Delaware Valley High School Leadership Team 🙂
First of all, I apologize for the exorbitant amount of time between posts. My goal is to do one a month, I just let life get in the way of these last few months. Thank you to all of those who support Team Dorrough, and our efforts to reach kids with the gospel in the Tri-States Area!
Ministry continues to go well, especially at our “flagship” Delaware Valley Young Life and Wyldlife Clubs. A challenge we are currently facing is leader recruitment. We live in a rural Northeast setting, with no large college nearby nor a good amount of young adults in the area. Since these groups are typically who YL has looked to in the past to become volunteers, it’s easy to get discouraged in this effort.
Last year, I was praying through this challenge and reading the New Testament, hoping to glean some wisdom from the strategies of Jesus and Paul. I came to the conclusion that in order to grow our leadership numbers, we need to spend time investing in who IS here, instead of wishing on who is not. Jesus recruited people to be his disciples that were representative of the population at the time: fishermen, tax collectors etc (Matthew 4). Paul spent a significant portion of his time investing into indigenous leaders, so that he wouldn’t have to run EVERY church that he started. I came to the conclusion that the same strategy can work for Tri-States Young Life.
Who is here? Students. Lots of them. There are approximately 1,600 students at Delaware Valley High School. Of the students we meet, a good number of them stay around and go into the work force or attend a nearby community college. This means that of the kids we meet and invest in, a decent amount of them will still be here after high school. It came to me, that if we spent time discipling, training, and investing in kids while they’re here, we’d not only increase our local leadership numbers, but we’d be sending fully trained and “ready to go” YL leaders to whatever college they decide to attend.
Hence, the birth of the junior leader program. This is not an idea that is uniquely mine, nor is it new to me. I can’t remember exactly where the original idea came from (we have a joke in YL that every idea is stolen from someone else), but it was something I put into place when I started Club at Blake HS back in 2008. The idea is simple: take high school students and train them to do ministry.
Now, we don’t just choose any student that comes to Club. Like any volunteer with us, we have high standards. We choose students who have a growing personal relationship with Christ, have a heart to reach lost kids at their school, and who agree to the same leadership requirements we give our adult leaders.
Here are a few things I have learned from doing this over the years:
-Be careful and PRAYERFUL about which students you select. This is not a program open to all of them, as we want to make sure they’re spiritually ready first.
-REMEMBER that they are still students! Though they have the same requirements as our adults leaders as far as faith and conduct, the time commitment is slightly different. We ask them to come to area leadership meetings and team meetings (which they faithfully do), on top of helping to run Club and Campaigners. However, they are a student first and if there’s a project due, or they have to miss Club because they play sports, it’s perfectly alright!
-Along the lines above, we need to make sure that we are caring for them FIRST as our YL kids and then SECOND as junior leaders. This means that we don’t give them too many extra responsibilities (unless they ask for them), and we make sure they are in a discipleship relationship with a leader outside of leadership meetings. We don’t want students to burn out ministry BEFORE they get to college (or ever!). I’ve learned this lesson the hard way, and is one we really try to implement in our program.
-We let them lead campaigners if they want to and feel ready! We have done a “group” lesson, with all of our junior leaders participating in the planning and implementation of the time. We’ve also let those that ask do Campaigners on their own, if we feel like they are ready.
-Remember that they are doing “contact work” 8 hours a day at school! They can come with us to games, etc but we understand that simply by being at school they’re fulfilling this requirement.
-They are ready and eager for this! Teenagers today get a bad rap. People assume that they’re entitled, lazy, and apathetic. What I’ve seen, however, is that they are ready and waiting for someone to come along and say “I choose you”. They are passionate about causes, and they are just ready and waiting for someone to give them leadership responsibilities. They can handle it! Some of the OT Testament prophets and NT church leaders were teenagers!
I’ve seen nothing but good benefits for our area because of this program. In the picture above, half of the team are junior leaders! Of our graduating seniors, one is heading off to lead YL in college and one is staying here to continue leading next year.
I’ll close with this. One of the people in this picture is a recent graduate of our program and is a first year leader. When I sat down with him over the summer to explain what it would look like for him to lead YL with us after being in the program, he said “Oh, so it’s what I’ve been doing! Cool, I’m ready!”
It takes time, but I believe that investing in and giving students leadership responsibilities is a great way to grow leadership numbers. If you have any questions or want more insight into the program we run, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Thank you for your support of God’s work in Tri-States!