The Heart of the Mission

(A letter from Jim Rayburn to donors)

Dear Friends,

I want you to read this letter!

I am going to try to tell you something about Young Life’s strategy for reaching high school young people for the Saviour.

It is easy for me to assume that you know more about the work of the Young Life Campaign than you actually do. I am so close to it. I have watched the progress and the changes that the Lord has indicated from the very start. Some of you who receive this letter know of these matters perhaps as well as I do, but many friends have suggested that they would like to have me tell them a little more about the inside working of Young life. We do have a unique approach to the problem of reaching young people.

You see we are after the unreached. From the very beginning, the burden that the Lord placed upon us was to reach young people who were not being touched by any other methods. The vast majority of young people are not in church and never hear the truth about the Saviour’s love, so we are after them particularly. To reach them we have had to break with some traditional methods and, I am sorry to say, we have had to sometimes be misunderstood.

For example, take our contact work. By that, we mean the hours and hours that our leaders find it necessary to spend with the kids, meeting them where they are, going along with them, living with them. Now this is recognised procedure on any foreign mission field, but many well-meaning Christians have felt that we are wasting time. And yet it is this time spent with the youngster, before and after his confession of Christ, that has made Young Life something far more than the ordinary youth movement. Not only do we win a hearing among the most difficult and hardest to reach, but after reaching them, we stay with them, as a true missionary should. The winning and establishing of a soul for Jesus Christ cannot be done on a hit-and-run basis.

The Lord Jesus Himself is our example in this. His heart was tender toward sinners. He longed for them. He was not ashamed to be with them. His compassionate approach to the lost is what we are after. We try to be kind in our approach to the lost. We insist that gentleness is essential if we are to properly represent Him. I am afraid we are often times criticised for no other reason than that we are honestly seeking, under the Lord’s guidance, to be as He was, the ‘friend of publicans and sinners.’

Many people ask us about our ‘Bible Clubs.’ We do not have any! In Young Life, we have given years of prayerful study to this matter of the right kind of a Christian meeting for kids. What we call a Young Life Club is actually a Gospel meeting for high school young people. It is perhaps different from any meeting you have ever been in. But the differences are in small things. We sing, pray, and preach the Gospel in an atmosphere of friendly informality. The meeting is deliberately placed at their level. The language is that which will be understood and impressive to a modern adolescent. We avoid the clichés of evangelical terminology and present the sweet story of how Christ died for our sins in simple terms, which young people can understand and appreciate.

The Young Life Club is but a phase of this work. There are weekend camps, parties, rallies, high school assemblies and our intensive Bible study units. Then there is our summer ranch program conducted on our three nationally famous Colorado ranches where more than one thousand young people are winsomely challenged with the Saviour’s claim on their lives.

There are the leaders. We maintain a high standard of our leadership; all of them carefully trained in our own approach to evangelism. These men and women are not selected because of some personal charm or magnetism.

There is a deeper quality that makes for a successful Young Life worker. It is sincerity, warmth, a personal walk with the Lord Jesus Christ, a desire to see this hard job done for His glory!

There you have the three important phases of the Young Life strategy:

  • The emphasis on the direct and friendly contact with the high schooler. The emphasis on follow-up, follow-up, and follow-up.
  • The leaders; trained, skilled, dedicated people willing to put up with kids, to live and play with them.
  • The gracious, informal gospel meetings featured especially in our Young Life clubs, our camps and summer ranch programs.

There is much more to be said about Young Life strategy, but the most significant thing is not the technique or the people. It is, this true compassion that comes from above. Much of the gospel work today is hindered by the severity of its attitude toward the lost.

In Young Life, we try never to forget that Jesus ‘looked on the multitude and had compassion on them.’ We keep always before our minds that when He mingled with sinners, He did not condemn and judge. He treated them as friends. He longed for them to be His friends. We do too! He has led us that way. That is why a Young Life leader knows more young people than anybody in town. That is why he or she spends hours and hours sitting around soda fountains, going to ball games, wandering around the campus – doing things that may look kind of silly! But they are not silly, they are essential. We go where young people are. That is where they can come to understand a Christian leader and love him and respect him and want to listen to him.

