Is Young Life a Cult?

4 May

Young Life is a para-church ministry that focuses on running clubs and summer camps for high school students.  They exist to introduce these students to Jesus Christ and the Bible.  I got involved with Young Life during high school, attended numerous camps, and served as a volunteer leader for five years.

Occasionally, I would hear someone accuse Young Life of a being a cult.  At the time, I dismissed it as a misunderstanding, or an angry denial of the truth of Christianity.  But I never considered it a cult….even after having been in a verifiable cult, I still thought warmly of much of my time in Young Life.

Now that I’m many years removed from my time at Young Life, and raising my own teens, I have been brought  back in contact with our local Young Life.  And it has made me wonder if one of the reasons I was ripe for a cult was the fact that many of the same cultic dynamics were present in Young Life?

Love Bombing

One of the tactics identified as cultic is Love Bombing.  Love bombing occurs when a religious group intentionally showers praise, friendship, and attention towards new members of the group.  They do this to try to emotionally connect these new members BEFORE fully disclosing the requirements and/ or theology of the group.

This is certainly a tactic that Young Life is guilty of  -  no doubt.  Most of what Young Life leaders and their campaigners do would fall under the category of Love Bombing.  As a leader, we would discuss our weekly “contact work”.  Contact work was the amount of time we spent hanging around the local high school or area teen hangouts, in hopes of making contact with students outside of Young Life.  Some leaders would organize sports events, or have teens they know intentionally invite other kids to an event, (like watching a football game on TV) so that the Young Life leaders could make contact and build a relationship with these students.  The sole intent of all of this was to then invite the students to attend a Young Life club or camp.  As a leader, I saw my motives as totally pure and godly.  But I was just in my late teens and early 20′s.  As a parent, I realize now, that I was evangelizing other people’s underage children without their consent.  This is another sign that Young Life might be cultic.

Young Life Club

Young Life club was a fun place to be during my high school years.  The skits were fun, we sang a lot of “oldies but goodies” from the Young Life Songbook, and I got to hang out with kids that I didn’t normally relate to at my school.  It also felt really cool to have guys in college taking the time to get to know me and discuss faith, music, politics, etc…I was a lonely teenager and Young Life helped me not feel so lonely.

As I got involved as a student leader, the dynamics changed.  I wasn’t just a kid at club anymore.  I was now involved with inviting my friends, going out of my way to be like Christ to others in my school (student version of Love Bombing), and was also given tips on how to help hype the club by always clapping and singing during songs, which included being told that we needed to scream like crazy when the leaders talked about Young Life camp.  In other words, we became a part of the backstage production crew that helped pull off a successful performance at clubs and camps.  We also spent a lot of personal time doing things like quiet times (anyone remember those Ty Saltzgiver booklets on quiet times?), memorizing scripture (NAV press anyone?), and journaling about our relationship with God and who we were going to reach out to for Christ.  Many times, our time as a campaigner was spent discussing with leaders how we could better improve on these three areas of life.

Young Life Ministry Strategy

One of the strategies that was often discussed at leadership meetings was that of making contact with “the leaders” in the schools.  This meant that as Young Life leaders, we would intentionally try to recruit the most popular and influential kids at a high school.  The thinking was, that if you could get the cool kids to attend, then other students would follow.  In other words, Young Life was gaming the pecking order of the high school cliques in order to try to build a platform to evangelize the school.  In this case, I would call this the “cult of cool”.

In the “cult of cool” thinking, the appearance of Young Life being cool was tantamount.  This meant that the Young Life leaders needed to be good-looking and in-touch with the latest fashions.  Star athletes and cheerleaders were often the focus of attention by Young Life leaders.  The good-looking people were often “randomly” chosen to be in the skits or brought up to help sing a song.  Were these things explicit?….not really.  It’s not that anyone said, don’t go after the ugly kids, or the girls that are overweight, or the punk rock kids with the Misfits t-shirt.  But if you focus on going after “the cool kids” in the high school, then usually these “un-cool kids” are quickly excluded from your ministry strategy.  It didn’t mean that those “other” students couldn’t be involved, they could.  But it was usually the result of them wanting to follow and be part of the “in crowd” that the more popular students represented.

This ministry strategy of Young Life does not make them a cult,  but it does make them appear to be more closely related to an advertising firm than a ministry.

Young Life Camp

Young Life camp was an incredibly fun time for me as a student.  Everyone seemed so open and loving.  The food was great, the outdoor settings were beautiful, and the nightly meetings were full of energy and emotionally charged talks about life, love, and Jesus.

But here’s the rub; so much of what I assumed was a result of  really loving people, was orchestrated.  Love Bombing and emotional manipulation would be an apt description.  Young Life camps are orchestrated to heighten ones emotions and encourage the students to make a highly emotional “decision to follow Christ”.

There were nightly talks about Jesus, including an emotional presentation of  his crucifixion that was followed  by a mandatory 10 minutes of silence to think about what we had just heard.  In my experience, the silence was  followed up by an hour of singing (mostly worship songs) by the volunteer staff.  Campers would then return to their cabins, where their leaders would lead an hour or more discussion about the talks and about where each student stood in regards to their relationship to Jesus.  Every activity was intentional in trying to persuade students to make a decision for Christ.

The final activity at a weekly camp was the “say so” meeting.  The verse about letting the redeemed “say so” was the basis for the name.  Kids would be encouraged to stand up among the hundreds of students and “say so” if they had committed or re-committed their lives to Jesus.  It was an intense display, full of emotional stories, lots of tears and hugs…followed up by more tears and hugs as we said goodbye to the many friends we had made during the week and got on the bus to travel home.

Again, I don’t know that the camps are intentionally cultic.  But they are intentional in their efforts to persuade every camper to make a decision for Christ during that week.  We would often times get complaints from parents whose children came home and were all the sudden “different” or “zealous” about their Christian faith.  Sometimes it was a change for the better; many times it was to a parents dismay.  Their child was now quoting the Bible to them and telling them that they were not real Christians and were hell bound.  Needless to say, some parents regretted having given permission for their child to attend.  They were told about the water tubing and sailing and all the fun their kid would have (which was true) but did not realize the amount of evangelizing that would be occurring (which was not highlighted in the brochures).  The fact it was a Christian camp was mentioned, but again, it was not the main focus of our pitch when convincing  parents to give their kids permission to attend.

So, is Young Life a cult?  I’m not sure, but I think they skirt close to the edge….My kids won’t be attending Young Life meetings any time soon.

539 Responses to “Is Young Life a Cult?”

  1. Phil Deane May 4, 2012 at 5:52 pm #

    I have been really enjoying your blog. This is a well thought out piece which gives me a lot of food for thought.

    Thanks, keep it up!

    • christianagnostic May 4, 2012 at 7:09 pm #

      Thanks for reading and for the comment….

    • mickey Belky August 28, 2012 at 6:55 am #

      Wouldn’t everyone agree that Christianity in and of itself
      is a cult.

      • christianagnostic August 28, 2012 at 7:22 am #

        Good question…in the most literal use of the word, yes. Since cult essentially means devotion or worship, then Christianity is a cult.

        I’m using it in a descriptive sense. Most people use the word cult to describe a following or religious movement that has a type of blind following or uses deceptive tactics to lure in and control it’s members.

        It is in this sense of the word that I ask the question of whether Young Life is a cult or not. Yes the Church down the street worships and devotes itself to a certain type of Christianity. But most churches are upfront about what they are and what they believe.

        Cults, even within Christianity, often hide their true intentions and are deceptive in a way that goes beyond most mainstream religious groups.

        Not sure if that helps….

      • randallslack August 28, 2012 at 11:28 am #

        I would not agree that Christianity is a cult. I would agree that there are “pastors” who use “cult like” methods to “grow and keep” members. Such as, fear, flattery, intimidation, etc. I’ve seen it and have had some try it on me (didn’t work, too stubborn!).

        I believe that there are real, genuine pastors out there that love God and love His people. However, I also agree that they are far and few between.

        The “pretenders” far outweigh the genuine, IMHO. Consider Proverbs 20:6:

        “Most men will proclaim each his own goodness, But who can find a faithful man?”

        Sadly, this is increasingly becoming more common in our day.

        Honest pastors are out there. It just takes a while to find them.

      • StephenRay October 30, 2013 at 5:14 am #

        No, Christianity is not a cult. This was something that I discussed in a World Religions course recently. Essentially a person needs to know the difference between a religion, sect, and cult. The shortened answer, and it won’t be accurate because I don’t want to write an essay here, is the number of people who follow it and the length of time it has existed.

        Christianity started as a cult within Judaism, believing in the origins but not agreeing in terms of who Jesus was and the changes that came following. It then grew and became an established religion separate from that of Judaism. It wasn’t long after that many sects were born within, which are what we now call denominations.

        As I said above, my answer here is a quick summary and does not fully express the difference. Hopefully that at least helps answer the question. Christianity at one point was a cult but is not something a scholar would even think of considering as a cult now.

      • Chip January 1, 2014 at 3:19 pm #

        No.

      • Jon February 16, 2014 at 12:19 am #

        A cult would better be defined as an organization which says it is one thing but does another. So you would this have to be a cult of Christianity, if you claimed to be Christian but adulterated fundemental beliefs of Christianity. Like calling yourself a Christian but not believing Christ is God.

    • seniccarp January 10, 2013 at 8:12 pm #

      Has this blog ended ?I want to hear what other think of Young Life.

      • christianagnostic January 11, 2013 at 12:36 am #

        Blog is still going…I neglected it over the holidays and am trying to catch up on some posts and also responding to some of the comments concerning Young Life.

        Anything in particular you were hoping to see discussed?

        Thanks-CA

      • Phil Deane January 11, 2013 at 4:30 pm #

        I think it has moved,

      • christianagnostic January 11, 2013 at 7:36 pm #

        What has moved?

      • marie9393 April 8, 2013 at 7:16 am #

        Younglife is really great. If you want more information let me know.

  2. jonnyscaramanga May 4, 2012 at 7:28 pm #

    Very interesting. I’ve been to some Christian youth camps and experienced a high pressure environment.
    I’m researching the definition of a cult because I, too, have been wondering if I was part of a cult. Unquestionably, evangelism often relies on manipulation. I remember my Christian school going out doing street evangelizing, and the teacher putting the youngest (3-4 year old) children front and centre. She called them “the heart-shakers.”

