I love Young Life. I started going my senior year of high school and continued to go when I got to college. I wish so much that I had started going earlier in high school. I didn't, however, for the same reason that even now I am kind of scared to tell people that I attend Young Life — I don't want to have to explain myself when people scoff or comment about what they think Young Life is.
Young Life gets a bad rep, both at my high school and in college. People claim that everyone who goes to Young Life smokes weed and/or drinks every weekend, that it is just an excuse for people to get high, and that everyone there is super judgmental and not "real" Christians.
These claims could not be more false. People go to Young Life for all different reasons. Young Life is a place where people go to learn about, celebrate, and be connected to the Lord. Personally, I went because I was having a hard time in my life, academically, socially, and spiritually.
I originally started going to Young Life because I knew that everyone who went loved it and talked very fondly about it. In my own life, I had found myself pushing Jesus away. I found myself hating Him because I was having a hard time in my life and thought that if God was real, He wouldn't let bad things happen to me.
Honestly, however, I had no idea who Jesus was. I knew that I attended church every Sunday because I was raised Catholic and my dad made me. I knew that Jesus was someone who many people believed to be the Son of God. However, this really was the extent of my religious knowledge.
I went to Young Life to learn more. More about myself, more about others, and more about the Lord. I accomplished all of these things by going to club every week. I'm not sure what I was expecting when I went to my first club, but it was nothing like what I experienced. We played games, we sang songs, and most importantly, we learned about the Lord.
At Young Life, we don't talk about Jesus in the way that many people assume. We don't say that if you sin, even just once, you are a bad person and you're going to hell. We don't say that you must do certain things to be a good Christian. And we don't say that Jesus loves everyone, except for people who are gay or an alcoholic or a teen mom.
At club, we learn about Jesus in a completely new way, in a way that we as high schoolers and college students can relate. Our leaders tell us stories of their lives and then integrate these stories into stories about the Lord. Personally, I believe that this is the best way that high school and college students can learn about the Lord.
This is not to say that everyone who attends Young Life is a "perfect Christian." In fact, no one can claim that they are a perfect Christian, simply because the perfect Christian does not exist. At Young Life, we learn to celebrate our imperfections and we learn that Jesus loves us regardless of our mistakes.
Therefore, I beg you to not judge Young Life if you have never been. So many people turn up their noses or scoff at the words "Young Life" just because of the reputation, without truly even knowing what it is. The people who make bad assumptions about Young Life have most likely never even been to a club event.
I missed out on so much my high school years because I was too scared to go to club because of the reputation. Club is one of the best things that happened to me in high school and I strongly encourage people to go who want to learn about the Lord, celebrate the Lord, or just meet some really awesome people who love the Lord.