Because we are dedicated to such principles, we will never become a statistically prominent movement, but we know of no other way to reach young people for the Lord and get results in lives that will stand the test of time. Already, in the first eleven years of our work, the Lord has honoured us with an outstanding host of young men and women who have been reached in high school and are taking a prominent place in Christian circles. Most of these would not even have heard the Gospel if the Young Life leader had not deliberately gone after them. The quality of these young witnesses across the nation is sufficient demonstration that God is doing a unique work through Young Life. Scores of these young people are vitally associated with us as staff and volunteer leaders, going after more kids like they were when they were in high school.

We feel no sense of superiority nor do we feel that we have a patent on a special kind of evangelising. We know that the Lord has used these methods in every age and throughout the world. But we also know that these truly scriptural methods for reaching the lost are sadly neglected in America today. We trust that more and more of God’s people will re-discover how basic and important it is to ‘walk in wisdom toward them that are without’ making friends and helping people for the glory of God and for the purpose of making known the Saviour and His love.

I hope that this brief review of some of Young Life’s methods will help you to understand better our work and explain it to others. Pray for us.

Sincerely in Him.

Jim Rayburn


This video will give you an overview of what Young Life does.

Download – The Heart of the Mission

Overcoming Fears in Contact Work

Adapted from an article submitted by Pam Moore

Contact work is the foundation of effective Young Life ministry. We must be willing to initiate relationships and to permeate the turf of high school young people today. We must be willing to do this with all kinds of young people, many of whom are radically different from ourselves. Often the initial reaction of our leaders to this concept is one of fear. It is a scary thing, this whole notion of contact work. We are doing cross‑cultural ministry. We are crossing boundaries and breaking down walls and stereotypes. We are going into the battlefield and that is uncomfortable. We would be naive to think it would be otherwise.

But there are some tips that can help us move forward in spite of our fears in order to further the work of God’s Kingdom. We must ask ourselves, what exactly are our fears and what are the steps that can help us overcome them?


1. What are our Fears in Doing Contact Work?

Some of the most common ones mentioned by leaders are as follows:

  • Teens will reject us.
  • We as leaders won’t know how to relate or won’t know what to talk about.
  • Teens will think we are boring.
  • We won’t know how to move the conversation below the surface.
  • We won’t know how to be ourselves; we will feel self‑conscious or try to emulate someone else (another leader).
  • Teens won’t notice us if we are shy
  • We will make fools of ourselves or draw attention to ourselves, particularly if we are outgoing.
  • We will forget names of those we have met.
  • Teens will think we are weird. They will wonder why we are there. And they may even wonder why we do not hang around people our own age.

All these fears are real. And yet to raise our level of consciousness of these and any other fears we might have is the first step in being able to move forward.


2. How do we Overcome these Fears?

  • We need to remind ourselves every time we step onto a campus or spend time with a young person that the reality is – young people are dying for adult friends. They are looking for healthy role models that they can respect, admire and confide in. Don’t underestimate your role. Don’t be intimidated. Young people desperately want your friendship. It’s often with the young people you least expect that the Lord will work most dramatically.
  • Have confidence in the One who calls you to those young people. Remember Christ and the reality of His presence in you, with you and for you. He will give you confidence as you trust Him and take risks regularly.
  • Remember that with all of your faults and shortcomings, you are still His choice for those young people. He will show Himself through you: “We have this treasure in earthen vessels to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not us,” 2 Corinthians 4:7.
  • As for what to talk about, the key is to remember to make them the experts. Ask things that the teens can talk about freely (their sports, their families, their friends).
  • Remember to be a good listener. Learn to ask leading and open‑ended questions. Learn to ask about the feelings behind what they are saying. Learn to listen attentively and to show empathy and compassion.
  • Demonstrate an attitude of acceptance and delight in knowing them. Practice the art of making young people feel special and loving them into their potential. That takes the touch of God’s Spirit in our own lives.
  • Always let young people know you are at school primarily because of them, not because of Young Life. We are friends, not recruiters. Be willing and available to go deeper and to be one who challenges kids.
  • Demonstrate servanthood in practical ways by offering rides, helping with school. This communicates loudly.
  • We need to individualise friendships, which means we need to limit the number of close relationships. Constantly have an attitude of going deep and wide. We go deep with a handful of young people and wide with many on campus. There are always new young people to meet and to befriend.

