Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Why Do I Still Go? by Eve Sarrett

It’s the start of the school year and the weekly practice of contact work at the high school begins. It’s nothing new. Young Life leaders have been going for decades. Going where kids are. Being seen on their turf, in their world. Yesterday was no different. I jumped in my car and raced to catch first lunch. On my drive to the high school, I wondered, "Why do I still go?"

When I was a sophomore in college, showing up in the lunchroom, scared to death, afraid kids would mistake me for a sophomore in high school. At that time I was thinking, “I’m like their big sister” and I went faithfully because my Area Director told me that’s what Young Life leaders do. So I went.

When I was in my late 20’s, showing up in the lunchroom, scared to death, kids probably thought I was one of the teachers, but I was thinking “I’m like their favorite aunt.” I went faithfully because Young Life told me that’s what Young Life staff do. So I went.

Stepping back into the world of teenagers as a 42-year-old, mother of 2, I was still scared to death that someone might think I hadn't read the parent handbook which says “no parents allowed.” But I was thinking “I am someone’s mom, just not anybody here.” I went faithfully because the young Area Director in our town said the new school in our district needed Young Life leaders to go to the school. So I went.

Now, many years later, I have silver hair (I prefer silver, not gray) and it is fall of 2016, and I’m driving to Ravenwood High School and I am asking myself “Why do I still go to the lunchroom?”

I go because my Savior and my YL leaders modeled that for me. 

I go because it’s a “thin place” (where heaven and earth collide). 

I go because I have to trust Jesus, otherwise I will sit in my car in the school parking lot and hear that voice. The one I have come to recognize as the voice of the one who comes to steal, kill and destroy. 

The voice whispers: 

“Aren’t you too old? 
“Don’t you have friends your own age?” 
"Is this what successful looks like?"

I go because it's the only place I can go to see, and be seen, by the entire school. 

Football or soccer games don’t give me that opportunity. 
Club or Campaigners don’t give me that opportunity.

So to the lunchroom I go. I still go.

Yesterday, a group of sophomores (Tess, Caroline, Maya, Audrey, Cameron, Taylor, Kennedie, Sara Beth, and Caroline) helped me remember their names by telling me they played volleyball, became class president, worked out at the climbing gym and danced. My prayer is that when I left that table full of sophomore girls, they were left with the aroma of a God who came near. A God who moved into the neighborhood. A God who said you matter to Me.

You matter so much so that an old-enough-to-be-your-grandmother YL leader would still show up in the lunchroom to remind you just how loved you truly are.

Written by Eve Sarrett, YL Staff, Tennessee Region.

Let's Change Pants

 A number of years ago I was in the high school cafeteria with a few other Young Life leaders. We were visiting our friends as they ate lunch.  We would typically meet there a couple of times a week and spread out all over the cafeteria hanging out with kids during their break.  

On this particular day, I overheard a commotion a few tables away and looked up to see one of the kids who came regularly to club on Thursday nights. She had accidentally dumped her entire tray of food into her lap.  I don’t remember what they were having for lunch that day, but I do remember that it was a total mess.  A tray full of food was all over her pants and she was on the verge of tears.

Immediately her Young Life leader, in a moment of grace and wisdom, sprang into action.  She grabbed her friend and whisked her off to the restroom as she said, “Quick, let’s go change pants.  You take mine and I’ll wear yours.”  

That is exactly what they did.  Within minutes the teenage girl emerged from the restroom looking like nothing had ever happened, while her Young Life leader came out wearing the pants that were completely covered in mess and grime.

What a beautiful picture of what Christ did for us. And what a beautiful picture of what you, as Young Life leaders, do for kids.  Thank you!  Thank you for taking on their mess the same way Jesus took on ours.  Keep up the good work!

Written by Jim Branch. 

You can read more from Jim at the BlueBookBlog.comAlso, if you don't yet own it, every YL leader needs The Blue Book! Get it here:

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Everybody Give It Up for P....90....OWEN!

It can be hard to follow someone that you don’t know, even harder to follow someone that you are a little bit afraid of.  We live in a culture that teaches us to be afraid of people that are different than us; so being led by one of these people can either be a bit of a disaster or something life changing.  This summer, it was life changing, to say the least.  

