Friday, April 27, 2012

Decatur Young Life (Rest Easy, Loving Shareholders)

Here's a big update on a big thing. Young Life has been a part of my life and my ministry for the last five years. I love the way its done; the model, the heart, the pursuit of kids. In imitating Christ's approach to us, we reach kids in the most effective way possible, I believe. And, I've seen Him change lives through it again and again. So, a year and a half or so ago, my friend Troy and I began a conversation. Troy is the Area Director for East Atlanta Young Life and has had his sights set on Decatur High School for quite some time. The planning began, and it quickly gained a lot of steam. I had previously held off of getting involved with kids in YL to that point, as I wanted to make sure that my involvement wasn't motivated by my desire for community over my desire to love on High School students. But, when Troy first mentioned Young Life in Decatur, I was all in. Interest grew quickly and before we knew it, there were churches and parents and school administrators that were fired up and inviting us into the community. A team began to form and the right people all began to fall into place perfectly. So, when we first began to meet, we began to set our sights onto moving into the school slowly and carefully. It's a hard thing to do, as a 26 year-old white dude, to just go and hang out around a High School and not be seen as a threat. So, we drew up strategy and started to assimilate, meeting and building relationships with kids at the most natural pace possible. I remember distinctly being "that guy" in some of our meetings. Troy is one of my favorite people in the world. But, if you know Troy, he's also one of the most ambitious people in the world (slight exaggeration.) So, with the momentum that we were gaining, members of the team and parents involved were expecting that club was a nearly-arrived thing; that it was in the immediate future (this is Spring 2011 that we're talking about.) I was always advocating a "slow and steady" approach; that it was essential to lay the groundwork, build up the base, and make strong, assertive and calculated moves as they became appropriate. Jumping on a bandwagon and letting ourselves be a flash-in-the-pan was not the most effective way to reach High School kids, as exciting as it might have been. But, we began to have events with kids in March, after meeting weekly to grow together as a team and to plan out our approach. These events began to draw unexpected numbers of HS kids. And the numbers grew. We soon realized that we were a part of something huge. We were thinking about what kind of big kick-off event that we could host to introduce kids to Young Life Decatur and generate hype and excitement that would give us opportunity to meet and pursue relationships with kids. Then, someone (Fran, I believe) said, "why don't we do club?" Club is the weekly Young Life event where kids come and sing their songs and get crazy and have a good time in an awesome and loving environment. The argument to have club was that we were capable of doing it really well. Three of us have been with YL for a long time, and we know how to do club. I was initially resistant to having club before the Fall 2012 semester, because if it failed to bring out kids, we'd be a pariah and a social liability and wouldn't have a shot to generate interest in the future like what we have now. But, after some convincing, it was decided that we would have club. On Monday, April 23rd, Young Life Decatur had its very first club ever. 39 kids showed up (which is a ton.) It was awesome. Everything went well, kids got an idea of what club is, and we met a lot of new kids. It was incredible. It's been obvious that the Lord has big plans for Decatur High School and it's so exciting to be a part of it. We're taking 11 Decatur kids to Crooked Creek YL Camp with us this summer, and pushing to get more to come. Be praying for camp sign-ups, for relationship development, and for the breaking down of walls. God is doing big, big things. It's awesome.


troy earnest said...

Praise God! And to him be the glory and timing!

Mr. Overambitious!


Anonymous said...

So excited to read this! Lisa L.

Hiralious said...

Enjoyed reading your posts =)