Never forget the importance of these four aspects of contact work:

  • Regularity.
  • Visibility.
  • Availability.
  • Accountability.
Download – Overcoming Fears in Contact Work

The Value of Small Groups

As we look at our Saviour’s life, we see that He used small groups in His ministry. In fact, much of the time we see Jesus was ministering to people in small groups. The following is an acronym that organ­ises some of the truths that demonstrate the value of a small group in a ministry setting.

Share your life

This happens as people share their struggles, joys, victories, sorrows, answers to prayer, what Jesus is teach­ing them, and what their relationship with Christ is like.

Ministry

Many times other people can see their friends’ gifts before they do. Small groups are a great place to challenge each other to discover and use their spiritual gifts.

Accountability

Small groups help us to be accountable in our spiritual walk, evaluating our spiritual discipline, challenging us to pray, memorize Scripture, and study God’s Word.

Listen and Learn

Being part of a small group can help develop the skill of truly listening to one another. God often speaks to us, or teaches through others experiences or revelations.

Love

Because we share our lives together, the group is able to understand many needs in the lives of each of its members. We can pray for others and often meet a need.

God

God speaks to us through the Body of Christ. In small groups we grow in our Christian walk as others confront, encourage, or pray for us.

Relationships

Small groups help us develop close, healthy, loving relationships with others. Deep friendships form quickly when you are in a small group that meets on a regular basis.

Opportunity

Small groups provide a wonderful opportunity to go deep with a few people, giving us a chance to be a part of what God is doing in the process of training leaders.

Unity

As small groups love and care for one another and work through conflict, the value of being united in love is displayed for all to see.

Prayer

In a small group, people are willing to share much more deeply than if they are praying with oth­ers they don’t know well. Pray anywhere and anywhere. Pray often!


Here are just a few of the many opportu­nities to use small groups in Young Life:

  • cabin time
  • work crew
  • mission community
  • camp‑work crew, summer staff, assigned team
  • committee/sub‑committees
  • Bible studies
  • discipleship
  • staff meetings
  • club
  • leadership meetings
  • contact work
  • prayer groups
  • tutoring
  • mentoring
  • after‑school programs
  • Mummy & Me
  • visit a committee member’s home with a small group of kids
  • service project with a small group of kids
Download – The Value of Small Groups

General Suggestions and Principles for Contact Work

Practice the discipline of learning names. Use whatever system will help best.

Look for ways to serve young people – taking a group home (but only those of the same sex!), keeping charts for games. Caution must be used, however, to prevent giving the impression of buy­ing their friendship.

Do not attempt to be one of the kids. We are leaders aware of our age, yet loving and genuinely interested in them and in their affairs. They need to see adult models.

Through established friendships, seek to know others. Sometimes we can receive a lot of help from those we know. But be careful to love kids for who they are and not what they can do for you or the club.

Do not force your way into certain social situations where you would not be wel­come, such as parties or some group dis­cussions. Pray always for sensitivity here.

Avoid making fun of young people. This is the most dangerous kind of humour.

Be careful about talking too much of your accomplishments or your own high school prowess.

Be yourselfDo not try to impress with overdone or clever antics, or by imitating others.  You don’t have to be a comedian, athlete, personality‑plus, to love them.

Ask questions about school life when in conversation with high schoolers. Most people enjoy talking about these things.

Ask God for a sincere interest in young people. They can spot the feigned inter­est. We might not like all they do, but we can appreciate them as people.

Be casual. Don’t work too hard at being friendly, with a lot of hand shaking or rapid patter, unless this is natural to you.

Develop a sense of humourFind what fits you best.

Be adaptable. Expect to have to change pace from time to time. We cannot pre­dict the adolescent behaviour.

Keep close personal records of significant contact, including the adult community. Some sort of diary is of great value, especially in our prayer life.

Seek to gain friendships with all types of young people, both school leaders and fol­lowers. Many of them will have great potential for leading their friends or par­ticular activity group.

Cheerfulness and enthusiasm are conta­gious.

In many areas, adults are not welcome in the halls of a school. Study the situa­tion carefully.