    • christianagnostic May 4, 2012 at 7:40 pm #

      That’s just shameful….how can a toddler know whether the claims of the Bible are true or not? They can’t even discern if the tooth fairy is true or not, let alone the idea that Jesus’ death on a cross atones for the sin of humanity.

      Here’s a link to Robert Lifton’s conclusions on Thought Reform. His Eight criteria summarize well the conditions and tactics of groups that attempt to control what others think or do….I found it helpful in understanding my experiences with abusive church groups

      http://www.cultrecover.com/pdfs/lifton8criteria.pdf

  3. randallslack May 6, 2012 at 12:56 am #

    Young Life crushed the spirit of my younger daughter. She was “heavy” in High School, and some of the “top students” they target didn’t like her. So, after being involved and going to the former Soviet Union, she was told she could not be involved any longer. She has never recovered from the disappointment.
    Are they a cult? I don’t know. Are they cold, insensitive and cruel? Without a doubt.

    • christianagnostic May 6, 2012 at 7:20 am #

      Randall-

      “Are they cold, insensitive and cruel? Without a doubt.”

      I’m so sorry…I wish there was a way to go back and change that experience for your daughter.

      But, this is the result of putting cool and appearances over people. I experienced some of this while running my own Young Life club. A lot of the kids coming were the punks, druggies, and misfits. After a few years of running myself ragged, with very little support from our committee or area director, I finally scheduled a meeting to express my disappointment.

      My area director said he didn’t know what to do with those kind of kids, so he said he decided to just stand back and let us (the leaders) do it. I was 18 years old when I started as a leader, I was barely old enough to know up from down myself, and yet he was going to let us “figure it out” on our own? I quit soon after, realizing I could not keep up with the overwhelming needs and problems these kids were dealing with.

      • jonnyscaramanga May 6, 2012 at 9:06 am #

        “This is the result of putting cool and appearances over people.”

        Which is exactly what they claim not to do – that Jesus loves you no matter who you are or what you’re like. I’m still staggered by the hypocrisy, which I was absolutely blind to for twenty years.

      • Plaintruth October 23, 2013 at 7:04 am #

        CA – I don’t believe that you ran your own club. I believe that at 18 you were a volunteer leader who helped plan club every week with other leaders and under the tutelage of the area director. It sounds like you felt ill-equipped and you probably were. It also sounds like you were trying to sell something then, just as you are now.

        Faith can’t be bought.

      • christianagnostic October 23, 2013 at 7:15 am #

        Well gee- thanks for the underwhelming summary of my skills.

        I didn’t claim that I was running my own club at 18 years old. I said I became a leader at that age, not that I was the sole leader of a club at 18.

        I certainly felt ill-equipped, but so did the area director and he said as much in my final year as a leader. That’s part of my point… most people in their late teens and early 20′s are ill-equipped to be counseling others about important decisions and emotional/ relational problems.

        Not sure why you feel I’m selling something (then or now)….

      • Plaintruth October 23, 2013 at 8:06 am #

        Taken from your blog: But, this is the result of putting cool and appearances over people. I experienced some of this while running my own Young Life club. A lot of the kids coming were the punks, druggies, and misfits. After a few years of running myself ragged, with very little support from our committee or area director, I finally scheduled a meeting to express my disappointment.

        My area director said he didn’t know what to do with those kind of kids, so he said he decided to just stand back and let us (the leaders) do it. I was 18 years old when I started as a leader, I was barely old enough to know up from down myself, and yet he was going to let us “figure it out” on our own?”

        This clearly implies that you were running club (in charge, but not alone) without much help from the AD, who was paid staff.

        You were selling your version of Christianity rather than simply walking beside and loving those kids. Now you are selling you’re version of YL (albeit antiquated, misleading and oft times false) rather than apologizing to the kids that you manipulated and may have treated poorly.
        F

      • Plaintruth October 23, 2013 at 8:27 am #

        Face it CA – the impetus for this blog post is a confession that you can’t quite commit to. Your motives were far from altruistic and you feel bad but you’d rather blame it on the organization than take responsibility for your actions as a young adult. Your premise is:
        Since I behaved this way as a volunteer leader, it stands to reason that everyone else did to. AND, YL maintains the very same practices today, therefore don’t you think it looks a lot like a cult?

      • Travis Davis October 24, 2013 at 7:46 pm #

        Plaintruth, have you ever met christianagnostic? Who are you to tell someone they were ill equipped and make such accusations like that? Your comments don’t seem very valid, and they come off as bitter and defensive. I think christianagnostic’s experiences come from a genuine place and help others see that YL isn’t what it’s cracked up to be and help parents from potentially putting kids in situations that may be harmful to them.

      • plaintruth October 24, 2013 at 10:04 pm #

        Travis – you are funny! You are calling me out for “making accusations” and reiterating what CA has proposed himself as evidence that YL might be a cult. I may have paraphrased, but CA agreed with my summary that he was ill-equipped to “lead” a club. That is one of the premises for his argument, Travis. I reiterated his admission to make my point. It was not a slam.

        I am pretty sure that we are talking apples and oranges here, Travis. Accusing is a strong word. I am suggesting that CA is globalizing his experience as a YL volunteer 20(?) years ago. What that implies is that he has assumed all of the meaning he put on his own words and actions, as a volunteer leader, were the norm. I’m suggesting that perhaps he is wrong about that. Its pretty obvious that the YL ministry did not resonate with him. And I suppose if I hadn’t gotten irritated by this blog’s lack of evolution, I might have focused on that issue alone. Instead, I was basically suggesting that he feels guilty and doesn’t have the balls to just admit that he didn’t see the point of loving the kids he served without condition. He has stated that there was a clear purpose to his “ministry” that he now questions and finds nefarious. I get it. He admits that he did not love his club kids unconditionally (or perhaps he did not show them unconditional love) – it was all done under the guise that he would win them over to Christ.

        The picture he paints of his own experience as a volunteer is not exceptionally loving. I don’t blame him for walking away from it. In fact, I’m glad that he did. It didn’t resonate with him, I’m surmising, because it didn’t feel good to mislead kids and expect something from his effort to be their friend. However, THAT IS NOT THE YL MODEL. That was christianagnostic’s model. His primary premise, and his oft used evidence, for suggesting that YL is a cult, is his stint as a volunteer leader. I’m suggesting that he was misguided – well-intended but acting on error. I’m suggesting that his experience was not the norm. I’m suggesting that CA has posed an important question and then tried to substantiate his opinion with faulty data that can’t even be labeled as evidence. I am suggesting that years ago he was trying to sell something that needs not be sold. I am suggesting that now he is trying to sell (himself on) the notion that Young Life’s relational ministry model makes it a cult. And, I’m suggesting that despite the fact that CA admittedly can only draw from his limited experiences as a teenager, you Travis, are drinking the juice.

      • christianagnostic October 24, 2013 at 11:33 pm #

        plaintruth-

        I think what bothers me about your comments, is that you seem to be “shooting the messenger” and trying to “minimize” my experiences by claiming that my experience was/is not the norm.
        You are also putting words into my mouth….I most certainly did love my kids with unconditional love.

        Funny, I admit that I look back and regret following the YL method of contact work and Evangelism and now I don’t have balls to admit it????
        You may think you are very clever and smart, but I find your tone to be judgmental.

        Which is ironic for someone so adamant that YL is all about unconditional love. Or am I just projecting now….

      • Eric October 25, 2013 at 1:54 am #

        Well, ca, to be clear, your experiences are not the norm. And I can definitively and comprehensively state that without hesitation.

      • plaintruth October 25, 2013 at 4:36 am #

        Okay AC – you don’t want to consider that your experience may have been atypical. By suggesting that it could have been, I am not minimizing or discounting your experience. I am merely trying to put it into perspective after you’ve globalized it – egregiously. I don’t doubt your experience and there are probably other leaders who have gotten off track and tried to focus on results of which they have no control. I take issue with your deduction that your experience defines the ministry. Especially when your experience is clearly a contradiction to the mission’s very public statements of intent and practices. And because I know from personal experience that your depiction is uncommon.

        Like you said, and I said, and you said again, you regret your actions. Those were your actions and not indicative of Young Life, even though you continue to present them as such. Because you sort of asked, saying you regret behaving the way you thought you were supposed to behave isn’t deserving of kudos. That’s only my opinion and it is not to be taken as a judgement of your character. We disagree on that one.

        I want to clarify my comment about unconditional love, or the lack thereof. You posted that your time with kids was often a means to an end (getting to know key kids(?), manipulating their experiences, pushing their conversions, etc.). I wasn’t trying to state something that you hadn’t already noted. I was trying to imply that you may have been unable to put it (unconditional love) into practice because of what you perceived to be the purpose of contact work. And, it makes sense that that would be a negative experience. Still, after reading most of your blog, I have concluded that your points are either invalid or lack the proper substance to be noteworthy.

        I’m struggling with the circular cycle of this blog. (Not that you should care). So, I didn’t hide my impatience and I was flippant – hardly judgmental. I’ve challenged you to be open to the fact that your experience is not a definitive one, or rather to broaden the scope of your awareness for the purpose of this blog. That is if your purpose is to answer your question. My “judgment,” were I to have one, is more of a determination that you ought to reevaluate your claims and provide a realistic context to your premise.

      • Travis Davis October 25, 2013 at 1:44 am #

        I don’t think he needs you to tell him how he “felt” during that time, I think it’s evident with his genuine experiences. Also, how are you going to discredit his blog when parents and ex YL leaders have come in here and agreed with him and expressed similar feelings? It doesn’t surprise me though that you would attack him and then come at me with a judgmental tone. Back to my juice.

      • plaintruth October 25, 2013 at 5:09 am #

        Travis – I’m hurt. I was trying to surprise you. Also, I think you mistook my flippant comment for a judgmental one. To be safe and for the record, I rescind my comment that Travis is drinking the juice.

