, The Message).


***Looking for a great idea to add a few hours of contact work to your schedule this week?  Go to and enter “YLspikes’ as a promo code to receive a 20% discount.

Written by Brian Summerall (

View September 2018 Email

The Main Factor In Creating Culture: Volunteer Leaders


Regardless of setting, having a Mission Community of thriving volunteers is the way to grow deep and wide in reaching adolescents and helping them grow in their faith. This was modeled for me when I became a volunteer leader in college in 1972. I could not wait to be with those leaders. I had met Christ in Young Life and served on work crew and summer staff, so this was a natural outcome because my Young Life leaders always talked about me becoming a Young Life leader. I would not have called it this at the time, but they were “casting a vision for my life and growth.”

As a young area director, because it had been modeled for me, I knew the job was

  • Recruiting (Always),

  • Training (Always),

  • Deploying , Empowering and Encouraging VOLUNTEERS.

Sure, I was doing contact work and running a good club and Campaigners, but my JOB was developing a culture where the volunteer leader was the KEY to effective, growing ministry. In the recruitment of new leaders, I invited every Jesus follower to join us because I knew they would experience Jesus in Young Life, in training and in being on a team reaching kids. Creating a culture where leaders would experience Jesus in doing Young Life was my job. There are thousands of ways to do this, so steal them all and create new ones every day. (Focus your time and talent here.)

“You can’t start or create a culture because you already have one. All you can do is develop it, adjust it, tweak it and change it over time.” — Anonymous

When I stepped into Young Life International in 2006, there were less than 1,000 volunteers outside of the U.S. I spoke with many mission agency leaders who told me that finding volunteers in undeveloped economies would not be possible because unemployment was often well over 50 percent. Stubbornly I responded, “Well, volunteers are the key to any healthy Young Life, so that is what we will aim for.” Most missionaries patted me on the head and said, “Good luck.”

All of the International leadership (tremendous, courageous staff) were in alignment on this, but we had to overcome one key dynamic: We were working with populations that had never heard of Jim Rayburn, had never seen a Young Life camp, didn’t know the term “contact work,” and more. Many of them had English as a second or third language. NONE had heard of Young Life.

In 2018, there are over 18,000 volunteer leaders outside of the U.S.!  What did we do?

1. We PRAYED. We used everything we could to prompt us to pray for laborers for the harvest: Matthew 9:38 lists, whiteboards, spreadsheets, leadership trees, maps ... we really prayed … a lot! And then repeated it. Pray for laborers of the harvest and call people to pray.

2. We DECIDED that the leaders were there in the neighborhood and we had to find them. If you do not believe they are there, you will not look for them and you likely will not pray.

3. We BELIEVED that Young Life would bless every leader who joined us with significant growth in Jesus, significant experience of mission and community (family), and they would model the hopes of the Kingdom for broken and lost communities.

4. We were CONVINCED that volunteers were the only way forward.

5. We made it FUN, ENCOURAGING, VALUABLE, JOYFUL and DEEP to be a leader.

We always say, “Being a Young Life leader will give you more joy and more sorrow that you can imagine, but it will also pull you into the abundant life Jesus has for you. It is worth it!” Bottom line: If you celebrate victories and lament great loss as a mission community, you will not only have an abundance of invested and committed volunteers, you will all experience greater intimacy with Jesus. Who doesn’t want that?

Written by Marty Caldwell (

Ever wonder about the state of the your Young Life Area's culture?  Take this simple, self-assessment quiz!  


Global TRAINING | "Now That's An Acronym I Can REALLY Use:" IDP

Welcome YL’s newest TLA (Three Letter Acronym)

We do love our TLA's in YL. I’m sure you can think of a few right now.  Today, we want to focus on one really important TLA: IDP.


“The IDP, or individual development plan, is a tool to assist employees in career and personal development. Its primary purpose is to help employees reach short and long-term career goals, as well as improve current job performance. An IDP is not a performance evaluation tool or a one-time activity.”

This amazing tool (which comes in many shapes and forms, ours is at the link at the end of this article) is for you, me, and every person that works for YL. It’s a simple, structured way to think about your development as a person and an employee of YL. It will make all of us better servants of the Kingdom.

More Clarity Around The IDP:    

  •  The IDP is not your set of goals for the year. It is focused on your personal and professional development.
  • You are responsible for developing your IDP. Hopefully you will discuss this on a regular basis (3 or 4 times a year) with your supervisor, but it really grows out of your particular desires for growth as a staff person.
  • It is a tool that will help you get clearer about what your gifts are and what you are really passionate about.
  • It is to be used regularly! It is simple, one page, and made for efficiency. You can add as much to it as you want but it is great ast  is: 4 simple (and rich) questions.

