Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Instead of a Parent Meeting...

I'm guessing you have the same problem we do.

Parents are busy and it's difficult to get them to show up to a "parent meeting" at the beginning of a new school year. We have important information we want to communicate with them about Young Life. We want to explain club and camp and introduce them to leaders, but the problem is that parents aren't showing up to the meetings.

What if, instead of having a "Parent Meeting," we offered something of even greater value as a gift to parents. If you were a parent of a teenager, which of the three meetings below would you come to?

  1. Young Life Parent Information Meeting.
  2. How To Help Your High Schooler Get Into College.
  3. How To Handle Technology and Social Media- A Seminar to Help Parents Living in a World of Screens.

What if, instead of just having a "YL Parent Mtg," we offered a 2-hour discussion on the topics of "getting into college" or "technology and social media." When we scratch where they're itching, they're much more likely to show up. 

We could still give out the same info about Young Life and still introduce the leaders, but the focus of the meeting wouldn't be on "our thing," but it would be about "their thing."

How To Help Your High Schooler Get Into College

If you went this route, you could invite an expert or two to come in and share. Connect with the guidance counselor from the high school or an admissions counselor from a local college. Do your research ahead of time. Have college leaders share about their own experience in high school and what motivated them. Offer "college tours" and have some dates set where leaders offer to take kids and tour different colleges in the fall. A big way to motivate kids to study is to actually take them to a college and show them what their future could look like. Make sure it's helpful information that you're providing. Also, listen to parents and find out ways that you can support and encourage them as well as their kids. 

How To Handle Technology and Social Media- A Seminar to Help Parents Living in a World of Screens

This is such a tough topic for parents who want to protect their children, but also feel overwhelmed by a world of screens that they often don't understand. If you go this route, below are a few resources I recommend reading/watching to help you plan your parent training time. 

Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?

Simon Sinek on Millenials in the Workplace

What Have I Created?

The Tech-Wise Family

If you end up going a different route with your parent meetings, let us know how it went! We'd love to also add your suggestions into this post. Email us here

Monday, August 21, 2017

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, it's 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.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Two Ways to Get in Shape While Starting a Campaigners Group This Fall

If you're hoping to start a Campaigners group this fall, below are two ideas to help kickstart a group.

For the Ladies

This summer, one of our leaders got the brilliant idea to teach a free Zumba class on Tuesdays. We moved most of the furniture out of our basement and the girls even invited our 7-year old to dance with them. It was one of the highlights of Honey's summer.

After the dancing, the ladies had "cabin time" and it opened the door for real conversations about body image. It was a big win!

It's easier to invite girls to a workout class than to a Bible study.

Here are some potential ways to make it work:
  • Find a friend who would volunteer to teach a class for you.
  • If you don't know any teachers, hire someone from a local gym and ask each girl that comes to bring a $2 to help cover the cost.
  • There are plenty of online videos you could use as well.
  • Find a room to dance at a local church, the YL office, or a YL Committee family's home.
  • Start it as an All-City tradition at the YL office on Saturday mornings.
  • Pick the night you want to do Campaigners and do workout classes during that same time slot for August and September. After fall camp, transition that time from just dancing to adding some "cabin time."

For The Fellas

A group of my friends have recently started doing F3 (Fitness + Fellowship + Faith), a free morning workout gathering in our city, made up of mostly middle age guys. The draw for these guys is that it creates a place of community where they can get in better shape physically while also opening a door to talk about faith.

The same principles apply to high school guys. Many of our teenage friends would love to get in better shape physically and all of them desire deeper community.

This summer I asked one of my Campaigner guys to teach me how to work out. His biceps are about the size of my waist, so I figured he knew a little more than me. It was incredible contact work time and allowed us to have deep conversation while we watched ourselves flexing in the mirror.

What if instead of biscuits at Bojangles, you started a fall Campaigners tradition of exercising together one morning a week? There's something about sweating together that's uniquely bonding. You could model it after F3 and have different guys in the group be responsible for leading the workouts. After they've led a workout, they might also be more confident to lead a Campaigners discussion time.

If you've had any success with similar events in your area, please email me with any pointers and I'll add them to the post. Thanks! -Drew


Creating a Campaigners Group in 5 Months by Todd Pinkston

You've probably already seen this Dove Commerical, but it's a great discussion starter regarding beauty and body image.