      • ams7439 November 10, 2013 at 3:41 pm #

        You are right in that we absolutely cannot “keep up with the overwhelming needs and problems these kids are dealing with.” That is why we depend on Christ’s strength, and not our own. Young Life is a flawed, human vessel with flawed humans that God so graciously chooses to use to shower His love and goodness on the kids we reach out to. My husband and I have been involved with YL for over ten years. We do not target the “popular” kids, make it very clear to parents that YL is a Christian organization/camp, and encourage students to not accept Christ because of their emotions. We dig into the Bible with them, answer their doubts & questions as honestly and biblically as we possibly can, and love them regardless of whether they believe or not. I hope this helps clear up at least a little of the confusion about what YL is and is not. I can only speak for our area, of course. Jesus is so much bigger and more beautiful than we can possibly imagine. He is not held down by imperfect people like us :)

      • Robdabob January 27, 2014 at 5:29 am #

        Young Life is an outreach program for high school students who haven’t had the chance to hear about Jesus and kids who have fallen away from the church. It sounds like you had a bad experience with it, but in our area, my Area Director is great. She is supportive, encouraging and loves Jesus. The most important thing in Young Life is that you realize it is not you who is going to make a difference in high school students lives, it is all about Jesus.

      • Kyle Mullin April 29, 2014 at 9:46 pm #

        I’m sorry, but this whole “cult of cool” idea is ridiculous. I am currently a senior leader in Young Life and I have found the exact opposite of what you are saying to be true. All of my friends that I am very close with that are in Young Life haven’t ever been in the “cool” or “popular” crowd. They were the ones that had no one to turn to. They would sit alone at lunch, have no one to consider their friend, and they would struggle with things like depression, self-harm, etc. So as far as I know, the “cult of cool” statement is rather inaccurate to say the least.

        Sure, Young Life leaders/attendees might stand out in the crowd. But this isn’t because they are the “cool” kids! A lot of the popular kids at my school hate Young Life with a passion because they judge it before trying to understand it. It’s actually because they have discovered that they actually have a purpose in life! They are a part of something that is bigger than themselves (Christianity/following Christ), and they don’t have to be tied down by anyone or anything any longer (ie- judgment of others, expectations placed on you, fear of being able to just be yourself, etc.).

        And as far as camp being deceptive…wouldn’t kids know what’s in store for them if they have already been to Young Life club or campaigners? I know that camp has a lot of emotion tied into it, but it’s impossible to fall in love with God if there isn’t any emotion. Let me clarify though, no one is EVER forced to believe in something they don’t want to. I think you can agree with me on the point that faith doesn’t work like that. Everyone is at a different place on their walk with Christ, and it’s not my job to tell them otherwise.

        Young Life has been nothing but a positive experience for me, and I am truly and genuinely sorry if your experience was otherwise.

      • christianagnostic May 7, 2014 at 4:11 pm #

        Kyle-

        I’m glad YL has been good for you. As you continue on in life, you may look back and see things differently.

        Thanks for your comment-CA

    • Marisol Rockwell November 29, 2012 at 5:17 pm #

      I am so sorry to hear about your daughter’s experience. I have been involved in YL for a long time and I have never seen a kid be intentionally excluded. I don’t know the details of your daughter’s situation, but I hate to hear that a girl was wounded during such a critical & vulnerable time in her life. Many times I have seen YL leaders reach out to those kids who are on the “outside” because they don’t want to see any kid alone or without a friend. I hope for healing for your daughter & you.

    • marie9393 April 8, 2013 at 7:17 am #

      Bad experience for you guys. Doesn’t make the whole system that.

      • randallslack April 9, 2013 at 12:07 am #

        Marie9393, it does if they choose not to do anything about it. And, from the many testimonies here, they do indeed choose to do nothing about it. The ends never justify the means.

    • Derek July 6, 2013 at 5:27 am #

      Sorry but you can’t really say that YOUNGLIFE is cold and cruel just because some group of girls picked on your daughter. That group of girls does not represent all of YOUNGLIFE!

      • Derek July 6, 2013 at 5:35 am #

        Also you can’t say it’s bad just because they didn’t do anything about it! Honestly what do you expect them to do? There isn’t really much they can do. I am really sorry that this ever happened but you really can’t just blame it on YOUNGLIFE.

    • BillSan July 18, 2013 at 10:08 pm #

      Randall,

      I am so sorry. I wish that had never happened to your daughter. Obviously, that type of discrimination is not of Jesus. If you cannot disassociate that experience with Young Life as a whole, I pray that you can at least detach it from the character of Christ.

      • christianagnostic July 18, 2013 at 11:30 pm #

        I don’t want to speak for Randall, but my guess is that he’s tired of defending himself by well meaning Young Lifer’s who just can’t believe that this happened to his daughter.

        Randall never called Young Life a cult, but he did respond with his own story in response to mine…why some people have to attack him for simply sharing his own heartbreak is beyond me…

    • Teresita Dominoski March 21, 2014 at 4:55 pm #

      That was cold. But who told her she couldn’t go? Was it peers? A leader? A little digging and you would learn that in YL there are leaders. Their function is solely to devote themselves to the kids. They go to games, recitals, graduations…ect. The leaders are supported by committee members. Some of the committee members support the leaders by babysitting so the leaders can attend functions and spend time with the kids, others plan fundraisers and events for the leaders and kids to do. Others are in charge of donations and networking. If it was a peer you should have talked to a leader. If it was a leader you should have talked to a committee member. If the committee member wouldn’t listen you talk to the Chair. (the chair oversees the committee members. All info from the various groups go to the Chair and the chair helps coordinate everything and also gives information to all) One of the big things about YL is reaching kids were they are and not judging them. A lot of time and effort is put into these kids and it certainly isn’t done for personal glory, fame or money. It is because we love kids and care about their future.

      • ... Zoe ~ March 22, 2014 at 10:54 am #

        Teresita Dominoski “It is because we love kids and care about their future.”

        And keeping them out of hell, right?

      • Eric H March 22, 2014 at 3:31 pm #

        I mean, what kind of response do you expect from a comment like this? It’s as though you have zero grasp on the fundamental beliefs of Christianity or zero grasp on the concept of love. Do you think it’s a bad thing to believe that hell is a real place and to explain to people how to avoid it? To believe that it’s real and not tell people about the way to avoid it is pure hatred. Oh, you’re accusing Young Life leaders of not wanting to see kids face an eternal separation from their loving creator? I guess we’re guilty, then.

        Seriously, it’s always deserving of an incredulous chuckle when Christians are vilified for not wanting to see people live apart from the God who made them.

      • Randall Slack March 24, 2014 at 2:49 pm #

        The decision to exclude my daughter was made by the adult leader based upon the complaints from the “popular kids” that they didn’t want her to go.

        When we expressed our concerns about the decision to the adult leader, we were told that she would not reverse her decision. So, what she taught the “popular kids” was they mattered more that those who didn’t measure up in their eyes.

        And the adult leader told my wife that if she didn’t make the decision to exclude my daughter, she would lose many of the “popular kids.” She basically taught them that they only had to love those they liked and were in their popular crowd; instead of loving others as themselves (Jesus words, not mine).

        I would never let my children be involved in such a group again. I blame the group leader. She had an opportunity to follow the Word and she chose not to, for the sake of the crowd. Seems to me, that is exactly what Pilate did…?

      • Eric H March 24, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

        Frankly, I am not sure why you replied to my comment, but I’ll still happily respond to this message.

        I have no idea what that leader did or did not actually say to you, your wife, or your daughter. But, assuming that you are being 100% sincere (and I have no reason to assume otherwise), and assuming that this exchange happened exactly as you stated, then I hope that this leader would be removed from Young Life leadership. If she were a leader under me, she most certainly would be. You have it right to hold her personally responsible, but you are misled by holding the organization responsible. This is not an organizational policy and I have never- in over 20 years- been instructed, encouraged, or otherwise prompted to adhere to any such nonsense.

      • Randall Slack March 24, 2014 at 3:02 pm #

        It is Young Life’s responsibility to properly train and monitor their leaders, not mine. THEY are responsibly for what happened, not anyone else. They (and all who defend them) are guilty of passing the buck.

        If Young Life were to issue a statement condemning they things discussed in this blog; if they were to admit to exclusionary (and un-biblical) tactics, I would be the first to offer them another chance. However, I am not holding my breath…

      • Eric H March 24, 2014 at 4:24 pm #

        Who’s defending them, Randall? Who, exactly? Who has said that it’s okay for your daughter to have been excluded? Classic strawman.

      • Randall Slack March 24, 2014 at 9:40 pm #

        Eric H: Read my post slowly and you will see who is responsible. I think you are trying to pick a fight. And I am the wrong person you want to pick a fight with. So, take your holier-than-thou attitude and go home.

      • Eric H. March 25, 2014 at 3:26 am #

        I’ve read your comment. (In fact, I’ve read every single comment you’ve posted in this blog.) Young Life did nothing to your daughter… a cowardly and misguided girl did somewhere along the line. The organization of Young Life certainly didn’t. And no one from the organization itself condoned the behavior. You’re bitter and lashing out at whomever you can, and that much is obvious.

        I am not trying to pick a fight with you. Nor am I the least bit concerned with the repercussions of your misguided belief that I am. I have witnessed you attack multiple people for disagreeing with you (and you’ve made some laughably ridiculous accusations along the way), and I have watched you actually make a threat of physical harm against Voice of Logic (which is hilarious.) And now you want to turn your bitterness toward me because I know beyond any reasonable doubt that Young Life does not in any form or fashion condone the exclusion of any kid for any reason, ever, and am not afraid to call you on spreading that lie? That’s fine.

        Stomp your feet and make all the threats you wish. It does not change the fact that what happened to your daughter- while cowardly and indefensible- is most certainly an aberration and not at all condoned by the organization of Young Life. But don’t even for one second think that the self-righteous victim schtick works for you when you’re making threats of physical harm against teenagers on the internet and making completely unsupported accusations against an entire organization based on the terrible injustice one stupid girl committed against your family.

        What happened to your daughter (if accurate) is wretched and indefensible. But to expect the organization of Young Life to come out and condemn what you inaccurately claim is an organizational policy of exclusion, is absurd. You want Young Life to take responsibility for something it 100% does not support, encourage, train, or condone. No matter how many threats you issue over the internet, nothing is going to change that simple fact.

