The Anatomy of Young Life Committee

Young Life is a complex organization that derives its vitality from a far-reaching network of committees supporting it at the local level. More than 11,000 adults around the world are organized in area committees. Each has a slightly different look, unique strengths — and a few quirks, but committees everywhere share a common purpose. There are many ways to describe Young Life committees and the work they do. One helpful analogy is that of the body.

The head
Strategies for growth develop here. Under the leadership of a committee chairperson, a group of adults collaborates with the local and regional staff to introduce or sustain Young Life locally. The head is employed after engaging the knees. High-functioning committees organize around the gifts and interests of those called to serve so members are not depleted by their involvement, but instead, energized and renewed.

Michael “Moose” Valliere, one of Young Life’s missionwide committee trainers, believes in asking committee members to write down what they would like to do. Equally important is their notation of what they do not want to do. Some people love to meet with donors, or speak in public. Others prefer to care for leaders or serve through prayer. “And then,” said Valliere, “we ask members to think through what serving in their particular sweet spot would look like. People want to know what their role is. They will rise to the occasion if we invite them to serve in a role they helped design.”

Valliere also stresses the importance of the committee chairperson. He says we too often choose that leader by default. Chairpersons should have passion, teachability and an understanding of the mission in order to encourage committees. “Young Life has been used by God to change the world. The vision I want them to have is this: In some small way God will use my gifts to impact someone who will one day impact their community and world.” Valliere said that helps members understand their piece of that puzzle.

The hands
Organized with strategies for growth, committees apply themselves to the work of supporting the mission. Often, the hands are wrapped around fundamental tools of the trade. Some committee members keep a hand on spreadsheets and calculators, mindful of the area budget and the ebb and flow of donations, while others have their hands on cell phones and calendars; planning, inviting, and welcoming parents and other interested adults to banquets, golf outings and other Young Life events. Still others stretch their hands out to the community, introducing Young Life and speaking on its behalf to friends, neighbors, area churches and schools.

Though hands of Young Life committee are rarely still, committee members like Debbie Miller in eastern Loudoun County, Va., wouldn’t have it any other way. “I have been involved in committee for the past two years caring for leaders, working on the banquet committee, and praying for kids and staff. Because I was touched by Young Life in high school, I want my own children and their friends to have the same opportunity. It is the best investment of my time outside the home.”

The stomach
The stomach is a vital organ to effective ministry. Young Life committees nourish the ministry by feeding its leaders. Offering encouragement by way of notes or gas cards and, yes, a home-cooked meal, many groups form sub-committees centered on leader care. Milissa Spring, also of east Loudoun County, witnesses the labors of leaders in her area and is motivated to serve them in return. “Knowing how those leaders reach kids and show them what a life lived for Christ looks like, and how much they sacrifice for the privilege of doing that, makes my small contribution through service on committee a no-brainer.”

The knees
If the knees are stiff and a little achy, it’s because the committee has been working out, exercising its greatest privilege — prayer. Nothing is accomplished in Young Life ministry that isn’t first brought to the Lord in prayer. Kim Martin, committee member in Ohio’s Buckeye Region, believes the most effective way we can support our leaders is through prayer. “This is actually the request the leaders make the most. Young Life’s success is a reflection of God and the Holy Spirit working through others to bring the Gospel of our Lord Jesus to kids. Through prayer we are able to love and support our leaders in the best way possible.” Martin and a group of other women meet monthly to do the unseen work of effective committees.

The heart
This is the engine of a Young Life committee. It functions in the same way the world over. And almost universally, it’s a shopworn part. It’s the heart of a committee that sees a kid shuffling through the school’s doors looking like the books in his backpack aren’t the only weight on his shoulders. And the heart remembers. It’s the heart of a committee that hears about an underage drinking party and understands the pressure to fit in, to be accepted at any cost. And the heart aches. It’s the heart of a committee that knows the uncertainty and loneliness of being a teenage kid — even in a crowd. And the heart breaks. But the heart is quickened by the hope of Christ that every committee member holds. And this heart resolves that as far as we are able, no teenage boy or girl will slip through the doors of adolescence into adulthood without knowing they’re created marvelously and loved extravagantly by a God whose heart beats for them.

If you are a member of committee — whether you’ve served for decades or a season of your life, please accept the grateful thanks of leaders and staff throughout the world. We stand because you stand beside us. And if you’ve ever wondered how you might support Young Life in your hometown as a committee member or friend, please contact your local Young Life office. There is a role for you to play that only you can fill.

Young Life Ministry Support Team

Like a double shot of espresso, the ministry support team provides a lift to committees, especially during busy seasons. Whether you call them ambassadors, boosters or friends, you can always call them invaluable sources of energy. Some friends serve in short-term commitments to organize a silent auction or provide a leader appreciation brunch. Others serve in loosely defined roles, as “advocates-at-large” endorsing Young Life in their spheres of influence.

The ministry support team doesn’t attend regular meetings, but most are willing to help with just a simple invitation. Even better is when they come up with an idea and bring it to life. Supporters Dan and Diane Rehor in Bay Village, Ohio, did just that when they organized the football-toss booth at the annual Bay Days celebration and designated Young Life as a recipient of its proceeds.

Their gift, which they downplay, generated thousands of dollars for Young Life. “We don’t feel called by God to give of our lives in daily ministry like Andy and Kristy (the staff couple in Bay Village, Ohio),” explained Diane Rehor. “But we see the difference Young Life has made in our son’s life. We believe in the difference Young Life can make in many teens’ lives. So we give a little of our time and our God-given gifts.” Every committee knows there are no small gifts of time and energy.