100 Campaigner Questions to Help Kids Open Up

Monday, August 14, 2017

Fame Name Game

Need a fun up-front game for club? I saw an article in USA Today last week that listed the actual names of celebrities. I thought it'd be fun to turn it into a game and have kids come on stage and compete to guess the real names of famous people. 

There are 15 questions (14 & a tie-breaker), so you could do teams of 4 and each kid gets to go 3 or 4 times as the line rotates. Two other kids could hold pots on their heads and serve as buzzers and the teams use metal spoons to "buzz in."

Download the game below:



Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Most Important Text Message You'll Send This August

Many of our friends recently graduated high school and are starting college this month. What happens during those first weeks of college will significantly influence, not only their next four years, but the entire direction of their lives.

Andy Stanley says "Direction, not intention, determines destination." He illustrates, "If you're going north on I-85, you're not going to end up in Florida."

We can have conversations with our friends about their hopes and goals for college, but those good intentions can easily be forgotten once the lures of college begin to entice. Let's help them be intentional with their intentions.

If they desire college to be an experience leading them into deeper intimacy with God, we can help them go that direction. One practical way to do that is by sending a text messages or making a short phone call.

Odds are, there is an active Young Life ministry in the town where your friends are going to college. If so, it's worth it to spend the time to look up the phone number of the YL staff in that area. One easy way to find the number is by using the online Young Life locator. Text the YL staff the phone numbers of your friends going to that college. Also, text your freshmen friends the phone numbers of the YL staff.

If there is not Young Life at that college, there most certainly are other campus ministries and healthy churches around the area. Spend some time on Google and do some research alongside your recently graduated friend. By making one simple phone call, you may help connect them with someone who can significantly impact their journey after Jesus.

Even Jesus sent out his disciples in pairs. We're not meant to do this alone. Let's work hard at helping our friends find someone to walk alongside them. It just might be the most important phone call you make this August.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Worth The Chase

Soon after we first became parents, Natalie and I went to see a low-budget movie on the recommendation of a friend. The opening scene had us holding our breath. 

The main character, Nathan, pulls up to a gas station driving a top-of-the-line, extended cab, pickup truck. He fills up his tank and cranks the engine to leave. Right before jumping back in the truck, at the last minute, he decides to clean the bugs off his windshield. There’s no water in the bucket. He grabs the squeegee and walks over to the next pump to get it wet. When he turns around, he sees a car thief hijacking his truck and screeching away.

Like a madman, Nathan leaps onto his truck, hanging on to the steering wheel through the open driver’s side window. The thief pulls on Nathan’s arm, trying to pry it off the steering wheel, all while swerving and speeding down a busy road. In a moment of climax, Nathan is tossed to the ground just as the hijacker smashes the truck into a tree. For a moment, everything is still. 

The thief quickly wakes up after the crash and escapes on foot while Nathan gradually begins to move. Traffic is stopped. Cars pull over. Bystanders call 911. Nathan attempts to crawl toward the vehicle and a concerned woman begs, “Sir, just lay still, don’t worry about the car.” Nathan pulls himself up and firmly responds, “I’m not worried about the car.” 

He grabs the handle of the back door of the extended cab. As it swings open, we see his newborn son, screaming in fear, unharmed in his car seat. Only two minutes into the movie, at the sound of the baby’s tears, waterworks started flowing in the theater. Now everything made sense. 

Seconds earlier I was thinking, “It’s just a truck, it’s not worth dying over. Let it go, bro!” But seeing that little baby boy, so innocent, so scared - there was absolutely no question that he was worth the chase. 

We live in a world that is hijacking the innocence of teenagers.Their hearts are constantly being deceived and distracted. While the culture continues to make it more and more difficult to share the Gospel with teenagers, that’s no excuse to just stand there at the pump and watch the truck pull away. There’s precious cargo in the back and it’s worth the chase.

As we head out to the schools this fall, we go remembering that we too are the ones our Father is chasing. He is the Hound of Heaven and we love, only because He first loved us.

Below is a piece written years ago by my neighbor, Bill Goans, when he was on the Young Life staff. I can't think of anything much better to tape to your dashboard at the beginning of this new school year.

My Commitment 

As long as high school kids mill around at ball games looking for love in all the wrong places... 

As long as they desperately seek an identity based on the opinions of friends and reputation...

As long as kids limp through the stands broken by family strife, enslaved by drugs, alcohol, and sex...

I want to be found- not in the adult section where it is respectable and controlled...

but right in the middle...where passions, vulgar and profane, blurt out obscenity...

