Wednesday, April 1, 2020

A Letter to Leaders Whose Kids Didn’t Show Up to Online Club

They didn't show up. They ignored your text. They ghosted your Zoom Club. They didn't tune in to Instagram Live.

It hurts. It's confusing. But it does not define your success in the relationships you have been building over the past years or months.

To the leaders and staff that see other leader's Instagrams and Zoom call screenshots and see the dozens of kids who showed up to their online event, it’s okay for you to acknowledge any emotion you felt afterward… I know mine was jealousy. 

My leaders and I want our teenage friends in Brooklyn to experience that screen-filled Zoom call too. But right now they can't. Because of limited access to computers and internet... because of the trauma they are having to navigate in the silence of things...because their basic needs aren't being met right now.

And it just feels unjust.

I know it's frustrating. When the whole world feels like it is stuck in a state of fear and despair...when you’re trying to “show up” online to bring the hope and peace only Jesus can bring... and when you send the club invites and the "check-in in texts" and all you get back are read receipts. 

Do not give up. 

And in your frustration, do not miss out on listening to the Holy Spirit. 

I pray that we would not “persevere” because we are listening to the lies of the enemy as he uses his cunning tactics to distract us into busyness. I pray that we would rest in the truth the Lord is trying to tell us, as leaders, during this season. During this pandemic, we must lead and serve from an overflowing place of grace and truth. If we spend our days hustling for our worth, a worth based on lies and comparisons, we will end up exhausted and spent.

I know how tempting it is to continue to run hard in a season of tragedy and panic. As a staff person, I did that this past weekend. I forgot to listen to the sweet truth of the Spirit and as we “had club” online and sat there waiting...and ZERO kids showed up. 

Slowly the lies became louder and louder. 

“What have you been doing all year?” 

“Have the relationships you have built meant anything?” 

“This was a dumb idea!”

What are the lies that you are hearing right now?

What are the truths you need to remain rooted in before running back into battle? 

The Lord is calling us to be present in the lives of teens...
but first, he is calling us to be aware of His presence.

Do not give up. The Holy Spirit is going to lead us. We might not get our Zoom club or Insta-Campaigners right the first few times, but remember, we are not functioning on our timing but on the Lord’s, and His ways are always perfect..and He is always faithful.

Written by Hailey Porth. 

Hailey is an Area Director in Bedstuy Brooklyn, New York. Fun fact about Hailey: she wrote her first guest post on The Young Life Leader Blog eight years ago when she was a senior in high school! Read it here.

Do you have some encouragement or ideas to share with leaders during this time? If so, you can join thousands of other Young Life leaders and share your ideas in the Alongside: Young Life leaders Facebook group.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

91 for 91

During the Ebola outbreak in Africa in 2014 health officials were predicting over 1 million people would die in three months. The Lord led them to pray Psalm 91 every day for 91 days and invite others to the same. They did. The very same week they completed the 91 days, an article in the New York Times declared the Ebola virus outbreak finished in its epicenter Liberia - much to the amazement of scientists and health officials. YL Africa started to pray Psalm 91 for 91 days, and they are inviting the rest of the mission to join them to pray Psalm 91 as we face the coronavirus outbreak. 

Steve Larmey, YL Senior Vice President of International East (Africa/Middle East, India, Asia, Australia) shared some insights that he learned in his first week of praying Psalm 91: 

1. God is clearing the deck so that we can focus on the right things in the right way - Him, His glory and purposes, in the power of His Spirit. He’s swiftly sweeping away distractions and other options and making us look to and lean on Him. This is a good place.

2. Our hope and power is in worship and praise and intercession. Most of all our hope is in TIME with Him. Let’s worship and praise him often and spontaneously, alone and when we’re together. Let’s SING - sing His praises, sing thanksgiving, sing of who He is, sing of His goodness. Be in His presence. And let’s lift our arms up in prayer to Him. Like Moses on the mountain, our first work is to pray - pray for kids, pray for leaders and staff in our care, pray for families, pray for our mission leaders and Kingdom leaders across the globe, pray for cities, nations and the world.

3. Most of all: in this time of social distancing let’s CLOSE THE DISTANCE BETWEEN GOD AND US. Let’s reach out to Him, grab hold of Him, be closer to Him than ever before. And in this closeness to Jesus we will miraculously be bound and brought close to each other even in this time of isolation.
Be with Him. Listen to Him. Do what He says each moment of each day.

4.  “DO NOT WORRY ABOUT TOMORROW for tomorrow will worry about itself.” Things are moving so fast, our planning is only good for a few days at a time. Let’s “seek first his Kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to us as well.” Listen to the Lord each day. Do what He tells you each day. We will end up where He wants us. We are praying that the Lord would stop the COVID-19 virus in its tracks, and for courage and wisdom for Young Life leaders and the Church to be light and hope and joy in this darkness.

