Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The Young Life Leader's Guide to Prom Season

Prom season is upon us and below are a few ways Young Life leaders can serve our high school friends, parents, and school administrations.

PRE-PROM

Prom-posals

Some of your high school friends are asking dates to the prom and would love your creative help thinking of a fun promposal idea. 

One of my high school friends wrote a letter to Roy Williams, coach of the UNC Tar Heels basketball team. He asked Roy to write a letter to the girl he wanted to ask to prom. Roy did it!

Dress/Tux Shopping

Go shopping with them. Do you think your high school friend would rather go to Men's Warehouse with his YL leader or his mom? It's a toss up, but for female YL leaders, it's for sure a great contact work opportunity.

Pimp That Ride

Offer to pimp out your Rav-4 and dress up as a limo driver to escort your high school friends and their dates to dinner and prom. Maybe even check with committee folks or adults at your church who have nice vehicles they'd be willing to let you borrow.

Chef-Boy-R-Prom

Offer to cook/serve an elegant candlelight dinner for your high school friends. Do it at your house, their house, the YL house, or outside at a park. It'll be much cheaper than a steakhouse and much more memorable! You can also set up your tables in the shape of a Y-L like Ron Bowling did in this picture.

Post-A-Pic 

Show up at the pre-dinner photo spot with a super-nice camera that you borrowed from your rich uncle. Take pics, edit them, post them on social media and tag your high school friends. They'll appreciate having some quality, non iPhone pics! 

Pray 

This is a night full of regrets for many of our friends. Let's beg God to protect them and to give them courage and wisdom when making tough decisions.

Prep

Help your high school friends think through the evening ahead of time. Tell them you know the temptations they will face. Tell them Jesus knows those same temptations (Matthew 4). Tell them to look for a way out (1 Corinthians 10:13)because Jesus always provides one. Who else is having these important conversations with them? It's one of the reasons we work so hard to earn the right to be heard. 

DURING-PROM

Volunteer
 

You might be surprised how grateful the high school administration will be to hear an adult ask if they can help supervise the prom. It's not like a ton of adults are lining up to referee boogie-dance wrastlin'.

Prom Alternative 

Some of your friends didn't get asked to the prom. They say it's not a big deal, but no one enjoys being left out. Imagine how excited they would be if you offered them another hangout option during prom. You could do something low-key or even create an event like "MORP" (Prom backwards.) Instead of the dance, you could create an evening of a fancy meal followed by video scavenger hunts, rolling houses, ice blocking, movies, and even your own little dance party. That's the stuff memories are made of.

AFTER-PROM

If your high school puts on an After-Prom event, volunteer to help. A few years back our YL team would film music videos of kids during the event. We used the YL skit closet and had kids dress up and lip-sync the song of their choice. We got some construction lights and designed a lil stage. After we shot the music videos we uploaded them on the YL YouTube page for kids to view. It was a big hit. If your school doesn't offer an After-Prom consider offering your friends a late night alternative.

Do you have other ideas that have worked for you? Email us here and we'll add them to the post.

Drew Hill's book, "Alongside: Loving Teenagers with the Gospel" is now on sale at Amazon. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Responding to the Spring Slump in Young Life

Written by Lindsay Fluker.

Spring is definitely in the air, as yards are bursting with color and my friends at the high school talk of prom and spring break. I am the wife of a Young Life Area Director and a volunteer leader and over the years, I have come to have a love-hate relationship with this little season.


As a wife, I love it, because ministry slows down.

As a leader, I hate it because... well... ministry slows down.

The past two months have been filled with speaking engagements, weekend camp trips and successful work crew training and Bible studies. But now we are coming down from our little mountaintop and into the valley of Spring, where baseball games trump club, the Bachelor is more important than Campaigners, and that kid you led to Christ at camp avoids you when she sees you coming (or maybe that’s just my effect on people!) 


It's ironic that while the flowers are blooming and trees are bearing fruit, this season of ministry with teenagers often brings lower numbers, spring break/prom rumors, and general apathy toward God. There are, of course, exceptions, but sometimes it can be quite discouraging.

I also find this is when the Enemy often attacks us in our unique, individual ways. Stacy Eldridge, author of Captivating, wisely states that "the whispers of Satan are as old as the Garden of Eden. His mission is to convince us that we are too much and not enough, and that God is holding out on us."


