Young Life Reaches out to Uninvolved Teens

Article excerpt

Byline: Laura Zahn Pohl Daily Herald Correspondent

While there are tens of thousands of teens across the suburban area, only a small percentage are active in their churches and familiar with Biblical teachings.

An organization called Young Life takes the approach that high school campuses are mission fields that need missionaries with a focus on both fun and learning.

"We're trying to reach out to the kids who are not involved in a church," said Mike Zegarski, Young Life area director in Naperville. "We estimate that 80 to 85 percent of high school kids are not involved in a church, and we give them an opportunity to hear the truth about who Christ is."

Currently, Young Life clubs with Zegarski are underway at Naperville Central, Naperville North, Neuqua Valley, Waubonsie Valley and East Aurora High Schools. Area director Bob Davidson oversees similar groups at Glenbard West and Glenbard South High Schools in Glen Ellyn and at Wheaton-Warrenville South and Wheaton North High schools in Wheaton.

This fall, the program will expand to both high schools in St. Charles. An existing club serves Geneva High School.

Young Life involves weekly meetings, often held in a teen's basement, with music, games, skits and a message from a staff member. The atmosphere is non-threatening, geared toward someone who knows nothing about the Bible or Christianity. Once meetings resume in September for schools like Glenbard West, they attract more than 100 teens each week.

"We keep it basic and try to get the kids to think about who God is, and what he has to do with their lives," said Davidson.

For teens who want more knowledge, the Young Life staff also holds weekly Bible studies on a different evening. That program is entitled "Campaigners" and focuses on Scripture and more in-depth discussion.

Young Life programs also include retreats, like the annual Polar Bear Weekend organized for Naperville teens every December, and the opportunity to attend summer camps in Colorado and Minnesota. …