      • randallslack March 27, 2014 at 1:36 am #

        Eric, I find it ironic that you refer to me as “self-righteous.” Perhaps you should look in the mirror? As for threats of violence, you are correct. They are both inappropriate and ungodly. And for that, I ask forgiveness to anyone who has bee harmed by them.

        It may not be your intention, but you come across as very condescending (actually, that is your intention, I am just trying to be nice).

        You blame “a girl”; but she was approved and put into a leadership position by Young Life. You can’t get around that, anymore than you can try to ignore the multiple experiences of others posted here.

      • Eric H. March 27, 2014 at 1:54 am #

        You see, Randall, that’s where you’re wrong. (Well, there are two ways in which you’re wrong, but I digress.)

        You’re blaming Young Life for the actions of one girl who did something that the organization itself (as well as multiple representatives in this very blog’s comment section) would condemn. So, while this girl- and yes, it was “A girl”- did something that harmed your daughter, you’re willing to assign blame to the whole organization. Yet, when multiple people who currently represent the organization in some capacity explain to you that the organization does not promote and that we personally would not tolerate such a decision, you are not so quick to assign that to the organization itself. I get it… you’re bitter, and you’re angry, and someone hurt your little girl and you’re not going to just let it go. As a dad, I can completely understand that. However, it simply isn’t true that Young Life did that harm to you or your family. If the actions of one person represented the whole organization, why don’t the words of several others who absolutely have expressed extreme disapproval of this girl’s actions? (I’m assuming you are some sort of “pastor” or minister, and you’ve threatened a high school boy with physical violence… does that mean the entire church or denomination that you represent condones physical violence against teenagers? Of course not.)

        And, no, I’m not trying to be condescending. I’m simply trying to point out the blatant blind spot that you’re simply unwilling to acknowledge. If that comes across as condescension, I’m sorry. That is not my intent, and your accusation doesn’t make it so.

        You’re angry. I understand. You’re bitter. I understand. But it’s misplaced, and you either don’t understand or are unwilling to accept that.

        I guess it is what it is.

  4. freedom May 6, 2012 at 2:24 pm #

    Probably not a cult, but an elite club for the “in” crowd. The want to be the place of the “hip and pretty.”

    Obviously they are using as much manipulation as possible to get this kids to have an emotional conversion experience. That “emotional conversion” is the key to evangelical protestant Christianity. It’s the entire starting point of their faith – if you don’t have that, you aren’t one of them. Then you have to prove it to them to stay one of them by following their rules and regulations.

    The manipulation with the “love bombing” and creating environments to create a sense of belonging is all part of the recruiting aspect. Then you bring them to the “camp” where this continues, set up an environment to make them feel they want to be part of the group, then you hit them with the “sign at the dotted line” at the end. It’s all sales tactics used by many companies to sell a product. In this case, the product is Young Life’s version of Christianity. And the truth is that teens are MUCH easier to emotional manipulate than adults. When they give the end “sales pitch” they have created emotional bonds between the teens so now you have the added peer pressure to conform – your friends are doing it and you want to be part of it. Now they are all crying and hugging each other and they have have a shared experience that is extremely emotional.

    It’s all a sales. Yes, it’s recruiting, but recruiting is sales (ask me what I do for a living someday). What they are doing is no different than any of the “home based” pyramid type companies like Amway (or whatever they call themselves these days), Mary Kay, Pamper Chef, Southern Living, etc, etc. They all do they exact same thing to get people to sell their product – get your friends involved, invite them to a “sales” meeting (small group meeting), have them sign up, get them to come to the big yearly “meetings” (AKA youth camp), create emotional bonds, get them excited about the company and have a BIG send off where they go out and recruit new sales agents (altar call).

    YL is selling a product and their success is measured by how many members they have, just like the “home based” business sales person measures success by how many “recruits” they have under them.

    BTW – My kids will NEVER be going to any young life events.

    • christianagnostic May 6, 2012 at 5:04 pm #

      Freedom-

      “And the truth is that teens are MUCH easier to emotional manipulate than adults.”

      This is an excellent observation of what Young Life exploits…in fact, your whole reply is very astute. I’d like to make it it’s own post….if that’s ok with you?

      • freedom May 7, 2012 at 12:39 am #

        That’s fine with me – feel free! ! I keep thinking I should start my own blog… I actually have one on wordpress, I just haven’t ever written anything yet….

        Thanks for the kind words and feel free to use what I wrote.

      • plaintruth November 15, 2013 at 1:05 pm #

        CA – I’ve wondered for some time now why you didn’t ask freedom if his/her commentary comes from personal involvement with young life. (You didn’t ask publicly). Especially since you extend an invitation to highlight freedom’s defamatory remarks. Would you explain?

        The stereotyping of evangelical protestant Christianity is bitterly hostile suggesting those opinions didn’t just materialize out of thin air. But (s)he never even claimed to participate in young life. Is it speculation, observation, conjecture, or his/her real life horror story? It’s terribly unclear.

        Based on how the rest of freedom’s bit reads, I can’t decipher what (if anything) is documented vs guesswork. My current theories on his/her work includes the possibility that it is his/her

        (A) conspiracy* theory (s)he would attribute to myriad Christian outreach orgs,

        (B) regurgitation of your suppositions with cliff notes to “selling for dummies” thrown in mix, or

        (3) bitter musings on his/her former Christian faith

        I’m slow to buy into the notion that these comments are anything more than a rant about groups like Young Life in general. But I’m open to the possibility that there is more to it. Would you shed some light on this please?

        Also, I have to take a moment to compare your claim above that Young Life exploits teens with your own exploitation of the inaccuracies, fallacies, and reckless generalizations assigned to young life all over this blogpost. Unfair. Manipulative. Ironic.

        *conspiracy theories – often grounded in rational thinking, are extreme forms of cynicism. This isn’t intended as a slam.

    • seniccarp April 9, 2013 at 3:11 am #

      Thank You great comment.

    • JL April 19, 2013 at 3:43 am #

      Why would you say “camp”, implying that it is not actually a camp? Or “sign on the dotted line”? It’s not like they were making kids sign their lives away. If you send your children to this place, it is your responsibility to be well informed about what it is and the purpose of it.

    • JL April 19, 2013 at 3:47 am #

      Also, how can you compare this to a product? These are volunteers and they make no profit from this. Young Life is a non-profit organisation. Have you ever considered that people feel called to share the story of Jesus to teenagers and not with adults? Some people connect well with teens just as teachers connect well with certain age students. And if this is what they do believe and feel called to, how is it harming you in any way? Young Life has been around for over 70 years and is international now. You can break it apart all you want and complain about it, but in the end it is just complaining.

      • LM June 30, 2013 at 4:38 pm #

        It is a product. Camp costs $640 for a week- where is all that money going? 400 kids at a camp- you do the math. Churches and non-profits like this are businesses, and most of the people running them are volunteers. No one (at the lower levels) is being paid, so where does all that money go? They get the kids young (middle school), get them involved, and get them to work free when they are older. I’m not saying that there aren’t any people involved who truly want the best for the kids, but on a whole, its a business with a great marketing plan, plain and simple.

      • Eric June 30, 2013 at 11:07 pm #

        When you don’t know what makes up the camp fee, it is understandable to have such a drastic misconception. So, since this isn’t quite an accurate comment, let me explain a bit about camp fees for you.

        First of all, the camp fee is not $640. That is what your local area charges to go to camp, and that also covers transportation (and if you want to understand that cost, call and get a quote on 4-hour one way trip on a typical 56-passenger bus… it’s not cheap) and it likely covers a t-shirt for kids to have a special edition shirt to remember camp by, and it possibly covers a slight bit of the volunteer leader’s costs, though that is up to each Area Director to determine. Actual camp costs are about $500 for a week at high school camp and around $430 for a 5-day trip to a middle school camp. And once you consider that that fee covers 3-square (all-you-can-eat) meals every day, plus a few snacks here and there, plus all the electricity and utility costs, plus helping pay property staff (which can number in the 30′s for some properties), it’s fairly obvious to see why the cost is so high. Heck, insurance rates are a part of that as well, and those are certainly not minimal- nor are they set by Young Life.

        Frankly, throwing out a number and using it to back up your statement doesn’t really support your statement. Hopefully, understanding what goes into a camp fee will help you realize that your belief is not exactly true. It’s not an uncommon misconception, but it is still a misconception.

    • Hunter August 16, 2013 at 8:39 pm #

      Wow…sounds like YL or YL leaders or someone at camp, etc., made some mistakes here. Certainly not a perfect organization, but some amazing people are involved with YL. Not sure if people here know that YL is in over 80 countries worldwide, including some very very poor, oppressed, “written-off places; all over Haiti, more than 17 countries in Africa, including work among the poorest of the poor in sub-saharan African orphanages, street kids in the Ukraine, college students in China, poor Muslim kids in the Palestinian Territories, in the slums of India, in very closed-off and oppressed North Africa….not the kind of kids I would say are the “elite”, the “in-kids”..in fact kids that the world marginalizes to a great degree. Did you also know that YL has a rapidly growing ministry among kids with special needs? Both mild and severe, behavioral and physical…in some countries where such kids are not even allowed to continue living with their parents out of shame. But YL leaders are there to stand up for and with them. Thousands and thousands of such kids attend YL camps in the summer and are loved on by “buddy” leaders, high school and college students who shadow them 24/7 to make sure they have the best week of their lives. Young Life also has a very developed ministry to young teenage Moms (“Young Lives”)…encouraging them as mothers, caring for them when others have shamed and ignored and ostracized them. Many of these young Moms have confessed to being borderline suicidal before YL leaders reached out to them. YL also has ministry to teens on military bases in the US and throughout the world…caring for “third culture kids” who feel completely lost and alone, living not in their American culture, but also not in the local culture of the country where the base is. Every summer YL hosts military families on leave in the US at their summer camps, often free of charge, as a thank you for serving their country. Did you know that YL leaders were some of the first people to care for teens in the aftermath of Columbine? That YL leaders were on the campus of Va Tech hours after the massacre there a few years ago? A YL staff was recently highlighted in the national news after the Boston marathon for giving his medal to a girl who could not finish because of the tragic bombing. Young Life sent service teams to New Orleans after hurricane Katrina and to the northeast after Sandy to help care for those affected and join in the rebuilding. I could go on, but…bottom line: YL is an organization of imperfect people, who make mistakes, but who generally and, in some cases, extraordinarily, go out of their way, selflessly sacrificing countless hours and weekends and even weeks of their summers to try and care for teenagers, an age group that is far too often left to the side. If that is a cult….I’m in!

