Thursday, July 30, 2015

Young Life College: Club Talks

This week we're sharing 'best practices' for YL College Club. Today the focus is on club talks. Find more resources for Young Life College here.


Different areas use different approaches when it comes to speakers. Some areas only use volunteer leaders on the YL College team while other areas invite outside speakers. Either way, go ahead at the beginning of the semester and make the speaker schedule and assign talk topics or scripture.

  • Other YL Staff/leaders in the area
  • Community leaders
    • Friends from church
    • Career leaders
    • Professors
    • Other ministry leaders (Cru, IV, RUF)
    • Pastors
    • Authors
  • Student leaders
    • Students sharing life stories/testimonies
    • YL Director meets with each of them to help them think through/write out their talk.
    • Sometimes in an interview format
    • Just during the 2nd semester

Club Topics

YL areas do club talks in a variety of ways. Here are some ideas below.

Gospel Progression
  • Intro
  • Person of Christ
  • Need
  • Sin
  • Cross
  • Resurrection/Appropriation

Other areas have picked one of the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) and talked through it over a semester.


Some areas have found that shorter 3-week series are attractive to college students and others pick a theme for the whole semester. Here are some series ideas others shared with us:
  • 'The Broken World' (giving 3 talks in a row about sin and our need for Christ)
  • Roadblocks (doubt and apologetics)
  • The Ridiculous Sayings of Jesus
  • Sex, Dating, Relationships (in Feb, the month of Love and before spring break)
  • Essentials of the Christian Faith
  • How to follow Jesus
  • Living in community
  • Vision for your life
  • Prepping for life after college
  • The Beatitudes (called it "#waytobe")

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Young Life College: Club Music

This week we're sharing 'best practices' for YL College Club. Today the focus is on music.  Having music can make or break the mood you want to set for club and is a great way to engage your audience. What is the best way to engage a college student? We suggest three potential directions.

Coffee Shop Vibe

  • An acoustic set of one or two club songs, then another set of a couple deeper worship tunes.
  • Less of a high school vibe and more of a collegiate feel to the music. This affects the songs we choose and the style in which we play them.
For The Party Crowd
  • We play mostly secular songs: (Home, Washed by the Water, Roar, Fix You) 
  • The most success we've had is when we pick a song that has a "rave" type feel in it (Wake Me Up by Avicci) and turn the lights out and throw glow sticks during that part.
  • Being interactive with dance parties with strobe lights during the break down of 'Wake Me Up' for example, having someone come up and crush a rap verse of a song (almost a performance just for that verse but everyone is still singing along).
  • Fast paced and mash-ups
  • Every time we play a throwback classic everyone loves it (Don't stop believing, Sweet Caroline, etc.)
Full-On Worship
  • Some college clubs have a full band and do worship music as the only music at club.
  • Some just have more secular worship at club but do specific nights of just worship music.

Pick the “Right Leader” and Band

  • Leaders that actually know how to play or sing. 
  • Leaders with lots of energy that have fun leading
  • Leaders that practice ahead of time
  • Leaders more focused on leading than performing

Student Ownership

  • If you can, have an student music team, but bring it a trained person to help them.
  • Sometimes its better to keep it simple with just one guitar and other clubs can add multiple instruments, it just makes having a practice time essential.
  • More thoughts on starting a YL band here

Maybe you feel like music isn’t working for you:

  • Some clubs shared that they didn't do music at club because lack of critical mass hindered singing.
  • Some folks tried just singing at special events like bonfires
  • Some clubs do special music request nights and don't do it weekly.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Young Life College: Mixers

Thanks to a host of Young Life College folks who have shared best practices for doing Young Life with college students. We're excited to share with you some club specific ones over this week and more 'best practices' on Thursdays in the fall. We've also started a 'YL College' page, so feel free to submit ideas!

When we asked our College Life Area Directors what works for them, we found a few more popular themes. Firstly, what’s the real purpose of a mixer? For people to get to know each other! So, we found it important to start with 'get to know you' mixers.'