I laughed today as I looked back on a journal entry I wrote this time last year. Essentially, I was believing the same old lie: that I am not enough. Not doing enough with kids. Not being a good enough friend. Not sharing the gospel enough. Not going to school enough. Not helping my husband enough. Not being a good enough mom/wife/leader/follower of Christ.


Year after year, the father of lies convinces me that my inadequacies are the reason for the Spring Slump.


But this year, I want to take these thoughts captive. I want to push through this season with eyes on eternity. I want to keep pursuing kids, even though they seem disinterested. I want to be the one who tells them the truth. That God is GOOD and HE is ENOUGH!


So if you are struggling, know that you are not alone. Fight those lies with Scripture that states who you are in Christ, that you are deeply loved and accepted. Know that even when kids’ lives seem fruitless, God is at work. And one day, those little seeds you are sowing, will “spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams.”(Isaiah 44:4)


Here's another encouraging post from Lindsay about the sacrifice some high schoolers in their area made to take middle schoolers to camp.


Originally posted in 2013.

If you have anything you'd like to share on the YL Leader Blog, here is how you submit a guest post. 

Drew Hill's book, "Alongside: Loving Teenagers with the Gospel" is now on sale at Amazon. 

Monday, March 18, 2019

Battle of the Brackets Challenge (Pick'em Group for Young Life Leaders)

*Because "March Madness" is trademarked :) 
Begin making your picks for the 6th annual Young Life Leader Battle of the Brackets!

Enter your bracket in the Young Life Leaders group on ESPN.

The winner will be featured on YoungLifeLeaders.org and leaders around the world will stand in awe of your ability to predict the future. In addition to featuring your pickin' skillz on the blog, you'll also receive a YL Swag Prize Pack in the mail. Let the games begin! 

Last year's top finishers are pictured here. 

Tons of ideas for Battle of the Brackets Club.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Basketball Madness Theme Club Ideas

The Madness has begun and the NCAA tournament starts this week! If you're hosting a Battle of the Brackets club, below are some ideas to get you ballin'. 

And don't forget to enter your bracket in the Young Life Leaders group on ESPN

Attire

Encourage everyone to wear gear from their favorite college team, and if they don't have a college team they love, just wear any sports gear. Give a prize to whoever looks the sportiest.

GAMES & MIXERS

Indoor Knockout

Play knockout with a nerf hoop. If you have a big club, borrow a couple hoops. You can go with the stand-alone kind or the one that hangs on a door. Ask folks on your YL committee who are parents of young children if you can borrow some goals for the night.

Dunk Contest/3 pt Competition

Again, use a nerf hoop. Have "celebrity judges" who are dressed in skit clothes and use accents and award for creativity, style, and level of difficulty. Make score cards for the judges. 

Pre-select your participants. Have them wear costumes: basketball jerseys, headbands, wristbands, tall socks, etc... You can also help them think through creative ideas using props, other people, and theme music. 

You could also do a 3-point competition with similar style.

Free Throw Competition with 
THE CURTAIN OF DISTRACTION

Arizona St. University has a hilarious tradition called "The Curtain of Distraction." They have a curtain in the front of their student section and when the opposing team is shooting free throws, they open the curtain and someone in a crazy costume pops out. This has Young Life club written all over it.

You can watch an ESPN video about it here.  It wouldn't be hard to recreate a similar curtain at club and pick 4 contestants to each shoot 5 free throws and have different folks come out to distract them. If you pull this off, email us a pic and we'll feature it on social media and add it to this post. 

Draw 64

Put the #'s 1-64 in a hat/bowl/bag. 64 kids will draw and then represent the corresponding team to that number (as the teams are seeded in the NCAA tourney). As the tourney unfolds, whoever is paired with the winning team wins $ off of summer camp. If you have 32 kids at club, get each person to draw twice, having a better chance to win.

Cookie Sheet Ping Pong 

Set up a cookie sheet as a mini-basketball court. Place a ping-pong ball on it, and one person on each end. The object is to blow the ball to the other side first. Have them play one round, and then raise the stakes, doing the next round blindfolded. After they are blindfolded, place the ball on a mound of flour in the middle of the cookie sheet. (via YLPlaybook.comPing Pong Ball Fight Game)

Name That Mascot

Download this screen game below (made by Amy Brooks!) and have kids "buzz in" when the image appears if they know the name of the school it represents along with the school's mascot. 


