December 6, 2012
To potential donors, I love YL because we really make a difference in kids' lives. As leaders, we provide a substance-free party called "Club" for them every week, at the end of which we talk a little about Jesus. If kids want to know more, they can come to a Bible study called "Campaigners", in which they learn more. We also have camps in the winter and summer, which include a series of Clubs, lessons, really fun activities, and heart-to-heart talks. We also act as friends and mentors to teens. Leaders are people they can trust and rely on. All leaders have passed criminal background checks and live by a pretty strict moral code outlined by YL to ensure that we model good behavior. All that being said, I feel like I should write to dispel a lot untrue information being spread on this page. (If it is true for your local chapter, I would say that's a shame because YL does not work like that on the whole!) I became involved in Young Life as a leader last year. I am not evangelical by any stretch of imagination, but I do love working with kids. One of the best things about YL is that we don't cram Christianity down the kids' throats. Yes, coming to Club means that they hear a five-minute talk about Christ, usually a personal story about how my relationship with God has worked this specific way in my life or something similar. We don't tell kids they're horrible, going to hell, or anything else of that nature, and we certainly don't judge their lifestyles! Those are the things that usually turn us all off to Christianity, right? Kids can either listen or not listen, but they get to keep coming back to have fun and hang out even if they never buy into it. Another awesome part of being a leader is just being there for kids who are going through life struggles. Even if they're from the best homes imaginable, they still carry burdens they won't talk about with their families. We are good role models who listen and help them make good decisions. I've seen our care and kindness influence kids to stop partying, drinking, and doing drugs. YL leaders also engage with the parents of kids, keeping them in the communication loop and being very open and honest about Club, Campaigners, Camp, etc. We don't sneak attack your kids with Bibles, and the intention is never to turn a teen against his/her parents. I have yet to meet a parent who has had an issue with the organization, and most parents have gone out of their way to say what a difference we have made to their sons and daughters. We occasionally hang out with kids we know at school--meet them for lunch or attend a sporting event, and other kids will come sit down for a chat and wonder who we are. Of course we don't turn them away. And Club is clean, rowdy, substance-free fun, and those kid who regularly come to Club go tell more kids, and they start coming and tell more kids. Sometimes parents want their kids to go, and sometimes they don't, and we are respectful of the decision either way. We also get to know kids and what's important to them, often attending plays or football games just to show that we care, because we do! We want them to do well and know that we're not just out to convert, but that we actually care about them. I'm not a leader because I'm "creepy", racist, misguided, homophobic, or brainwashed. It's not some underhanded plot to indoctrinate anyone. It's just simply to be there for teens as the navigate this rocky age, and to share our own stories with them. Many of them choose to come to Christ, not because we pressured them, but because they see the way we live, care, and interact, and they see this promise of a God who is forgiving and full of love, who holds every child precious in His eyes and bears their burdens, and who gives them strength and guidance for every stage of life.
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