Have a valid reason for being there. You may have to forego any contact work in the buildings.

Every school situation or neighbourhood is unique. Work out a plan or strategy that fits your local picture.

Pray for those you have met, or want to meet. Enlist prayer support from inter­ested adults or Christian young people.

Contact work is never finished. There are always new ones to get to know. It is this continued effort to be their friend that wins the right to be heard with our message of Jesus Christ. Once the right has been won, work on the right of continued hearing.

Realise contact work is identification with people in a real way in the sense that Christ “the Word, became flesh and dwelt among them.”

Pray for kids as your eyes touch them. Ask God to lead you to those He wants you to meet. Make it a trusting experi­ence. God’s timing is not always ours.

Pray that God will lead you into deeper, relationships with specific kids. Ephesians 3:18, “That you, firmly fixed in love yourselves, may be able to grasp how wide and deep and long and high is the love of Christ, and to know for your­selves that love so far beyond our com­prehension.”

Be a person of integrity as so beautifully cited in 2 Corinthians 6:3‑10.

Do not draw people to yourself and keep them for your security reasons. Give friends every possible opportunity to grow. You are building the kingdom of God, not kingdoms unto yourself.

Remember the whole person, the family they come from, closest friends.  Take opportunities to introduce yourself to the parents / carers of the young people you’re working with and their friends.

Steve Chesney shares a story as to why meeting young people where they’re at is important. 

Download – General Suggestions & Principles for Contact Work

Campaigners Book

We hope you find this Campaigners Book useful.

Once you have completed the YL 101 course, you’ll have access to it as well in the Lesson: Resources.

Please note that these resources are Copyright to Young Life Australia; this means that you can use them for your use as a Young Life leader, but they can not be distributed to other youth or church organisations without first seeking approval from the National Office.

Download – Campaigners Booklet

Scriptural Foundations of Our Ministry

By Glyn Henman

Introduction

Our lives are often filled up with the “doing” piece, so much so that we rarely slow down to think about the “why” piece. We move from one relationship, program, or event to the next, and we rarely take the time to ask ourselves why we are doing all these things, and why are they important? It is often the same in Young Life, and it can be so as we do contact work, run clubs, camps, small groups and simply do the work of reaching young people.

It is as important to stop and ask the “why” questions in ministry as it is in life. Jim Rayburn, Young Life’s international founder, keyed in on four foundational scriptures that helped him coin a few guiding phrases for his burgeoning ministry. These phrases have continued to help us think about reaching the unreached young people with the message of hope in Jesus for over 75 years internationally and over 40 years in Australia.


Key Scriptures

I first remember hearing these scriptures being taught by John Miller as a young volunteer leader in 1986. John was a personal friend of Jim Rayburn up until he passed away. John was visiting Australia and over the subsequent years we had many opportunities to talk about the significance of these scriptures upon our lives and ministries.

  • Colossians 4:5: “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without.”
  • 1 Timothy 3:7: “Have a good report of them that are without.”
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:12: “That you may walk honestly toward them that are without”.
  •  John 1:14 “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”

In our fast paced and instant world, we often reduce life to little more than an information swap. But these scriptures call us to slow down and engage in relationships deeply and walk with integrity toward people, especially toward those who do not know Jesus.

To walk in wisdom, to have a good report and to walk honestly before people takes time, energy and patience. Whether we are dealing with young people, their parents, school authorities or any other government or community group, we are called to exercise wisdom in how we relate and communicate with them. So when the opportunity to share our faith does come along, it is shared with mutual trust and respect.

We need to honour our word and follow through with people – to do what we say. This is fundamental if we are going to build trust and respect. That means turning up on time or calling if we are going to miss the appointment or are running late. We need to watch our language and not use big spiritual/church words when sharing the gospel or communicating what Young Life does. Lots of people may not understand the big words you want to use.


Fundamentals

From these four scriptures Jim Rayburn coined some key phrases that have helped us remember who we are as an organisation and have continued to bring direction to all that we do with young people, their families and the wider communities where we work.

  • Walk in wisdom toward them that are without.
  • It’s a sin to bore a kid with the gospel.
  • Win the right to be heard.
  • Assume our young audience does not know anything about the Christian faith.