Dude Perfect
They have 27 million followers on YouTube and are fans of Young Life. Especially if you're planning a WyldLife club, you could show some highlights of their trick shots or, better yet, film your own. This could be a fun contact work idea to make a trick-shot video to show at club.

Ultimate Frisbee-Basketball

I bought two white circular laundry baskets from Walmart and cut the bottoms out of them. These were our hoops. We used zip ties to secure them on either end of the club room. We have high ceilings in our club room so we put them really high up. I also cut pool noodles lengthwise and attached them over the rim of the laundry baskets to make a cool looking basketball rim. Idea submitted by Will Orr.

How to Play
  • Divide the club into two teams.
  • Just like ultimate frisbee, you cannot run with the ball; you can pass to your teammates up and down the court with the intention of trying to score just like in basketball.
  • No goaltending.
  • Here is where the fun comes in. After every basket scored, switch out the basketball you’re using for another one that is slightly crazier, and do a tip off with that new ball. The tip off is key. Great photo ops and amazing for slo-mo videos.
  • The first ball you might use could be one of those big lightweight rubber balls you buy in the big ball bin at Walmart.
  • The second ball can be a squishy/spiky/weird ball, but then get creative with it. Our third ball was a ball covered in shaving cream. The slo-mo tip off video of that one is always epic. Our fourth ball was a head of lettuce. And last but not least we finished with a rotisserie chicken (this year we did a whole raw chicken which held together better but could possibly give kids salmonella). It’s always high intensity and because it's ultimate frisbee rules, the whole team tends to get involved via passing.
  • Get a leader in an afro and a referee outfit to be the referee who officiates and throws the tip off ball every time. Play the “Ya’ll Ready For This” song during game play.

MUSIC


Basketball Watch Party

Go ahead and plan now to watch some of the games with your middle, high school, or college friends. Look into local restaurants with TVs and see if you can reserve a room for your Campaigners group to watch the Elite 8 or Final Four rounds.


If you have other ideas to add, email us here.

Friday, March 15, 2019

10 Fun Ideas for Spring Contact Work

Spring-time has arrived! If you need some fun, fresh, & frugal contact work ideas, you're in luck. Grab your middle, high school or college friends and make some memories.

Dog Park/Animal Shelter
If you have a dog, take your dog and some friends to a local dog park. If you don't have a dog, visit a local pet store or animal shelter.

Putt, Pitch, Punish 
(The Happy Gilmore Young Life Invitational Golf Tournament)

Grab a group of middle or high school friends, a bag of golf clubs, and $15. Kids need no prior golf experience to enjoy this outing. Head to a local golf course that has a driving range, putting green, and chipping hole. Pay $5 to rent a bucket of balls. Hold three separate contests.

Putting
Start with putting. Practice, warm up and design a 6 hole putt-putt course on the putting green. Lowest score on the 6 holes wins a $3 milkshake afterwards.

Pitching
Pick a hole, either on the chipping green or driving range. Each participant gets 10 shots. Closest to the pin wins a shake.

Punish
Finish with the Punish Contest. Whoever can simply drive a golf ball the farthest wins. Each kid gets 10 balls.

After all 3 contests are over, head to a local restaurant to celebrate the 3 winners and buy them milkshakes. You can also spice up the outing by encouraging guys to dress "golfy." Call the golf course ahead of time and ask permission. If you go during a low traffic time, like 5pm, most courses will give you the green light.

Foot Golf
Another fun twist on golf is the new and fast growing sport of soccer-golf or FOOT GOLF. Here's an article explaining the game, but it's basically playing golf with a soccer ball and your foot on a real course. I've yet to play, but it sounds amazing.

Stick Ball
My personal favorite. It's simply a twist on baseball, playing on a tennis court with a broom handle and tennis balls. Buy a wooden broom and unscrew the handle from the bottom bristles. Use it for the bat and grab 6 tennis balls. It's much harder than it looks to hit a tennis ball with a skinny broom handle. Watching people strike out is funny. Hit it over the tennis court fence for an automatic home-run. 3 strikes and you're out, pretty much the same rules as baseball except only 2 bases, the net and home plate. Trust me, its a winner. We played a ton last spring/summer. It became a YL tradition.

Hiking
Take a group hiking. Ask your local outdoor store for advice on a good trail.


