Why Young Life? Why do y'all act like crazy people most of the time? Why did you give up a month of your summer to volunteer at a camp? Why do you spend so much time hanging out with kids? Why do you do Young Life?
The answer to all of these questions can be summed up by one word: Jesus. He changes everything in our lives, and that surfaces itself it many ways. But for myself and many other Young Life leaders, one of the ways that comes out is our passion for this ministry.
People have asked me many times, "Why is Young Life different?" Sometimes this is asked because people don't understand what Young Life is. Young Life is a relational ministry where leaders go after a relationship with their kids, and through that they show and tell them about Jesus Christ. We go about ministry this way because that is how Christ went about His ministry, building relationships with His disciples. I'm not saying other ministries don't do this or something similar, but Young Life's entire structure is built for that, so it's pretty pervasive throughout the entire ministry.
Now going back, the reason we do all of these crazy things is because of Jesus. We love Him, and we love the kids we are going after and we want them to know and love Jesus. Jesus is love, and I think Young Life is such a powerful ministry because love is so apparent; it's everywhere you look. Recently I was hanging out with some other Young Life leaders that I worked on Summer Staff at Rockbridge with, and just in case you don't know, Summer Staff is the volunteering at camp I was referring too. Anyway, one of these guys was talking a little bit about his story, and started talking about how great his Young Life leader was, and even his friends who were involved in Young Life. He said what stuck out to him was how it was so evident that his leader loved him no matter what, and the same thing with his "YL friends", how they loved him and loved each other in such a real and passionate way. When he said this, I immediately broke into a smile because that is how ministry is supposed to look! Not just Young life, but all ministry!
"By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:35
We are called to love, and that is how ministry will work. The love of Christ is what will let other hear about Him, not judgement or rules or fear.
You might say that the idea of loving Jesus is what all ministries are about, and in theory, I completely agree. Unfortunately so many churches and youth groups and other ministries today are more worried about attendance or image or legalistic rules, that they distort the message of the Gospel. This is a sad but real truth in our world today, and is one of the reasons that I believe Young Life is such an amazing ministry. There isn't judgement, just love. There aren't rules and regulations, just Jesus.
I am not saying Young Life is perfect. It is far from it. It's a group of broken human beings trying to follow and tell the world about a perfect and loving Savior, who died for every single human being ever. Young Life is run by broken people, so there are mistakes and issues all the time.
“Christianity is represented by imperfect Christians trying to represent a perfect Christ. This explains why everything bad about Christianity can be traced back to Christians, but everything good can be traced back to Christ.” – Unknown
Nothing will be perfect here on earth, but Young Life is a ministry that I believe is working and moving in the lives of kids, and telling people about Christ in incredible ways. And this is not because of the people or the model, it's because of Jesus Christ, and Him alone. That's why Young Life.