Where raucous and reckless facades hide wounded hearts filled with torment and fear...

Where the price tags have been changed and darkness confuses...

Right in the middle where God has positioned me to shine forth His grace, His Hope, His love and His truth.

As long as there is an enemy who can convince his victims that tomorrow doesn't matter, that harm will not find them, that chains are like jewelry and cool is free...

As long as his lies leave character, soul, and life in ruins- when thrill goes ill and fun turns fatal...

As long as terminal is only a passage word to an eternity of one's own choosing...

As long as God has rendered him a defeated foe using the weakest of us to shine a light that pierces the darkest places, that brings rescue to the lost...

As long as the darkness is blasted away by the light of the world- that Light that lives within all who know, follow, and love Him...

As long as there is such darkness...

I'll man my post right in the middle of all that chaos, holding my position until he calls another play, and I steal home.

As long as we stand in such an important place, we must not forget what it means to be salt and light in this tasteless and dark generation.

Download a printable PDF here. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Leaving a Legacy: How To Run A YL Senior Meeting

As a new school year begins, one of the best ways to create momentum is with a "Seniors Only" gathering.

In the past, it's worked well 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're 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 2020 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 and reveal the new YL shirts for your school. 

*Special thanks to Brian Summerall for this idea.

Friday, July 28, 2017

100 Dance Party Moves For Your Young Life Club

I recently saw this video and thought it could be used in a few different ways with Young Life. 

  • Have it playing as kids enter club with a couple folks on stage mimicking the dance moves
  • Play it at Campaigners the week before you have an 80's Dance Party at club to get kids ready for the dance
  • Hold a pre-prom dance lessons event where skit characters team some of these dance moves. Don't actually use the video above, but use the audio from it and have live folks doing the dance instructions.
  • Play the first minute of the video and then turn it into a game. You could bring a couple kids on stage to compete using different dance moves, in much the same way the game Encore is played with songs using a specific word. They would just go back and forth with different dance moves until someone repeated the same move. Include the rule that they can't do a move if the move doesn't have a name.
  • You could also use it as a mixer and do the same game just using groups instead of individuals.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

WyldLife Wednesday: Camp Followup

You prayed, raised money, talked to parents, sent packing lists and this summer you headed to WyldLife camp with your middle school friends. Camp – the place where God can and does “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” (Ephesians 3:20) 

But what happens when you get home from camp? Kids need to see that you didn’t just love and pursue them to get them to camp. Whether your kids decide to follow Jesus at camp or not, they need to know you still love them and want to spend time with them.

We asked some of our WyldLife experts what camp follow-up looks like with middle school kids:

Host a camp reunion within a day or two of coming home.

Set the dates and locations for the reunion and other follow-ups before you go to camp. Give parents a flier with the details when they drop their kids off and pick them up. Send a reminder email to parents and post the reunion on Instagram for kids. It is important that both parents and kids have the information.

Don’t forget cabin time.

Serve pizza, watch camp videos, jump in the pool and play games at the reunion, but set aside 20 minutes for cabin time. Share a short lesson and then split into groups to talk about it. Or consider giving kids 10 minutes alone to read a Scripture passage before meeting with their cabins to discuss.

Get together once a week.

Transportation and schedules can make daily camp follow-up difficult. Instead, gather weekly with your campers. The time can include snacks and an activity before a short lesson and cabin time. Middle school kids have short attention spans so the games and activities are a must.

Spend time with kids.

If a weekly gathering isn’t a good option, find other ways to continue building relationships with kids from your cabin. Schedule time with kids to grab lunch, play Frisbee or sit by the pool.

Invite kids to church.

If kids don’t already attend church, invite them to come with you. Be sensitive to middle school kids who already go to church with their families. Encourage them to go and hear things differently.

Spend time with new believers.

Middle school kids can and will make decisions to follow Christ, and they need your help as they start that journey at home. Because they are concrete thinkers, a “quiet time” may be difficult to grasp. Give kids an age-appropriate devotional book with Scripture to read and questions to answer.

Get parents involved.

Ask parents to find locations for your camp follow-up, bring snacks or drive carpool. If their kids had a great week at camp, parents may be excited about making sure WyldLife happens in the summer and next fall.

There may be no time of year when kids are more excited about WyldLife and Jesus. Don’t miss the opportunity to help them experience the community and life they found at camp back at home. Good camp follow-up can lead to great ministry in the fall.

Written by Julie Clapp.