Wednesday, December 7, 2016

WyldLife Wednesday: Meeting Parents On Their Turf

Written by Nathan Rice, WyldLife Staff, Denton, TX.

One of the key elements to any WyldLife leader’s ministry involves a commitment to parents. It's vital to be with parents on a consistent basis, just like we do with our middle school friends.

Contact work is what we do. We emulate the incarnation of Jesus by going into the lives of kids, on their turf. We are not an event-based ministry and we never will be in WyldLife. That being said, we have to meet parents where they’re at too.

Some opportunities in our area where leaders have spent time with parents, “on their turf” have been:
  • Attend middle school games and sitting with parents. In the fall many parents are also at the high school football games on Fridays.
  • Have Campaigners at kids’ houses which allows you to see parents during the off-weeks of club (if you have Campaigners then). This has been a proven way for leaders to establish stronger relationships with parents once they’ve been given the opportunity to go to their houses and spend time with their kids in a small group setting.
  • Volunteer at field days and other school events. Helping PTA parents run game and snack stations. It can be a solid few hours running the booth or activity with parents.
  • Offer to babysitting or house sit. Both are great ways to serve parents.
  • Get to know the PTA president and bouncing ideas off of him or her (and maybe attending a meeting).
  • Ask middle school parents to be banquet table hosts. You’ll get tons of time to communicate and brainstorm, especially if you have a “table host night” during banquet preparation.
  • Ask parents to host a “camp social” for other parents to hear about camp and ask questions. Appetizers or desserts are fun for this and parents love to volunteer to bring food.
  • Volunteer at eighth-grade graduation parties at the end of the year.

Nothing replaces face-to-face relationships with parents. Communicating via email, text and phone calls is necessary, but if parents know us, those friendships create credibility for the ministry in probably more ways than we know.

Are we taking parents into consideration when we are leading WyldLife? Are we honoring them and their schedules? Are we thinking about them and their stories as we share the gospel with their middle school kids?

Middle school kids need their parents and a family of individuals sharing Christ with them. As WyldLife leaders, we get to be Christ’s ambassadors to not only kids, but their whole FAMILY also, parents included!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Hope for the Over-Achievers

Written by John Freeman.

I'm feeling pretty sentimental this week. Five years ago I began Larry Crabb's school of soul care. Sweet memories and great content flowed from that healing week in Colorado Springs.

During one lecture Dr. Crabb stopped speaking, turned to me, and asked a question:  "John, you constantly take notes. Why are you writing so much?"

My pencil stopped and so did my heart.

A bit embarrassed I answered, "I don't want to miss anything."

His response: "I'm so curious as to why? Try not to write for a few minutes and see what happens."

I only lasted 10 minutes.

Something still resonates with me about his observation. In short, I tend to over-do things.

I over-swing the tennis racket, over-plan the family trip, over-shoot the basketball, over-fertilized the yard (killed parts of it this year) and over-prepare the talks I give.

It's like I am over-compensating or over-reaching for some greater purpose.

I'm wondering if there is a connection between over-achieving and under-affirmation?

I think working hard is important to life and existence. Successful businesses and countries are often the product of over-achievement.

Over-achievement can build a civilization but I am not so sure it can build a human identity. We are made for something bigger than that.

We are made to live from God's affirmation and blessing.

I wonder what it would look like to achieve great things from a place of full affirmation in Christ?

Before Jesus did a lick of ministry he rose from the waters of the Jordan and a voice from heaven boomed over him: "This is my Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased (Mt. 3)."

Of course we know that Satan himself challenged that in Matthew 4: show off your stuff, if you are who you say you are over-achieve, reveal your power. Jesus combated the temptation with His Father's words and humility. This is when his ministry began.

In Christ we can claim those affirming words spoken to our tired soul.

My soul is free to achieve not for affirmation but from it.

I am freely released to participate with the bigger work of Christ.

When I fertilize lightly, I participate with bigger elements: the sun and the rain.

