“You can be a great Young Life leader but still miss Jesus. I don’t want that for you.”
The need to remain in Jesus was a theme that sprang forth during the annual Western Great Lakes YL Leadership Weekend on September 15-17.
The weekend’s speaker Daniel Lai helped challenge the 235 volunteer leaders gathered at TWL to put first things first: “The only thing you need to do is fall in love with Jesus. One way to do this is by listening to Him.”
Daniel Lai has been with Young Life since 1999 and currently lives in the Bay Area where he serves as Metro Director for San Francisco Young Life. Daniel’s intimate knowledge and heart for the mission served to bring a message that was relevant to leaders, life-giving and broadened their view of what YL looks like outside of the Midwest.
His message was paired with practical tips and spiritual disciplines leaders could take home into their everyday lives—practices like Lectio Divina and the Prayer of Examen.
He didn’t hold back when addressing leaders to be bold in their leadership: “If you are going to do ministry to the furthest out, like Jesus, it could damage your reputation.”
And later, sharing: “The country is changing. Are we ready to change in Young Life? Can we make Jesus accessible to all kids?”
Mid-way through the day on Saturday, leaders and staff gathered for the “State of the Region” address from Regional Director Chris Theule-VanDam.
“The state of the region is what God is doing through you all,” Chris shared. “As a region, we are set up to share the love of Christ with more kids than ever before in this region.”
Chris presented two unique challenges to YL teams and leaders. First, what can each team do to know 500 kids by name by the end of the school year? And then, what needs to happen so that every kid receives a personal invitation to club this year?
Then, to help leaders see the bigger picture of Young Life around the region, Chris introduced seven local YL Area Directors who each gave a testimony of how God is at work in their area. It was uplifting to hear first-hand of answered prayers and the plans and dreams of others being achieved.
“It was encouraging to pull the lens back and hear the big picture,” shared one leader.
Another remarked, “It’s great to hear how other areas [in the region] are doing and the ways in which they continue to grow.”
For those who came to Leader Weekend hungry—physically or spiritually—there was an abundance of food for the body (thanks to the Timber Wolf Kitchen and Work Crew) and also food for the soul (thanks to the worship team and seminar leaders).
Those who came longing for a break from the craziness of work and life back home found intentional moments of worship, prayer, rest and spiritual growth.
Those who came searching for authentic community and fellowship discovered the time spent with their YL teams helped facilitate that bond.
Those who came exhausted and worn out from the start of a school year found time for rest, play and renewal.
Those who needed to hone in on the best practices of a Young Life leader found there were opportunities to learn and grow in seminars like: “Helping Others Grow as Christ Followers,” “Thriving as a College Leader,” “Ministering to the LGBTQ Community,” “How to Do Relational Ministry,” “Leaders are Learners,” “Building Bridges” and others.
Leadership Weekend was tangible proof that God is doing amazing things in this region through our volunteer leaders. This ministry wouldn’t be what it is without their commitment to and love for the Lord and for kids. Keep going, leaders, and may God equip and bless you as you reach the farthest out kids this year at your school and club.