      • Concerned youth August 23, 2013 at 3:11 pm #

        I just don’t understand why young life is so secretive and active in its recruiting methods, if it does things as great as you say. Why not just set up a place where they can hold their bible studies and people can choose to attend and invite their friends if they choose. Instead of hanging out at high schools and love bombing kids to get them to join without first making their motives apparent. I’d have a less of a problem with YL if they stopped doing that and let kids come to their religious gatherings on the kids own accor. If after that they want to hang out with the kids and build relationships with them, then make it apparent to the parents who you are and what you stand for.

  5. randallslack May 6, 2012 at 2:50 pm #

    CA: It is sad, as those kids needed someone to care for them, to listen genuinely. But no support from the top, because they didn’t want to deal with them. Oddly enough, the misfits are the very people Jesus dealt with on earth.

    • JL April 19, 2013 at 3:50 am #

      Young Life tells their leaders to go after the “far out kids”. At the Young Life club I run, there are no popular kids. Your experience was not typical. Do not generalize a whole organization off of one mistake.

      • Random Coffee Drinker December 18, 2013 at 2:30 am #

        I was sitting in a cafe today and overheard two youth ministers talking. After listening awhile, I realized one guy was from a local church and the other was from Young Life. The Local Church guy asked the other how he got teenagers to join the group. Young Life guy said he would look for the most popular high school girls he could find and then convince them to join after gaining their trust. Then her friends and other kids who wanted to be popular would join too.
        This sounds just like what others have been saying on this blog, so either there are lots of rogue leaders in Young Life or you haven’t got the memo yet.

      • Travis December 18, 2013 at 8:50 pm #

        good post, Random Coffee Drinker

  6. ExChristianMom May 6, 2012 at 11:42 pm #

    I just signed up to get your blog in my Google reader… seems like we’re going through so much of the same stuff! I have teens and I’m SO glad that I never put them in YL. Even when I was still a Christian, I was vaguely uncomfortable with them – it seems like the potential for serious indoctrination is very strong in a group like that.

    I look forward to reading more of your blog!

    • christianagnostic May 7, 2012 at 1:18 am #

      Thanks ExChristianMom…..

      yeah, I took my one son to a few Young Life meetings and I was struck at how controlling and manipulative it seemed. It really made me re-think what I had seen and done all those years before. Luckily, my kiddo was not all that into it and never got involved or asked to go back….

      • Plaintruth October 23, 2013 at 7:13 am #

        Classic projection CA.

      • christianagnostic October 23, 2013 at 7:19 am #

        really….how so?

      • Plaintruth October 23, 2013 at 8:34 am #

        How so? By its definition.
        Projection is a defense mechanism that involves taking our own unacceptable qualities or feelings and ascribing them to other people.

      • ashelizah October 25, 2013 at 10:01 am #

        REALLY????? That is far from a weekly YL club meeting! I would like examples of how they were controlling and manipulative! In all my YL years I know that was not apart of any event I ever attended!

  7. Lori June 18, 2012 at 11:13 pm #

    I find all of your information mere speculation. There is no such thing as maybe a cult or not a cult. Make a stand! Do you feel you need to be validated in order to make a true stand? God is not about religion, but a relationship. Maybe it IS the popular kids that need to be reached. There is so much pressure in school, that everyone feels the need to fit in. It is even more pressure for the “cool” kids to keep their status through sports, grades, beauty, etc.! I should know, both of my daughters were part of the “cool” kids. Was school any easier for them–NO! Would it be better for young people to feel pressured to party, have sex, wicca? Most do it anyway. To fit into a clique of total acceptance, kids are willing to do things against their own beliefs.The “cool” kids are not the only ones. Where do you draw your line? Young Life students, leaders, and directors all walk the line of persecution. Anyone willing to take a stand will be persecuted for their beliefs. My daughters went to YL camp, later became leaders, and now my oldest is married to an area director. Focus more on real cults and leave the kids alone.

    • christianagnostic June 19, 2012 at 7:08 am #

      Lori-

      I’m not sure how you can call my own years as a Young Life leader “mere speculation”.

      As for persecution, I really don’t think the majority of Young Life leaders are being persecuted. I was a Young Life leader for 5 years…I never knew of one leader (and I knew quite a few on the East Coast) that was ever beaten, killed, or made destitute for their participation in Young Life.

      Lastly, I’m not sure why the demanding tone to “make a stand”….I opened the post with this

      Now that I’m many years removed from my time at Young Life, and raising my own teens, I have been brought back in contact with our local Young Life. And it has made me wonder if one of the reasons I was ripe for a cult was the fact that many of the same cultic dynamics were present in Young Life?”

      I then give some specific thoughts on how I think Young Life may be guilty of tactics common to cults.

      You may not agree with my thoughts, questions, or conclusions….but that’s why I asked the question.

      • HeyThere July 30, 2012 at 10:49 pm #

        I participate in Young Life, I will be a senior in high school this year and am also a junior leader at our club and I just have a few things to say.
        To say that “love bombing” is manipulative or cult-like does not really make sense, did you ever think that maybe some people just genuinely do love others and treat them out of their kindness? Just because I may want to get to know and befriend new person at club does not mean I am trying to control them, I am simply friendly and enjoy getting to know others.
        Teenagers are not idiots. They are capable of making choices. I have never seen anyone at Young Life pressured into accepting Christ but I have seen leaders talking to students about the topic, maybe sharing stories, listening to the teen, is that really so wrong? If a random person is allowed to care about another person why can’t a Young Life leader do the same? They are just people as well.
        I don’t know exactly how you feel about God or what you think about people wanting to be a follower of Christ but if you don’t want to live your life for Christ maybe you just don’t know what alot of this is like. You can’t just say that Young Life is manipulating kids, because at least from what I have seen that’s not the case. I would have only great things to say about Young Life, it is no monster. To hear people saying it’s a cult is rather saddening but I suppose call it what you will because I will be in support of it eitehr way.
        I just thought I would throw a little bit of my opinion out there. I can see where yoo are coming from I just think that if you look at any organization in such a skeptical view it could appear as a “cult”. But anyway, this is just my opinion.

    • Randall Slack March 24, 2014 at 2:56 pm #

      “Maybe it IS the popular kids that need to be reached. There is so much pressure in school, that everyone feels the need to fit in. It is even more pressure for the “cool” kids to keep their status through sports, grades, beauty, etc.! I should know, both of my daughters were part of the “cool” kids.”

      Let me say this nicely: by your own words you are part of the problem, not part of the solution. It would be better for you to keep your mouth shut and let people think you are an t, than to open it and remove all doubt, as you just have done.

  8. Jts40 July 31, 2012 at 7:45 am #

    In younglife, no one cares if your popular or not your all just good people. It isn’t “love bombing” it’s just some genuinely nice guys and girls that care about you, because unlike a cult where your “leaders” are 40 year old crazy dudes there’s teenagers that are going to college, that have had background checks, that will ask you “hey come play ultimate frisbee with us!”, that will pay for your lunch because you forgot money. Saying younglife is a “cult” would be an irrational misconception.

    • christianagnostic July 31, 2012 at 7:56 am #

      Jts40-

      Thanks for your comment…

      “It isn’t “love bombing” it’s just some genuinely nice guys and girls that care about you,”

      But it’s more than that…they are not just good people. They are good people who want you to convert to their version of Evangelical Christianity. They are doing all those nice things to try and win you to Christ.

      Again, I’ve asked the question if Young is a Cult, based on some of the questionable practices that I saw and even participated in. Are they going to march you off a cliff? No…and this is why I currently hold the opinion that Young Life is a Christian group that utilizes some cultic practices, while not being a full blown cult.

      • marie9393 April 8, 2013 at 7:21 am #

        So… If the kids don’t believe in Christ after a year or so going to Younglife, does that mean the leaders leave them and don’t love them? I think you have this ALL wrong.

      • Youngteen May 1, 2013 at 3:22 pm #

        “But it’s more than that…they are not just good people. They are good people who want you to convert to their version of Evangelical Christianity.”

        Uhhh….Maybe some people are just nice …..

      • Cassie May 5, 2013 at 5:41 am #

        I too, am a Young Life leader and have been for three years. I have made relationships with girls that I couldn’t imagine my life without.

        While the main purpose of Young Life is to “win kids to Christ,” I know girls that are not Christians. Do I love them anyway? Yes. Will I love them even if they never agree with me? Yes.

        I’m sorry you feel this way about Young Life. However, you were a very small part of a large organization that will do far greater things than you or I will ever see.

        I do question your time as a leader however, because if you were so easily turned against Young Life, how authentic were your relationships with your high school friends?

      • StephenRay October 30, 2013 at 5:48 am #

        “They are good people who want you to convert to their version of Evangelical Christianity.”

        Let’s just say that’s true for Young Life. Isn’t the goal of JROTC, ROTC, and the military to “convert” you to their version of citizenship and patriotism and way of life? A person is taught how to make their bed a specific way, how to life to a higher standard of life, etc.

        All clubs and organizations are there to make a difference but will always try to get members go along with their mission and values. It’s the same as the place you work, any volunteer organizations you participate in, and much more. I’m studying to become a teacher. When I finish my education and begin teaching, I’ll be forbidden from posting pictures of me in a night club, drinking, or doing anything illegal as it can ruin my reputation and that of the school I’m employed.

        With that said, are you saying all clubs, groups, and employers are cults or utilize cultic practices because they want you to live up to what you agreed to when you accepted membership/employment?

      • christianagnostic October 30, 2013 at 5:54 am #

        No…I’m not saying that. I am saying that YL is a bit more opaque when it first introduces itself to teens.

        It seeks to enmesh them in a relational fashion before fully disclosing it’s Evangelical nature. And it does it with many teens who are minors, without prior knowledge or permission from their parents.

        Are you saying organizations should not be upfront about their values and mission? That it’s ok to seek to convert minors without the permission or knowledge of their parents/legal guardian?