When I plan a family trip, I can participate with bigger-than-me circumstances that sets up memorable spontaneity.

When I loosen a talk outline, I am allowing thoughts to enter my mind through the indwelling Spirit.

When I sit and listen instead of feverishly taking notes, I am allowing the Spirit to burn truth in my mind and heart.

There is a lightness to my over-achievement. I like that. Work hard but from a place of already having the full affirmation in Christ.

As we step into this holiday season, may we be restful and thankful for this deep place of blessing in Christ.


Written by John Freeman. As a high schooler, John met Christ through Young Life. He is now the Executive Director of Grace Discipleship. Read more about John here.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

All I Want for Christmas Is A Mentor

Written by Zach Gurick, Metro Director for Young Life in Soutwest Florida.

I remember feeling totally spent, like I had nothing left to give. I had poured out everything I had… It was a feeling of deep weariness, more than just tired. I discovered one of the issues was that I didn’t have someone else pouring into me!

You’d think as YL leaders, we would know firsthand the necessity of a mentor—someone slightly further along the path of life that we can emulate and learn from. But far too often we spend all our time and energy being the mentor and role model for young people. And instead of investing in our own spiritual lives, we stagnate. Get a mentor!

This mentor can be a spiritual director, a counselor, a pastor, a church member, someone on the local YL committee, a business person in your town, or a parent of a student you know. It all depends on what you need. 

Let’s be clear, though—you need this person in your life! If you aren’t growing personally, your life and ministry will, without question, eventually reflect this. As YL leaders, we are constantly pouring ourselves out. We desperately need to find people that are going to invest in us if we are going to continue to give ourselves away in ministry. 

So how do you find a mentor?

About ten years ago I was challenged to make a list of the top 5 people I would ask to mentor me if I could ask anyone.  I wrote down the list, mustered up some courage, and typed in the phone number I’d received from a friend for the person at the very top of my list. I’d only briefly met him once before and didn’t think he’d even remember me. A few minutes later, I had a new mentor.

Come to find out, people with a lot of wisdom are often looking for ways to share it, and younger people to invest into… A few days later, I showed up at my new mentor’s house and found out that many years before, he’d been mentored by an older, wiser man who was a little further down the road than he was, and it had been one of the most meaningful relationships of his life.

To this day, my mentor speaks life into me, and I have so much more to give away to those that I lead. He is a close confidant and has walked with me through some very trying and difficult times. We've celebrated many joyous occasions as well. When we meet, we mostly talk about Jesus, and life, and what we’re learning. Pretty similar to what you and I do with kids all the time! 

So, my friends, why not sit down now a make a list of 5 people that you know of that you could ask to mentor you?  I’d be willing to bet that you will be pleasantly surprised after making a couple phone calls just as I was!


Some of my friends and I wanted to get some ideas like these out for leaders like you, so we put together an e-book with a bunch of tips that we’ve found helpful over the years.  You can find it free at kindredyouthministry.com.  We hope it’s helpful for you and your ministry! - Zach

Thursday, December 1, 2016

12 Christmas Gift Ideas for Young Life Leaders

Are you a YL staff person looking for Christmas gift ideas for committee or leaders? A volunteer leader looking for gift ideas for your high school friends? Or maybe just a YL'dly selfish person, addicted to YL gear, looking for items to add to your own Christmas list...below are some ideas for you!


Custom Sweatshirt Blankets

One of my favorite YL gifts I've ever been given! You can order them at the YL online store for as low as $24.99. There are tons of other great gift ideas at the Online Young Life Store.

Perfect
Written by John Wagner, a senior VP for YL, Perfect tells the stories of John's son David, a 17-year-old boy with Down Syndrome. In the book, John shares how David has led him more fully to the sacred stories of Jesus. Get ready to dance, laugh, cry, celebrate, wonder, treasure, believe and be wrapped in pure joy as you meet this little boy who is precious to the Savior and a gift to all those around him. Buy it here.