KanJam
KanJam is a fun and simple frisbee game. Think 2 on 2 Ultimate Frisbee in the back alley with trash cans as your end zone. Set it up in the parking lot of the local late night hang out spot beside a set of corn hole boards. You and your high school friends can be entertained for hours. It's also a great pre-club hangout idea.

Build Your Own Frisbee Golf Course
Some friends and I recently mapped out a frisbee golf course around the local university. "Throw off the parking deck and hit the middle column on that building, par 4." It's free fun...unless you accidentally dent other people's cars with your frisbee.

Cards On A Roof
Find a mostly flat roof on a not so windy night. Grab a few high school friends, a blanket (or lawn chairs and a folding table) and some playing cards. Add a set of iPhone speakers and 6 pack of Stewart's Orange n Cream Soda. Bam. A night to remember.

Dizzy Shoe Game
Thanks to Mackenzie Olson for submitting this idea. Mackenzie writes, "Anytime we're at camp or when there is nothing around to do, I like to con kids into playing the Dizzy Shoe Game. But I don’t call it that… I only ask if they want to play a game. I make everyone put one of their shoes, or a stick, over their head and make them look at it (this is key to the game- the looking up part) and I make them spin around as fast as they can 15 times. Always screaming for them to spin faster. Once they get to 15 they are to throw the shoe and attempt to jump over it. If they truly looked up, and truly spun 15 times quickly, there is zero chance of succeeding and 100 percent chance of laughing very hard. A word of Caution: this is ALWAYS to be done on grass." Thanks Mackenzie for this fun idea. I've already used it multiple times when hanging out with my high school friends and it's been hilarious.

And of course...


You can always build an Eno village or
play some Spikeball!

If you have other ideas to add email us here.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

WyldLife Wednesday: Getting Kids To Camp


It’s not usually that hard to convince a middle school kid to go to WyldLife camp, but it can be more challenging to get their parents on board. At this age, parents are still the “keepers of the schedule” so it’s important to involve them when inviting kids to camp. 

Below are some things to consider as you sell WyldLife camp in your area.

  • Do “contact work” with parents. Talk to them at games, concerts, in the grocery store, etc.
  • Communicate with parents often. Mail a letter or camp flyer. Send emails. Post information on Facebook and your area’s website.
  • Give parents the dates early! As soon as you know your summer camp dates, get the word out.
  • Ask other parents (your parent support team, if you have one) to help you sell camp. Parents whose kids have gone to camp in the past lend great credibility to your camp sell.
  • Communicate that you have campership money or fundraisers to help them out financially if they need it.
  • Reassure parents that kids will be well-supervised and well taken care of at camp.
  • Host a parent’s club or a parent’s meeting to give parents the details.
  • Greet parents while they are dropping off and picking up kids from club or Campaigners. Give them a flier. Ask if they have questions about camp.

Parents of WyldLife kids can be your greatest asset in recruiting kids to go to camp. It’s crucial that you involve them and keep them informed.

Written by Emily Johnson, WyldLife staff in Bradenton, FL.

Monday, March 11, 2019

10 Easy No Prep Mixers

Need an easy, no prep mixer for club? Here are 10 of our favorites.

GROUP HUG
Ask everyone to walk randomly around the room. Wait a few seconds and call out a number. Everyone immediately forms a group hug of the number of people you called out. Groups that are unable to form a group hug with the right amount of people are out of the game. Repeat until you only have two people left and declare them the winners.

PYRAMID MIXER
Same as the group hug game, but instead of hugging, have them build pyramids.

SHUFFLE THE DECK
Similar to the mixers above, except you need a deck of cards. If you have more than 52 people, you'll need multiple decks. As people enter club, hand them a card. During the mixer, call out different combinations and they have to form a group such as a pair, three-of-a-kind, flush, straight, etc. It's fun to make two kids the Jokers, and great to give these roles to kids who could use some encouragement. Give them costumes and near the end of the game, call out combos that require a Joker. That way, groups will be fighting over wanting those kids in their group! 

PULL UP
Have everyone sit on the floor in a circle facing inward. Then choose an odd number of guys and gals to be in the middle. When the music starts the students in the middle must go to a member of the opposite gender, extend a hand and “pull them up.” They then sit in the open spot and that new student in the middle continues by pulling up a member of the opposite gender. This continues until the music stops and the gender with the most people in the middle loses. Play for as long or short as you would like and make sure to have hype music playing in the background. Here's a Spotify playlist you could use.

