I usually send you our Young Life Regional enewsletter, “The Good, Bad and Weird,” well this isn’t our usual enewsletter but it still has some “good, bad and weird.”
Today is my first weekday not employed by Young Life. I am transitioning out of the Regional Director job and trusting Jesus for what is next (sorry for those just hearing this news).
So what do you do when you are no longer working for Young Life? You attend the Young Life All-Staff Conference in Orlando (there is your weird). That is where Brenda and I are this week. We are looking forward to the time.
Western Washington Young Life will be splitting into multiple regions. This change of structure seemed like a good time for me to resign from this role as Senior Regional Director. I’ve managed a small Region before. There is a sense of having done that job and not needing to do it again or even not sure if I have the best set of gifts to fit the needs in that role.
The fact is, our Region has grown into the largest Region in the mission. We have over 120 staff, over 220 Clubs, over 50 Areas, we have 8,000 donors annually, we are raising over $11 million per year, we are taking nearly 6,000 kids per summer to camp and we are reaching more adolescents than ever (10% growth just this last year) in our 73-year history. We’ve outgrown our britches.
All the while, this growth took place in the midst of the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression. The current Regional structure launched about the time as the start of the Great Recession. At that point, over one-third of the Region’s Areas were in deficit. Today there isn’t a single Young Life Area in Western Washington with a financial deficit and most have a healthy surplus while still trusting God for more ministry.
With the financial downturn, we also launched an initiative to double the number of volunteer leaders. We needed to do more ministry in a hurting world with less dollars – growing volunteers verses staff people. We didn’t quite get there, but we got close increasing from 1,008 volunteers to 1,980 adults serving kids.
We also saw many of our homegrown Western Washington staff sent into new leadership roles around the mission. The leadership of the Region had embraced becoming a “sending” Region and God was moving many of our senior staff to Hong Kong, France, Inland Empire Region, Montana Region, Gateway Region, Eugene, Tri-Cities, Bay Area, the Young Life Service Center and other roles.
Finally, things are solid. Not only are the finances and training of the Region good, but the culture is good. People are healthy. Just last year our Region was named a Best Christian Workplace by the Best Christian Workplace Institute. Our people love Jesus, love each other, counting other Areas as more important as their own, and are really good at this work.
So there were three primary reasons for me to move on. First, the job, with my call and skills, is done. Second, we have developed great people and I’m hoping that this structural change will allow them opportunities to use their incredible leadership gifts in the mission locally. Finally, everything is working. It’s way better to get out when things are good and the ministry is sound. That’s also a good time to make a structural change and we’ve been able to build the foundation in staff, finances, culture and strategic plan to help launch the next structure.
I’m not sure what is next for me? I met Christ in a local church and grew up in a local congregation, so I’d like to serve the greater body of Christ in some way. I’m still a fan of Young Life’s ministry and am looking for a way to use my gifts and talents in the mission. I’m also looking at for-profit companies and entrepreneur opportunities with businesses that exist to serve people well. I’m really excited for what God has next and can’t wait to get after it. One of my mentors said to me, “Oh, the places you will go?” I do believe God has had a call on my life since day one and I’m looking forward to how that will be lived out in this coming season.
In 1990 I left a marketing/corporate communications gig with the largest software seller in the world. At times I’ve thought back to what it would have been like to continue to live in that fast-paced, highly-lucrative world that has been through a half dozen booms and busts since the early 90’s. I’m sure it would have been exciting, maybe even lucrative, but I
wouldn’t have changed anything for the last 25 years with Young Life. I’m thankful to have worked with an organization and mission with such a compelling vision. At the same, it allowed me to provide for my household, give my kids amazing experiences and for our entire family to strive together to tell those without the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Thanks for standing with me. Please know that I need you now more than ever. Even the best of transitions are challenging. Join us in this time. Pray for us. Share insights. Shoot, share this with people who may be looking for someone. More than anything, please put us before the Lord in your prayers. We certainly need you, but more than anything we need Him.
The best way to follow our progress will probably be on my blog, livelifeontherutledge.wordpress.com. For Young Life business please contact email@example.com or (360) 630-1164.