My friend Owen spent the month of June serving on the program team at Carolina Point.  Owen is full of life and ultimately has two speeds- dancing and asleep.  He, along with three other people, spent the month breaking down the tough walls that high school kids build up.  He made them laugh, he led them in games during club, he declared big cookies for all, he led them in dancing, he led them in mixers and well, led them in just about everything that camp has to offer. 

This in and of itself isn’t unique.  It’s what we do in YL camping.  Every session at every camp, a group of people serves as the program team and they are tasked with this job.  What makes session one at Carolina Point unique is that Owen has a disability.  He’s our first Capernaum alumni to serve in an on-stage role during a month long session of camp. 

The first two weeks of camp were our Capernaum weeks, so fear wasn’t in the equation.  Instead, campers saw a peer, a role model, someone that was serving in a way that challenged them to think about what they could do, how they could be a leader, how they could serve and use their gifts.  The second two weeks, on the other hand, were traditional weeks of camp.  Weeks filled with hundreds of high school kids, crazy kids, kids that throw the word ‘retard’ around as much as the word ‘like’.  And in their eyes, we had one on stage.

Night one came and as always, it was obstacle course time.  The guys took off in full force and to stall the girls, we had a dance party.  Classic night one clubroom business.  Except on this night one, P90 Owen led the dance party.  He came out on stage and the girls followed his every move.  Not one dance move was missed by these ladies, and trust me, keeping up with Owen is not for the faint of heart.  For thirty to forty minutes, these girls moved more than they knew possible.  There wasn’t time to be afraid, no time to realize that he had a disability, no time to think about how they would act in school if they ran into him.  Just time to dance.

Night two rolled around and it was time for club.  Singing, swaying, crowd surfing and then it was time for thirty seconds of P90 Owen.  He broke through the curtains and the girls went wild.  Ballistic, crazy, screaming, squealing, jumping up and down madness.  So obviously, the fellas did the same exact thing, even though they had no idea who P90 Owen was!  Within two seconds, over three hundred people were following Owen’s every move.  They all stepped into the opportunity to follow Owen through play.  And by the time thirty seconds rolled around, Owen was no longer different than the rest of the room; he was the leader of the room. 

We put together a video of Owen’s time at camp, though impossible to capture the richness of it all.  I pray that as you watch this video, you’ll join us in celebrating how amazing it was to have Owen lead high school kids, not just in games, but away from fear and into embracing people who are different from them.  The gospel in the form of a dance party.

Written by Suzanne Williams. Originally posted on The YL Capernaum Everywhere Blog.

Young Life- Owen Apfel at Carolina Point from YL Capernaum Ministries on Vimeo.

Monday, August 29, 2016

8 Ways To Give Students Ownership At Club

One night after club our newest YL leader asked me how it compared with a typical club. "Was it better than normal, average, or not quite as good?"

I turned to one of my high school friends and asked, "What do you think, Chris?" 

His response surprised me.

"I think it was my favorite club ever, but probably because I got to help lead it and be involved in pulling it off instead of just sitting in the crowd. Last year I never realized how much work went into making club happen, but now that I'm helping lead music and with sound and stuff, its just cool to see behind the scenes."

I'm terrible at delegation. I'm a procrastinator. And I typically would rather just do something myself than ask for help. That combination doesn't make it easy to include my high school friends in helping lead club, but I'm learning that's it worth it.

Brian Summerall says it this way: "Why do seniors stop coming to club? Because they are tired of sitting there. We have made them consumers of a product rather than producers of change. I would argue that even seniors that do not know Christ long to be a part of something significant... it’s what they were made for. What they do not know yet is that as they engage in the process, they will meet Jesus along the way."

Producers Rather Than Consumers
8 ways your high school friends can take ownership.

Find kids who own nice cameras and love taking pictures, they exist. If you can't find anyone, go to the yearbook class at the high school and ask for volunteers. Ask them to shoot pics before and during club, instructing them to not be distracting, especially by taking pics during the talk. Get them to post the pics online (that same night if possible) and tag their friends. You can also ask them to make a slide show of the best pics and have that running as kids enter club to music each week.