EGG, CHICKEN, DINOSAUR
This is a fun alternative to Rock, Paper, Scissors and is simple to pull off. Explain how to play Rock, Paper, Scissors to the group. Then explain that in this game you can only play with people who are the same as you: i.e. an egg, chicken or dinosaur. Eggs can only play eggs, chickens can only play against chickens and dinosaurs against a dinosaur. The kicker is they must walk or waddle in a manner that is befitting of an egg, chicken or dinosaur. Participants all start as eggs. They must find another egg and play a best 2 out of 3 round of rock, paper, scissors, and if they win they become a chicken. When a chicken wins they become a dinosaur. If they lose a round, they go back one level.

CROSS THE RIVER
Divide the room in half and have leaders stand in the middle like red rover to block kids from crossing. One leader yells "cross the river if..." and say some description like "if you are wearing red." You can use these mixer questions and also use "would you rather" questions.

CASH IN THE CROWD
Give 3 people $5 dollar bills. Everyone goes around shaking hands. The people with the cash pass off the $5 dollar bill to the tenth person who shakes hands with them. Keep this going until the music stops, whoever has it when the music stops gets to keep it.

CAT AND MOUSE 
Have students pair up and link arms at the elbows. Ask for two volunteers (or four depending on your club size) and explain that one will be the cat and one will be the mouse. The cat will be "it" and will chase the mouse. At any point during the chase the mouse can link up via their arm with a group and the person who is now on the outside is the new mouse. If the mouse is tagged then the roles are flipped and they are now the cat, and the cat is the mouse. There is no winner to this game, it just keeps going until you end it, but it's a great way to break a sweat.

TRASH CAN
Have everyone form a circle holding hands around a large trash can. If you have a big club, you might want to use multiple trash cans. The object is to get others to touch the trash can by pulling on their hands without touching it yourself. Anyone who makes contact with the trash can or unlocks hands is eliminated. Last one standing wins! Be careful not to pair freshmen gals with senior guys. This could be a good mixer to do based on your grade/gender, ex: freshmen gals surround trash can #1, etc...It can also be played outside with a kiddie pool full of something unpleasant (water, mud, jello, etc). Watch an example here.

CLOWN CAR
Have teams compete to see who can fit the most kids as possible into (not on) a single small car. Each team gets 1-minute. You could make it a battle between classes. Remove interior rearview mirror, if possible!

We found these games all over the web on places like Young Life Playbook and Youth Specialties. Check them out for other great games and mixer ideas.

Friday, March 8, 2019

How To Find A Mentor

My Young Life leader from twenty-plus years ago called me last week and it made my day. No matter how old we get, we'd love to have a Young Life leader-type person pursuing us and helping us grow in Christ. The problem is that once you get out of high school, it can feel confusing as to where you find those people.

Below are five practical ways to move towards a mentoring relationship.

A NEW FAMILY

If you want mentors who are already living in Christ-centered community and submitting to pastoral authority, the best place to find that is your local church. But you’re not going to get to know folks by just showing up for an hour on Sundays. Get plugged in. Sign up for a membership class. Join a community group. Go on a mission trip. Find a place to serve. It will take time, but eventually, it will feel less like “going to church” and more like “being in a big family,” and the best mentors are people who feel like spiritual aunts and uncles. You can also find some of these folks serving on your Young Life committee! 

CLARIFY BEFORE YOU IDENTIFY

In order to identify the best person to be your mentor, it’s helpful to clarify what you’re looking for. Do you want an older friend, a job coach, a Bible teacher, a prayer partner, a relationship counselor or something totally different? To help define your desire, answer this question: 

“What area(s) of my life do I most want to grow in?”  

When you know where you want to grow, you’ll be able to narrow down who can help you get there. For example, if you want help with your relationship with your boy/girlfriend, seek out someone who has the kind of marriage you would like to have someday. Don’t ask someone to give you a tour of a place they’ve never been.

FLIP THE SCRIPT

Most of the people you would want to mentor you likely already have full lives. Instead of asking them to drop everything to meet your needs, what if you flipped the script? If you want to spend time learning from someone, consider ways you could come alongside them in what they’re already doing. Join a ministry team they are already leading. Look for ways to serve them that could help free up some of their time. In turn, they might have more time to spend with you. It’s difficult for a person to turn down a “will you mentor me” request from a person who volunteers to mow their lawn, babysit their kids, or help them with sermon research. A teachable spirit is a mentor magnet.

