Young Life: a party with a purpose


Middle school Wyld Life girls with their leader, Sarah Anne Elliott, at Young Life camp.

Young life is a place where Christ-following college students and adolescence meet on common ground for community, encouragement, and spiritual growth.

Jim Rayburn founded Young Life in 1941 with the hopes of reaching out to kids who have no interest in being involved in the church. He began his work at a high school in Texas, and what was then just a staff of five has now grown to a nation-wide leadership program of 3,500.

Young life finds great importance in building relationships with the students. With relationship building comes listening and caring. Rachel Eller, senior at Samford University, has had the opportunity of serving as a Young Life leader for three years, and is now the leader of her college-aged Young Life team.

“By breaking down walls with laughter and relevancy, we are able to bring attention to how attractive and wonderful freedom in Christ is. By investing in the lives of our friends in the schools, we earn the right to be heard and use that voice to reach out to students for Jesus,” Eller said. Eller and her team of leaders host a weekly “club” in which the students gather and play games and hang out once a week.

“Currently club can consist of what we like to call the inevitable chaos – 60 middle school girls and boys running around screaming and throwing marshmallows, and it’s the most wonderful picture of freedom and joy in Christ. But in the middle of it all the Lord is sovereign and good and it’s such a blessing to get to be a part of his work in a little corner of Birmingham,” Eller said.

Beyond meeting during club, Young Life leaders go into the schools to spend time with the students at lunch and at sporting events. The end goal is to meet the students where they are doing life. By reaching out to them, showing them that they are known and loved, the Gospel is spoken not just through word, but also through action.

“The purpose of YL is to go out into the schools and meet kids where the are. By relationally becoming a partner in life with middle and high schoolers, we are to share the gospel and the name of Jesus is a new or fresh way,” said Eller.

To learn more about Young Life in the Birmingham area, please visit

By: Kadie Haase
Photographs courtesy of Emily Ferrara