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Leading Youth in the Right Direction

There are many organizations designed to reach out to society’s youth. One of these organizations is called Young Life. Young Life is a Christian outreach ministry whose goal is to share the truth of God’s love with adolescents and build solid, meaningful friendships with them.

Young Life was started in 1939 by a man named Jim Rayburn, a young Presbyterian youth leader and seminary student in Gainesville, Texas, who took up the challenge of developing ways of contacting youth who had no interest in church.

Rayburn started a weekly club for kids. There was singing, a skit or two and a simple message about Jesus Christ. Club attendance increased dramatically when they started meeting in the homes of the young people.

After graduating, Rayburn and four others worked together to officially establish Young Life on October 16, 1941. They developed the club idea throughout Texas, with an emphasis on showing kids that faith in God can be not only fun, but exhilarating and life-changing.

Young Life is for anyone who wants the most out of life, whether they be middle school, high school, college students, or even parents who simply care and wish to be involved. Young Life welcomes all with open arms.

There are a few core philosophies/methods that Young Life follows known as the “Five C’s.”

The first “C” stands for “Club,” or controlled chaos.

Brady Cameron, Young Life leader/volunteer, describes it as an “organized, controlled party.” He then goes on to name some of the activities that take place including football, shooting baskets, throwing a frisbee and just hanging out. He said they end it with a “Club Talk” which is one of the leaders telling the kids a story and relating it to Jesus and his teachings and love. 

The second “C” stands for “Campaigners,” a nod to when Young Life was known as the Young Life Campaign. It is a weekly meeting that youth are encouraged to participate in, in order to learn and grow through study of faith, leadership and service.

“Camp” takes place during the summer. It is a week long venture of fun and networking that receives a lot of praise from those who have attended.

“Contact Work” is an irreplaceable philosophy to Young Life. It involves caring about the youth and that is what Young Life is all about.

Brock Ryan, Young Life leader and volunteer, spoke about the purpose of Young Life.

“We focus on building meaningful relationships and make sure when people come to Young Life, they have a good time,” Ryan said.

London Brundridge, young life leader/volunteer, emphasizes this.

“We seriously share their joys, hurt, tears and successes. It’s an amazing thing to be a part of,” Brundridge said.  

The final “C” is “Committee.” The foundation of Young Life is comprised of parents, Young Life alumni and civic leaders. Providing both financial and moral support, “Committee” shows just how much the community means to Young Life. 

“Young Life wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t successfully involved in its community,” Brock said. “A good Young Life organization has a strong backing from the community, and that is something we definitely have in Northwest Missouri.”

Amy Brooks, Young Life leader/volunteer, explains that many of the leaders are volunteers.

“There are about 45 folks who lead within our ministry that are volunteers,” Brooks said.  

Each week, Young Life holds different all-city events for the youth to go have fun at. These events include Young Life clubs from around the community including Savannah, Maryville, Bode/Truman, Benton, Central, Brooksdale and Lafayette.

More information on the Young Life organization’s activities, values and history can be found on its website younglife.org.

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