Three weeks ago I spoke at a church about Young Life. After the service, a guy in his mid twenties approached me, excited about the possibility of getting involved as a leader. Ten years ago he had been a student at the same high school where I lead. He said, “After hearing that today, Young Life makes sense to me now, but when I was in high school, it just seemed like a big clique that I wasn’t a part of.”Here is our dilemma:How do we create a place of belonging
without being a place of exclusion?Currently our Young Life team is considering ordering some sweet Young Life shirts specific to our school. We’ve also tossed around the idea of creating custom stickers like the one above with “WFYL.”
I love those ideas. I feel like they give kids a sense of belonging. But it’s also quite obvious who doesn’t belong when a ton of kids in the lunch room are wearing the same neon green YL shirt, and you’re not.
I remember my senior year of high school when I set foot in a YL club for the first time. Everyone else knew to chant some crazy phrase after one of the leaders said some crazy phrase, but not me. Everyone else knew the song lyrics, but not me. I felt like an outsider. Part of me wanted never to return, because I hated that feeling. But another part of me had to return, because I didn’t want to remain an outsider. I wanted to know the chant, the songs, the leaders. I wanted to belong.
Jesus was inclusive of everyone. He hung out with the outsiders.
But Jesus was exclusive as well. He only invited 12 men to be his disciples.
How do we as Young Life leaders create a place of belonging without being exclusive?