For over a decade, Young Life leaders have been meeting Carrollton teenagers on their turf, earning the right to be heard, telling them about the person of Jesus Christ, and helping them to grow in their faith. The North Central Texas Region has launched a vision to double the number of kids we are reaching by 2018. In order to cast this vision to the Carrollton/Hebron community, our theme for this year is “Grow with Us.” We are well on our way, but still need more members of our community to help plant, feed, and nurture this mission as we grow into the next stage of our ministry plan.
History of Young Life
The vision was born in 1938 when Jim Rayburn, a young Presbyterian youth leader in Gainesville, Texas, was challenged by his senior minister to focus on the local high school and pioneer a path to connect with non-churched kids. Jim spent hours each week with kids, developing a relational style of outreach. Convinced that he had to win the right to be heard, he simply made friends with kids. Contact work was always at the heart of Young Life ministry.
After exploring several possibilities, Jim decided that the best setting for the proclamation of the Gospel was at a Young Life meeting, held in the home of one of the kids. Club involved lively singing, a skit and a short talk about Jesus Christ. Jim believed that every kid had the right to hear the message of Jesus Christ and decide how to respond to the Gospel.
Young people who made the decision to follow Christ became involved in “Campaigners,” a discipleship group where they participated in Bible study, prayer and sharing.
Camping has also been a significant part of the Young Life ministry. Jim’s vision in those early years led to the acquisition of several Colorado ranches. Today, 23 picturesque properties continue to provide magnificent backdrops against which to present the Gospel, while at the same time giving kids the best week of their lives.
Over the years, Jim gathered a group of gifted men and women around him and sent them out to start Young Life ministries to kids all over the United States. This was the Young Life Staff.
Volunteer leadership— the backbone of Young Life— emerged from Wheaton College in the late 1940s. Staff members found that they could multiply their efforts many times over by the strategic use of volunteer leaders. Today, over 16,000 volunteer leaders work alongside staff members to touch the lives of kids.
In 1953, Young Life went international with an outreach in France. Since then, incarnational evangelism has proven successful worldwide; Young Life ministries are now active in nearly than 80 countries.
In 1950, Portland staff member Bill Starr developed a novel concept: the Young Life committee. This group of men and women lent their support to the local ministry. Today, committee members around the country number more than 11,000.
Later in the 1960s, Young Life broadened its focus to become a nurturing and healing presence for kids of all races in cities across the country. There are now urban and multi-cultural ministries in more than 150 cities reaching out to share Christ as well as meet the unique needs of these kids.
Recognizing the need for quality training programs for staff, Young Life joined with Fuller Theological Seminary in 1977 to establish the Institute of Youth Ministries. This association provided for many years a unique blend of graduate-level theological education and practical field experience. The institute has now been replaced by expanded partnerships with several seminaries around the country.
In the late 1980s Young Life expanded its focus to include physically challenged kids. Capernaum Young Life clubs for disabled kids are in place in several areas of the country, allowing these kids to find their boundaries expanded, their lives enriched and their hearts warmed by the love of Jesus.
Doors of ministry to yet another group of kids — teenage moms — opened with the beginning of the YoungLives program. Young moms are matched with older experienced moms who are committed to providing support and friendship as well as the opportunity to consider the possibility of a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Today, the Young Life mission is still committed to incarnational witness: embodying and expressing the love of Christ through relationships with teenage kids. And in order to reach more kids — all kinds of kids — Young Life has launched an aggressive training program … to recruit, train and deploy staff to significant ministries all over the globe. We are on the move.
Young Life … our history is rich and our future is promising. We are a group of adults who continue to be committed to the historic Young Life mission: befriending kids and allowing them to take a good look at the Savior, Jesus Christ.