For eighty-one years, Young Life has lived out its vision to “introduce adolescents to Jesus Christ and help them grow in their faith.” As the organization’s founder, Jim Rayburn, once said, “It’s a sin to bore a kid with the gospel.”¹ So Young Life’s leaders build relationships with kids and earn the right to share the gospel by inviting them into a community that meets together to learn, have fun, and serve in their local areas.

The foundation of Young Life’s mission has always been a solid understanding of the whole Bible, a thorough competence in Bible exposition, skillful relationship building, and a lot of prayer. Jim started Young Life almost immediately after completing his Master of Theology (ThM) degree at Dallas Theological Seminary. The teaching of founding president Lewis Sperry Chafer was what drew Jim to the young seminary; at the time he began his studies there, the school was just twelve years old. Every day studying under Dr. Chafer, Jim was overwhelmed by his mentor’s enthusiasm about “the fact that the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ was what Christ had done for man plus nothing else in the world.” Like many other students who learned from Dr. Chafer’s teaching and practical example, Jim said he would sit in class and think, “If I don’t do something about this, I’m going to burst!”

With Jim’s knowledge from seminary classes and his eagerness to share the gospel with everyone, the Lord opened the door to ministry among kids who weren’t being reached by the church. Jim’s idea to bring the gospel to the youth through structure came to be known as the “four C’s” of Young Life: Contact with kids; a Club that meets together; weekly Campaigner meetings; and Camp. (A fifth C, the Committee of adults, is now included.) The first Young Life club started just down the street from Dallas Theological Seminary’s campus. From there, the idea grew and thrived, and Young Life now operates in all fifty states and more than one hundred countries all over the world!

Firmly believing that Jesus Christ was “the most attractive person to ever walk the face of this earth,” Jim always kept his focus on introducing middle schoolers, high schoolers, and college students to Jesus. Dallas Theological Seminary’s “Prof” Howard Hendricks said, “Jim was the best I ever saw at leading people to faith.”

In honor of that early and continuing friendship between DTS and Young Life, we are excited to announce the Jim Rayburn Full-Tuition Scholarship. Starting in the fall 2022 semester, Young Life staff members can continue their education at DTS with ease. Full-time staff members are eligible for a full-tuition scholarship, and part-time staff members are eligible for a 50% tuition discount. These scholarships and discounts may be used toward any DTS master’s degree except the MBTS and CGS.

The seminary’s robust online education offerings mean that Young Life staff members can take advantage of this opportunity while remaining in their place of ministry, anywhere in the world. Of course they are also welcome to come to the classroom at any of DTS’s campuses—Dallas, Houston, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta—as well as the many international extension centers and regional locations.

Dallas Theological Seminary’s president, Dr. Mark Yarbrough, says, “Dallas Theological Seminary and the Young Life organization have a rich history together. Through the Lord’s generosity, we are eager to see how the Lord will use the Jim Rayburn Full-Tuition Scholarship to make the name of Jesus known!”

For specific details and application materials, visit [dts.edu/younglife]

DTS and Young Life have enjoyed deep connections for over eighty years. We’re excited to see how this new partnership will continue inviting kids all over the world to get to know our Lord Jesus Christ.

Teach Truth. Love Well.


¹ Quotations in this article are taken from Steve Elkins, “Jim Rayburn: DTS, Young Life, and His Legacy,” DTS Voice, September 9, 2016, https://voice.dts.edu/article/jim-rayburn-dts-young-life-and-his-legacy/.

About the Contributors

Neil R. Coulter

Neil R. Coulter

Neil R. Coulter served as an ethnomusicology and arts consultant for twelve years in Papua New Guinea, with Wycliffe Bible Translators. In that role, he worked with local communities to compose songs in indigenous languages and musical styles. His research interests range from endangered musical traditions to U2 to film scores. He teaches ethnography, theory, and communication at the Center for Excellence in World Arts at Dallas International University, along with teaching at Dallas Theological Seminary and editing the DTS Magazine. In his spare time, Neil loves road trips with his family, reading books, watching classic movies, and playing saxophone.