You can download a printable plain text copy of Psalm 91 here and download the design pictured to the right here

It was created by Kelly Heritage and makes a great screensaver during these days.

Travis Feaver also shared a Spotify Playlist of Psalm 91 songs here.

Psalm 91

1- Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2- I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
3- Surely, he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.
4- He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5- You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,
6- nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7- A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.
8- You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.
9- If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10- no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.
11- For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;
12- they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13- You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14- “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15- He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.
16- With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

Monday, March 23, 2020

Two Truths & A Lie: A Virtual Club Game

Looking for a game for your Virtual Club? Check this one out from Robb Schreiber!

At our WyldLife Zoom Club we played the game "2 Truths and a Lie." 

We used the shared screen on Zoom. We had kids submit their answers through the chat feature on Zoom so we had a record of it. When the Zoom call was over we printed it out and tallied up the winner and announced over social media and will present prizes when Covid-19 is behind us. You could also mail the winner a prize!

I've created different templates for Capernaum, WyldLife, College, YL, and YoungLives (as pictured)!

Download the Slides

Written by Robb Schreiber. 

Robb Schreiber has led WyldLife for 20+ years. He is currently on WyldLife Staff in San Diego and the Southwest divisional WyldLife coordinator. Robb is a graduate of the University of Oregon. 

Thursday, March 19, 2020

8 Ways To Respond To COVID-19

Below you'll find 8 encouragements in a time of restrictions to retreat and create new rhythms for revival. 

Focus on relationships in your home. The opportunity to spend more time together with your spouse and kids or roommates can be a gift.

FaceTime and call relatives, neighbors and friends, especially those living alone. Young Life leaders have new opportunities to reach out to kids like never before. Deep conversations, prayer, and Bible study together is not restricted, and now more than ever is a time for kids to know they are seen and have safe places to share.

Go outside and play! Play in the backyard, ride bikes, walk. Enjoy fresh air and talk as you walk. Play games together.

Read alone, together and aloud. Now is the time to tackle those books you have been hoping to read. If you have a library card, download the Libby app and you can borrow e-books online.

Now is the time to eat in and enjoy the Table Experience with your family or roommates: simple, home-cooked food at the table and conversation. Have fun with table questions!

How is God using this time to reveal your idols? Where you place your hope? What you enjoy/trust in more than God?  Are you characterized by faith or fear? Place your hope in God alone and repent of where your heart has drifted to trust in other things.

God is in control. Thank God you are not in control or in charge of the number of your days. Do not worry about your life. God cares for you (Luke 12:28) and is reigning and sovereign over all the details of our lives. (Psalm 93:1; 1 Chronicles 29:11-12). He invites us to come to Him and He will give us rest. (Mt 11:28-30)

Pass on your trust in the Lord to your family, friends, those who need to be encouraged in their faith even as you know these truths for yourself. Pray Psalm 91 with your family and declare about the Lord: “He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; He is my God and I trust in Him.” Psalm 91:2

Written by Susan Crenshaw.  

Saturday, March 14, 2020

A Campaigners Guide: How To Draw Near To God

Trying to figure out what to do at Campaigners this week? Below is a 45-minute outline you can steal!

Campaigners: Habits

Show your Campaigners group this picture and ask them if they know what it is.

It's "the quietest place on earth!"

Pull up this article and have someone read it out loud:

Ask them why they think that being quiet is so terrifying and spend some time discussing it.

Then transition to looking at scripture and asking the question "What did being quiet look like for Jesus?"

I'd recommend putting up your phones after you show them the pic and read the article and using physical copies of the Bible instead of the YouVersion app. Part of our job is to teach kids how to read the Bible and it's much easier to do when we aren't distracted by the other apps on our phones. Ask your friends to bring their Bibles to Campaigners and bring extra Bibles if you can. Your YL office probably has some sitting around, but you can also buy them cheap at used bookstores and thrift stores. 

Ask 3 folks to look up the following verses and read them out loud. 

Matthew 14:13- When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.

Luke 6:12- It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God.

Mark 1:35- In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.

Ask them to look at what happens before and after those instances in scripture. 

In Matthew, Jesus had just learned that his cousin had been murdered. He likely runs to his Father for comfort in his sadness.

In Luke, Jesus spends the whole night in prayer, seeking wisdom from his Father before selecting the 12 disciples. 

In Mark, after Jesus prays, he encounters a demon-possessed man. Being with his Father is vital before encountering evil. 

Ask them if they're facing any situation where they need comfort, wisdom, or strength to face evil and temptation. Allow some time for them to answer.

Have someone else read Luke 5:16. "But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray."

Ask them if they have a regular rhythm of being silent and being alone with the Lord. 

Spend some time discussing some potential habits they could put into place in order to "practice the presence of God." If you've never read the classic little book from Brother Lawrence, it's worth far more than the $2.