Wigs
How fun would it be to pick out a different wig for each of your leaders? And think of the value that would add to your area skit closet! Find wigs here.

Letters To A Young Life Leader
By: Bob Mitchell and Kit Sublett
This book is a treasure of Godly wisdom that all YL leaders need to read. "Mitch" was Young Life’s third president and one of Jim Rayburn’s original club kids. He's the real deal and continues to point YL staff and leaders to Christ. “Letters to a Young Life Leader” is a collection of 37 letters, arranged in five sections, covering a wide range of topics -- everything from why we use humor in Young Life to spiritual formation and balancing ministry and family. Buy it here.
Another great YL treasure from Whitecaps Media. Buy it here.

Framed Wordles


Crazy Creek Camping Chairs
In the past, I have ordered a bunch of these chairs in bulk from websites like Sierra Trading Post for around $20.

Made For This: The Young Life Story
It's currently on sale on Staff Resources for only $26 and bulk orders are even less. Great gift for those who want to know the history of the mission from the early 30's through today. Get it here

Young Life Water Bottles
There are a lot of options at the online YL store ranging between $7-$14. A great thing about water bottles is you can fill them with other fun and cheap things like a hand-written note, candy canes, etc.


Prized Possession: A Father's Journey In Raising His Daughter
Alan Smyth & Kristy Fox, Young Life Regional Directors in California, published this book for dads with daughters. You can order it here.

Gas Cards
If you're a committee member looking for a gift for volunteer leaders, you can't go wrong with a gas card!

Head Lamps
Leaders can rapidly increase their cool points by breaking out a headlamp at camp. Prices range from $10-$100. I use mine all the time!

Personalized Frisbees/Disc Golf Discs
You can order disc golf discs or 175g nice ultimate frisbees with your area logo on them from a lot of online stores. The turnaround process typically isn't quick, so order today. I've had good success in the past with DTworld.com

Belt Buckles
Who doesn't want a belt buckle with the YL logo on it? Or a sketch of your face engraved in shiny silver? I've never ordered these, but I can't imagine anything I'd rather open on Christmas day than a nice shiny belt buckle. Shoutout to all our Texas YL leaders!

How To Distribute Gifts At A Leader Party
One year we played a game to distribute gifts. There were tons of gifts on a table upfront in view of all. The gifts ranged in cost from $5-$30 and varied from the things above to cd's, books, gift cards to restaurants, etc. The person who had been leading the longest in the area got to pick a gift first...all the way to the newest leader picking last. It was a nice way to recognize the marathoners in the group and fun to see what everyone picked.

Here are some helpful thoughts from Eric Scofield for YL staff folks. (direct link to video


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

WyldLife Wednesday: For Moments Like This

Steven was not a “cool kid.” He came every week to WyldLife, but he was never in the center of any group. He’d make efforts to be a part, but because he was a little different than the other kids his age, they wouldn’t include him.

One week at club, we played “over the rope.” This game is SO SIMPLE. I was hesitant to do it because I figured it had been done a million times and that kids would be bored.

You know the game: tape a rope across a doorway, and every kid has to make it over the rope and into the club room without touching the rope. The kids who are natural leaders automatically stepped up and began lifting kids over the rope one by one. Immediately the beauty in this gesture struck me- watching middle school kids help each other get into the club room where they would hear the Gospel warmed my heart.

About halfway through the group, it was Steven’s turn to go over the rope. As the two kids reached to help him over, he refused their help, and in one smooth move jumped four feet over the rope and into the club room. The reaction was electric. Kids were high-fiving Steven, patting him on the back, and there were echoes of “did you see that?!” all through the room. The grin on Steven’s face was worth a million dollars. He felt like a hero. He felt celebrated and supported, something that I don’t think he’d experienced with his peers ever before. 

When it came time for the club talk, Steven was more tuned in than he ever had been. Something about the way he felt translated into his willingness to buy in.