TAKE A STEP

Before you ask someone to mentor you, get to know them. Go on some “first dates” before you enter into an “official relationship.” Instead of asking for a big commitment, start with a smaller step. Consider this request: 

Person’s name, I admire fill in the blank about you and would love to hear more about how the Lord grew that gift in you. Could we meet for coffee sometime?

BE THE ONE YOU’RE LOOKING FOR

If you're leading Young Life, you likely are already pursuing mentoring relationships with someone younger. If you haven't started a discipleship relationship with any students yet, ask your Area Director or Team Leader to help you take some steps towards that. The best way to grow in Christ is to give your life away. (Luke 9:24)

Written by Drew Hill.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Planning Ahead To Honor Graduating Seniors

Before you know it, the seniors in your Young Life club will be graduating. One special way to honor and celebrate them is with a "Blessing Service." Go ahead and get a date scheduled on the calendar now as the end of the semester will sneak up on you.

Blessing Service Options

There are a few different ways you could set-up this rite-of-passage event:
  • Area-wide ceremonies done with YL leaders speaking over senior leaders.
  • Co-ed ceremonies done with seniors from one high school where both male and female YL leaders share about each senior.
  • Campaigner groups where only dads are invited to share about their sons or moms to speak blessings over their daughters.
  • Campaigner groups where both parents are invited to speak over their son or daughter.
My personal preference is the last option, with a Campaigners group of only guys or only gals and both parents speaking over their child. In our culture, it's becoming less common for both parents to be in the picture, so this allows at least one parent to be there to speak.

Rule Of Thumb: 12 Max

If you want each senior to have a chance to be celebrated individually, you will need an average of 5 mins/senior. 12 seniors= 1 hour. Anything over 12 seniors will probably take too long and should be divided into a smaller group.

How To Give A Meaningful Blessing

If you choose to do something like this in your area, I would coach whoever is giving the blessings to prepare well by choosing a few specific things to share. I have watched ceremonies happen where one senior gets spoken about for 10 minutes with well prepared and meaningful blessings. The next senior gets only one minute of poorly prepared thoughts.

Help your leaders/parents prepare by giving them a loose structure:
  • A story that is either funny and memorable or meaningful. It can be about a shared experience with the speaker and senior or one that happened in the senior's life that describes their character.
  • 2-4 Character traits that you have seen exhibited in the senior's life (ex: honesty, courage, integrity, unselfishness, leadership, perseverance, etc...)
  • A Bible verse that describes their life or that is your prayer for them. A thoughtful prayer for them.
  • Specific things you are actually praying for God to do in and through them.
  • Hugs, hands on their shoulders, looking into their eyes as you speak are all a very valuable part of this experience.
Make sure to snap a pic of each parent and child while they're speaking over their child. Email the parents copies of the picture!

It's also a great chance to take a group photo of your seniors and give them an empty 8x10 frame with a mat they each can sign. Then, get photos printed the next day and pass them out at your last Campaigners group for folks to put in their frames. Makes a great dorm room decoration.

Below is an email I wrote to parents. You can also download it here. Feel free to adapt it and use it if that saves you time. -Drew

---
Parents of the NWYL Senior Guys,

It has been a high privilege to get to know your sons and be involved in their lives throughout high school. I love these guys so much and desire to send them off well as they become men and head into this next season of life.
I would love to invite you to a cookout and a “blessing service” for your sons on Sunday night, May 22nd, at 6pm at the Smith’s home, 1000 Rocky Rd. The Smiths are providing burgers and hot dogs and I’m asking everyone else to bring drinks, sides, or desserts. Would you please reply to this email and let me know how many in your family can come and what you would like to bring? Siblings are invited as well.
Working with teenagers over the last 20 years, and being both a father and a son, I can tell you how valuable a parent’s blessing can be and how hurtful it is when it’s absent. I still keep a note in my Bible from my dad that he wrote me many years ago, simply saying these 12 words “Drew, I’m thankful you’re my son. I’m proud of you. Love, Dad.”

