At our most recent All Area Leadership meeting, one of our fantastic volunteer team leaders, Alex Devine, did a great lesson on how to balance relationships in YL. He used an approach that has been around for a while but continues to help frame a well-rounded approach to relationships in YL. I first heard of this approach from my friend Rick Wilson as the “circles of three”.
In this model you have three circles and at least three names in each circle. The three circles are 1) Contact Work, or kids who don’t yet go to club, 2) Club, meaning kids who go to club but not much more yet, and 3) Campaigner kids. If you can maintain a focus on at least three people in each circle, you will likely have a good, well-rounded, approach to outreach, gospel proclamation, and intentional discipleship (though all three of those terms have overlap themselves).
I have a couple observations about this, probably learned from Rick, and Alex covered most of these too for our leaders:
- First, leaders should have different kids on their lists. There is a tendency for everyone to focus on the same few kids. Many times these are the eager kids who like YL in one way or another.
- Second, we all probably have one particular circle that is easiest to fill. In my experience most people fill up the “campaigner” kids list first. This is because these kids most likely have been around the longest, have been to camp, like club, know the leaders, have the shirt, follow the Twitter, etc. It is great to have these kids! The challenge is if these are the only kids you have relationships with, you will likely be a campaigners leader and not a YL leader. It isn’t a bad idea idea to pour a lot of focus into the campaigner kids, they likely have more influence with their friends than a leader might have, but there are important reasons for the leader to know club kids and contact work kids as well. If you were interested I love leading campaigners, developing leader and discipleship, but I get most excited about the kids on my “contact work list” personally. As another side note, I have closed a club before because it was only campaigner kids and the club morphed into a youth group that was uninviting to outsiders, and we already have plenty of youth groups filling the same purpose in our community.
- Additionally, this approach creates longevity for your club, it is less susceptible to having significant ups and downs from year to year depending on who is graduating.
As mentioned before, I’ve seen this approach around for years, I guess now I can even say decades! [Wow, I’m old.] As I have been chewing on the idea in the last couple days I have been thinking how this might apply to other relational balancing. I think the team leader (or senior leader depending on what you call them in your neck of the woods), has another layer to consider. I added a few other circles: 1) Club kids [this would include all three circles above], 2) Leaders on the team, and 3) Old club kids. I’m sure there could be more circles to add as well. In my area the team leader has three responsibilities, the primary one is to be a top-notch example of a leader, so the “club kid” part should be on auto. Yet the team leader needs to pay attention to the leaders almost like their own special set of club kids. Finally, the team leader often has been around for a few years and therefore has ongoing relationships with students who are not in club any more.
Finally, I was chatting with my friend who knows a thing or two about developing leaders and relationships. He told me his key question he is asking leaders and staff right now is, “Who are your three”?” Meaning, who are three people you are pouring everything you got into them. Then asking those three people to have their three, and so on and so forth. This approach is laid out in Master Plan of Evangelism and elsewhere, but I love the simplicity of the question.
Have you used any approaches like these before? How do you balance your relationships in YL? What strategies work for you, or don’t work for you?
9 thoughts on “Balancing Relationships”
Awesome post! We are just moving towards a volunteer team leader model in Canada (where as previous almost every Club was led by staff) so a post like this is very helpful to us as we are figuring out the unique roles everyone will play. Thanks!
Andrew, glad it was helpful! Yes I am a big advocate for the role of the volunteer in YL for a ton of different reasons. I’m excited to hear about YL Canada. I have a friend Dougie in BC who works with YL.
I know Dougie well… I was formerly on Vancouver Island about an hour away from him. Now still in BC but in the Okanagan in a town called Vernon. Thanks again.
The volunteer model is amazing. It really helps to have a great area director and amazing committee that support volunteer leaders though. That’s crucial.
Also, that Alex guy seems pretty cool.
In our area we are developing more Volunteer Teams and Team Leaders as well. The problem we have run into is how much expectation we should put on the Volunteer Team Leader who also works a 40 hr/wk job without burning them out. Looking at the model above, if I’m not mistaken, it seems as if the Team Leader would be expected to “balance” at least 9 kid relationships (3 contact work, 3 club, and 3 campaigner), all the leaders on the team (we have about 10-12 leaders on each team), and Old Club Kids (however many that would be). That starts to add up to a lot of relationships to expect them to balance all while leading an effective Club, etc. My question I would ask is, is it realistic to ask this much of a volunteer? Are we setting them up for burnout/failure? Has anyone else dealt with this issue? What are some of your thoughts? Thanks!
Chris, thanks for your comment and great questions. We have used this model in our area for over ten years with currently over 50 leaders in 8 YL and WL clubs. Only one club is led by a full time staff member. One is led by a Student Staff. The rest are led by volunteer team leaders. My goal as a staff person is to not team lead any clubs, but to train people to do it.
It could lead to burnout depending on what you are asking the volunteer to do. It also depends on a lot of variables including their experience, their job/school, their family, etc.
One of our team leaders has been the VP of a software company, he is now a top salesman (who travels semi-frequently) for another company and has 4 young kids. He also leads a small group for guys in their 20s. He and his wife have made it possible by having all the meetings at their house to make it an extension of their family’s ministry together. They all have a role and he isn’t gone from them much for YL. He is also experienced and gifted so some of the aspects of YL do not take much time for him.
Other team leaders are in college and also work, but they are able to make it work just fine. In fact one of the ideas behind this website is to take the weight off volunteer’s shoulders so they can use the time they do have in relationships. I could go on and on with more details if needed. Just let me know. In summary, (and I know because I was a volunteer for 7 years before coming on YL staff), it is possible!
Thanks for the feedback. That is encouraging to hear what your area is doing. Sorry if I came across pessimistic. I wasn’t really saying it couldn’t work, I was more so seeing if anyone had any obstacles they faced with that model and what they did to get around them. Still would love to hear from that perspective if anyone has any thoughts.
Also, I would love to get a hold of any training material/job descriptions you or anyone has for Team Leaders. And I would love to here what kind of formats you use for your leadership team meeting with having 8 different teams. Do you meet all together once a month and break into teams? Does each team meet separately? Monthly? Weekly? How do you as the area director connect with over 50 leaders. Our area has about 40 leaders between 3 YL Clubs and 1 WL Club and we are trying to figure some of this out.
Any thoughts and feedback are welcome. Thanks!
Thank you for sharing this Bro, very good!!
Muy bueno 🙂