As we plan WyldLife clubs, we get the privilege to create space for moments like these. In the process of planning club, let's look for games that can give kids opportunities to be heroes and pray for those moments.

Written by Julie Gibson, WyldLife Staff in Tyler, Texas.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: Harry Potter Club Ideas

Written by Kaitlyn Wren, Young Life staff in London, England. 

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has just hit the theaters and if you’re like me and many of our high school and middle school friends we love who grew up loving Harry Potter, you should be SO PUMPED! 

For our WyldLife club here in London, I love to put on themed clubs that reflect what is happening in cinemas for that month. So, we just had a rockin’ Harry Potter Themed WyldLife Club! Invite your friends to dress up and whether or not they are Potterheads they can join in on the fun.

Here are some game ideas for your Harry Potter WyldLife Club:

Quidditch Tag
Items needed:
  • enough red bandanas for half of the kids at club
  • enough green bandanas for the other half of kids at club
  • 2 yellow shirts
  • 4 black bandanas
  • 4 rolls of toilet paper wrapped in duct tape. (or dodgeballs)

Rules
  1. Sort everyone into Gryffindor (red) or Slytherin (green). Each player receives respective red or green bandana and must tie around head. (I used a cone like the sorting hat to sort kids into teams.)
  2. From each team pick a respective snitch- each receives yellow shirt. (one person from each group to wear the shirt.
  3. From each team pick 2 beaters- black bandanas (around arm)
  4. Everyone else is a seeker.
  5. Objective: Each team is trying to catch other team’s snitch.
  6. Obstacle: Beaters may freeze anyone from the opposite team by throwing toilet paper (bludgers) at them. Only beaters may throw toilet paper bludgers. Once frozen, remain frozen until snitch is caught.
  7. Once snitch is caught game is over, successful seeker becomes snitch. Pick new beaters and snitches, play again.

Four Houses (played like four corners)
Items needed:
  • 4 Cones labelled with Harry Potter house crests

How To Play
  1. Place cones into four corners of club room
  2. Sort kids equally into the four houses: Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin
  3. Each team gathers behind their house’s cone.
  4. Objective: in whatever manner game leader announces, they must get their entire team across to the cone diagonally across from them and sit down. First team with their team entirely across and sitting is the winner.

Obstacle: getting through the chaos created in the middle while still following directions.
Game leader will call something like: “hopping on one foot. GO!” And each team must hop all the way across the room to the cone diagonal from them.

Some fun commands are: leap frogging your whole team across, rolling, bunny hopping, skipping, crawling, giving a piggy back ride, or bear crawling.

Quiddtich Relay
Items needed:
  • 2 cones to mark starting lines
  • 2 cones to mark shooting lines
  • 2 hula hoops
  • 2 brooms
  • 2 dodgeballs

How To Play
  1. Sort each team into houses (ie put kids into two teams. I just combined teams from four corners by putting two teams together ie: Slyther-Puff and Griffyn-Claw)
  2. Each team gets 1 broom and a dodge ball.
  3. Each kid must run down with broom between legs and shoot their dodgeball into the hoop.
  4. Team who scores the most points wins!

Wingardium Leviosa Relay
Items needed:
  • 2 sticks/wands (I genuinely just picked up sticks from outside the club room. Just make sure they aren’t too sharp or the game won’t work!)
  • 5 balloons (you only technically need 2, but its good to have some on reserve.)
  • 4 cones (to show beginning of line and where each player must turn.)

How To Play
  1. Divide teams up into houses. (or keep same teams from Quidditch relay)
  2. Explain that “Wingardium Leviosa” is the spell that makes objects levitate.
  3. Each team receives a wand and a balloon.
  4. Each kid must keep balloon in the air by tapping it up with their wand/stick as they come around their teams respective cone and back. (Be sure to tell them not to try to swing for the fences and just hit the balloon all the way down and back because balloons will 100% pop and it isn’t actually easier that way.)