      • plaintruth October 30, 2013 at 8:08 am #

        You are wrong, CA. Young Life doesn’t do any of those things. There is no bait and switch. No one is pursued and enticed under false pretenses. It doesn’t happen. YL staff and volunteers do not hide the fact that they are from young life or are Christians. It doesn’t matter how many times you write that same sentence or allude to the same notion. It just doesn’t happen. Your comments are riddled with fallacy. Your droning will not change the fact that these statements are false. You can’t wish any of your concoctions about YL true. Kids, adults, parents, schools – they are given full disclosure. Parental consent is most certainly required for camps and other events. Beyond that, we live in a technological age. People can access information immediately. With the click of a button, they can quickly learn whatever they want to know about Young Life, and even the things they don’t [your blog name here].

      • christianagnostic October 30, 2013 at 3:59 pm #

        plaintruth-

        I have seen YL handbooks that tell leaders to answer non-christian parents differently than Christian parents.

        I have seen camp videos that make no mention of the Evangelical nature of camp. Saying that parents can go find out for themselves is letting yourself and YL off the hook easy…it’s a “catch me if you can” type of attitude.

        By it’s very nature, adult volunteers making regular and concerted contact with minors, without parental consent is worrying.

        On top of that, YL holds to a fundamentalist (in the theological sense) view of the Bible and is not just a faith based mentoring group ( a phrase I’ve heard in the last year from a YL leader).

        You can drone on and say that I’m simply uninformed or outdated, but that doesn’t make it true

    • senicca October 31, 2012 at 5:24 pm #

      I also work in Young life .We were told attract popular kids .There is no background check on young life staff or there leaders .

      • christianagnostic October 31, 2012 at 6:02 pm #

        So..I’ve been a bad blog host the last couple days. Dentist visits and overtime at work have kept me away…

        So this is something I’d like to hear more about…the fact that you didn’t have a background check. The reason I ask, is that YL touts that safety of students is guarded through training and a background check on all staff (volunteer and paid).

        That was not my experience, but that was also a while back. If it is still no the norm, than why does YL claim to do these things?

        quick note…I changed your name to not include your email.

      • AG December 27, 2012 at 4:15 pm #

        No background check? are you kidding me? All of my leaders have to undergo an extensive, paid for, background check…

      • seniccarp December 28, 2012 at 10:22 pm #

        I work in younglife as a leader in Vancouver Canada in the 80s .The area directors where paid staff .There were no back ground checks on any of us.Never even heard of it.

      • comment April 18, 2013 at 9:29 pm #

        I am on full-time staff with Young Life. We do conduct background checks on all leaders and staff people. Your information in incorrect. Also, if you want answers to these questions you could check our Statement of Faith and other documents found on our website at younglife.org instead of making up ideas about what we believe and do.

      • seniccarp April 19, 2013 at 5:25 pm #

        I did not make anything up.I was in Young life in the 80s.Volunteer leader and work at Malibu camp on summer staff.Back then there were no back ground checks on anyone. Todays back ground are so good why the sexual abuse by area directors.

      • Cassie May 5, 2013 at 5:43 am #

        This is false. ALL volunteer and paid staff undergo background checks.

      • plaintruth May 26, 2013 at 6:57 am #

        Senicca – You are wrong and you obviously do not work in Young Life. Every staff person and volunteer leader has a background check. I’m guessing your “work” with Young Life predates the personal computer.

      • plaintruth May 26, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

        Senicca – even after your comment was proved false, you said that you didn’t make anything up. While that might be true, your statement is still false and misleading. To post data 30 years old in an effort to discredit a person or organization is grossly irresponsible.

      • Wes June 24, 2013 at 3:59 pm #

        There are background checks on all staff and volunteer leaders

      • Luke July 18, 2013 at 8:49 pm #

        I am currently an Area Director. When I was a volunteer in college, I had to submit to a background check. When I interviewed to work for Young Life, I had to undergo a background check. And just today, I requested that our 6 new volunteers complete their background checks because we do not allow adult leaders to come in contact with minors until they have completed this process. Christian Agnostic. You are creating hysteria amongst parents. I appreciate a good old fashion whistle blower that keeps people honest. What I don’t appreciate is someone intentionally trying to defame the reputation of an organization while hiding behind the facade that they are just posing questions.

      • christianagnostic July 18, 2013 at 11:54 pm #

        Luke-

        Thanks for the current info on background checks.

        Luke, I wonder what you mean that I am creating “hysteria”? What questions do you feel I have asked that have defamed Young Life? The original question (Is Young Life a Cult?) was a question I heard as a leader…I’m sorry that you don’t like some of my questions or conclusions. But I don’t feel that I have defamed Young Life by pointing out my own observations based on personal experience.

      • Luke July 19, 2013 at 10:32 pm #

        “So this is something I’d like to hear more about…the fact that you didn’t have a background check. The reason I ask, is that YL touts that safety of students is guarded through training and a background check on all staff (volunteer and paid). That was not my experience….If it is still no the norm, than why does YL claim to do these things?”

        You’ve asked a leading question here that convinces others to believe that Young Life is dishonest in its practices and has intentionally shady protocol around the quality of its adult volunteers. You are on a witch hunt sir, no sense in denying it any longer.

        Regarding the hysteria, I have had very concerned parents call our office and reference things you have communicated through this blog assuming them to be true about Young Life everywhere.

        I am not here to deny that at some point since the 1940s there have been incidents where children have felt pain at the hand of a YL representative. I hate that those things have occurred and I am deeply sorry for anyone who has experienced them! The only explanation I can find is that Young Life is a holy mission being carried out by sinful people. This is not justification, and I am by no means trying to communicate the “ends justifies the means”. Perfection just isn’t a realistic expectation for anything mankind touches, no matter how hard it may try to be perfect. That said, Young Life currently employs 5,000 staff and probably over 75,000 volunteers around the world. We interact with literally millions of kids every year. To take a handful of tragic occurrences or infractions and project them as the normative culture and character of the whole is painting a grossly inaccurate picture. I mean, imagine someone is examining a portrait of the sun setting over the ocean, and they have a magnifying glass fixed on a bird off in the distance, it’s all they can see in their lens. If I was to ask that person, what color is this painting? They would most likely reply, “It’s dark, black or maybe brown”, when in fact it is an array of yellows, oranges, pinks, reds, purples and blues. Would their view point be a fair representation of the artist’s work? And would it be right for that person to go around to everyone in the museum proclaiming, “That painting of the sunset in the next room is terrible, it’s all black!” I would argue no.

        Thank you for starting a conversation around the safety and protection of children, if we can agree upon something it would be that the goodwill of teenagers is of the utmost importance. My only request would be for you to lead the conversation you began with a greater sense of integrity, fairness and responsibility.

      • plaintruth July 20, 2013 at 6:30 am #

        Luke – christianagnostic isn’t concerned with reporting objectively, correcting gross generalizations, or even exposing his audience to truths. It is his right – his blog. Many respondents have called him out as irresponsible and misleading. He disagrees. The fact is that his experience as a volunteer leader pre-dates background checks at Young Life, as well as almost every other entity in which children participated, including public education (it became law in 1993). He has yet to clarify that, or at least make that obvious. Once that was established, a responsible blogger would have essentially closed the door on that topic.

        Regardless, no one among us can remove the pain experienced by any kid who felt left out, mistreated, or worst of all, abused. It is heartbreaking to hear stories of abuse in any setting. Especially now in an age where all law abiding and responsible organizations conduct the necessary background checks to try to keep our children safe. These still have not erradicated the harms done to innocents in schools, day cares, churches, community centers, neighborhoods, or private homes. Of one thing I am certain, people of ALL beliefs and religions are united in their desire to keep children safe. Only depraved individuals would think otherwise. Sadly, victims can be found everywhere.

        Parents can trust that YL staff and leaders have undergone background checks. But they should also make a point to meet the leaders just as they would their teen’s teachers, coaches, friends’ parents, and pastors. There is no secret agenda, nor efforts to meet kids without parental consent. If there were, I agree that that would be a huge red flag. However, YL does not do anything without parental consent. Period. Nor has it ever been encouraged by the organization.

        As for his original question, “Is Young Life a cult?” No. I don’t believe it is. It’s a Christian outreach that doesn’t hide the intention to share the Good News and to extend God’s love to kids by simply being involved in their lives. That can be threatening to anyone who doesn’t agree with its message. It does not make it a cult. Christianagnostic’s assertions have all been refuted or clarified by respondents. He has been encouraged to update his narrow views with his own reconnaissance. He appears to be more entertained by this stale story. He isn’t seeking the Truth, nor truths. He wants to keep the dialogue going with no resolution as if that gives his prejudices credence. His blog – his myopia.

      • Hunter August 16, 2013 at 8:46 pm #

        You are 100% wrong….ALL Young Life staff and volunteer leaders are mandated to have a background check and the local Young Life chaper has to pay a per person fee. That has been the case for about 10 years…so maybe you were involved prior to that. Just FYI.

      • Kristen H December 7, 2013 at 4:09 am #

        Saying that young life does not require a background check is a lie, plain and simple. You cannot do anything for young life whether as a staff person or as an official young life volunteer without having first gone through a background check and training. That policy has been in place for many, many years and to say otherwise is a blatant lie.

      • Matt December 8, 2013 at 4:57 am #

        I would like to refute this as I am only a freshman in college and I had a background check on me when I was a senior leader in high school and when I volunteered two different times at two different YL camps over the summer and I have to complete a background check/have interviews before I am able to get placed at a high school in the fall.

      • patrick June 10, 2014 at 11:10 pm #

        False.

    • AG December 27, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

      HeyThere, awesome response. ChristianAgnostic has obviously fell victim to something or someone. CA, you know what, YL is a cult because we do things differently to try and be effective in reaching out to kids. Sorry for your misguided attempt at putting a bad label on a Christian ministry. My heart is full of love and compassion for everyone. This isn’t just coming from a leader, but a staff person. Please dont be so blind to giving kids a chance to know our savior.

      • christianagnostic December 27, 2012 at 7:19 pm #

        AG-

        I have suggested Young Life might be a cult because they use methods common to cults. End of story.