Experience is a great teacher... IF you learn from it. Similarly, the IDP will be a great tool... IF you use it. JUST GET STARTED! Right now follow these links (or put it in your schedule to do):

Look at the IDP, find some time to fill it out, and then schedule a time to go over it with your supervisor. This conversation could help decide your next YL training, camp assignment, or even ministry assignment. You can also get input from a mentor, your committee chair, or anyone who knows and cares about you. Now put “review IDP” in your schedule every four months. You’re on your way. You’ll never regret it! This is one of the best investments you can make, in yourself, in Young Life, and the Kingdom.


Written by:  John Evans    


The Best LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT Training I’ve Ever Experienced

Author:  Julie Gertenrich


Two years ago, myself and 30 other Young Life staff received an invitation to a new training course called the Legacy Leader Project that was researched and designed by staff as an “advanced leadership” training course.

I didn’t know what to expect, but when I got off the plane to the first training I was struck by the diversity of other YL staff who would be joining in with me in this group.  Our first meeting brought me literally to tears. Senior Mission leaders welcomed us, and each proceeded to offer a heartfelt apology.  The apology consisted in their realization that to be a staff person of multicultural ethnicity or a woman on Young Life staff has often been a lonely, sometimes wounding experience in our mission. They shared their frustration, wanting to change the face of leadership in the mission, and yet year after year, it continued to look the same.  The Legacy Leader Project was their attempt to provide training and preparation to be able to launch us to advance. For me, the honesty of this conversation was worth the price of admission. To me it signaled a new day had dawned for us in the mission of Young Life.

We started with a two- day training on the spirituality of the Enneagram Personality Test.  It has been one of the most significant tools for self-awareness and growth in my whole faith life.  Rather than a static assessment tool, within the Enneagram there is both movement for health or disintegration and I can finally understand others who are wired differently. It has been huge not only for self-understanding, but as a way to understand others.

The Legacy Leader training team alone was stellar.  We also spent time with Christena Cleveland, Ruth Haley Barton, and Shane Claiborne.  We played a ministry version of Shark Tank where we entered into a competition to win grant money for ministry projects.  In the end, we were each given a $2,500 grant for a ministry project to grow and match at home in our areas. I was able to grow my $2500 grant to $30k for a leadership pipeline and Staff Associate in my area, through prayer and sharing vision.  

In a mission with leadership that doesn’t look or act like you, it's hard.  It’s hard to see yourself sticking around for long, to believe you belong, and to see your longterm value in the mission.  The Legacy Leader Project was a loud statement to me: “We believe in you. You belong. We value your voice."

Many of us in this first cohort have recently taken jobs as Regional Directors or Associate AD's.  I just was hired as Metro Director myself. Through Legacy Leader training, I am walking into this role equipped with tools and confidence!  I want to be known for my leadership, my heart for Christ and kids, and my development of others.  As you have conversations with your supervisor regarding your development, ask if they can submit your name to receive an invitation to be a part of Legacy Leader Project.


Going from MILK to SOLID FOOD in Your Small Group Discipleship

Author:  Brad Banks, Divisional Training Coordinator, South Central Division

Once when my son was an infant, I changed his diaper and found an undigested black bean. He was nursing at the time so this wasn’t just weird—it was impossible.

It turns out my wife had eaten at Chipotle the day before. As best we could figure, the bean had simply fallen into our son’s mouth while mother and baby fed, then traveled from point A to point B wholly undigested. His tiny body could digest milk just fine, but it couldn’t handle solid food.

The author of Hebrews uses similar imagery. In 5:12, he critiques his readers’ lack of spiritual progress. He wanted them to go deeper, but they weren’t ready. They had reverted back to spiritual infancy and become like babies who “need milk and not solid food.” This critique doesn’t necessarily apply to our Campaigner friends (who often are new believers who actually do need milk), but it does inform our approach to Campaigners and those entrusted to our care.


Regardless of our ministry focus, one of our primary responsibilities is to walk alongside our friends as they discover the Scriptures for themselves, serving not only as their guide but also as their digestive aid. This means we must be spending time in Scripture ourselves, reading and digesting the solid food it contains. Without a doubt, this is THE most important step in preparing for Campaigners.

But all too often we spend irreplaceable hours poking around online instead of peering directly into God’s word. We scour blogs and other resources, ultimately consuming the digested meals of others. You can survive on that, but shouldn’t we aim higher than survival? Consider an alternative.


