The short version: The same great Monday night program for middle schoolers has a new name!
Now, the long version! Let’s start with a little bit of SCYM’s history with Young Life:
Since as far back as 1999, SCYM has run a middle school Young Life club in Springfield city, independent of (but in friendship with) the area Young Life organization. Jeff Pinkleton came to SCYM with a background in Young Life, and it was a great model for weekly, relational outreach to middle school kids at Clark Middle School.
When Clark closed in 2009, SCYM continued holding a club on the west side, but started reaching out to Hayward Middle School students. As it turned out, the west side location was just too far away for Hayward kids, and in the fall of 2010 the south-side Southgate Baptist Church agreed to host SCYM’s club.
In the three years since then, the club has grown tremendously, and Southgate has moved from just a host to an integral partner. There is a solid core of leaders from the church and from Cedarville University who show up weekly to love kids from the south side, get to know them, and share with them about Jesus. It is one of the best things going on for middle school kids on the south side!
Last spring, this group of leaders voted to change the club name from Young Life to Club 517. Here are the facts behind the name change:
1. Using the Young Life name was confusing for everyone! We can’t tell you how many times we had to explain why the club was called Young Life, but did not strictly follow the Young Life model, or was not under the umbrella of Area Young Life. It was confusing to Southgate members. It was confusing to the rest of the community. It was confusing to other Young Life clubs and their leaders.
2. SCYM is still friends with Area Young Life! Ben Bonham, Ryan Irwin, and their company of leaders are fantastic people who are doing fantastic things to reach out to kids in Clark County. They generously support what we do at SCYM with their time and talent. In fact, the main reason we held onto the name “Young Life” for so long in spite of the confusion was because we think so much of those guys.
3. “Club 517” is based on the verse 2 Corinthians 5:17, which says, “Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (NLT) We pray for many “new lives” to begin for south side kids!
4. Club 517 is still based on the relational, “earn the right to be heard” philosophy of ministry that Young Life has pioneered. The environment is a place where leaders show up consistently, attend kids’ games and events, and are there to listen to what’s going on in kids’ lives.
We’re grateful to the people of Young Life in Clark County for all their support over the past 14 years, and for how God has used them to bless many kids in our area. Continue to hold them and our Club 517 leaders in your prayers, that many kids will find “new lives” this school year!