Wednesday, May 27, 2020

How Do I Have a Quiet Time?

How do you teach your college, high school, and middle school friends to read God's word? 

I remember going to Campaigners as a new believer and hearing people talk about their quiet times and having no idea what that meant. When I asked, I often received different answers. For some, it was reading the Bible, others it was journaling, and some listened to worship music. I tried reading the Bible treating it like a Magic 8 ball, randomly opening up to a page, and beginning to read. I understood that having a quiet time, praying, and reading his Word was important, but I didn't understand what that should look like. 

So how do we read His word? Better yet, how can we teach our middle, high school, and college friends to read His word? As a high school guy, I found opening a journal to see a blank page to be just as daunting as opening to a random passage of the Bible. I had no idea what to do or how to begin. My prayer is that the Remain Journal would be a great starting place, that it would make the practice of reading God's Word and beginning the relationship we were created to have more approachable and less daunting. The purpose of this Journal is to teach the spiritual practice of remaining (having a quiet time) in Christ.  

What will you find inside the Remain Journal?  

  • 2 Content Pages (allows you put the page numbers with corresponding journal entries)
  • 2 Prayer Pages for prayer requests
  • 50 dotted notes pages on the left-hand side
  • 50 pages of guided devotional questions on the right-hand side. Each page has the same format of questions. Who were characters? What did it say? What did you learn about God? Write out one verse that stood out or you underlined. What stood out to you about that verse? What did you learn about yourself? What are you going to do in light of what you read?

If you'd like to buy the Remain Journal for yourself or your Campaigners you can find it on Amazon now!


Written by Alex Holroyde. 

Alex has served as a Young Life leader and on staff since 2006. His wife, Ali, is the coordinator for YoungLives in the Carolinas Region and they live in Columbia, SC with their 4 daughters.

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Friday, May 22, 2020

Prom on Wheels: Inspiring Hope in a Season of Loss

"You know your kids best. You know what they love. You know what makes them light up. You spend the most time with them. Whether it's dancing, or just talking - like, "Hey! Let's just have a quick conversation!" God has equipped you in your specific area to love your kids the best. If you have a crazy idea that you think might just work, and might be able to come together, especially in this season of socially distancing, or whatever your place is doing right now: just do it. And if it fails, it's ok. It doesn't need to be perfect."

Preston and Bailey Griffin recently made national headlines on ABC News for their Prom on Wheels event. If you haven't seen the video, check it out here! We asked Preston and Bailey to sit down with Sam to share about Prom on Wheels, what made it successful, and how you can do something similar to celebrate kids in your area. This 25-minute interview is jam-packed with encouraging conversation and equipping advice for your ministry. If you don't have time to watch the whole interview, check out the "highlights" section below so you can tune to the segments that most interest you! The Griffins have graciously compiled a list of tips and tricks to help you plan a similar event. You can find that PDF here.

- Intro: cheesy Young Life love stories [0:30]
- The Hometown: A small town vibe with a military presence [1:03]
- Ministry on Hold: The heart behind Prom on Wheels [2:38]
- The Grunt Work: Planning the event - the logistics behind it and asking partners to join you [4:42]
- The Rundown: What each prom stop looked like [10:38]
- Awkward: "We didn't really know what we were doing..." [11:44]
- Tips for You: Parents and police officers [13:07]
- "This won't work in my area:" Advice on celebrating kids no matter where you live [18:07]
- The Moment that Made it All Worth It: "The best day of our lives" at Raven's house [21:53]
- That's a Wrap: Jesus did that for us [24:40]


Written by Sam Scott 

Sam is married to Katie and on staff with Young Life in the Mountain State Region and serves as our Social Media Director at the Young Life Leader Blog. He does ministry in both the suburban and rural settings. Sam and Katie offer free food and a place to crash to anyone who wants to explore the wild and wonderful state of West Virginia! If you have social media ideas, email him here!

If you have an encouraging story from this season of ministry, we'd love for you to pass it along so we could, in turn, share it with leaders everywhere. Email us here

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

7 People to Thank at the End of a Very Different School Year

As we come to the end of a very unusual school year, let's consider the many folks we as Young Life leaders can thank. 