FIRST digest the text for yourself.



1. In a single sentence, summarize what the passage said THEN.


What did Paul write to the Philippians? What did Jesus tell the Pharisees? Immerse yourself in the words and passage. Then filter the passage through the immediate context, the culture in which the text was written (think in terms of the first-century or ancient Israel*), the covenant that governed God’s people (Old or New), and the person of Christ (how did his life and death influence the inspired words?). This carefully filtered view will frame and guide you through the next step.


2. In a single sentence, summarize what the passage says ALWAYS.


This requires interpretation. Some passages are easy and obvious: “Do not lie.” (Colossians 3:9) Others should bring pause: “You shall not allow a sorceress to live.” (Exodus 22:18)


3. In a single sentence, summarize what the passage says NOW.


Arrive at an imperative that speaks to you today. So for example, Exodus 22:18 might become, “Take sin seriously.”


THEN digest the text with your Campaigner friends.


Repeat the same process above, but invite the observations and experiences of everyone in the group. As you read and discuss God’s word together, use good questions that will unveil what your friends see, uncover how they feel, and unearth what they think.

What you will find is that together, you’ve feasted on what’s true and eternal. That will be far more satisfying than sampling something that’s pre-made or pre-packaged.






**If you’re interested in knowing more about the first-century world of Jesus or ancient Israel, check out these resources:

The NIV Application Commentary (Zondervan)

Old Testament Today, 2nd Edition (John H. Walton and Andrew E. Hill, Zondervan)

IVP Bible Background Commentary, NT Edition (Craig S. Keener, IVP)


Guess This Best Kept Secret of YL Training?

Author:  Pam Moore

“This has been one of the best and most useful trainings during my entire tenure in Young Life!”   -YL Senior Staff after a Training Timeline Class  


We're going to clue you in on one of the lesser known secrets around Young Life.  Training Timeline courses are designed for Senior Staff and emphasize specific training for both the ‘Age and Stage’ of the staff-person. Simply, “The training you need at exactly the right time!”  Staying sharp in your role with a changing culture is a challenge. That is why we are always learning and growing in both our faith and ministry skills. That’s why Training Timeline programs are so vital.  Below, you will see that next year’s classes are tied strategically to the YL Forward pillars of Innovation, Together, Deeper and Grow.

If you’ve completed your initial (Core 1) staff training, these classes should be on your radar!  Our current list of Instructors are a who’s who of theologians, experts and senior staff around the YL mission like David Livermore, Brad Systma, Pam Moore, Crystal Kirgiss, Newt Crenshaw, Donna Hatasaki, Terry McGonigal, Ken Knipp, Brian Summerall, Sha Farley and several others.

Young Life’s commitment to training is one of the elements that sets the mission apart.  It is integral to the yearly Leadership and Spiritual Development of every staff person and it’s customizable!   TRAINING TIMELINE classes are created with you in mind! These offerings are a response to your requests for more robust teaching and training to help you fulfill your role. This year we will have several offerings:

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  • Kingdom of God and Cultural Intelligence I and II – taught by David Livermore

  • Discipleship: Growing Deeper – Taught by a team of veteran YL staff specializing in Discipleship principles and methods.

  • Supervision and Organizational Leadership – taught by a team of Senior mission leaders including Newt Crenshaw.

  • Theology of Incarnational Witness taught by Dr. Terry McGonigal

In addition to these classes, YL offers five Training Timeline Cohort Trainings focused on leadership and spiritual development that are by invitation only from an SVP or RD. These include:

  • Area DIrector School 2 – led divisionally with two cohort meetings/year for ADs with 5 years of experience

  • Centurion each year a mission-wide and one regional cohort meets three times and focuses on executive leadership development for ADs with 6-12 years of experience

  • Legacy Leader – this is a diverse group of leaders who meet for advanced leadership training over a two-year period.

  • Mission Mover – a divisional senior staff team selected by an SVP to do an action learning project/proposal within the division

  • Spiritual Formation Cohort (s) – this will be a new offering by Donna Hatasaki which will meet three times throughout the year to focus on personal spiritual formation

And...we are still adding more!!  Stay tuned!

Your next step:  JUST DO ONE THING!


Step 1:  NOW set up a conversation with your supervisor or the staff person you supervise about which of these would be the best fit for this coming year. Your yearly Leadership Development Review is the perfect timing. Registration will be open the first week of August for the Academic and Practical Training Timeline classes.

Here’s to being a lifelong learner and to taking your own leadership development to the next level!