This is the first post in a series that is a review of the Original Young Life Leader Training Manual from 1942. This is a little change of pace from the typical content on this blog, but I trust it will be helpful for staff and volunteers.
If you are interested, here is the link to the copy I made of the manual with a letter from Jim Rayburn.
Intro and Background
I stumbled across a goldmine of Young Life history and philosophy. Let me tell you the story… While I was working on my M.Div I searched the country to find the best elective credit I could find. I found it at Wheaton. They have a Masters in Leadership and Evangelism program that is top notch. They study and teach the things I am most interested in at the highest level. I have since then graduated from seminary but I continue to travel back to Wheaton to take classes that I think will help my theology and ministry in Young Life.
A few months ago I was auditing a class and one of the assignments was to do an “archive” project utilizing the vast evangelism archives they have at the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton. The archivist presented us several suitable topics but on a whim I had them look up “Young Life”. In my humble opinion, Young Life is not known for its books, resources, literature etc. (which is a shame), so I didn’t expect them to have anything. To my surprise, the archivist knew from memory that they did have archives about Young Life by its founder Jim Rayburn.
As it turns out the Billy Graham Archives has a collection from Herbert John Taylor (1893-1978). Taylor was a business executive, civic leader, and sponsor of numerous Christian organizations. From what I learned through their collection, he served on the boards of several such institutions as: Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship (U.S.A.), Youth for Christ, Young Life, Fuller Seminary, Child Evangelism Fellowship, Christian Service Brigade, Pioneer Girls, and the Greater Chicago Billy Graham Crusades. Their collection states that, “Taylor was involved in Young Life from the beginning, and was Chairman of its Board of Trustees for a number of years. Through his Christian Workers Foundation, Taylor purchased Star Ranch, one of the organization’s four camps, for Young Life. The Young Life records are arranged alphabetically according to subject matter. There are annual reports, correspondence, brochures, board meeting minutes, financial records, and staff manuals.”
In these collections I read original letters from Rayburn to Taylor from the “Miracle Book Club” days before the inception of Young Life as an organization. The collection included an original flier from the early Young Life Tent Meetings and an original Topical Memory System type packet that was designed for the original Campaigners groups. I am fortunate to have copies of all of these things for my records now.
But the one thing that I really wanted to share with everyone is the original Young Life Leader’s Manual. It was sent to Mr. Taylor on Jan 22, 1942 for any comments and suggestions he may have for it. It is divided into five sections:
1. The Introduction
2. The Campaign Leader
3. The Campaign Organization
4. The Young Life Club
I want to walk through this amazing material step-by-step through each section. I think it will help us see the amazing vision that Rayburn had for the ministry. In many ways this manual could be copied off and handed off to leaders today for training. I think there are also some hidden nuggets of wisdom that all will benefit from reading.