Leadership Development: First Year Leading (FYL)


This is a series of posts which outline our leadership funnel and how we have people enter our leadership community. You can read more about it in general here.

First Year Leading (FYL) is a weekly small group of college students who spent the entire year growing in Christ and spend the Spring semester learning Young Life leadership skills. FYL is mostly college freshman though there are sophomores, juniors and other people involved as well. We purposely meet late at night, starting at 9:15PM. By meeting this late it is after any night classes, most work schedules, after campaigners if they are leaders, and most college students stay up late anyway. It also allows me to have my wife lead with me (it is after our kids are in bed and at our house). Having Erin lead with me is huge for the students to learn from both of us and for us to minister together.

Fall Meeting Format

          Snack / dessert (they rotate who brings this)
          1 song (fun, sometimes a YL “oldie”)  – (have them play guitar and lead songs)
          Game / Announcements (they rotate who brings the game… 10-15 min)
          2 songs (worship)
          Life story (I introduce this as the “10 minute” version, I put a timer out) 
          Discussion on the past week in the One Year New Testament (OYNT)
          Prayer (we circle up and ask for “requests” and “updates”, this time is critical)

We rotate who brings the snack, the game and the life story. The snack and game can’t be the same two weeks in a row and the people have to rotate with someone who didn’t do something the previous week.

Here is a word on why we use the One Year New Testament… There are a lot of good books out there to go through, but I want them to first and foremost experience reading the Word of God consistently for an entire year. Rather than have them read the hip new Christian book of the month/year/week, I want to ground them in the scriptures themselves. The One Year New Testament is by far the best way to do this (trust me on this). Now, the funny thing is that it only comes in two versions… The One Year New Testament for Busy Moms and The One Year New Testament for Busy Dads. I buy these ahead of time. They give me $5 (to show personal investment, they cost a little more) and then I give them one and we decorate them the following week to avoid funny looks from friends when they are reading it in public. The Bible study each week is a day by day questioning of “what did you see / what did you learn / what did God teach you / what questions did you have / etc.” The leader must become a facilitator and not a teacher. Fight the urge to teach it to them and use questions to have them teach themselves and dig deeper. We force them to underline and write all over it as they read each day. We have developed a variety of ways to go through it to mix it up after a while too.

Three Commitments  “Penalties”

          1. Read OYNT before meeting… If they have not then read during food and game 
          2. Miss two weeks in a row… You are out of group
          3. Call if late more than 5 min… Pushups 1 for every 2 minutes late (in front of all)

Spring Meeting Format

          3 Songs 
          Bible Discussion 
          Training Time
          Prayer (we circle up and ask for “requests” and “updates”, this time is critical)

By this time we really don’t need a game as they now know each other, so we cut that. We also are usually done with life stories at this point. We take that time and use it for training time.

Here are some of the training topics we did:

          YL History
          Goal of YL – Disciples
          Contact Work – theology
          Contact Work – practical ideas 
          Club – theology
          Club – songs
          Club – planning
          Spiritual Gifts and YL Personality Types Testing 
          Club – skits
          Club – talks (will post more about this later) But you can also look HERE
          Club – skits and games
          Campaigners – theology (review of the “Goal of YL”)
          Campaigners – listening and communication 101
          Campaigners – planning a study
          Other – time management
          Leader panel – longevity – bring in veteran leaders (even from other areas) 
          Senior night – have seniors visit – more like a 1st semester meeting

We also kicked the group off with a free road trip to San Diego. We also offered our leader weekend camp for free for those who could not pay (i.e. their parents don’t just pay for these things). The first year we started FYL it was seven people, it is has ranged from 20-40 people since then every year, with the majority plugging into WL/YL leadership each year, though I wait to determine the right time for each person. Some get plugged in right away, some don’t get plugged in either because they aren’t interested or because I don’t think they are ready. Our commitment is first and foremost to discipleship, when this is our priority it frees us from “making” leaders to “recognizing” leaders and training everyone for the kingdom whether or not they ever lead in YL. Enjoy!

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