From the President

​Collaborating in Faith and Fun.

We believe Young Life’s value of being an ecumenical ministry is centered on “promoting or tending toward worldwide Christian unity or cooperation.” This definition finds its strong impulse from Jesus’ words in John 13:34-35 (NKJV):  “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another ... By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Jesus not only called His followers to love one another, but to be united as He prayed this prayer for us to His heavenly Father: “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one . . . so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me” (John 17:22-23, ESV).

While church traditions have doctrinal differences, we seek to minister alongside those who agree with us on the importance of sharing the gospel with young people and helping them grow in their faith. When we partner, we insist on the clarity of the gospel proclamation and a relational approach to ministering to kids. In my 35-year involvement with Young Life, it has been my experience that many people and church traditions wholeheartedly agree with us on these foundational elements.

Today, we minister alongside Protestants, Roman Catholics, Orthodox, as well as ethnic and country-specific denominations around the world. Some of these churches are small; others large and state sponsored. While at a recent European staff conference, we heard from two keynote speakers — Reverend Dr. Keith McCrory (a Presbyterian minister from Northern Ireland) and Father Lukasz Szymanski (a Catholic priest from Poland). Both these men and their churches have been active partners with Young Life in their communities. In fact, Father Szymanski has been a volunteer leader under our local area director!

We also have a long-standing church partnership in Brooklyn, New York, with a large African-American church. This partnership is at the leadership level and includes financial, spiritual and mentoring support. I am confident God is blessing our ministry because of these carefully chosen partnerships with like-minded churches and church leaders.

Alongside our mutual love for a clear gospel and relational approach is our emphasis on “providing fun, adventurous, life-changing and skill-building experiences” for kids. Giving young people a taste of the abundant life Jesus offers to all is a method which travels well across traditions, and offers an appealing point of connection among many denominations around the globe.

This method has been characteristic of our ministry since our founder, Jim Rayburn, began taking kids on outdoor adventures. His genius was not about seeking some adrenaline high, but rather helping young people step outside their “comfort zones,” often in the middle of God’s amazing creation. These experiences open kids of all abilities and backgrounds — as varied as Capernaum, YoungLives, multiethnic, middle school — to seeing God in new ways, giving them the courage to take important steps toward following Jesus.

In all these efforts, our hope and prayer is to develop leaders in God’s Kingdom whom Jesus can send into the world in His name.