Therefore, always be in the posture of a teacher, never a preacher. There is tremendous difference. We need to go and dwell with young people in their world.  These ideas have helped shape Young Life through its entire history and continue to do so today.

The idea of leaving our comfortable environment to enter the world of young people is radical in nature; our model for this is Jesus himself. He left the comfort of heaven to come and dwell with mankind in order to be known and to make himself known. To leave our world and enter the world of young people, we are following the model of Jesus.

To walk in wisdom and win the right to be heard is a powerful idea no matter what age group you’re trying to reach. If we think about it, we all like to be treated with respect.

If the best we can do is bore people with the gospel once an opportunity presents itself, then we need to get better acquainted with Jesus. He is the most influential and interesting person to ever walk the planet.

Most people we meet will tell you they know something about God or Jesus at some basic level. However, it seems that the information that most people have is misinformation. You may also find that their experience is with religious groups who have alienated them. Once we have won the right to speak, and to be heard, it is important to not assume too much knowledge. Start with the basics and build from there. Remember, in most cases you will get a second and third opportunity if you have built the relationship well. Mutual respect and love will also cover many of the mistakes we may make.

Download – Scriptural Foundations

Contact Ministry

Adapted from articles by Neil Atkinson, Dick Langford and various other Young Life veterans

Contact work is the foundational principle behind Young Life’s ability to communicate the Gospel to disinterested teens. It is the platform from which uncommitted adolescents can experience the Gospel. Contact work and Young Life go together like a hand in a glove.

Yet for both experienced and new staff alike, contact work can be a difficult, even frightening experience. It is a term that is used handily, but many are not quite sure what it means, or know conclusively that they are doing an effective job of it.

Contact work builds a bridge of unconditional friendship that often stretches from a concerned adult to an “I couldn’t care‑less” adolescent. It is the movement of an individual into another’s life for the purpose of bringing an awareness of God’s love.

Unfortunately, many avoid doing contact work, saying, “I don’t have the time,” “That’s not my gift,” “I don’t relate as well at the school as I do at club,” “Let’s just concentrate on making club great,” “We’ll have Campaigners do it ‑if each Campaigner would reach just one person.” These excuses ultimately lead in the wrong direction. Club attendance either declines or, worse, becomes a youth group filled with evangelised teens who are looking for something more attractive than their local church.

Contact work is the beautiful gift God gave to Jim Rayburn and passed on to the rest of us who have been called to be a part of Young Life. It is what has made Young Life unique and has served as a model for several other ministries. Developing relationships with adolescents in their world is a key element of Young Life.


What is Contact Ministry?

The name contact work does not seem to be a fitting title for the job we are going to discuss. Actually, it is Christian leadership, and every minute we spend in this work we spend as Christian leaders. Paul set the norm for our contact work in 1 Thessalonians 1:5b‑6 (The Message), “You paid careful attention to the way we lived among you, and determined to live that way yourselves. In imitating us, you imitated the Master.” We intend to lead young people to the place of following Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour.


What is the Aim of Contact Ministry?

The ultimate aim is to lead each young person to the Lord Jesus Christ. The intermediate steps in this plan are:

  • Winning the right to be heard.
  • Building a bridge of friendship and trust.
  • Identifying with people where they are.
  • Understanding and penetrating a culture. Demonstrating Christ’s love for people.
  • Active listening.
  • Being the instrument God can use in another life.

Ideally, we go to young people for the same reason that Christ came to humanity: to reveal God to them with no strings attached. To love them in order to get an opportunity to preach to them is a string. We should love them because they need love, because God loves them and wants to love them through us. This concept is one we may have to grow into, but it is included in the idea that with Christ in us the incarnation is still in process in the world‑ today.

Contact work reminds us of our dependence upon Jesus Christ. If it weren’t for Him, we would stay in some comfortable setting with friends our own age. But Christ says go and we go in His strength, with His blessing. “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you,” John 20:21.

“Jesus will not allow true religion to exist in comfortable little circles of its own. The new quality of life is love in action, and that may mean coping at firsthand with the difficult, the messy, and the unpleasant.” JB. Phillips


Personal Preparation

1. Our walk with the Lord is paramount. A close relationship with Christ and with His people is essential so that when we are with young people our actions, words and attitudes will be His.

