"Big 3" Youth for Christ Updates (October 2018)

IMG_2584 2.JPG

Below are the "Big 3" October updates from Youth for Christ!

1. New staff: We are really excited about our growing team at Youth for Christ. We now have 10 staff members, and we want you to get to know them! Click HERE to view our updated staff page with brief bios on our team members. Thank you for helping make our growth possible! 

2. Increasing Favor: We now have 7 ministry sites, and we are blown away by the favor at these locations. The schools are desiring increased involvement from us. Winnebago County Juvenile Probation is getting behind our Juvenile Justice Ministry Aftercare services. The YMCA is making strategic accommodations for the advancement and growth of City Life. We are encouraged! Now we move forward in faithfully serving youth in need with excellence while casting vision towards more sites! 

3. YFC Night at Dickey's Barbecue Pit: Come join us this coming Tuesday, October 23rd at Dickey's Barbecue Pit (845 S Perryville Rd #115, Rockford, IL 61108). Support the ministry of Youth for Christ while eating terrific barbecue. We hope to see you!

Thanks to all who support our mission at YFC!

Practicing Lament: "I'm Sorry" (Part 2)

In my previous post, I discussed the art of practicing lament through learning to "weep with those who weep" (Romans 12:15). 

This is difficult work. Encountering the pain of others is overwhelming. We want to "fix" things. We search for solutions. Practicing lament requires patience, listening, learning, and faithfulness.

01_yfc_images_14.jpg

We at YFC have learned a couple practical ways to practice lament:

1. "I'm sorry:" These are simple but profoundly helpful words. When absorbing the pain one has experienced, lengthy responses that are intended to be doses of encouragement are often untimely. They can confuse, shame, and overwhelm. People in grief need comfort through a listening and understanding counselor and friend. "I'm sorry" is the starting point for such a posture. "I'm sorry" captures that we are groaning with them. We recognize their hurt. We see the world is broken with them, in that moment.

We are learning to resist the lure to offer the "profound" to a discouraged heart and rather offer the simplicity of listening and saying "I'm sorry." This posture is ultimately one of love that shows genuine concern for humanity and beckons our need for a Redeemer. 

2. Faithfulness in relationship: Even more powerful than saying "I'm sorry" is the faithfulness of relationships. We at YFC talk about a "ministry of presence" in which we keep showing up and investing in relationships. Practicing lament involves faithfully walking alongside hurting people, choosing to remain active in the trenches. Pain does not go away quickly. Relationships are invaluable. We are learning to more and more create a culture of faithfulness at each ministry site. People need to know we will be there.

Basically, we need to learn to say "I'm sorry" and then stay present in people's lives. Personally, it's such influences in my life that have had the most meaningful impact. May we learn to practice lament in such a manner that truly loves people and points to the gospel.

Practicing Lament

01_yfc_images_33_world_outreach.jpg

Sometimes we feel like we always have to have an answer.

When someone confides in us, we seek solutions. When we hear a problem, we try to fix it. When a friend is discouraged, we try to encourage with a timely word.

But when dealing with pain, the above responses do not affirm what we read in Romans 12:15, “weep with those who weep.”

At a recent staff meeting, we discussed addressing the pain of our youth. Such challenging conversations are a normal reality for YFC staff and volunteers. As a result, learning to “weep with those who weep” is a vital lesson for healthy ministry.

Sometimes a listening ear is what is most needed. Sometimes a shoulder to cry on is what provides comfort.

We are, therefore, encouraging our team to "practice lament,” which may sound strange. However, we believe a posture of lament demonstrates the power of the gospel towards people. It recognizes the brokenness of our world. It shows concern for humanity. It beckons our need for a Redeemer. It magnifies our need for love. It points to Jesus.

Jesus was not quick to provide “answers” to hurting people. He listened. He asked questions. He wept. He loved. He comforted. He shared truth with discernment. What an amazing model.