After we eat I'd love to spend an hour honoring these senior guys. They don't know I'm asking you to do this so I'd like to keep it a surprise. I'm asking one or both parents of each guy to spend around 5 minutes sharing about your son. With 10 guys, at 5 minutes each, it will take us close to an hour for the sharing time, so please be aware of how long you’re speaking, it’s easy to get long winded when sharing a story. On the other hand, don’t rush. This is a valuable time and it’s important for your child to feel the weight of this moment.
When you share, I would love for you to do 2 things:


  1. Tell them how proud you are of them and how much you love them.
    • Share character traits you've seen him exhibit (honesty, courage, integrity, unselfishness, leadership, perseverance, etc...).
    • Feel free to share a brief story about how you’ve seen those traits be a blessing to you and to others.
  2. Speak vision over them about their future.
    • Recognize how God has uniquely gifted them.
    • Share how you’ve seen them grow and mature.
    • Share who you envision them becoming in the future.
    • If you want to pick a Bible verse to read or a specific prayer you are praying over them, that's great as well.
    • The principle of “speaking vision” is for your son to hear you say ‘I love you, I believe in you, and I’m in this with you.
I know this may be difficult for some for a number of reasons. If you’ve never had a blessing from your parents, it is sometimes difficult to give it to another. You may feel regret, wishing you had more time with your son as they’re about to leave home. You may feel too timid to do this in public in front of other parents. Whatever the case, I promise you it is worth it to take the risk and bless your son. Your words hold immeasurable power!

You may even want to write out your words to read. This could be an emotional time, so having it written down will help you say all you want to say and it will also preserve it for them in the future.

If you are unable to be present, but your son is able to come, would you write down a blessing and email it to me so I can read it over him on Sunday night. You could also perhaps send a grandfather, a close uncle, or close family friend to step in on your behalf.

When you share about your son, I suggest putting your hands on their shoulders and looking them in the eye as you speak to them and not just about them.

Instead of saying, “John has always had a kind heart for people who need a friend.” Look at John and say “My son, you have always had a kind heart for people who need a friend.”

I really believe this will be such a special night that they’ll remember forever. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. Would you email me back by Thursday at noon and let me know how many in your family can come and what food you can bring?

In 1 Thessalonians 2:8, the apostle Paul writes, “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our very lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.” Your sons have become so dear to me and I’m thankful for the blessing it’s been to share life with them for these 4 years.

Drew Hill


If you’d like to read more about this concept of giving a blessing, I’ve attached a chapter from the book “The Blessing” by John Trent and Gary Smalley.

If you have another creative way to celebrate this rite of passage with seniors, email me here and I'll add it to the post.

Special thanks to Ken Tankersly for instilling in me a value to celebrate people well. And another shoutout to David Page for passing along his insights on this blessing service tradition he's done for years.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Compass: A Life Changing Summer Discipleship Experience for High Schoolers

Do you have a student in your group that’s ready for the next step in their faith? Compass is a month-long adventure that trains students to live their calling as a disciple of Christ. Compass students spend two weeks backpacking through the Adirondack mountains of upstate New York and studying theology with professors at Gordon College. Then they take the lessons they’ve learned to serve children and families with the Root Cellar in Portland, Maine or the Salvation Army in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Compass is a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the student-leader you know is ready to be challenged. They will be pushed to step outside their comfort zone, whether that’s carrying a 50-lb. backpack up a mountain, wrestling with what it means for the Bible to be inerrant, or preparing a summer camp while fighting jet-lag. Through adventure, intense discipleship, and cross-cultural service, Compass equips students to return to their local congregations and schools with a fresh vision of Christianity and their own role in God’s kingdom.

Most students participate in Compass following their junior year, but sophomore and senior applicants are also considered. Compass participants are nominated by their pastors, club leaders, or teachers. In order to apply, students must also seek a mentor who will commit to mentoring them for three years following the completion of the summer program. The application deadline is March 31st. Now is the time to begin talking to students you think may be interested.

Compass partners with Young Life leaders across the country to identify, mentor, and equip students to be servant-leaders who have a personal and deep faith in Christ. Since 2001, Compass has hosted over 470 students from 3 countries and 30 states. Many of these alumni are now pastors, teachers, administrators, missionaries, and Young Life staff.

Learn more about Compass on their website and recommend a student for the program with their online form. The 2019 Compass Program is from June 26- July 25. Compass students fundraise to support their trip. When you tell your students about Compass, make sure you send students the highlight video from our website.