Ask who owns a nice digital video camera and see if they'd be willing to shoot some footage during club each week. Even an iPhone works pretty good. With current video editing software, its fairly easy to edit that footage down to 1-2 minutes, so each week at club, you show quick highlights from the previous week. At semester's end, add those together to have a 10 minute semester in review. Who doesn't love seeing themselves on the big screen?

Video Editor/Creator
One of my high school friends spent HOURS creating & editing a few videos for our first club. He made one incredible 3 minute video that we'll play probably every other week that runs through our basic announcements that don't change from week to week. (Subscribe to the Text Message Group, follow on social media, fall camp dates, etc...). He also created a video of highlights from last year that helped all the first timers get a good picture of what a year of club might look like. The kids LOVED it!

The YL Club Band
It takes way less time to just do music yourself. But....we had just two band practices in the two weeks prior to first club and over ten kids came to each one. It was fun hang out time with them, and they got to be on stage at club. You think they invited their friends to come hear them play music? You betcha. You think we had new kids come up to us after first club asking if they could be in the band. Yeppers. Here's some other ideas on starting a club band.

Invite seniors to be the ones running the club card table. Get seniors to pass out announcement info sheets and camp flyers as kids are leaving club. Cast a vision for them to be the hosts, welcoming new comers and thanking them for coming. If you have drinks or snacks before club, invite kids to be the ones serving those. Also ask upperclassmen to be the ones running outdoor yard games.

AV Crew (Audio/Video)
It's awesome to have some tech savvy detail oriented teenagers running your sound, lights, slides, videos, etc... Ask the right people, train them well, and thank them for being a HUGE help behind the scenes.

Why not have high schoolers run games as skit characters. Kids love seeing their friends make fools of themselves. Set them up well by having extensive practice. Help them get great costumes, the right intro music, the props they need, and picking the right volunteers. "The best way to raise up a leader is to assign them a task and help them succeed." -John Maxwell

Tunnel Makers
We ask all our seniors to make a tunnel for the kids to enter through and exit club. It's a fun tradition that gives the seniors ownership.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Let's Come Up with a Handshake

Intricate handshakes are awesome. If you don't believe me, check out this video of NBA star, Dwayne Wade, and TV host, Kelly Ripa. If you want more proof, check out the most elaborate handshake ever courtesy of the Coastal Carolina baseball team.

3 Ways to Use Elaborate Handshakes in Young Life

Club Mixer/Upfront Game

Have kids pair up and give them 3-5 minutes to come up with an elaborate handshake and to practice. Have leaders walk around and judge. Pick out the best 3 and bring them up front to perform and the audience can vote for the winners. Make sure no kids get left out. Mixers that involve pairing up can be stressful for kids, hoping someone wants to be with them. You could avoid it by writing numbers on kids hands as they come in to club and then everyone pairs up based on their number. Have 2 lines of entry and 2 leaders with sharpies marking hands. It would also be fun to watch kids doing the handshakes around the school. You could even make an entire theme club called "Elaborate Handshake Club."

Program Characters/Run-on

If you're working on your run-on to sell camp this fall, why not add an elaborate handshake into your routine. If you're doing program at fall camp, you could work it into your program characters and give kids an award when you see them around camp performing their E.H.S. (Elaborate Hand Shakes). 

"I'm Dusty, and I'm Rusty...and we're 6th year seniors at Eerie High School...EHS fo' lyfe! EHS! EHS! EHS! We like to catch snakes...and turn em into steaks...but our favorite past ELABORATE HAND SHAKES. EHS! EHS! EHS! (Chanting)


D-Wade discusses with Kelly Ripa about the fact that he has special handshakes with each of his teammates. What if your Campaigners group did the same thing. Every time someone from your group walked into a room, they did the different handshakes with every different person in your group. You could even have a different Campaigners group perform at club each week. 

If it caught on, you could even make your YL shirts have a picture of a handshake on them. The possibilities are endless. 

HT to my brother and original handshake partner, Blake Hill, for passing on this idea.  