The principal at your school didn't have to let you come to lunch. Send them a note with a $10 Subway gift card saying "Thanks for letting us eat lunch with your kids this year. Enjoy a lunch on us this summer. Sincerely, the Smith Middle Young Life Team."

Athletic Director

Remember those free athletic passes your YL team got at the beginning of the year. Think how much $ they saved you. What about a picture of your YL team holding a sign saying "We heart Coach Mac" for the AD's office?

Club/Campaigners Host Homes

That family lets you have fifty middle schoolers invade their basement. That mom cooked dinner for your Campaigners group more times than you can count. That dad is still repairing the damage from when that sumo-suit put a crater in his garage wall. How 'bout a Home Depot gift card with a note attached?

Area Director

Being a Young Life Area Director is no easy task. Area Directors spend tons of time making it possible for us to be leaders. Send them a note of encouragement thanking them for leading well and be specific about how they've encouraged youIf they are married and/or parents, consider babysitting for them and giving them a date night out.


If you're married, make the effort to thank your spouse for allowing you to pursue this calling. How about a needed date night now that club is taking a summer break?

Middle/High School Friend

Do you have some kids in your YL club that went the extra mile to help out at Young Life this year? Model gratitude for them by sending an unexpected note. Print a pic of you with your middle/high school friend and turn it into a postcard.


Celebrate this year by thanking the One who made it all possible. In our home, we have an "Ebeneezer." It's simply a wall with pictures and words that remind us of God's faithfulness.  In 1 Samuel 7, the Israelites were under attack by the Philistines. Fearing for their lives, they offered a sacrifice to God and prayed for His protection. God listened and following their victory they “took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us.’ ” (1 Samuel 7:12)

The word Ebenezer comes from a Hebrew word meaning “stone of help.” In the familiar hymn “Come Thou Fount” we sing the phrase “Here I raise my Ebenezer, here by thy great help I’ve come.” An Ebenezer is simply something to help us remember God’s faithfulness and mercy. Wonder how one might look on a wall in your bedroom or at the YL office?

Written by Drew Hill.

Drew is a pastor in Greensboro, NC and also on staff with Young Life in the Global Innovation and Training department. Drew started the Young Life Leader Blog in 2010 and has written a best-selling book for Young Life leaders called "Alongside: Loving Teenagers with the Gospel."

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Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Washing Dishes without the Hobart

I had the privilege of serving at a Young Life Camp called Saranac Village for a month in the summer of 2008. I was serving as a work crew boss - helping lead the team of high school-aged volunteers who were serving for the month. Serving on Work Crew is an exhausting experience - hard work, little sleep, relational overload - and that's under normal circumstances.

During the 3rd week of camp, a major storm rolled through Saranac Village, knocking out power for the entire camp. We all scrambled. The power, obviously, controlled nearly everything at camp, including the water. We had nearly 400 campers and no power or water.

One high school volunteer, Adrian, was working in the pits - that's where all the dishes get washed. As soon as the power went out, Adrian cheered and exclaimed, “No power means the Hobart [the dishwashing machine] can’t run! We don’t have to wash dishes!” Within seconds, Adrian reversed. “Oh, wait. Knowing this place, they’re probably gonna make us wash them by hand.”

And we did just that. 

But, it was much harder. 

Washing dishes for 400 people was designed to be done with an industrial-sized dishwasher. And power. 

But suddenly, we found ourselves with neither - with only our hands.
When news broke of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. - shutdown of schools and implementation of social distancing practices and shelter-in-place policies - I have to admit, I reacted a little bit like Adrian did when the power went out at Saranac Village some 12 years ago.

I was tired - fatigued from long seasons of ministry. Program after program after program had worn me down, and all I could think was, “Finally! A break!"

But, I realized something important, not seconds later like Adrian, but days later: The coronavirus isn't stopping our work - it's simply making us do it without the Hobart.

For many of us in ministry, our programs are the Hobart of our jobs; they’re how we’ve built them. Not only that, but the relational work of Young Life is designed to be done in person, face to face. We encourage leaders to show up, to stand in the hallways, and to be seen by students and build relationships with them.

Well, now we can't do any of that.

