Today I had lunch with Bob “Mitch” Mitchell, the third president of Young Life and one of the first kids to receive Christ at the very first Young Life meeting in 1942. Mitch is 81 and he’s really cool. My purpose for setting up the lunch was to hear about the early years of the mission as well as his take on partnering with the church in the early years. (For those of you who have read my posts on Young Life and the Church, you know that I love the church and YL, junk and all.) So here are some bulleted thoughts and questions on our meaningful lunch.
* Mitch fought hard for the rights of women in the 60’s and 70’s within YL and paid for it. He talked about crying himself to sleep at night, receiving hate mail and watching his own daughter struggle to be a Christian leader in ministry. He also played a major role in pushing YL into a more urban context, that hurt as well. What is the major fight that we in youth ministry today are up against? Are they as big as gender or race?
* While founder Jim Rayburn has some of the best ministry quotes I’ve ever heard, Mitch told me one of these statements that is the most vivid quote I’ve ever heard. The context was Rayburn speaking about his frustration with the church when he asked “would you put baby chicks under a dead hen?” OUCH! Apparently many of the mainline church denominations distanced themselves from Young Life. Was there truth in this indictment? Was it a bit harsh? My answer to both of these is yes, but my main question has to do with motivation. From the church perspective, would that motivate you to do better youth ministry or would it just tick you off?
* There is so much talk about the future of youth ministry right now, which is helpful. On the other hand Bob Mitchell helped me today by allowing me to see where we have come from in ministering to youth. I watched him light up as he talked about young people receiving Christ as their Savior. There seemed to be a simplicity, yet a power to that era of ministry. Bob reminded me that I am apart of something that is bigger than I imagined. Mitch also reminded me of my Grandpa, (who just passed away) through his story telling and wisdom. At the end of our lunch he said “we should do this more often” and I was more than honored. Looking forward to Thursdays with Mitch.