2. A growing spiritual understanding of what it means to go to a person who is without, such as Jim Rayburn envisioned, as God taught him:

  • Walk in wisdom toward them that are without.
  • Have a good rapport.
  • Judge not.
  • Walk honestly.
  • Walk in love.

Acceptance by young people depends primarily upon our love for them and our ability to communicate this love non‑verbally and verbally. But physical appearance and health should be carefully observed. First impressions are often formed by physical appearance. Leaders do not have to conform to teenage styles, but rather should observe the styles of their own age group.

Download – The Signature of Young Life

The Follow-up Ministry

In seeking to discover a workable bibli­cal model for the ministry of follow‑up, the example of Jesus ‑ both with the twelve disciples and with other interest­ed followers ‑ needs to be closely exam­ined. Only as we first look upon the Master’s ministry of working with believers can we effectively seek to fol­low‑up with those He has entrusted to our charge. Let’s enumerate some of the outstanding principles of the Lord Jesus:

He embodied all that He taught (He was their example).

We live in a day of an ever‑increasing proliferation of disci­pleship manuals, periodicals, standardised studies, overhead projectors, verse memorisation packets, and so on. These are tremendous tools, but they do not take the place of what has been discov­ered by psychologists to be the most important method to teaching/learning that the world has ever discovered ‑the model. Jesus did not send them off with a program or a manual ‑ He asked them to follow Him. The bulk of his training consisted in His disciples being with Him. A disciple is a follower first. Then and only then can he be a leader of others.


Jesus allowed experience to be a very important teacher.

Whether it was His commissioning of the disciples to preach and heal (Luke 10: 1‑20, Luke 12:1‑6), His patience with their slowness to understand (Mark 8:17‑21, Matthew 28:17), or through their failures (John 21: 15‑23), Jesus understood the impor­tance of allowing them the opportunity to learn from experience, and most of all, through their mistakes. In short, while Jesus would not tolerate a lack of com­mitment, He granted them the freedom to fail. He knew that their errors would result in immense growth if the disciple was loved and encouraged to learn from his mistakes. Hence, we must recognise the primacy of individual experience as the second greatest method of teaching/learning. Too often, our follow‑up with kids is con­fined to a lecture‑discussion relationship once a week. We must challenge them to step out into positions of genuine dependence upon God, just as Jesus did, and responsibly supervise, encourage and evaluate them before, during and after these experiences.


He focused upon the obedient and teachable ones.

We find no record of Jesus entertaining a follower who was not teachable. With all the fallacies of the disciples, from the stubbornness of Peter to the doubting of Thomas, they still listened intently to Jesus and underwent considerable sacrifices to follow Him. Jesus’ encounter with the rich young ruler in Mark 10 gives us the clear impression that He would not spend His time entertaining a spoiled disciple. He continually focused upon the importance of obedience (John 13:17, 14:21, 15:14; Luke 11:28). His emphasis upon men who were too busy for the Kingdom of God (Luke 14: 16‑24) count­ing the cost (Luke 14:26‑33), the narrow­ness of the door (Luke 13:23‑30) and countless other situations indicate to us His clear pointing to the need to decide without reserve to follow Jesus. An internationally well‑known Bible teacher once remarked, “I wish I could recapture the lost thousands of hours that I have wasted teaching peo­ple who were never hungry.” We find no Biblical precedent for force‑feeding new believers.


Jesus expected reproduction from His disciples.

A natural function of a healthy body is reproduction. This principle is fundamental to the plant and animal kingdom, as well as all of human life. So often, we are surprised when a young believer leads his friends to Christ. Hence, it happens all too seldom. We should consider something wrong unless a young believer has a great desire to reproduce. The parable of the sower in Mark 4 not only warns them that not all will respond to the Gospel, but significantly concludes that “the men who hear the message and accept it … do produce a crop ‑ thirty, sixty, even a hundred times as much as they received.”


Jesus spent a great deal of time teaching them.