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

20 Ways Campaigners and Senior Leaders Can Help on Club Day

  1. Pray!
  2. Wear a Young Life shirt to school.
  3. Invite friends who are disinterested in Jesus to club.
  4. Text all of your friends, reminding them about club.
  5. Post about club on Instagram and Twitter.
  6. Offer to give rides to club.
  7. Introduce the friends you brought to club to the YL leaders and others.
  8. Introduce yourself to new folks you might not know.
  9. Take pics before, during, and after club, but not during the talk.
  10. Be an 'oh boy' leader and let your excitement catch on.
  11. Sit with folks who are new or on the outside.
  12. Sing loud.
  13. Cheer for folks in up-front games.
  14. Listen during the talk and encourage others to do the same.
  15. Pray during the talk.
  16. Take the folks you brought to grab a milkshake after club and ask them what they thought.
  17. Drive safely.
  18. Post pics from club on Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
  19. Journal about what you felt God speaking to you tonight.
  20. Pray and thank God for the night!

You can download this list here to share with your Campaigners group or Senior Leaders.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Leaving a Legacy: How to Run a Young Life Senior Meeting

Over the past few years we've kicked off the new semester of Young Life with a 'Seniors Only' meeting. Special thanks to Brian Summerall for sharing his wisdom with us and prompting this new rhythm.

It has worked well for us to hold our 'Senior Meeting' on the evening of the first day of school. In addition to promoting the event on social media, our YL team has divided up the list of seniors and made personal invites to each of them. 

We try to plan the Sr. Mtg with even greater intentionality than we would give to planning club. This is such an important part of the Young Life year in setting the pace and casting the vision. Below is a sample schedule we've used in the past. 

Download this sample schedule below here in Word.

Sr Mtg Schedule

7:30- Adult leaders arrive to pray and get music and food and AV set up. Have music playing in background.

8- Seniors arrive

8:15- Start with welcome, leaders introducing themselves and an opening prayer.

8:20- Ask the seniors to one by one go around and share 'How did you first hear about Young Life? Why did you come? What was it like?'  As they are sharing have an assigned leader listen and write down every name that a senior mentions when they are sharing. Ex: "I came because my neighbor Parker picked me up and brought me when I was a freshmen."  Write down 'Parker.' You'll use those names later.

8:30- It's an older clip, but still works in painting a picture of leaving a legacy: 'Lord Of The Rings Clip: Samwise the Brave'

Sam: I wonder if we'll ever be put into songs or tales. 
Frodo: What? 
Sam: I wonder if people will ever say, 'Let's hear about Frodo and the Ring.' And they'll say 'Yes, that's one of my favorite stories. Frodo was really courageous, wasn't he, Dad?' 'Yes, my boy, the most famousest of hobbits. And that's saying a lot.' 
Frodo: You've left out one of the chief characters - Samwise the Brave. I want to hear more about Sam. 
Frodo: Frodo wouldn't have got far without Sam. 
Sam: Now Mr. Frodo, you shouldn't make fun; I was being serious. 
Frodo: So was I. 

8:35- "I wonder what people will say about you after you’ve graduated? I wonder if three years from now someone in the class of 2019 will be sitting at this meeting and mention your name." Use the names you've recorded from their share time earlier and read those back to them.

8:40- Read the Burr Nichols story out loud. Make printouts of this PDF and ask a few seniors or adult leaders to take turns reading.

8:45- Appoint a leader to give a short 'vision casting' talk after the Burr Nichols story.

Below are some potential talking points:

Leave A Legacy: Give Your Life Away
  • What legacy will you leave when you graduated in 9 months?
  • What will people remember about you? 
  • What will they write in your yearbook?
    • You are HOT. 
    • You have a sweet car.
    • You can hit a ball far.
    • OR... You cared about me, you listened to me, you noticed me, you reached out to me when I was lonely, you included me, you introduced me to Jesus and showed me what He's like.
  • Be a "there you are" kind of person and not a 'here I am' kind of person. It's counter-cultural in this selfie generation. 
  • “To have life is to give it away.“
  • Matthew 16:24-25 
  • More thoughts about giving your life away here.
The Power of Invitation
  • There is way more power in a personal invitation born out of genuine friendship than just passing out flyers and saying 'come to this thing.'
  • Ask them to think through who are the 'right' people that Young Life is for? (EVERYONE!)
  • Ask the seniors to think through their niche in the school and who they know.
  • Ask them to think about kids in different groups/cliques at the high school who aren't a part of YL. Do the 'x' kids feel welcomed and invited to club?
    • People who don't wear Vineyard Vines
    • Band kids
    • Chorus kids
    • Lax bros
    • Exchange students
    • Kids of different races
    • Gingers 
    • Angry kids
    • People who wear all black
  • Ask them to take a few minutes and brainstorm and write down a list of folks they know at the school who they could invite to be a part of YL this year. 

The Whys of Club

Pull back the curtain and go through a typical night at club and explain why certain things are done certain ways. Point out the different roles seniors can play in club. Use a dry erase board and see if they can come up with the club order. Always ask them “What’s next?” and “Why?” to see if they can come up with it on their own. Draw a funnel showing how club begins with a point of high activity and ends pointing to Jesus.

A Typical Night at Club
  • Leaders meet for final club prep and to pray
  • Kids Arrive - Club starts in the parking lot with parents and kids being welcomed with a handshake, hug, fist bump, or high five. 
  • Club Entry - Fun music with the seniors forming a tunnel
  • Radio songs- It's familiar- this place feels fun and safe and welcoming, moving kids from spectators to participants
  • Mixer- to meet new folks, include everyone
  • Skit/Up-front game- making kids the stars
  • Camp video or another fun video- Shows a picture of community, friendship and the memories being made
  • Announcements- announcing THIER stuff, not just YL stuff- what's going on at the school
  • Slow songs- Content related to the talk, changing the pace, slowing it down
  • Talk- explain talk progression
  • After club hang out/rides home- more time with kids
  • Leaders clean up and pray

Roles Seniors Can Play

Whether you are a Sr. Leader or not, you have great influence as a senior. Here are a few ways you can be a leader at YL this year:

  • Letting us as leaders know about key events at school
  • Wear YL shirts on Mondays- "Let YL take the worry out of what to wear on Mondays"
  • Tweeting/instagramming about club, use our hashtag: ex:  #NWYL
  • Explain the pre-club party on Sunday night before the first club where we'll sell shirts and shoe polish our cars with YL on them
  • Invite folks to fall camp
Leadership Roles at Club
  • Pre-Club DJ: Run music during pre-club hangout outside the club room
  • Club Hosts: Run the pre-club games (volleyball, corn hole, etc.) club card table and sell t-shirts. Pass out announcement info sheets and camp flyers as kids are leaving club.  Welcoming new comers and thanking them for coming. If we have drinks or snacks before club, the hosts would be the ones serving those. Also could help with parking and talking to parents who are dropping off underclassmen and picking them up after club.
  • Photographers/Videographers: Shoot pics and video before and during club, post the pics online (that same night if possible) and tag their friends.
  • Video Editors: Helping edit short videos to show each week at club.
  • Club Band: Lead music each week
  • AV Crew (Audio/Video): Running slides, lights, and sound.
  • Skits/Games: Leading games and doing skits at club.
  • Tunnel Makers: Every senior does this at the start of club

9:10- Invite all the seniors to pray out loud for their school 

9:25- If you choose, you can close the meeting by asking folks to fill out Senior Surveys and include a nomination for a YL President.

Sample Senior Survey

  1. Name
  2. Phone
  3. Favorite songs you’ve sang at club that you want to sing again? (BOTH fast/fun & content/worship songs)
  4. Favorite games you’ve ever played at YL that you want to play again?
  5. What have been your favorite Young Life related events?
  6. How can we make club better for you and your friends?
  7. What do you want to contribute to club?  (band, skits, host, making videos, etc…)
  8. What theme clubs do you want to do this year?
  9. Anything else you want us to know?
  10. Who do you think should be president of YL this year?
9:30- It would be a fun surprise at the end to do a gutter ice cream sundae or reveal the new YL shirts.