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GO! Contact Work With Capernaum Kids



Submitted by Colleen Kendall

I recently received an email from one of our Capernaum parents.  The time stamp was 3:00am so I knew it was important and I knew the mom was stressed and upset.  She wanted to let me know that her 16 year old son who has Down Syndrome was being bullied at school.  Those words hit me like a ton of bricks!  She ended the email with a quote from another parent that said “Social isolation is a bigger health risk than obesity.”  Bam! There was that hit again.  I spent several days talking to God and asking “What can I do?”  CONTACT WORK!

Contact work is the most enjoyable and the most frustrating part of my job.  I love going and hanging out with Capernaum friends and their families.   It is so rewarding to see their excitement when I cheer for them as they make a basket, or give them a hug when they cross the finish line at their track meet.  The parents as so excited to see leaders taking time to “show up.”  But…….getting leaders to understand the importance and to take the time to “show up” is so frustrating.  I have tried bribes, motivational talks, bringing in the area director to talk to the group and just about anything I could think of.  Yet they still didn’t GO.  That is until I read the parents quote and talked about how we are the key, the link to changing this isolation in our kids’ experience.  Now, they GO!

So what does contact work look like for Capernaum?  Let’s talk about it:

  • GO to the local high school and hangout. 

Pros: the kids see you, typical kid see you with our kids, the kids feel important. 

Cons: the chances that new kids will attend club are slim.  The kids don’t go home and tell their families that there is the Young Life thing they want to attend.  For our club we have kids from 14 high schools that are spread over 30 miles.  The contact work is done by our high school leaders that attend that high school.

  • GO to special olympics.  Most of our kids participate in some type of special olympics and they are year round.  Here you not only cheer on our current kids but you have a chance to meet so many others.  I usually wear a YL shirt and find a few parents I know and have them introduce me to other parents.  We have made a document that we can hand out that show what clubs are coming up and how to get involved.  Special olympics are great for contact work.  Do you know that Bocce Ball is now one of their sports?
  • GO to high school sports, drama, and choir events.  Just showing up won’t get you many kids.  But, having leaders take some current kids helps our group will stand out and you will see more kids gather and parents will take note.
  • GO to the parents.  I’ve said it before, our kids won’t go home and talk about this new thing called Young Life.  You have to get to the parents and build a relationship with them.  They have to trust you to let their child attend. 
  • GO to Capernaum friends’ birthday parties, graduations, celebrations.  As other parents see you there as a friend they will soon want their son/daughter to hang out with you too.
  • Go to Capernaum friends facebook, instagram, twitter account and comment.  It’s amazing how many kids we have now because of a comment we have made.  People ask about Capernaum.  We also have our own facebook page and we post weekly pictures and tag kids.  Social media can work!

Luke 14:12-13

“12 Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Perhaps you have noticed that I keep using the work GO!  It is mentioned in the Bible 1544 times.  Ummmm get the point.  Just GO! GO to the kids and families, find them, bring them in, love them, show them the love of Jesus.  What are you waiting for?  GO!

Colleen Kendall is the Capernaum Rep for the Mt. Hood Region in Portland, OR. She works full-time with special needs students in the David Douglas School District and is on part-time Teacher Staff with Capernaum Young Life in Lake Oswego, OR.


YL Camp & Catholic Kids


For many of us, summer YL camp is only a month or two away! Are you taking any kids with you that have a Catholic background? Take a minute and read below to gain some insight into training leaders on how to relate to kids who come from Catholic homes.

Best case scenario: include a Catholic to help you train your leaders!


  1. How to talk with Catholic Families about YL camp
  2. How to support kids with Catholic background at camp while they process the gospel presentation
  3. Post-camp follow-up tips



In a great old SNL skit, Mike Meyer’s plays Simon--a boy from England--talking with Danny Devito about his late mother. Simon tells Danny, “daddy says my mum is sleeping with the angels.” Danny replies,“my dad says my mommy’s sleeping with the fishes.” Simon then says, “My mum used to say you Americans and we British are separated by a common language.”

Guess what? Catholics and Protestants are too! This is very much an issue for us to be aware of and sensitive around. We are all going to make mistakes! Let’s do our best to be humble and seek to understand before trying to be understood.





Michael Havercamp is a Catholic on Young Life Staff. Check out his blog:

What Does a YoungLives Coordinator Need to Thrive?

Being a YoungLives coordinator is more like being an area director than a team leader. Coordinators often oversee dozens of volunteers, run club, network in the community, and perform many of the same tasks as an area director – but on a part-time or volunteer basis.  So whether YoungLives is stand-alone or integrated, the following three things are absolutely vital to the health of any YoungLives ministry.

1. Young Life Connection

The supervision and connection a YoungLives ministry has with the local Young Life ministry and/or the Young Life region determine its sustainability.

2. Training

Young Life and YoungLives training are essential for the health and longevity of YoungLives coordinators.

3. Committee

A committee or subcommittee provides ministry with stability as well as financial, spiritual and emotional support for local leaders.

How Do I Supervise a YoungLives Coordinator?

