Neighbourhood and School Research

1. Get to know the school and community in which you will work.

  • Size of school.
  • Intensity of school spirit.
  • Economic, social and racial strata within the school.
  • See who the school leaders are. Read the school paper or yearbook, and be sensitive to changing or new areas – positive or negative ‑where leaders are involved.

2. Learn as many names as possible. Keep a list.

  • Follow the athletic programs in the local papers.
  • Cheek to see who on the faculty might be sympathetic to Young Life.
  • Learn any special ground rules for visitors on the campus.
  • Get the school calendar of events and activities.
  • Find out what other clubs are operating, especially other Christian organisations like Scripture Union and Youth Dimensions. Meet
  • with them to determine if there is a need for Young Life as an additional ministry.
  • Be aware of any local high school customs or local slang words and their meanings.
  • Invite local congregations and individual Christian people to begin praying for specific students. And by all means, have your own prayer strategy!

3. Public relations contacts.

  • Make sure local law enforcement agencies know of your work (local Police).
  • Call on school administrators with staff and local committee members or adult friends. Be positive and open to them. We are there to give information, not to seek their endorsement. Answer their questions concerning purpose, support, endorsement, church relations, program, and personnel.
  • Find out what other agencies and churches in the community are at work with young people. Get to know and pray with the leadership of these groups if possible.
  • Carefully plan to meet the parents of the students whose friendship you make in the early stages of club development, explaining the program and answering questions. Also, check out your own attitudes toward parents. Are these open? Respectful?
  • By showing them the proper respect, seek to get to know school officials, coaches and sponsors as friends so they understand why you are frequently there.

Guiding Thoughts

1. Keep clearly in mind that our goal is that every young person should have the opportunity to see and hear of God’s love for him/her in Christ through what we do and say.

2. We must be aware of influential teens within different groupings. If we touch these students, we may have the potential of touching others. If we ignore them, we may automatically ignore many who would have been influenced by them.

The key teen concept was based on a sound theological principle. It also has been the target of much criticism over the years. Our call first and foremost is to every young person and we must use whatever strategy possible to reach every teen for Christ. In some schools, the teens who traditionally would have been Young Life key teens are actually the objects of ridicule and scorn. We should love teens unconditionally and offer Christ to all.

3. Most important of all, we must seek to be led of the Holy Spirit. The Lord will often lead us to people who do not seem to be key teens. Many times these will turn out to be the real disciples.

4. You are representing Christ before teens; therefore, it is essential that you are not always with the socially “in” crowd. To spend quality time with all sorts of young people and groups is good. This example is worth a thousand words at club. Your treatment of the “least of these” will prove who you really are.

5. Adult volunteers who come to club but do not do contact work are not Young Life leaders. They might be “club specialists,” but the required behaviour to be a Young Life leader is contact work.

Download – The Signature of Young Life