        I don’t bother running around saying Billy Graham or your average church is a cult, because they don’t employ techniques of manipulation and deception common to cultic movements.

        You can come in here and be as dismissive as you want, but it does not change the fact that “doing things differently” often times is using relational manipulation similar to Amway and the Boston Church of Christ.

        Please don’t be so blind as to giving parents a chance to decide whether they want Young Life to introduce their teens to Young Life’s version of Evangelical Christianity.

      • seniccarp December 28, 2012 at 10:26 pm #

        I think this blog is a good idea there has been some good points made.

      • seniccarp December 28, 2012 at 10:28 pm #

        The way young life does it.

      • Michele February 21, 2013 at 9:59 pm #

        Do your ‘ideals’ let teenage girls have sex with men??? that is what younglife did with my daughter!

      • anonymous May 21, 2013 at 7:39 am #

        Michele,
        While that is a terrible thing to happen to your daughter, you can’t blame the group for the actions of few. saying “that’s what younglife did to my daughter” is a very ignorant statement. YoungLife, the organization, didn’t do anything to your daughter, an individual involved with YoungLife did. Like it’s said below, blaming the group for the actions of few is a bad precedent. By that logic, we should blame every German for Hitler’s actions, every Russian for Stalin’s actions, and every Middle Easterner for al-Qaeda’s actions.

      • christianagnostic May 21, 2013 at 3:19 pm #

        And by your logic, it seems that a group’s mindset and practices should never be taken into account when an individual does something terrible. Did only Hitler do terrible things in Germany etc…?

  9. christianagnostic July 31, 2012 at 7:47 am #

    Hey There-

    Thanks for sharing your perspective as a Young Life Junior leader. Good luck in your Senior year….

    I don’t doubt that you are a friendly person and genuinely care about the people you reach out to out club. You raise many good points and I’ll try to answer them best I can.

    “To say that “love bombing” is manipulative or cult-like does not really make sense, did you ever think that maybe some people just genuinely do love others and treat them out of their kindness?”

    Of course, I was once a Young Lifer and was totally genuine in trying to be a friend to others. However, one of the reasons love-bombing is so effective, is because it’s hard to tell the difference between genuine friendship and love bombing. I think some of what Young Life staff do through contact work could be called love bombing.

    “If a random person is allowed to care about another person why can’t a Young Life leader do the same? They are just people as well.”

    But they are also adults seeking to influence underage teens to become a Christian. Many times this is done without the knowledge of the family this teen belongs to and it causes problems. Again, I was one of those random people….I now realize it was wrong for me to be relating to minors without the approval of their legal guardians. How would your family feel if the local Muslim or Hindu youth leader started hanging out with you( without their knowledge) and influencing your religious beliefs?

    My parents were aware of Young Life’s Christian message and had no problem with me going. Many parents are not made aware of the strong Christian message that is being taught to their teens. This is wrong, in my opinion and breaks the golden rule. Do to others as you would have them do unto you.

    Finally, I have only asked whether Young Life is a cult and point out the overlap between known cultic tactics and some of Young Life’s practices. I’m personally of the opinion that Young Life is not a full blown cult. But I think some of their methods are deceptive and mirror some of the same tactics as cults.

    I’m not sure if I’m being clear, but I hope that helps.

    Thanks again for your comment.

    • Cassie May 5, 2013 at 5:49 am #

      You continue to make the point that Young Life does things without parental consent. In many cases, this is just not true. As a freshman and sophomore, most kids parents drive them to, and pick them up from club.
      I as a leader communicate regularly with the parents of my high school friends. I am not saying this is the same everywhere, but we are highly encouraged to form relationship with the parents as well.

  10. Melissa July 31, 2012 at 9:57 pm #

    I’m a little late for the party but Thank You for you post CA. I can only reflect my experience with YL (although I had heard similar complaints in the past). For years I wondered if I was just a sour person, feeling uncomfortable at the YL meetings, still surrounded by my friends. I always had a sinking feeling that it was a fraud. I was part of the nerdy out of style crowd but had a few friends who were in the sub popular crowd and they in turn were originally recruited by the popular kids. When “Lori” says “Young Life students, leaders, and directors all walk the line of persecution” – I just want to die laughing. These people were the least persecuted people at school. Most YL leaders and sponsers are born into privledge. Most of the kids that I went to school with were middle and lower middle class but the YL leaders were all from very well to do families from Houston or Dallas. When they let their guard down a bit, they would talk about vacationing in the Bahamas, on their ranch, at their summer home…..they would talk about their daddies who were lawyers, doctors or bankers……I can not think of one of them that had ever been persecuted. Many of the ones who came from UT Austin were very well provided for by their families. Right after HS, the YL leader kept in touch, but when I opted not to attend her devotional/lunchons, she started acting childish and would mimic me when I talked to her. I had my doubts for the longest time about myself and my decision to back away – many of my closest friend decided to continue YL activities and one became a leader too. But in reading your blog and some of the other comments, I feel as if my gut instincts were correct. I am still a christian but I am not ever going to impose my beleifs on anyone else. YL is maybe not a cult but it is subversive and when it comes down to it, it really depends on that human being who tries to reach out to you, whether they’re sincere and whether they’re willing to accept that you are on a different path. Thanks again CA.

    • christianagnostic August 1, 2012 at 7:46 am #

      Melissa-

      Thanks for your comment.

      you said

      ” Right after HS, the YL leader kept in touch, but when I opted not to attend her devotional/lunchons, she started acting childish and would mimic me when I talked to her.”

      I’m sorry this happened to you.

    • Hunter August 16, 2013 at 8:56 pm #

      Don’t know about direct persecution…but…we have Young Life leaders right now, today, caring for kids “quietly” in communist China, despite government harrassment in several of the “Stans” (Kazak, Usbek, etc.)…at a school in Port Au Prince, Haiti where local thugs show up weekly with weapons threatening to kill them….in north Africa among “closed” people groups, in the Middle East hours removed from Syria and Egypt and Lebanon, in Zimbabwe always looking over their shoulder because of threats from corrupt President Mugabe, etc., etc…you have to remember that YL USA is one place, one culture, one glimpse into a much bigger whole…that being said, we have YL leaders caring for kids in virtually every major US urban setting who, among every US ethnic group,who, while perhaps not falling into the category of biblical persecution, are sure toughing it out in some difficult circumstances.

    • JesusLovesYou October 30, 2013 at 12:32 am #

      This is an unfortunate experience with sinful people. YL leaders do not all come from “well to do” families. I am a volunteer leader putting myself through college…definitely not well to do. Again, as many comments stated, DO NOT globalize a single occurrence. Know facts and do your research.

  11. randallslack August 1, 2012 at 12:22 am #

    “In younglife, no one cares if your popular or not your all just good people. It isn’t “love bombing” it’s just some genuinely nice guys and girls that care about you… ”

    You should take the time to read my comments from previous discussions. I am still dealing with a brokenhearted daughter who has turned her back on Jesus because of YoungLife.

    Stop drinking the Koolaid…

    • christianagnostic August 1, 2012 at 7:49 am #

      Randall-

      Would you mind if I combine some of your comments into one post? I think your daughter’s story is important for people to hear. But I don’t want to do that without your permission.

      Totally cool if you just want to leave it in the comment section…just let me know.

      Thanks-CA

      • randallslack August 1, 2012 at 11:35 am #

        Please feel free to do so. My desire is not to destroy but to change yl.

      • christianagnostic August 1, 2012 at 5:52 pm #

        Thanks…I’ll do that in the near future.

    • graceone August 1, 2012 at 7:47 pm #

      MIght it be that individual chapters of Young LIfe are greatly impacted by who ever is in local leadership and the spiritual maturity of those folks? This might explain why someone like Jts 40 has a very different perspective than your own daughter. Not everyone’s experience is the same.

      One thing I would say is that if your daughter has a heart to work with kids, there are plenty of them that need her out here, and are not part of the “popular crowd.” I’m working this summer with a group of teenagers with mental health and behavioral problems. They are crying out for people who care, and who can be positive role models to stand along side of them.

      It seems to me that God can use every experience in our lives for our benefit, and the good of others. As a young person, I was excluded from two churches because of some of my views. At the time, it hurt terribly, but looking back many years later, I now feel nothing but compassion for those folks. How terrible to be in such a narrow, legalistic box, and miss the grace of God.

      Even the best person can blow it big time. We all share a fallen and broken nature. Why allow others to impact and dictate our relationship with God, to actually rob us of our faith in Jesus Christ?

      Prayers that your daughter will come to see this, and realize that she is a gift and a blessing.

      • randallslack August 2, 2012 at 10:57 pm #

        Thank you for your prayers.

      • Oscar Irwin August 13, 2012 at 12:17 pm #

        I have 3 children all who have experienced young life (YL) in various ways. Unfortunatly, our Midwestern and Christian values have been overtaken by this group. Our son has chosen yo over his family and no longer goes to our Catholic Church. It has ruined my relationship with him

      • christianagnostic August 13, 2012 at 4:12 pm #

        Oscar-

        I’m sorry to hear that your relationship with your son has been ruined.

        Do you mind sharing what it is about his experience with Young Life that caused this rift?

    • catie robinson March 26, 2013 at 4:41 am #

      This is extremely accusatory and rude. I am beyond apologetic for the mishaps with your daughter; however, the same things could have turned her whether it had been through a church or school or even a group of friends or family.

    • t October 29, 2013 at 11:37 pm #

      randall-
      As a Younglife Team Leader I want to say that I am sorry for what happened to your daughter. As many have said before me that is certainly not the norm of what Younglife’s mission is. I ask that you keep in mind is that what happened to your daughter was the result of people NOT an organization. Again I am sorry that this was her experience and my prayer is that this situation would bring her to the Lord in the end; He has a plan for everything.

  12. Danny August 3, 2012 at 5:41 am #

    So what young life persuades kids to believe in Christ? What’s wrong with that it makes you feel so much better. Young life has good intentions . What would they possibly do? Make your kids better? Nicer? That’s good? Every one I’ve know. That’s gone to camp is a nicer person. Heck my friend stopped smoking because of young life. It helps you

  13. forrest August 23, 2012 at 5:19 am #

    GET YL OUT OF OUR SCHOOLS!