Although you may not have direct YoungLives experience, you are still the Young Life specialist in the area. Here are the top four things you can do to help the YoungLives coordinator be successful:

Meet Regularly

  • Go through Leadership I & II together
  • Establish vision for the area
  • Ask questions and keep her accountable to her job
  • Come up with an ongoing training plan (see YoungLives Hiring & Training Plan)
  • Coach her in what you already know about doing Young Life: building a committee, running a healthy club, planning a camp trip, starting Campaigners, where to find local resources, etc.


  • Attend YoungLives club at least once a year
  • Help run initial mentor trainings and sub-committee meetings

Work Together

  • Report YoungLives on GPS
  • Establish a budget for YoungLives
  • Coach the coordinator in raising personal and area support
  • Show her how to complete administrative tasks (reporting volunteers, ordering materials, etc)

Take Her with You

  • To visit local clubs
  • To meet administration
  • To network in the community
  • To speak to churches

The Outer Life of a Leader - The Power of With-ness

Jesus in the Great Commission stated, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

In this commission, He gives us a command and a promise.  It is the promise that I want us to focus on.  The promise here is that He will be with us always.  As we experience and grow in this truth of His presence, that He is with us means everything.  There is no place I can go that will go beyond His reach.  He is with me and is for me!

In John 20 Jesus states, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”  Think about what that means in light of being with the people the Lord has given us.  Jesus was sent by becoming a man; and he lived out servant leadership and laid down his life.  He was with people while on earth and is now with us as we are called to do the same. 

The scriptures are full of stories of Jesus where He is with people, engaging in lives and seeing transformation take place.  What is your story? What is my story?  Are we going to people and engaging in transformational ways?  Do we have a tendency to “just do enough” in relationships?  Do we want to isolate and walk away from relationships that the Lord had put in front of us?  Do we move into relationships knowing that the Lord has called and empowered us to be with people?

As we look back on the people who have impacted and affected our lives, what is it that stands out about these people?  It could be words or a specific event.  Usually, however, it is that they were with us. They came to us, included us, and brought us with them.  Sounds a lot like what Jesus did!

The outer life of a leader is going to have the distinct flavor of going to people and being with them. The outward expression of being with others will be motivated out of an obedience and calling that the Lord has given them internally. It has been said that to lead someone is to serve them, and to serve them you need to know them, and to know them you need to be with them!

A few questions to reflect on…

1)      Describe someone who has impacted your life.  How were they with you?

2)      How are you currently being with people now?  List specific ways.

3)      Moving forward list a few ways you can grow in being with others.

Some Tips for WyldLife leaders

Some Tips for WyldLife leaders





WyldLife Tips

You work with middle schoolers… are you crazy? Possibly… but it’s worth it.
Middle schoolers today are faced with far more adult-like decisions than ever before. That’s what makes the WyldLife ministry so meaningful and critical.  Having caring adult volunteers speaking God’s truth into their life at a younger age is so meaningful.  They aren’t quite as hardened as high schoolers, and hopefully haven’t gotten sucked into life choices that can make it difficult to change courses from a human perspective. 

WyldLife looks different across the ministry. We currently have two clubs in our area. One meets one Saturday a month, the other meets roughly every other Tuesday.  Regardless of your particular schedule, here are a couple of strategies that we’ve found effective over the years, not just for club night, but for ministry as a whole.  Some could be painfully obvious, but hopefully there is a helpful nugget for you in there somewhere.   

Invest in the school – figure out a way for staff and/or volunteers to give back to the school. You’re much more likely to have access to the school when you are seen as investing in what is already going on there, and not just WyldLife.  Yesterday I got to run the high jump at the middle school track meet. It’s kind of like herding cats and seeing which one can jump the highest, but it’s a great opportunity to support the kids and the school.  For quite some time our middle school has served popcorn on Friday’s as an incentive for positive behavior.  Look for an opportunity like that to be in the school and serving, seeing kids, and being seen.

Serve through other organizations – does your school have lunch time mentoring program?  What a great opportunity to be in the school, invest in the life of one kid and be available for other kids to ask you when WyldLife is!   Are there clubs going on which you might be considered an expert, at least in the eyes of a middle schooler? Serve through these groups and it’s one more opportunity to get to know kids.

Communicate well – making sure parents are in the loop is critical in getting middle schoolers to WyldLife functions. Figure out as many options you can in order to get the word out.  Facebook might not be the coolest of options for middle schoolers, but it’s pretty effective for parents.   The Young Life provided Emma email tool is a great way to send sharp looking emails to communicate about upcoming clubs, fundraisers, and camp.  We send one out about a week before each WyldLife and then a text message reminder either the night before or right after school on club day.

Be alert for schedule conflicts  – Be aware of what else is going on in the community. If there is a varsity home basketball game on the night WyldLife is scheduled, consider moving club to a different week, same thing for middle school band or choir concerts, have club the next week. You can’t avoid every conflict, but be mindful of those big ones.  This awareness allows kids to not miss club and it shows the parents and school that you care about all the activities kids are involved in.  Having those scheduling variances makes communication more critical, but it’s worth it.

