Ministry of Reconciliation

By Glyn Henman

Read: 2 Cor. 5:17-21, 1 Thes 2:6-12

We are all called to a ministry of reconciliation – a ministry of reconciling those who do not know Jesus into a full relationship with Him. The Bible says that all are called. It means all Christians, not just those who have lots of extra time, are good communicators, are educated in technology, or are outgoing. All. The question isn’t just what am I called to do, but how can I best do what God has called me to do?

Young Life is a tool, one of many, and like any tool it can be used correctly or incorrectly. We need to plan together to make a real difference for God’s Kingdom.

How do young people come to know Jesus in Young Life? They know you! They have a friendship with you that says ‘I love you as Christ loves you – unconditionally.’ A friendship that says ‘I accept you as Christ accepts you – unconditionally.’ I care enough to listen. You are my friend no matter what.

How do young people grow up in Christ? They know you! As you walk with young people who have made commitments, live with them, grow with them, and give yourself to them, they see someone who is their example of who Christ is.

What do young people need today? They need Christian adults of any age to take an interest in them. Young people don’t usually have adult “friends” – unless they want something from them. They need adults who are willing to love sacrificially, spend time with them, be vulnerable with them, and stay by their side through whatever life brings. They also need mature adults who are strong and able to be tough with them, when needed. We need to be adults who demonstrate the values of God. Out of this kind of friendship, we proclaim the Gospel.

“Your actions speak so loud I can’t hear your words” changes to “Your actions speak so loud I want to stop in this busy world and listen to what you have to say.”

We are His Ambassadors. An ambassador is both a messenger and a representative. He doesn’t speak in his own name or act on his own authority. What he communicates is not his own opinions or demands, but simply what he has been told to communicate. At the same time, he speaks with authority, in this case with the authority of Christ Himself. It is God’s divine love we are commissioned to proclaim.

We share God’s love with young people by our words, but even more often by giving them our very lives. It’s a sacrifice to love young people on their terms, not ours, but that is what we are called to do.

Listen to Eve Sarrett share on Incarnation Ministry.

Further verses to study: 1 Peter 2:9, Matt 28:19, Matt 9:35-38, Acts 1:8, John 15:7-8, John 15:16-17, John 10:10-11

Download – Ministry of Reconciliation

The Conversation Stack

Have you ever met someone for the first time and run out of conversation after the first 5 minutes? Welcome to the human race. As funny as it may sound, we are not all gifted in the art of small talk or how to carry a conversation beyond the small talk stage.

So what do you say to teen you are meeting for the first when you are in their environment? Especially when first starting out, contact work can be intimidating and even the most gifted person can get stuck for words.

Wiley Scott shares the power of getting to know a young person.

Each of the questions below is to help you with an initial conversation starter. Each question is designed to build upon the pervious question to help you begin to develop a friendship. The first few questions are one word response questions, but they help you build the conversation. Remember, people generally like to talk about themselves. Also, remember to introduce yourself and anyone else you may have with you.

Your job is to think of one or two other questions that you could use to help the conversation along.

1. What is your name?
2. Where do you live?
3. Who do you live with?
4. What do you do with your time?
5. Where do you go for holidays and what do you do?
6. What things are you interested in doing with your spare time/future?
7. What do you think about                                   ?

Download – The Conversation Stack

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

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


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 – Young Life Club Talks & Campaigner Lessons

Download – Young Life Club Talks – The Gospel Message

Download – Club Games Resource

Download – Course Material for YL 101

All our young people attending club should be registered on Care Monkey, which your Area Manager will allocate access for.  If  a child attending is unable to complete a Care Monkey profile, one of these forms must be completed by their parents / guardians. Your local Area Manager will collect the completed forms.

Download – Club Consent Form


Listen to Glen Austell share about how Young Life Camping is unique.

Please read through the course material below. Don’t forget to click “Mark Complete” at the bottom of the page once you have completed all the topics. This will allow you to continue with the course.

Once you have completed the reading, you will be able to take the quiz. You’ll need to pass the quiz in order to continue the course.

There are multiple roles at any camp, each with their own specific training. You are welcome to do Camp Training at any time; it will be a requirement when you join us at a local or National camp to complete camp training prior to attending.


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.

All our young people attending club should be registered on Care Monkey, which your Area Manager will allocate access for.  If  a child attending is unable to complete a Care Monkey profile, one of these forms must be completed by their parents / guardians. Your local Area Manager will collect the completed forms.

Going Deeper

Have a look a brief look at the history of Young Life.

Please read through the course material to the right.

Contact Work

Before you learn all about contact work, take note of this important reminder from Donna Hatasaki.

Please read through the course material to the right.

What We Do

Before you begin to look at what we do, have a listen to these young people share about the way their Young Life leaders have impacted their lives.