As I was thinking about how hard ministry is in this season, a friend sent me a quote from Facebook that said:

Real talk: does anyone feel like they have no idea what they’re doing and are mentally exhausted from trying to figure out how to solve the future of church and youth ministry?”

It was at that moment that I realized that what Young Life is doing during the pandemic is washing dishes without the Hobart. 

And it's not just us in ministry. My friends who are teachers and administrators are feeling the same thing. A friend who is a principal said, “We’re rebuilding the airplane while it’s in the air.” All of us parents are now doing our jobs - most of which were already exhausting - while being home with kids and trying to homeschool them at the same time.

Friends, if you’re exhausted from washing dishes without the Hobart, you should be encouraged; this is not the way it's designed to be. 

I actually don’t have a nice or neat way to wrap this up. No bow to put on this to say, "It’s going to be ok." At Saranac Village, we didn't know how long the power would be out, and there was a huge backlog of dishes when we were done.

But, if you are dying in a pile right now, if you are at the absolute end of yourself, if you feel like you are failing at everything you’re doing, it’s because you’re washing dishes without the Hobart.

Give yourself an extra scoop of grace today: when you snap at your kids or raise your voice, when you’re late on a work deadline, when no one shows up to your virtual event, when you put on another movie for your kids so you can try to have a Zoom call without interruption, when you are in your bed - or bathroom - hiding from reality. 

We all need grace given to ourselves and to each other.

This is an unprecedented time with unprecedented challenges.

You're washing dishes without the Hobart.


Written by Steve Rawls. 

Steve is an Area Director in Chesapeake, VA and has been on Young Life staff for 14 years in the state of Virginia. He is married to Theresa, and they have 3 kids - Hallum, Clara Grace, and John. 

If you have an encouraging story from this season of ministry, we'd love for you to pass it along so we could, in turn, share it with leaders everywhere. Email us here

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

An Open Letter to All Young Life Leaders

This letter below was written by Brooke Putney when she was a high school junior in 2015. We hope this is an encouragement to each of you! 

My first real conversation with my Young Life leader included a lie that I ran five miles every day. I was running about two in reality, but I felt the need to impress her. I felt this way, because as a freshman in high school, that was my mission, to impress people. I wanted to be known, admired and loved- just as we all do. In my mind at this point, being admired came from being impressive to every onlooker. Looking back now, I realize my Young Life leader didn’t care if I ran or how far I did. She simply wanted to know me, because she knew something I did not; God simply wanted me to know Him. As high school students, we often walk through the halls feeling as if we are not desired in the slightest, as if no one wants to know us.

But along came Young Life leaders.

Along came Young Life leaders who gave up their lives fully, so we could catch a glimpse of life to the fullest. Along came Young Life leaders who said, “Here am I, send me!” so that others would get to know just how loved they were. Thank you.


Making beds out of hard wood floors so kids like me could have the best week of their life.

Waking up early to pray for us, when you desperately needed that extra hour of sleep.

Being bold for the sake of the gospel and ignoring your fears so we could have a raw example of courageous living.

Having no shame in who you are, because you have none in who He is.

Not giving up on us, even when we mess up in the same ways again and again.

Always being a phone call away.

Sending “wanna get coffee and talk?” texts, because we need them more than you’ll ever know.

Showing up at our high schools, even when you feel awkward and out-of-place.

Not shying away from the conversations that will change eternity.

Running through mud obstacle courses when it is the last thing you want to do.

Your genuine humor that never leads to the hurt of others.

Living outside of your comfort zones.

Dancing like no one was watching during that neon rave. Seriously, thank you for that.

Loving us so well, because the fearless, unconditional, personal way in which you have loved us has changed our lives forever.

Loving us at all times.

Being a non-judgmental person against negativity and evil.

Answering all of our questions after camp.

Driving us around when we couldn’t drive ourselves.

Randomly paying for our meals.

Being our friend.

Showing up.

Praying for us when we can’t pray for ourselves.

Admitting you are broken too.

Begging us to go to camp and fall weekend when we have turned you down time and time again.

Taking your vacation time to ride on a bus that smells like a combination of cheddar goldfish and body odor.

Always telling us what we need to hear, even when we don’t want to hear it.