Traditions – there are some club activities worth doing every year.   Kids remember them and they look forward to them each year.  Right after Easter we’ll do a peep launch.  Take a water balloon launcher and a pile of discount peeps purchased the morning after Easter. Nothing fancy. You launch them, they’ll catch them. And eat them.  If you’re careful you can let kids launch as well.  Around Thanksgiving we have a musical babyfood roulette Thanksgiving feast.   Everyone in a circle, pass around an object while the music is playing. Whenever the music stops the lucky middle schooler gets to roll a dice to determine which baby food goodness they get to enjoy.  Make at least one of them yummy! Don’t allow double dipping!

Mostly mixers – We’ve found that most middle schoolers want to be part of every game, so pretty much every game is something where everyone is participating. We’ll do an occasional upfront game, but aim for as much full participation as possible.

Talk Transition – we have steered away from singing songs at WyldLife club. I’m sure it’s doable, but it is a lot different singing in a crowd of 400 at Creekside vs a smaller group in a living room.  But how do you transition from the craziness of games to getting them settled down for the message?  We’ve been using short videos to get them sitting down, looking forward, and calming down a bit before the message.  It can be a challenge to find short, appropriate and either funny or encouraging videos, but and are good options.  Be sure to download the video and not rely on the internet to be working at that particular moment.

Phone basket – this last one might be a bit controversial, but something to think about. We have a basket that we bring out at the start of club and all the middle schoolers put their phone in it.  After club, we have a drawing and select a few phones out for prizes. Sometimes it is candy, or a gift card, or camp scholarship money.   On one hand, kids aren’t posting on social media about the fun they are having at club, but they are more fully engaged in what is happening in the room, especially during the message.   Surprisingly enough, the kids don’t complain about giving up their phone.  It likely takes away a little social pressure.

There are a lot of things I wish we were better at, but these have been some helpful strategies over the years.  

The Inner Life of a Capernaum Leader



 -- Submitted by Colleen Kendall (Mt. Hood Region Capernaum Rep) --

I’m going to paraphrase a funny story I read and use quite often in our Capernaum leader trainings:

A man was driving when the light in front of him turned yellow so he stopped.  In the car behind him was a women who evidently didn’t like the fact that he stopped and began yelling at him, honking her horn and using a few gestures.  Next thing she knows there is a tap on her window and there is a serious police officer looking at her…..with his gun drawn.  The police officer had her exit the car with her hands raised.  She was escorted to the local police stations where she was finger printed, photographed and placed in a holding cell.  After a few hours the officer returned and escorted her back to her personal items.  He said, “I’m very sorry for this mistake. You see, I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn, flipping off the guy in front of you, and cussing a blue streak at him. I noticed the ‘What Would Jesus Do’ bumper sticker, the ‘Choose Life’ license plate holder, the ‘Follow Me to Sunday-School’ bumper sticker, and the chrome-plated Christian fish emblem on the trunk, Naturally… I assumed you had stolen the car.”

Being involved in Capernaum comes with some additional responsibilities and one of those is being a role model for some very impressionable young folks.  I personally feel Capernaum friends are more impressionable than the typical teen.  That being said….are you a good/positive role model for our Capernaum friends?

  • What’s on your facebook page?  Are your pictures appropriate?  Are your posts appropriate?  Our friends look up to you and may very well try to imitate what they see in your post.
  • What does your car-driving say about you?  You never know who is behind you or beside you.
  • Are you attending church regularly?  Are you reading your bible?  Are you sharing the word with others?  Are you attending or leading a bible study?
  • Do you have passion and the ability to inspire?
  • Do you have a clear set of values?  Do your values support Capernaum ministries?
  • Are you committed to Capernaum? Do you do more than just show to club?  Do our friends feel/see your efforts?

A role model is someone that others aspire to be like.  A person who serves as an example of the values, attitudes, and behaviors associated with a role model.

So…how did you do with the check in?  Are you a good role model?  If not, what do you need to change?


Being a good camp leader means becoming a good question asker

My wife is naturally a good question asker. I am not. How are you? How are your leaders? Not just your brand new leaders, what about your veteran leaders going to camp this year?

For a fun training session that will help new as well as old leaders grow as question askers, watch this video and have a discussion about asking good questions. 

Who in your life asks you good questions? Where in a week of summer camp do we have the opportunity to ask questions? (Pssst...EVERYWHERE!) 

Young Life camp is designed with room for conversations in mind--on the bus, in line for a ride, at the dinner table, walking to and fro, in the game room, at the pool, lying in bed at night... If are like me, you need to think through ideas of questions/topics to engage kids with or these opportunities will pass us by.

Share with your team questions you ask on the bus, at the table...throughout the week! Come up with good ideas. Steal ideas from The Young Life Leader Blog:


Harvard Business Review published an article in 2010 titled "Learn To Ask Better Questions." The article suggests 4 simple tips to asking better questions: 

1. Be curious 

2. Be open-ended (use what, how, and why questions)

3. Be engaged (act like you are interested!) 

4. Dig deeper (get the whole story)