This is the third in a series of three posts aimed at giving an update on recent progress in Area Development in Eastern New York and Western New England. The first post, Possible or Impossible? and the second post, Young Life in the Shark Tank, will help provide some context for what you read in this update.
Chittenden County, Vermont (Burlington) has a history of great Young Life work, but is currently not an active area. When I began as an area developer, Rick Rogan prioritized it on the list of projects for me to work on. Immediately I started traveling to and having conversations with people in Chittenden County about how to re-build the area.
These conversations with adults in Chittenden County were happening at the same time I was considering the “crazy idea” of starting new areas by making an area administrator the first hire. The plan has four key elements:
- Build an engaged local committee
- Recruit a team of volunteer leaders to work with kids
- Hire a part-time area administrator to provide administrative support for the local volunteers.
- Use my freedom as an area developer to remotely train and supervise volunteer leaders
During my most recent visit to Chittenden County at the end of January, I was excited to present this new idea as a possible path to rekindling Young Life ministry in the area. I saw encouraging movement in all four elements necessary to move ahead:
Building an engaged committee: I presented this new path to adults in both group and individual meetings and the response was very positive. People saw it as an attainable way to restart Young Life in the area. We are now in the process of planning a launch meeting in March where we will hopefully recruit members for a new committee in Chittenden County. One caution mentioned is to make sure that in the absence of an Area Director, volunteer leaders are properly coached up and trained on the unique Vermont culture they will be working in. That will be in view as we train leaders and rely on local committee to help support them.
Recruiting volunteer leaders: I was able to meet with two female students at St. Michael’s College that were involved in Young Life in high school. They expressed that they would like to be volunteer leaders if there was a team to join. I have since learned of other area college students who used to be connected with Young Life in the area. I’m looking forward to meeting some of them on my next visit.
Hiring an area administrator: When I mentioned the plan to area adults, several mentioned the same person as a possible candidate: a woman named Christina who used to be on field staff in the area. She had both a working knowledge of the area and the ministry. It just so happened that I was scheduled to meet with Christina during my visit. As I presented the idea of hiring local admin support, Christina said that she had often wished she could be an administrator in a Young Life area! More on that in a minute.
- Remotely training and supervising volunteer leaders from a distance: The two college students I met with both said that they would like to prepare to be leaders now so that they can be ready to go when the area starts. We are making plans to meet for training this spring using group Skype calls. Leveraging widely available and inexpensive technology like Skype is a key ingredient to this plan.
I mentioned that Christina was excited to be an Area Administrator. Wanting to leverage her gifts and availability in our efforts to build an area team, we have brought her on in a temporary capacity as my assistant in Chittenden County. She started work last week!
There were several other blessings on this trip:
- I met with two area pastors who are excited to help the ministry get re-established.
- I had time to drive to each of the six public high schools in the county, and pray in the parking lot for the kids and the community.
- The local Christian radio station agreed to broadcast several 30-second public service announcements about Young Life over their airwaves. I’m hoping the PSA’s will connect with people in Vermont who don’t know that Young Life is active.
- I spent some time with my friend Todd and his family. Todd is the area director in neighboring Addison County, and we get to work on reaching kids in Vermont together.
Jesus has been faithful in leading me and friends around me on this journey so far. I look forward to seeing where this all goes.
For His glory!