Always pulling for us.

Loving us despite our mess.

Being our number one fan.

Thank you for caring for high school kids like me.

Because you are a Young Life leader, you are far too humble to take any of this credit that we give you. You are too humble to not give all the glory back to the Lord. I am aware that Young Life alone hasn’t changed anyone’s life. I am aware that you, as Young life leaders, haven’t changed our lives by yourselves.

But through you, God has made His invitation of love and belonging so well known. God has worked 180-degree turnarounds, renewed lives and offered beautiful new beginnings. You are far more appreciated than we will ever be able to show you. No words, no gifts, nothing will ever be able to thank you for being the Christ-like person you are to us.


I am sure that there is more to life than high school.

I have been shown that impressing others is not our purpose, but simply put, loving is, because of Christ.

I have found that my life has a greater meaning.

I have learned to freely love my God and my neighbors as myself.

I know there is a love far beyond my comprehension and now I know what love looks like.

I know what joy in pursuing people in the name of Christ looks like.

I know the impact a sacrificial heart can have.

I know what “life to the fullest” looks like.

I know that there is a choice to live for myself or live for something much greater.

I know that there is an option of a life based on deeper conversations, deeper meaning and deeper love than the life I have lived in the past.

My life has drastically changed.

I know that we must give up all that we are, in order to show off all that He is.

I know that I do not have to be completely perfect in order to be completely loved.

I have been given the gift of knowing that I’m loved and valuable.

I know that fullness comes from nothing but our Father.

I always have someone to turn to who will tell me the truth; His truth.

So, thank you. Your efforts, your pursuit, and your love has not gone unnoticed.

Thank you for being a Young Life leader!

If you have an encouraging story from this season of ministry, we'd love for you to pass it along so we could, in turn, share it with leaders everywhere. Email us here

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

3 Reasons I’m Excited about Young Life’s “State of the Mission” Webcast

Recently, one of my high school friends asked me for my Xbox Gamertag, which is the online name gamers use to play with each other. Folks, I haven’t played video games regularly in seven years, but I’m about to. Although the world has ground to a halt, our mission has not. Video games are what contact work looks like right now, so you bet I’m going to pick up that controller and run full steam into the world of kids.

Across the mission, Young Life leaders like us are finding new ways to stay connected with our friends during this season of social distancing. On Friday, May 8th, Young Life is hosting a webcast to share stories of what the Lord is doing in the lives of the friends that we love so much.

I’m watching the State of the Mission webcast for:

  1. Ministry ideas! From Zoom calls to video game clubs to senior shout outs, the greater Young Life family is still going all out for kids. It looks different now, but our mission stays the same. We introduce our friends to Jesus Christ and help them grow in their faith. I’m excited to see the innovation taking place and how I can use it in my own ministry.
  2. Encouragement! In John 10, Jesus tells us, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” If I’m honest, the last couple of months have felt lonely. Leading has felt like a chore at times, which isn’t uncommon even in normal circumstances, so I’m excited for the reminder that the Young Life family is in it together for kids everywhere. This is abundant life, and I’m thankful to be part of it!
  3. Newt’s beard! The president of Young Life might have the best beard in America right now. Although I can’t wait to see his amazing facial hair, I’m really tuning in to hear his vision for Young Life. I don’t want to miss this opportunity to hear important updates from the leader of our mission.

Will you join me for the webcast? The State of the Mission will air every hour, on the hour, from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM EST on Friday, May 8th. Check out the trailer for the event below, and make sure to register


Lastly, a quick word from the Author and Perfecter that has been echoing in my heart: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:38-40. Take heart, friends!


Written by Kyle Bush. 

Kyle is a graduate of Miami University (Ohio) where he led at a local high school before helping start Young Life College at Miami (Rise Up!). He now does marketing for Young Life at the Service Center and volunteers at Air Academy, a public high school on base at the United States Air Force Academy.

Join a conversation with hundreds of Young Life leaders in the new Facebook group!

Monday, May 4, 2020

Two New Resources from YL Discipleship

As we enter into a unique summer in the mission of Young Life, the Young Life Discipleship office has prepared two new resources as you continue to pursue relationships with your middle, high school, and college friends.