At the end of each club we have a raffle and we raffled off Bertie Bots every flavor beans. We also always have a mystery box with an unknown item that I put in a toy spider (aka a fantastic beast) and a toy owl and harry potter pins. 

Also, a fun pre-club activity would be to do face painting and paint lightning scars. I love face painting at club and camp because it gives leaders the chance to be face-to-face with kids and say silent prayers for them as you help them get into the fun theme of the night! I also like to pull club themes into the talk.

Each of these games could be adapted to Young Life, but they went over great with my WyldLifers! The best part is that they weren’t really required to know about the books/or movies to play, so everyone felt included. Once they were explained the rules, they went with it and had a blast!

Looking for other Harry Potter themed club ideas? Click here

Monday, November 21, 2016

Social Media Training Webinar Next Tuesday

Young Life’s Communications team is offering a social media training webinar at 10am MT on Tuesday, November 29th.

The online seminar will cover our role on social media as missionaries in a digital world, how we can practically be missionaries in this online realm, and examples of how different Young Life areas are already doing this on social media.

The 1-hour webinar is free and available to only the first 50 people to register. To sign up, click here.

Hosted by Alex Lewis,Young Life’s Digital Marketing Specialist.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Royalty

It's nearing the end of the semester. Club might feel more like a chore than a privilege. 

"We've just got to get by and push through to winter break."

What would happen if your team heard that the president of Young Life was doing a surprise visit to your club this week? How would you tweak things? Would your excitement levels change? 

When the United States welcomes a head of state for an official visit, the welcome is intentional and elaborate. Upon the arrival of the dignitary’s plane at Joint Base Andrews:
  • A crew moves stairs to the aircraft and then unrolls a red carpet
  • A 21-person military cordon flanks either side of the carpet and a welcoming committee gathers at the bottom of the stairs
  • As the guest party descends the stairs, the U.S. Air Force Band performs “Arrival Fanfare Number One”
  • At the bottom of the stairs a group of schoolchildren present the dignitary with a bouquet of flowers and then the welcoming committee greets the special guests
  • Moments later, the U.S. Air Force Band plays the national anthems of the visiting state and the U.S.

Sound familiar? It might remind you of how you felt the first time your bus rolled up to summer camp. 

Imagine welcoming a dignitary – say a queen or king, to your club this week. What might change? Would you practice your talk out loud before you gave it at club? Would you more thoughtfully pick the songs you were going to sing?

What if someone even more important was coming to club? And what if that special person was a freshman who has never been welcomed by a community representing the King of kings?

What would change if we decided that this week we were going to do club in a way that recognized our ambassadorship and treated every kid like they were royalty?

--- 

"Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you."

2 Corinthians 5:15-20 (The Message)


Friday, November 18, 2016

Greensboro Fellows

If you're graduating from college in the spring, odds are you're already beginning to answer the million-dollar question, "What are you planning to do after graduation.

Some of the best advice I ever received was "take your 20's and be a sponge. You have the rest of your life to make money. After college, find wise people and learn from them."

I can't think of a better opportunity to do just that than the The Greensboro Fellows program.

Are you looking for a place to:
  • Stay involved with Young Life?
  • Experience deep community after college?
  • Gain experience working in the marketplace?
  • Experience working in a church?
  • Take seminary classes?
  • Get world renowned leadership training?
  • Experience a mission trip to Africa?
For many college students, it's a big jump from earning a degree to actually applying it to a career. Dream jobs don't happen overnight - and that's if you even know what your dream job is. 

That's where the Greensboro Fellows Program comes in. It is a 10-month (September – June) program for those who desire and are committed to the pursuit of spiritual, personal, and professional growth. It is geared towards young adults who have recently finished college and hope to integrate their faith in Jesus Christ with their vocation and all other aspects of life. The curriculum, planned excursions, paid internships, volunteer work, and community all work together to inspire and empower a Christ-centered life.