Practicing lament is an art. People are so complex. Sometimes one might need a specific encouragement, but often times learning to “weep with those who weep” is the most pressing need. It is through such a posture that an arrow is pointed to the gospel.

There is more to explore here. Stay tuned for Part 2.  

"Big 3" Summer Highlights (August 2018)

It has been a busy summer for Stateline Youth for Christ. Here are a few summer highlights:

MVIMG952018070995132312.jpg

1. 13 kids: In July, our team took 25 local teens to Youth for Christ Camp, and 13 kids placed their faith in Christ for the first time. We praise God for each young person finding hope in Christ! We also recognize the importance of sustaining and growing these relationships after the Camp experience. We as a staff are focusing on the importance of ongoing "discipleship" (check out a recent blog post on this topic). Pray for God's continued work in the lives of our youth! 

2. Staff Growth: A year ago, we had 6 staff members and 4 ministry sites. By the end of August, we anticipate 10 staff members and 7 ministry sites. We are so encouraged by the leaders joining our team. Many of you have made this possible. The growth of our team is resulting in more ministry sites, which means more active leaders reaching kids, which means more young people encountering Christ's love. Thank you. Let's keep going! 

37731230_1947022405319600_2430335977772810240_n.jpg

3. YFC 5K 4 Kids: The third annual YFC 5K 4 Kids is scheduled for Saturday, September 29th at Midway Village. Click this link to register for the event and also consider sharing our campaign page to support our work. 

Please keep YFC in your prayers as we enter into a busy/exciting season of ministry! 

YFC Golf Outing 2018

IMG_20180806_160857.jpg

On Monday, August 6th, we enjoyed our annual Golf Outing at Mauh-Nah-Tee-See Country Club. The day turned out to be beautiful despite some early weather concerns, and we even had a hole-in-one by Rick Meier! 

We would like to thank our top sponsors for supporting this event: SVL Productions, Ticomix, Illinois Bank & Trust, and Anderson Toyota

We would also like to thank the following sponsors:

Driving Range: Schmeling Building Supply

Putting Green: Business Advisors, Lori Haugen Tutoring & Editing

IMG_6170.JPG

Hole: LaLoggia Investment Group (Wells Fargo), Dan & Jean Clark, R.C. & Rhonda Pottinger, Movement Fitness, Midland States Bank, Woodman's Market, Prairie Street Brewhouse, 11th Street Express Printing, MembersAlliance Credit Union, River Valley Kitchens & Baths, A & B Freight, Trekk, Field Fastener, Indelecon, and John Widell Construction.

The Importance of Discipleship

MVIMG952018070995110318.jpg

We recently experienced a meaningful week with 20+ Rockford youth at Youth for Christ Camp in Maryland. This memorable week was filled with shared experiences, outdoor challenges, exciting new friendships, and Christ-centered conversations. We praise God that 13 local teens placed their faith in Christ for the first time! 

The group has now returned home, and a big question to ask is, "What happens next?" We as a staff have had focused conversation on "discipleship," knowing that Christ calls us to "make disciples" that become more like Him (Matthew 28:19). 

We need to dig into discipleship relationships with these 13 kids, helping them understand the eternal implications of their decision, teaching them how to study and apply Scripture, and demonstrating a posture of love and grace in the relationship. 

A tweet by a pastor recently reminded me of the importance of this, 

"Today, churches have four-week discipleship tracks. But after three years, Jesus still had disciples utterly denying him & sneaking into back-room meetings to sell him for 30 pieces of silver. Pastors, be realistic. Saints, commit yourselves. Discipleship takes a *long* time."

Discipleship is a long process. Discipleship is messy. Discipleship is something we all need. Discipleship is at the heart of what it means to follow Jesus.

MVIMG952018070995132312.jpg

The importance of this work cannot be overstated. Far too many "faith commitments" are followed by inaction, which can cause confusion and doubt. 