1. Starting Monday, May 4th, a daily public reading of Mark’s gospel on IGTV @yl_discipleship featuring different voices from around the mission reading one chapter a day. A reading calendar plus leader’s study-discussion guide can be downloaded here. Just the study-discussion guide can be downloaded here.

2. As we enter a unique YL summer, our commitment to initiating and engaging in deeper conversations with our teens is more important than ever. We’ve put together three short videos about how to prepare personally, how to listen pastorally, how to respond wisely, and how to testify faithfully. Also available: a discussion guide for each video. All of these resources can be found here

Our digital devo, “3-in-1,” will remain online through the summer. The content can be used with both students who want to follow Jesus more closely and with students who are still considering life with Christ.

If you have questions, ideas, dreams, or are looking for specific discipleship resources/tools, please email me and let’s talk.

Join a conversation with hundreds of Young Life leaders in the new Facebook group!

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

3-in-1 Devotional Plan from @YL_Discipleship

Today, Crystal Kirgiss is sharing with us some encouragement and helpful information about devotional materials available to us and our middle, high school, and college friends. 

In these days of physical disconnect, it’s as important as ever for us and our students to stay rooted in Jesus the Word by being immersed in the Word that tells his story. To help with that, we’ve compiled a few of the most foundational practices here for public reading of scripture, creative Bible engagement, and faith talk (articulate testimony and witness). 

We’ve also put together a full series of devotional study materials focused on what scripture says about God the Father, God the Son, God the Spirit, God’s children, and God’s fellowship. It’s hosted on our partner website with Bible Project. Each day includes scripture, devotional readings, reflection questions, background information, and links to related worship music, spoken words, or teaching videos. The content progresses thematically and is best engaged beginning from Day 1. Besides the online content, each day has a downloadable PDF of the main content, plus content adapted for Capernaum.

When "3-in-1" concludes at the end of April, the content will stay online through the summer months and will be followed by a study of Luke-Acts starting in May. 


Written by Crystal Kirgiss.

Since 2018 Crystal has served as the VP of Discipleship for YL. Before that, she taught literature, writing, and Bible as Lit at Purdue University. She’s married to Mark, a 30-year veteran Area Director. 

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Some Personal News...


I wanted to share some personal news and ask for your prayers. 

This week, I was listening to podcast called "The Second Muse" featuring an interview with Andrew Osenga. I heard Andrew rattle off this quote below and it hit pretty close to home:

"There were a lot of things in my life that always kind-of-worked, and then one day, they stopped working. It's like one day you walk into a room that you've known for a long time and you flip on the lights and they don't come on...and you frantically flip the switch up and down...and eventually you get to a place where you say, 'I guess it doesn't work anymore.'" 

This is the 10th year I've written The Young Life Leader Blog, as well as my 10th year serving as a pastor at our church in Greensboro, NC. Recently, I've felt like I've entered into a room where the light switch isn't working like it used to. I've reached this place where I know I can't fix it and I need the Lord to break in and light the bulb again.

In light of that, I'm going to be taking 6 weeks off, both from the blog and church, to enter into a time of spiritual renewal- to spend focused time with the Lord and my family. 

From now until June 1st, I'll be completely away from email, text messages, and social media. If we cross your mind at all during these 6 weeks of rest, I'd be grateful if you would pray for me and our family: Natalie, Honey (10), Hutch (7), and Macy Heart (5). Thank you!

During my time away, if you have Young Life ideas or questions, you can always reach out to Alexis Howard and Sam Scott, as they will be holding down the fort!

Another easy way to find and share ideas is through the Alongside: Young Life leaders Facebook group. 

Grace and peace,

Alexis Howard || Administrative Director
Alexis lives in Greensboro, NC with her husband and three daughters. She joined the team in 2019 as Drew's Assistant and the blog's Administrative Director. If you have any questions about contributing to the blog don't hesitate to email her here. 

Sam Scott || Social Media Director
Sam is married to Katie and on staff with Young Life in the Mountain State Region. He does ministry in both the suburban and rural settings. Sam and Katie offer free food and a place to crash to anyone who wants to explore the wild and wonderful state of West Virginia! If you have social media ideas, email him here!