Young Life’s vision as a movement can be summed up in two words: “Every Kid.” If you have been around the mission awhile, you might think not much else needs to be said. “Every Kid” serves as our standing order to never stop thinking about the next kid, the next school, the next city. However, in my new role as an area developer, I have begun to think about it differently. One day, I was discussing the every kid vision with a friend and mentor of mine who has loved the mission of Young Life from a distance for many years. This is what he said:
. . . if by “every kid” you mean, “Every kid is going to become a follower of Jesus,” that’s not not going to happen. It’s not even Biblical. But if by “every kid” you mean that every kid could live in a community, or go to a school where a Young Life team is present and actively building relationships with kids in order to show them Christ, then I’m in. That can be done.
In nearly 20 years on staff with Young Life, I’d never thought of our vision in quite those terms. Although I never would have said so, I had begun to see the vision as an impossible goal–something to reach for, but for all practical purposes, impossible. In this part of the country we have always been a minority movement. I did a little research and found out that in the geography I’m developing, there are:
- 595 high schools and middle schools
55 colleges and universities.
I counted up the current Young Life clubs in that same geography:
- We have 15 high school and middle school clubs: 2% of the total.
We have one college club: also 2% of the total
That means in the 30+ years that Young Life has been in this part of the U.S., we have gotten to 2% of the schools and communities.
Now, each one of those ministries has been established through prayer and sacrifice, and years of support. The leaders and staff in each of those places do amazing work to reach hundreds of kids every year. My purpose is not to minimize what is there, but to point out that after 30+ years, there isn’t enough of it.
In my new role as area developer, I get to think strategically about how to change those numbers. We are not going to go from 2% of schools to 100% in three, or even five years. However, I have come to believe in order for me to be faithful in my new role, I have to plan and act as if 100% is possible over a longer arc of time.
This is the first in a series of posts giving an update on recent area development progress in Eastern New York and Western New England. In my next post, I will present a crazy idea that came out of setting my sights on 100%.