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Y4Life Teams: Creating Leaders 4 Life

Even on the tough days, you value the lives of your students, recognizing that each young adult is a unique gift from God, a blessing God has given to you and to the world. High school teachers in Lutheran schools are busy; as a Lutheran educator yourself, you, of all people, know this. You have lessons to plan and papers to grade, clubs to sponsor and tickets to take. You chaperone dances and plan fundraisers, attend open houses and direct musicals. After that, you coach basketball and plan music concerts, design curriculum and work on accreditation. The list never ends.

Yet in and through the tasks of teaching, you also recognize that high school teachers in Lutheran schools love and care for their students. You’ve invested time in getting to know the teens that walk through your door and praying for their specific needs. As a Lutheran teacher, you work hard to build relationships, provide support, and become a Christian role model for the youth in your care. And even on the tough days, you value the lives of your students, recognizing that each young adult is a unique gift from God, a blessing God has given to you and to the world.

And that realization—that each life is a precious gift—is what makes you, Lutheran high school teacher, a perfect candidate for leading a Y4Life Team at your high school!

I know, I know. We just talked about how busy you are, and now I’m proposing one more thing to add to your list. But before you close out of this article and get back to grading, let me reassure you that starting a Y4Life Team at your Lutheran high school may not be the undertaking you think it is. In fact, I’m guessing that your school is already doing some of the things a Y4Life Team would do. I’m also surmising that you’re already talking about life issues in the classroom. I know, as an English teacher for over 20 years, I was. So hold on tight and give me five minutes; I promise your papers will still be there when we’re done.

Let’s start at the beginning. What is a Y4Life Team anyway? A Y4Life Team is a group of youth that publicly supports life at all stages from a Gospel-motivated perspective. These teens educate themselves and others about life issues and engage in life-affirming activities in their high school, community, and nation.

A Y4Life Team’s work is incredibly important. In fact, it’s wrapped up so thoroughly in who God is and what He came to do on earth that it’s impossible to start a team without connecting it to Jesus. And the message of Jesus is the reason your Lutheran high school exists.

God makes man and woman in His image and provides for all of their needs, just as He provides for us today. You see, from the beginning of Genesis to the last verse of Revelation, the Bible confirms that all human life is valuable and loved. We see this clearly in the creation account when, instead of speaking us into existence, God intricately and personally designs humans by hand. He makes man and woman in His image and provides for all of their needs, just as He provides for us today.

And we know that His creative work continues today. Psalm 139:13-16 (ESV) describes how intimately involved God is in the creation of each human life:

“For you formed my inward parts;
 you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
 my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
 intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
 the days that were formed for me,
 when as yet there was none of them.”

Did you hear that? God still designs each life; each human being is still handmade by God. And, more than that, each human life is planned. There are no accidents.

Not only does God the Father use His hands to depict the importance of life, but so too does God the Son. Jesus came to serve and to save; His hands healed a blind man, fed over 5,000 people, and raised a little girl from the dead. More than that, Jesus lived the perfect life and died the perfect sacrificial death; His hands still have the scars to prove it.

In our baptism, we were remade and redeemed; we were reformed into the image of God Himself. Bearing His image, we now carry life into the world because we have been handmade to be messengers of life itself.And now God the Spirit works through the Word and sacraments to bring faith and life to the world, enabling Christians to confess life is good and valuable, meaningful, and important. In our baptism, we were remade and redeemed; we were reformed into the image of God Himself. Bearing His image, we now carry life into the world because we have been handmade to be messengers of life itself.

That’s why a Y4Life Team is important. It has one job – to support life from a Gospel-motivated perspective – and that job is intimately connected to Jesus.

How does a Y4Life Team carry out this important task? The answer looks different for each Lutheran high school, and a conversation with the director of Y4Life at Lutherans For Life (that’s me!) would be a great place to start! In general though, each team plans events that fall into one or more of four categories: Service, Celebration, Worship, and Education. For example, a service project, such as a clothing or food drive, supports life; a community baby shower or birthday party at a nursing home, celebrates life. A Life Chapel that affirms God is the creator of life provides a worship opportunity, and inviting a speaker to address a life issue with your student body is educational.

There are many opportunities to rejoice in and support life that with a little creativity and reorganization, some of the activities your students are already engaged in can easily become LIFE opportunities. Purposely connecting your school’s mission, ministry, and LIFE activities not only teaches students how to connect faith and life, but it also shows them how to use their hands, heads, hearts, and voices to share Jesus with others. High school students need models for faith and life, and they need to be reminded that their lives are valuable because they were created, redeemed, and called by God Himself. As Lutheran teachers, you have a unique opportunity to confess this truth.

But take heart, Lutheran school teacher, your daily activities already offer you many opportunities to be purposeful in Life ministry.As a former teacher, I know how demanding and rewarding teaching at the high school level can be. And I know how adding one more thing can make you both excited and exhausted. But take heart, Lutheran school teacher, your daily activities already offer you many opportunities to be purposeful in Life ministry. Leading a Y4Life Team simply and openly shares that purpose with your students as they learn to become Leaders 4 Life.

If you’d like to learn more about starting a Y4Life Team at your Lutheran high school, I’d love to help! Not only am I willing to visit your high school and help build enthusiasm for the Y4Life Team, but I can also provide opportunities at the local and national level. Check out y4life.org for more resources or email me. Lutherans For Life is here to help you and your students become Gospel-motivated voices for life!

Michelle Bauman joined the Lutherans for Life team in 2019 and serves as the Director of Y4Life. She communicates with high school and university students about issues surrounding life, addressing them from a biblical perspective. She supports the building and maintaining of Life Teams on high school and college campuses across the nation. Before joining Lutherans For Life, Michelle taught in several Lutheran schools.

Photos courtesy the author.