Earlier I mentioned the fact that a psy­chological study had indicated the exam­ple was the greatest method of teach­ing/learning, closely followed by experi­ence. The third greatest teacher is the didactic teaching method, whereby a teacher (Jesus) functions as an authoritative figure, but also as both a guide and a resource for students. In short, He fed them and taught them how to fish. A very important principle to note is that He kept it simple. Too often, we get carried away in waves of theological poignancy. If we can understand Jesus’ simple, picturesque language in articulating basic truths, we will not only be more effective disciple-­makers, we will also be more effective disciples ourselves.


Jesus articulated and exemplified the goal of every disciple: to love God.

If we cannot first grasp the prima­cy of loving God “with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind,” (Matthew 22:37) then certainly our young converts will never understand why Jesus pointed to this as the “greatest and first commandment”. It is apparent in the amount of time that Jesus took to be alone with the Father (Mark 1:35‑37), that the disciples very early came to understand without a word the truth of His total dependency upon the Father. The greatest gift we can ever impart to a new Christian is to show him by our lives and our words that the greatest blessing in life is to love God. Out of the being with Him, the doing for Him will come.

Download – The Follow-Up Ministry

Cultural Statement

Watch the clip below, where Ben Staunton talks through our Cultural Statement.

This is a key document! We recommend that you download and print this document and have it somewhere that you view it often.  You’ll also notice that it’s in the Young Life Essentials toolbar on the right-hand side of the page.

Download – Cultural Statement

Levels of Contact Work

Adapted from articles by Neil Atkinson, Dick Langford and various other Young Life veterans

 

The Three Levels of Contact Work

  1. Being seen at school affairs and wherever teens are. It is important for the leader seeking to build friendships to express his/her inter­est by attending events that are important to the teenager. This could be a school play, athletic event or practice session, or some other activity in which they are engaged. It could be a shopping centre, or street corner, or park. The leader might not say anything to anyone, but his or her presence there speaks of interest. It is good to remember the words of St. Francis of Assisi: “We preach Jesus Christ and, when necessary, we use words.”
  1. Conversing with a young person. Before long the leader must step up to this second level and actually talk with someone. If he goes on just hanging around, suspicions will grow about his purposes. Real friendships can be built only through communication, and this communication must be more than an occasional “Hi!” We must remember to look at things from a young person’s point of view and learn to speak about things which are of interest to him or her.
  1. Enjoying activities with young people. Of course, this is the finest way to get to know a young person. Fast friend­ships are built when we live one of life’s experiences with him or her. Suggestions follow:

Water and snow ski trips, fishing trips, college and professional athletic events, golf, having young people over for lunch or after a game, telephone vis­its, working on school projects or dec­orations, slumber parties, parade float building, touch football and pickup athletic events, weekend trips to the beach or mountains or cities, bicycling, handball, swimming, bowl­ing, weight lifting, chaperoning school events, athletic officiating, visiting a college or university, music (give gui­tar lessons or take lessons from teens, listen to their group practice), arts.

Leaders should use their imagina­tions and be constantly on the look­out for activities, which they may share with young people.


Established Clubs Need a Larger Picture.

Besides the three levels, we need to have in mind three categories of high school people. Think of it as a series of circles. The small circle consists of Campaigners. The Campaigners are the smallest segment of a high school popu­lation. A larger circle surrounding the Campaigners is the circle of club attendees. Club attendees make up the next largest seg­ment with which we have contact. The last group of young people, by far the largest, is the non‑club attendees. These are individuals, who for one reason or another, don’t come to Young Life.

Circles

As Young Life leaders, we need to inten­tionally make contact with teens in each of the three categories: Campaigners, club attendees and non‑club young people.  What fre­quently happens is that contact work is done with Campaigners and club attendees and is not done with non‑club kids on a regular basis. Seldom, if ever, do we get to level three contact work. Many Young Life leaders do nothing with non‑club attendees, not even converse. No wonder clubs don’t expand! We need to go back to rela­tionship development and get to non­-club kids at level three. We have to do something with them.


When Do We Do Contact?

In order to be effective, we must be regular in our approach to teens. It might mean going when we don’t feel like it. It is essential that a leader do contact weekly. Vary the time and type of your con­tacts. Do not give the young people the idea that you are there to build your own ministry or event. On the other hand, consistent attendance for a certain sport you are targeting can help provide the trust needed to develop relationships.

Download – The Signature of Young Life – Part II