A helpful way to give them some practical steps is to show some of these videos from Justin Earley

Justin wrote a super helpful book called The Common Rule. In it, he suggests 4 daily habits and 4 weekly habits. I've trimmed those down to 2 and 2 that you can see below.

Daily and Weekly Habits
Inspired by “The Common Rule” by Justin Earley

Daily Kneeling Prayer
Make this the first thing you do when you awake each morning and the last thing you do before you go to bed. To help make this easier, don’t charge your phone in your bedroom.

Morning: “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit- Remind me throughout this day of your amazing love for me, and help me, in turn, to love both you and others.”

Evening- “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit- Thank you for loving me today. May my body and my mind rest in your love. Amen.”

Daily Scripture before Screen
Before you look at a screen each day, spend 5 minutes reading the Bible. Consider reading the Gospel of Mark. There are 16 chapters. You could read about half a chapter each day and finish the book in a month. Circle one word, phrase, or verse each day and try to remember it throughout the day.

Weekly Spiritual Conversation
Take one-month and spend 30-minutes each week of that month in face-to-face or a phone conversation with a more mature follower of Jesus. Ask them to help teach you how to listen to the voice of God. This could be you, as their YL leader, but I'd encourage you to connect them with someone else in your church who could partner with you in discipling kids. 

Weekly Media Fast
Try and estimate how much time you spend each week on social media, watching streaming video, and playing video games- and consider cutting it in half for a month. For example, if you regularly watch an average of 10 hours/week of Netflix, you would limit yourself to 5 hours/week. You could also pick a day of the week to fast from media.

After you discuss those 4 habits, here are some questions for you to discuss.

Campaigners Questions

1. What is typically the first thing you do after you wake up and the last thing you do before you go to sleep? How do you think those habits affect you?

2. Which of the 4 habits above would be the hardest for you to do and why? Are you willing to try any of them for the next month? Do you want us to help hold you accountable to doing them?

3. What do you think is the point of doing a new habit or fasting from something? Is it to make you a better person? Look up James 4:8. It says "Come near to God and he will come near to you." That's why we do these habits- to draw near to God! 

4. Have you ever heard the voice of Jesus? Probably not audibly, but when have you encountered the presence of Christ? Where were you? Why do you think it happened at that place and at that time?

5. What do you think the voice of Jesus wants to say to you?

6. How can we pray for you this week?

Written by Drew Hill. 

Drew started the Young Life Leader Blog in 2010 and has written an award-winning book for Young Life leaders called "Alongside: Loving Teenagers with the Gospel."

You can currently buy ALONGSIDE in bulk discount on for up to 44% off with the code MIXNSAVE.

Friday, March 13, 2020

9 Powerful Words

Written by Colin Roth. 

There’s a place in Kentucky called Red River Gorge. A few years back, some friends and I went camping there with our leader, Braylen. I’m the oldest child in my family and I’ve never really had an older brother figure to look up to...until I met Braylen.

That particular Friday, we hiked for about 30 minutes into the Gorge - almost entirely uphill. As we were getting ready to make a fire and set up camp, we realized we’d forgotten to grab some gear out of the car. I volunteered to hike back down. Braylen offered to go with me.

Braylen is a guy who functions a lot on impulse. If he thinks it, he does it. He loves spontaneity and he loves a challenge. Before we made our way down this steep trail, Braylen looked at me and said, “You and I are going to race down this mountain!” I quickly considered the dangerous outcomes of “racing” down a steep hill but ended up smiling at Braylen and accepting his challenge. Thankfully, the only injury was a slightly rolled ankle. Once we got to the bottom of the mountain, prompted by nothing other than spending that time together, Braylen turned to me and said, “I really cherish the friendship I have with you.”

Few times have I ever felt more loved than that moment. I’ll never forget those words. Out of his heart and his deep love for Jesus, Braylen spoke those words to me. He wanted me to know that I was somebody that he cherished, and that deeply moved me.

We’re made in God’s image, so Genesis 1:26 tells us. With that truth comes the understanding that if we are made in His image, we are like Him. God could have chosen any way He wanted to bring the earth and its contents into being. But what did He do? He spoke it into being (Genesis 1:3; 6; 9, etc.).

Words can speak things into being. Are you going to speak another planet into existence? Probably not. But your words have the power to speak life to those around you. 

As Young Life leaders, we often have opportunities to cast vision over the lives of our teenage friends. As you go into their world this week, pray for opportunities in which you can speak life-giving and encouraging words over them. 

Words can combat anxiety and bring peace into chaos.
Words can replace lies with truth.
Words can offer hope where there is despair. 
And words can cast forward-vision, when our friends are tempted to live in the past.

What powerful words might you speak this week? 

Maybe a good place to start is simply by saying the same 9 words that Braylen said to me:

“I really cherish the friendship I have with you.”

Written by Colin Roth. 

Colin is a Young Life Leader in Northern Kentucky. He has been leading Young Life at Highlands High School in Fort Thomas, Kentucky for 4+ years. 

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