Get-To-Know-You Mixers

  • Speed dating
  • Over the mountain
  • Choose a side of the room (coke or pepsi, mountains or beach, etc.)
  • Mixers that really allow kids to "get to know each other."  
  • Break into groups of 3/4/5 and answer a question, then mix groups
  • Move one seat to the right if...
  • 2 circles ...guys on inside/girls on outside.

Musical Mixers

  • Musical food pass
  • Dance to the upbeat music, then switch to slow song and everyone slow dances with the person they are across from for 10-15 sec. Have a cheesy question they have to ask their dance partner.
  • Sing off
  • Usually any mixer that involves everyone singing. We usually play the game where you get into corners and everyone has to sing a song by a certain artists
    • Butt charades
    • Celebrity pairs
    • 'Captain on deck'
    • Relays (orange/hula hoop pass)
    • Simon Says
    • Pass the apple under the chin down the row,
    • Upfront scavenger hunt
    • Birdie on a perch
    • Finger Jousting
    • This or That
    • Rock, Paper, Scissors Variants
    • Rock, Paper, Scissors Snake (crawl through the legs of the winner and add to their snake)
    • Gorilla, Man, Gun (or Karate, Gun, Gorilla)
    • Knight Rider, Damsel

What if your Club is bigger?

One staff person said, "We have not done many mixers because it is hard to do with so many people (150)." College students seem to like to break up into smaller groups and play "mafia" type games where there is a secret killer that goes around and if they shake someone's hand a certain way that person has to die.

What if your Club is smaller? 

Don’t be afraid to keep it laid back and relational. We do a group mixer every week! Game night, pumpkin carving, bonfires, trivia night, etc...We do TONS of food every week. Expensive but the way to their hearts!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Young Life College: Club Games

Thanks to Stephanie Farmer and a host of other Young Life College folks, we're excited to share with you some 'YL College best practices' over this next week and on Thursdays in the fall.

Club Games

All of this week we'll focus on different aspects of doing club for college students. Let’s get the ball rolling with games that have proven to be crowd-pleasers for college-aged folks. When we looked at the “best practices” we collected, we saw a few themes pop out.

Spouse Quest

Appeal to their increased desire to complete their “Spouse Quest”. Either do a little match-making or pit the genders against each other and watch the sparks fly.

  • Girls wrestle for guys (musical chairs with knees)
  • Battle of the sexes- Questions for girls about guys & questions for guys about girl
  • Apple on string (couples)
  • Also dating games are a lot of fun. Speed dating
  • Win a date with a willing leader
  • Pictionary or Trivia

Get Competitive

  • TRIVIA – *Don’t miss this one!!* By far, Trivia nights were the most popular game for college students.
  • Sleeping bag wrestling
  • Any competitive "giveaway" game works!
  • Dance elimination
  • Blindfolded musical chairs on yoga/exercise balls
  • Egg roulette (Like Jimmy Fallon)
  • Goldfish/snail obstacle course
  • For Christmas club we had teams of 2 decorate people as "Christmas trees" and that was a hit.
  • Use the whole room:
    • Christmas carol game- teams of 4 go round until repeat a song
  • Other College Favorites
    • Reverse Charades
    • Moo Game
    • Heads up - you put the words on the screen and the crowd acts it out to people on stage

Have a Smaller Club?

Some of you may be wondering, “Well, our Club is kind of small. What games would I do then?” Our respondents reported that whole group games are usually the most successful. Games that don't need a lot of explanation and don't have a ton of steps. Examples: the Family Game, fishbowl, pass the food, etc.

What Doesn’t Work With College Students?

Messy games! I know, we all need a second to mourn this great loss (moment of silence)… But we can roll with the punches! Our students are feeling more sophisticated and classy now that they are in college. Your students may have lost their attraction to the undignified glory that embodies a messy game. Who wants to look foolish with their future bae across the room anyway?

