From the President

Over the course of four days this February, I was on the phone with about 1,000 field staff, leaders, and committee men and women. As you may have surmised, these were not individual one-on-one calls. In fact, there were four calls only: one per U.S. division. The content of these calls was devoted to an update on our Reaching a World of Kids initiative.

 

If you’d like to listen in on one of the calls, you can. They were recorded and you can simply go to www.younglife.org​/RWOK (calls are no longer available online) and click on “Conference Calls.” But, while I’m waiting for you to do that, I’d like to highlight the key points that were presented.

First, the vision is very simple. We, in Young Life, want to increase the number of kids we impact from one million a year (which was the number when we started the campaign a year ago) to two million a year. In other words, what took us 68 years to do — reach one million kids a year — we want to double in seven years. Why do we want to do this? It’s NOT because we want to be the biggest youth mission in the world, but because kids are lost and we exist to introduce lost kids to Jesus Christ and help them grow in their faith. This is why Young Life was created. We also believe it’s a movement of the Holy Spirit and God has given us this vision and a time-tested approach to kids that crosses culture, ages and time. We believe we’ve been given grace and favor in the eyes of people who want to come on staff, join us as volunteer leaders or committee members, and/or want to give generously to help us impact these kids.

There are two other important numbers: 80,000 and 8,000. We know this must be a volunteer-based movement and so we want to recruit, train and retain 80,000 volunteer leaders and make sure we are in more than 8,000 locations by 2016.

We have three strategies that are paramount in Reaching a World of Kids (RWOK). One is leadership development. We want to leverage the power of volunteers and staff. We encourage our area directors to minister directly with kids but we also want them to build and lead an all-star team of volunteers with a passion for Christ and kids (visit youweremadeforthis.org). So initiatives like Alumni and Friends, Young Life College, Latino Student Staff, and Developing Global Leaders are part of this focus.

A second strategy is sustaining and starting new ministries. This is all about doing what we do best for more kids in more places. We expect 20 percent of our growth will come just by helping leaders do a better job equipping Campaigner kids to reach their school, and clubs will grow because of that approach. We’re also working hard at raising money for hard-to-fund areas. In addition, we’re training our staff in fundraising and we’ve developed an area help fund to assist areas in financial difficulty.

The third strategy is one of the hallmarks of Young Life — camping. Approximately 30 to 40 percent of kids who go to camp meet Christ. The percentage is even higher for kids internationally. And so we’re building five new camps (two in the United States and three internationally); we’re refurbishing others and adding camper beds; we’re even developing “camp on wheels” where we’ll bring camp in trailers and semis to kids in Third World countries; and we’re raising millions of dollars for camp scholarships so no young person will be left behind because he or she can’t afford camp.

If you listen to one of the calls, you’ll hear from area and regional directors talking about what they’re doing locally to reach kids in creative and sustainable ways. And you’ll also hear about our financial campaign to raise $260 million to provide seed money and capital to pursue kids. The good news is that the Lord has been very gracious to us. Almost $97 million has been given in cash, pledges or commitments in the first year of our initiative, where we went over the 1.1 million mark in reaching kids on our way to two million a year.

I encourage you to listen to one of these calls and talk to your area or regional director about how you can get involved in our efforts in Reaching a World of Kids!