Youth for Christ revisits a firm foundation

Youth for Christ revisits a firm foundation

For the leaders of the future, training is in session. Every day they are learning, noticing, collecting information, and jotting down mental notes. Soon they will wear the suits in the state capitols, pastor the churches, invent unimaginable technology, and become the parents of our descendants.

The youth of today will lead us into tomorrow. Now how will we prepare them?

For Youth for Christ (YFC), a movement dedicated to raising up followers of Jesus, the role of leadership is imperative.

“We are Youth for Christ,” says Holly Culhane, vice chair of the YFC/USA Board of Trustees. “We thought, knowing that we want to emulate Jesus, why don’t we start by looking at how Jesus led?”

And so it was a natural fit for YFC to consider the Lead Like Jesus philosophy for leadership development within their organization.

YFC reaches unchurched youth through diverse programs like City Life, which ministers to an urban audience, and Deaf Teen Quest, which offers support for the hearing-impaired. Other programs include Parent Life, dedicated to equipping young moms and dads, and YFC Camps which evangelize to teens in an interactive outdoor experience. YFC/USA is also part of a worldwide movement – one of over 100 member nations in Youth for Christ International.

YFC’s focus on the leaders of the future is one of the most significant among evangelical ministries. For a Christian organization promising devotion to Jesus in its mission statement, revisiting the foundation of leadership is a necessity.

Holly, who is also a Lead Like Jesus master trainer, led an LLJ Encounter with 25-30 key leaders of YFC in Denver, Colorado, in 2014.

“The servant leadership model isn’t new to our team,” she says. “They had all heard it differently throughout their lives. But we found clarity and a shared community by sitting down to talk it through and make it practical. It wasn’t an ‘ah-ha’ moment; it was a revisit.”

Bobby Arkills, also on the YFC/USA Board of Trustees, is the executive director of the Tacoma, Washington YFC Chapter. Holly also led his leadership team through an Encounter in November 2014.

“We needed to take a step back,” says Bobby. “We all needed to start from the same baseline.

 “We’re supposed to model Jesus, and we’re supposed to model service,” Bobby says, “and there are so many kids who haven’t seen that modeled well. But if we really believe in Jesus’ leadership, we believe in pouring long-term into these kids’ lives, even when they are arrested or in tough places. It’s saying to them, ‘We will stick with you. We aren’t leaving the picture.’ It’s walking alongside them. It’s a lifelong commitment.”

 This difference — teams of leaders engaged with each other and the world according to the model of Jesus — will mean a continued impact on the youth of the world as they lead us into tomorrow.

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