And your club may have this same too-cool-for-school attitude beyond just messy games. There have been some college areas that report they don’t do ANY games at all (“They wouldn't come back if we did.”). Can’t win ‘em all with games!

More Mixer Type Games 
  • Marshmallow baseball
  • Name that tune
  • Hamburger stacking
  • Bingo mixer
  • Sit down if

Saturday, July 25, 2015

One Thing I Wish I'd Done

This morning I was looking for some notes from a podcast I'd listened to last year. I wanted to use a specific illustration from the sermon in a talk I'm giving next week. I couldn't remember all the details or where I'd first heard it, but I knew I'd written them down somewhere. They had to be one of seven places:
  • A little red journal I keep in my car to jot down notes while driving
  • The 'Notes' app on my iPhone
  • The 'Evernote' app on my iPhone
  • In Dropbox
  • In Google Drive
  • On a Word Doc on my hard drive
  • On a scrap piece of paper in my 'to file pile' on my desk
After a frustrating search, I came up empty handed. 

I searched my hard drive, Evernote, Google Drive, Dropbox, etc... and had all kinds of 'tags' that made it quite confusing:
  • YL talk illustrations
  • Young Life talk illustrations
  • Young Life talks
  • YL talks
  • Talk illustrations
  • etc...
It became quite obvious that my organizational system is in major disarray. 

Over the last two decades of being a YL leader I've taken a ton of notes.
  • YL talks I've heard
  • YL talks I've given
  • New staff training
  • Seminary classes
  • Sermons I've heard
  • Podcasts I've heard
  • Movie illustrations 
  • Campaigners notes
  • Notes from leadership
  • Bible Studies
But my notes aren't super helpful to me now because they're not organized and hard to locate. 

One thing I wish I'd done differently is to start a strict way of filing notes earlier on in ministry. It would be a gift to me now and would not have taken that much more time along the way. I didn't realize in college that I would be using those notes from my Area Director's talk at leadership twenty years later. 

If you're starting off in ministry, take notes now and file them systematically. If you're not an organized person, bribe one of your 'type A' friends to help you get organized. It will be worth it in the long run.

The Way I Store Notes Now
  • I use the 'Notes' app on my iPhone to jot down quick notes I don't anticipate needing again down the road. If I do decide to save them, I open up the 'Notes' app on my MacBoook or phone and copy and paste them into Evernote. 
  • I use the Evernote app on both my phone and laptop (they sync seamlessly) to keep anything I might use again. I have different folders within Evernote such as 'YL club game ideas,' 'YL talk illustrations,' 'Campaigners ideas,' etc...  but what really makes Evernote work for me are the 'tags.'  On each note you have you can tag it with different categories. That helps a ton when searching for a note down the road. Read more here on how to organize Evernote.  Evernote is also super helpful because if you're reading an article (or any webpage) you want to save, you can click a button on your phone or computer and it will file that article into the Evernote category of your choice. 
  • If you're an Apple fan, the new iCloud makes it super easy to have all of your docs on all of your devices. That way, if you've typed something on your desktop, you can still pull it up on your phone when you're away from home. 
If you have other ways you've found to organize your notes, please comment below or email us here and we'll add them to the post.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Young Life Gives Back

Give Back Bracelets - Only at the Young Life Store in July!

Purchase these unique 'Give Back bracelets' designed exclusively for Young Life by Doxahology. $10 from each purchase gives back to the newly formed Expeditions Every Kid Scholarship Fund, helping under-resourced kids become world changers.

Get the Conversation Started!
Each Give Back bracelet is stamped with the phrase, "Love Everyone. Everywhere. Always.” which expresses the heartbeat of the Expeditions' mission to inspire kids and adults to serve God and the incredible Young Life family around the globe. 

