Dear Young Life Leader,

It has been three weeks since the normalities of our ministry started changing. If you’re feeling confused or defeated right now, I don’t think you’re alone.

Every Young Life leader on every Young Life team is trying to figure out how to lead from an isolated place. It feels unnatural because it is unnatural. You’ve always known ministry to mean meetings with students face-to-face and now you’re not able to meet with students at all. If you’re questioning whether or not you’re doing it right, know that everyone else is, too.

We didn’t sign up to lead virtual ministries, but how can we hold onto hope when a virtual ministry is all we have?

We’re in this together and have every reason to keep going. Here’s why:

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OSU Young Life Placement

In Luke 15, Jesus tells a story about a flock of 100 sheep + their shepherd. He explains that when one sheep wanders off from the rest, the shepherd notices its absence and then leaves the other 99 to get that 1 back. To me, 99% seems like a pretty good success rate; but a good shepherd doesn’t care about statistics, he cares about his sheep.

There are 99 kids in this photo, which is _a lot_ of kids. I know the name of, like, four kids in this crowd, but Jesus knows them all by name. And in crowds more massive than this, they’ll never go unseen or overlooked.

Tonight these 99 got placed as Young Life leaders all across the city of Columbus. In a way, they became modern-day shepherds. They will spend money on gas to drive to neighborhoods where they’ll coach lacrosse or work at Starbucks so that they might find the 1. And when they do, they’ll remind him that even in the most massive crowd, he’s never unseen or overlooked. He’s known by name and has a place where he belongs back with the flock.

Dear Young Life Leader,

You’re on a grand mission.

We all want to believe we’re somebody’s beloved. This is especially true in the world of teenagers where social media “likes” are currency and the hierarchies of high school hallways are familiar enough to make even the richest feel lonely.

Young Life leaders step into a world of students like John 1 describes Jesus: “The word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood” (MSG). You show up to games, drive students home from school, and ask them questions to make them believe their needs, voices, and feelings matter in real life and not just on a screen.

I hope you know that you don’t have to change your friends with the gospel, but that you get to pray that the gospel changes them… and love them even if it doesn’t. I hope you know firsthand how good news like that doesn’t need added obligations to heal a heart. I hope you don’t attempt to play the part of a savior, but simply point lost kids back toward the place where they’re heirs to a throne they don’t know the name of yet.

If they go back, they’ll find out it’s a kingdom built on Love and Joy and Invitation. It’s a home for God’s beloved. If they go back, you’ll probably cry because it’s the most beautiful thing to witness a friend finally learn that she’s been someone’s beloved all this time… that she’s royalty no matter the teenage currency she has stored up in the bank.

You might also cry when you learn that not every kid wants to go home because sometimes being lost starts to feel normal and it’s easier to decide to keep it that way. This is the heartbreaking part of your job, but please don’t let it stop you. This mission you’re on is more grand than a summer camp property or successful ministry stats.

No matter the response, I hope you keep showing up at games and driving kids home and asking questions. Your mission is grand because it’s to love like Jesus, and Jesus calls teenagers (and me! and you!) beloved whether they claim it as a new name or not.

Thanks for forfeiting any of the social currency you could have as a college sophomore or young professional so that teenagers might know the richness of being someone’s beloved. What a grand mission.



this photo sums up the night: pizza + crowds of friends = a blurry commotion + a lot of fun.

savannah, ashley, abby, summer, ashlyn!

danielle, isa, trinity, paige!

haley, gracie, jordyn!

douglas sisters – always lifting one another up.

and then snappy tomato arrived!




“JAMES! Honorable mention. Good job, James.”

carolyn + gracie!

sydney, ellie, spencer!

*-the sky was pretty, but they were prettier-*

which one isn’t a senior? idk, you tell me.


cute lil isa + brooke

which one isn’t a douglas sister? idk, you tell me.

maddie, sarah, hannah, avneet!

sav + ashlyn!

ally, sophie, emilee!

*-blue eyes, pink skies-*

caroline, ally, carolyn!

one more time for the winner of the 2017 pizza olympics, JOEL.

they’re the real MVPs, though.