After all, the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:1-23) reveals how the "seed" lands on different soils. When our youth hear the gospel, we do not want to then create an environment where the good news could easily be snatched away (seed on the path), lost amidst trouble (seed along rocky ground), or choked by the concerns of life (seed among thorns).

On the other hand, the seed that falls on the good soil is described like this (Matthew 13:23), "But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it" (emphasis added). 

Note the emphasis on understanding. To experience the fruits of the good soil, we need to create an environment where our youth can understand who they now are in Christ. 

This happens through discipleship. Pray for these 13 teens to understand the gospel and become learners of Jesus. Pray this same thing for our team at YFC, as well as strength to engage in life-giving discipleship relationships with our youth.

Juvenile Justice Ministry Expansion

About a year ago, Youth for Christ launched Juvenile Justice Ministry (JJM) through partnership with Rockford Reachout Jail Ministry. This has allowed Youth for Christ to have a consistent ministry presence within the local juvenile detention center.

We are tremendously thankful for this partnership. The collaboration has resulted in outreach to additional incarcerated youth centered upon Christ-centered, mentoring relationships. At-risk youth are finding hope in Jesus, leading to healing, counseling, life skills, and more. 

6_14_12_header.jpg

But we are only scratching the surface of the potential of JJM. Through conversation with Rockford Reachout, we are looking to expand this partnership to include another staff member from Youth for Christ, tasked with developing a reentry program to engage juveniles as they return to our community. 

The pressing need for this in Rockford is undeniable. Recidivism is a huge challenge in our community. Moreover, according to a national study, upon 48 months after reentry, youth connected to a mentoring program who completed all the requirements had a recidivism rate of 28% compared to 62% for those not in the program.  

A reentry program that combats against recidivism, teaches quality life skills, connects valuable mentors to teens, and ultimately points youth to Christ would bring needed light to our city.

How do we make this ministry happen? We are in the process of raising funds to support this JJM expansion, and we have targeted a staff candidate with an extensive background in the juvenile justice system.

Our vision is to develop a robust and sustainable program, strengthened by support from donors, volunteers, and YFC National. 

Click HERE to learn more and support the JJM campaign.

Youth for Christ "Stories" Banquet 2018

YFCDinner02018-28-X2.jpg

The annual Youth for Christ "Stories" banquet was recently held on April 12th at Giovanni's. "Stories" were shared of YFC's outreach to youth through City Life, Campus Life, and Juvenile Justice Ministry.

i-KfxkqnD-X2.jpg
i-JVM7wBd-X2.jpg

We heard from the staff at YFC as well as influential community leaders, including Dr. Ehren Jarrett (Superintendent of Rockford Public Schools) and Brent Pentenburg (CEO of Rock River Valley YMCA). YFC greatly values partnerships in local schools and the YMCA, where we hope to expand efforts to reach additional youth through Christ-centered, mentoring relationships all across Rockford.

We also heard from a teen, Akeyla Evans, who has been impacted by YFC through her involvement at City Life and by attending YFC Camp last summer.

We are thankful for the success of this event. YFC's ministry in the community is growing, and this event continued that momentum forward. 

i-PNrbpLb-X2.jpg

We would also like to thank our sponsors for helping make this event possible: Subway (Gold Sponsor), Ticomix, Jack Wolf Auto Group, SVL Productions, Chuck & Karen Blomgren, Roy & Beverly Blumenshine, A & B Freight, Anderson Toyota, David Anderson (Spring Creek Partners), Baird Financial Advisors (Gary Love), Business Advisors, The Crosby Law Firm, Culver's, Field Fastener, Gordon Flesch, Lori Haugen Tutorial & Editing Services, Dr. John & Dena Koehler, Meijer, Members Alliance Credit Union, Stateline Church, Stifel Nicolaus (Jeff Luedke), Dave Syverson, Trekk, John Widell Construction, Inc., and David Zierke (State Farm Insurance). We also appreciate many businesses and individuals who donated to the Silent Auction.