Click here to learn more about serving with YL Expeditions in 2016.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Happy Birthday Jim Rayburn

Today is the birthday of the founder of Young Life, Jim Rayburn Jr. Jim was born in Iowa on July 21, 1909 and lived a short 61 years. The lives he touched and still continues to impact are countless.

One of the most life changing books I've ever read is Jim Rayburn's biography, "Dance, Children, Dance." It was written by Jim's son, Jim Rayburn III, and you can purchase it here.

Another must read for all Young Life leaders is "The Diaries of Jim Rayburn," compiled by Kit Sublett. You can buy it from the site above or from Kit here.

Jim Rayburn III has also provided a great gift to us leaders by offering free downloads of eight of Jim's Young Life talks given at Frontier Ranch between 1959-1962. You can download them here by right clicking on each link and selecting "Save As."

Happy Birthday Jim Rayburn!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Tim Keller's Advice For Helping Teens Grow In Their Faith

When Tim Keller was asked his best advice for helping teenagers grow in their faith, this was his answer:

"Teenagers have more information about God than they have experience of him. Get them in places where they have to rely on God."

It got me thinking. Where are the places where my high school friends have to rely on God? How do we as Young Life leaders help get them there?

4 Ways We Invite Our Teenage Friends To Rely On God

Invite Them Into Adventure

We strategically fill our camps with high-adventure activities for this very reason.

The high ropes course.
The Quantum Leap pole.
Riding a 1000 pound horse.
Fill in the _______.

Risk requires faith.

What adventure will you lead your friends into this year?

Will you start a clothing line to feed the poor?
Will you work together to end slavery?
Will your Campaigners group give up soda for a year to bring clean water to a village?
Will you go overseas with YL Expeditions?

Invite Them Into Silence

In a world where we're more socially 'connected' than ever before, it's easy to never be 'alone.' To never experience 'silence.' We can always have someone to talk to, even if its an X-box Live opponent we've never met. Our loneliness is masked by relationships as shallow as our iPhone screens. Our mood is dependent upon our online approval rating. Let's invite our middle and high school friends into intentional times of silence and solitude, turning off our phones, but not just for a week at camp.

What if your Campaigners group this semester started with phones turned off and in a basket. What if it ended with 20 minutes of silence? Torture? A declining Campaigners attendance? Maybe. But it's always a highlight at camp. Could it happen on a weekly basis?

Could turning off our dependence on the world's approval give us enough silence to hear what our Heavenly Father thinks of us?

Invite Them Out Of Comfort

Fifteen years ago we spent our college spring break working at Pico Escondido YL camp in the Dominican Republic. I stayed with a family in a shanty that would be deemed unfit for habitation in America. They had one bed and insisted I sleep there while they made pallets on the floor. I still remember the light in their eyes.

They did not depend upon earthly possessions.
They did not depend upon their health.
They found joy in relying upon Christ alone.

There are people in our city who have no homes.
There are refugee families who have no friends.
There are elderly men and women who never have visitors.
There are sick people who have no hope of a cure.

Religion that is pure and genuine in the sight of God the Father will show itself by such things as visiting orphans and widows in their distress. James 1:27 (Phillips)

Let's invite our friends out of their comfort zones...
and into relationships with people whom have nothing else to depend upon.

Invite Them Into Prayer

Prayer is the ultimate act of reliance upon God. It's admitting weakness. It's saying, "God, I can't, but you can."

What would happen if you gathered a few of your high school friends next week just to pray? What if you met at the school with no other agenda than to pray for God to move? What if it became a weekly sacrifice, to get up early on Fridays, just to pray? I can't think of a more intentional way to invite them to 'rely on God.'

What God's Word Says About Relying On Him

John 6:63
1 Peter 5:7
Jeremiah 17:5-9
Proverbs 3:5-6
Philippians 4:19
Jeremiah 33:3

What would you add? How else can we invite our teenage friends into places that force them to rely on God?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

WyldLife Wednesday: Camp Follow-Up

You’ve prayed, raised money, talked to parents, sent packing lists and soon you’re 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.