This program is based out of Greensboro, North Carolina, and serves as the ideal springboard for entering into professional careers and adult life.

A few of the many things the Fellows Program offers:
  • Spiritual growth through mentorship and discipleship
  • World-renowned leadership training through the Center for Creative Leadership
  • Weekly networking with local business owners & ministry leaders
  • Paid internships and volunteer opportunities
  • Partnership with local Young Life
  • Close-knit Christian and church community
  • Free housing with a host family
  • Opportunity to take accredited seminary classes
  • A 2-week trip to Rwanda
Some of this year's paid internships include:
  • Business & Administration
  • Non-Profit Management
  • Ministry
  • Elementary Education
  • Marketing
  • Higher Education
  • Nursing
  • Personal Finance
If you're interested in learning more about this program, or applying to be a part of the 2017-2018 program year, you can visit www.greensborofellows.com, watch this video, or email us here.

"The Greensboro Fellows Program is far more than a transition out of college and into the adult world. The Fellows Program is a safe place to call home and a warm invitation to walk alongside family. You will be encouraged to grow more deeply than you thought possible, while simultaneously developing your professional skill set and your personal and spiritual gifts. You will be taught, nurtured, equipped and then sent out to build His kingdom."

- Stacey Greene, a former GSO Fellow and administrator for YoungLifeLeaders.org.

Art House Fellowship

The Greensboro Fellows network will also be launching the Art House Fellowship this year. The Art House Fellowship seeks to help young artists and scholars deepen their faith in Christ and thereby deepen their capacity to communicate truth through creative expression. Located in a renovated hotel in downtown Greensboro, the fellows will work at the coffee shop, share meals around the table, live on the second floor of the Jones' home (which is the hotel), produce works of art specific to their interests, and discuss the intersection of faith and the arts each day. Prayer will be offered every morning, guest lecturers will speak every week, we will visit the Center for Creative Leadership each month, and will provide intentional time to discuss questions of importance to specific members of the community multiple times each week. Join us for a year of deep growth in faith and expression. Visit the website here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

WyldLife Wednesday - Christmas Tree Scavenger Hunt

Below is another fun Christmas club idea, especially for WyldLife. It's similar to "Bigger, Better, Best!"

The Human Christmas Tree Scavenger Hunt gives kids and leaders an opportunity to laugh and play – and also allows parents to get involved.

The Big Picture
Teams visit houses in the neighborhood looking for items to “hang” on their human Christmas tree – one of their team members. They’re not asking for actual ornaments – just something red or something with lights or something reindeer-y that will not be returned to its owner. 

Feel free to use/adapt this list for your own scavenger hunt.

These items are taped all over the human Christmas tree. All teams meet back at club for a Christmas tree presentation, judging, awards and a club talk.

The Details
Kids, leaders and parent drivers meet at your club location. Explain the scavenger hunt rules and then divide kids into teams with one parent driver or leader per team. Tell them that this scavenger hunt isn’t a race – it’s more about creativity. Give each team the ending time and a point list, and send them on their way.

If your club location is in a neighborhood, you may not even need drivers - teams can walk to nearby houses instead. But you might consider assigning streets so three teams don’t hit up the same houses over and over again.

Whether you’re driving or walking, you can also assign one house for each team to do all of their “ornament shopping”. Talk to parents/homeowners the week before so they are ready for a team of middle school kids to invade their house.

At the end of the scavenger hunt, gather kids back at your club location. Let each team present their “tree” to the judges – your parent drivers or other parents you’ve invited. One of your leaders can give a short Christmas club talk followed by an announcement of the winners. You can give awards for the highest point total, but also for the most creative, tiniest or funniest “ornaments."

Consider ending the night with a hot chocolate bar: parent baristas serving hot chocolate with toppings like whipped cream, candy canes, sprinkles, chocolate chips and more.

And here is yesterday's post in case you missed it: A Billion Christmas Club Ideas.