    • christianagnostic August 24, 2012 at 8:12 am #

      forrest-

      Thanks for the comment…care to share a little more why you feel so strongly?

    • rod moulton October 30, 2012 at 7:13 pm #

      I agree, we dont pay taxes for this.

      • Cassie May 5, 2013 at 5:51 am #

        Your taxes don’t pay for young life. Private donations and the willingness of leaders to spend their HARD EARNED money on high school kids are what pays for young life.

    • JL April 19, 2013 at 3:57 am #

      If you take Young Life out of schools, you also have to take every other religious organization out of them, including agnostic organizations.

      • seniccarp May 5, 2013 at 9:09 pm #

        My taxes pay for the public schools in Vancouver.Why does Young Life get to walk in.Stay out of our Schools.

      • seniccarp May 5, 2013 at 9:31 pm #

        I AGREE

  14. Jer October 21, 2012 at 4:17 am #

    I think the founder of Young Life put it best: “Everyone has the right to know the truth about Jesus Christ. They have a right to know who He is, a right to know what He’s done for them, a right to know how they relate to that, a right to know Him personally. Furthermore, they have a right to make their own choice of Him.” The point of YL isn’t manipulation – it’s proclamation: letting people know the wonderful story of Jesus – regardless of who the kid or adult is that is attending. Sadly – YL is run by imperfect people – and sadly again – many miss the message by looking at the imperfections of the messagers. Thankfully – God is way better than the organizations and institutions that carry His wonderful name. Cult? Ha! Whatever you wanna to think – go for it. It won’t take away the goodness – and the unconditional love – from Jesus.

    • Jer October 21, 2012 at 5:22 am #

      ***of Jesus. :-)

    • christianagnostic October 22, 2012 at 6:53 am #

      Jer-

      Thanks for the comment. It’s fine and good that Jim Rayburn (and Young Life) thinks that every kid has a right to hear about Jesus.

      But it is not Young Life’s right to have unfettered access to teens without informing them and their parents of their true intentions.

      You said

      “Sadly – YL is run by imperfect people – and sadly again – many miss the message by looking at the imperfections of the messagers.”

      Frankly, I get tired of this phraseology being employed when someone points out a systemic issue with a ministry like Young Life. While I do not agree with Young Life’s message anymore, my issue is with what I consider to be deceitful tactics in their effort to Evangelize. Every human organization is run by imperfect people. No surprise there…but it is not an excuse to ignore problems.

      The reasons I question whether Young Life is a cult is because:

      1) It was a question I sometimes heard as a Young Life leader
      2) Young Life employs tactics similar to many cults

      Until someone cares to address the actual concerns raised by myself and others, I will continue to write about the issue.

      • Jer October 27, 2012 at 1:48 am #

        I think that I have a problem with the definition of the word “cult” within this opinion piece. According to my iPhone: cult – a religion or sect that is generally considered to be unorthodox, extremist, or false.

        There are no secrets in Young Life’s stated beliefs – especially in today’s google age. Young Life’s own website makes it pretty darn clear what it’s about. And nobody – ever – is forced to go to club – or to camp. One of the things I love about the organization is the fact that the kids that don’t want to go – don’t go. And kids that don’t believe – aren’t EVER forced to believe. Kids belong whether they believe or not. If you were a young life leader – as you say you were – then you’d know this.

        By your definition – every group that goes about networking and building relationships with young people – is cultish. Are schools cults? They teach a ton of things that parents don’t know. Are sports teams? There’s a lot of teaching and assimilation that goes on there. Clubs? All marketing? Please…

        You have a problem with people presenting Jesus to young people – and your way of lashing out is calling it cultish. Calling something a cult is a way to create fear in the minds of your listeners. It’s irresponsible name calling – and does more harm to your credibility than anything.

        I don’t have a problem with the question: Is Young Life a cult? It’s a darn good question – and should be asked.

        I have a problem with the conclusion. It’s just flat wrong.

        God is good – regardless of our opinions though. Wish you well.

      • christianagnostic November 14, 2012 at 9:52 pm #

        By your definition – every group that goes about networking and building relationships with young people – is cultish. Are schools cults?

        No, just groups that network and build relationships without being upfront about their true intent. Many people consider Amway cultic for this same reason. They encourage people to build relationships, even attend church, so that they can befriend people and then present them with their Amway marketing ploy.

        You have a problem with people presenting Jesus to young people – and your way of lashing out is calling it cultish.

        No-I have a problem that often times, Young Life is presenting Jesus to young people without the consent of their parents. It’s unethical.

        And nobody – ever – is forced to go to club – or to camp. One of the things I love about the organization is the fact that the kids that don’t want to go – don’t go. And kids that don’t believe – aren’t EVER forced to believe. Kids belong whether they believe or not. If you were a young life leader – as you say you were – then you’d know this.

        No one is forced…but they are often times harassed or have their friends at school put pressure on them to attend. Many times, relationships are formed to try and convince them to attend. Saying no one is forced to attend is just ignoring the fact that YL employs subtle techniques of manipulation to convince teens to attend. As a former YL leader, I know this to be true. We often talked about who we were targeting and how we would try and get chances at “inviting” them to club or camp. Many times we kept tabs with campaigners to try and target different students on our radar.

      • SENICCARP November 18, 2012 at 9:15 pm #

        I thought someone said there where back grounds checks On young life staff.

      • christianagnostic November 28, 2012 at 10:48 pm #

        This is Young Life’s official statement on background checks.

        http://www.younglife.org/AboutYoungLife/KeepingKidsSafe.htm

        I’d love to hear from current YL leaders as to how and when background checks take place.

      • seniccarp November 28, 2012 at 11:39 pm #

        If there back ground checks.Why did a 17 yr old girl get raped by a 54 yr old area director at a Young life camp.

      • JST January 14, 2013 at 5:48 pm #

        christianagnostic-
        “as of October 1, 2004, Young Life implemented missionwide background checks on all volunteer leaders.” “Each volunteer must have a background check run every three years.” -taken from staff website.

        I would also like to point out that at least in my area, the area director is very attentive to all of the volunteer leaders’ integrity.

      • christianagnostic January 15, 2013 at 5:38 pm #

        JST-

        Thanks for that update. I think background checks are a step in the right direction, but they are far from fool-proof (I know you haven’t claimed that).

        I have some more thoughts about contact work, college leaders, and background checks. I’ll try to put my thoughts into a separate post in the next day or so.

        Thanks again for the comment…

  15. rod moulton October 29, 2012 at 7:57 pm #

    Hi there seems to a lot of people confused about there time spent in Young Life.I had a lot of fun people where really nice to me.It was easy to get i caught up in it.Behind it all was Christianity.When I got out working I was ask for money a lot.I still see some of the people but they wont talk to me because I left young life.

    • christianagnostic November 14, 2012 at 9:56 pm #

      Rod-

      Thanks for the comment. Can you share a little about why you stopped being involved with Young Life?

      I am sorry to hear that you’ve lost some friends over the decision.

      • seniccarp November 28, 2012 at 11:40 pm #

        you are shuned for leaving

      • gerard December 8, 2012 at 10:15 pm #

        They shun you even if you don’t join.

  16. K7H November 7, 2012 at 10:06 pm #

    Interesting points. I think it depends on the area. I know that in my area, leaders are encouraged to meet parents and be up-front about what the purpose of Young Life is, which is to share the Gospels with high school students, as well as truthfully answer whatever questions they might have. I also know that part of the “pitch” for camp here is heavily focused on the fact that many kids have come home claiming to have experienced or heard about God in a whole new way. Finally, it’s pushed by our area director to not just go after the cool kids, but to make sure the leaders try to get to know whoever they come into contact with.

    But this was an interesting read with some analysis I hadn’t heard before.

    • christianagnostic November 14, 2012 at 10:00 pm #

      Thanks for the comment K7H.

      Are you a current Young Life leader? Just curious, since you make reference to your area director.

      You mention that leaders in your area are encouraged to meet parents. Are they encouraged to do this before they build a relationship with a teen they do not know, or afterwards?

      Thanks-CA

      • K7H November 25, 2012 at 11:46 pm #

        I am a current Young Life leader for a couple more weeks.

        They are encouraged to meet parents at the first opportunity. Unfortunately, a lot of kids in our area don’t have parents who care a whole lot about what they are doing.. but in an ideal world, yes the encouragement is to meet parents before relationships are developed with high school or middle school students.

      • plaintruth May 26, 2013 at 9:56 am #

        CA – no one in YL is encouraged to do anything without parental consent. You know this. Volunteer leaders and YL staff do not just roam around schools, nor do they initiate contact and develop friendships with kids covertly. That’s ridiculous and isn’t tolerated in YL, our society, or our schools, by any type of club, sport, religious org, or rec center.

        It is the practice of YL to enter a jr or high school campus with consent only. Kids might have opportunities to meet a YL leader at school functions, etc., but they frequently come into contact with a leader first by joining a friend at a YL club or event, or by being introduced to a leader by a friend. You seem to be stuck on attributing and highlighting societal behaviors which were acceptable (across the board) in the 80′s to current YL practices. Why?

        I read one post on this blog that showed suggested responses to individuals with questions regarding the Young Life ministry. The proposed responses differed slightly for Christians and non-Christians. The poster (don’t recall if you or other) used that as an example to suggest YL engages in deceptive tactics to draw-in innocent people. Out of context, the text might raise an eyebrow, but is far from deceptive. The slightly different responses are provided so that volunteers avoid using unfamiliar jargon that might be confusing. It is a tactic. I just don’t find it terribly deceptive or manipulative. It is how one communicates effectively with people all of the time. A computer instructor alters his/her verbiage when speaking to older adults. A mother adjusts her response to “where do babies come from” based on her child’s age and level of understanding. I’ve never heard of or witnessed representatives of Young Life being told to hide the core values of the organization. Its website is explicit and the address (younglife.org) seems to be printed on most, if not all, marketing materials and communication.

        Those seem to be your two points of contention and basis for identifying Young Life as a possible cult.
        1. Antiquated contact work examples and
        2. A propensity to describe the ministry in terms with which a non-church goer would most likely identify.

        I haven’t taken the time to read your entire dialogue on this topic, but I find it unlikely that my response is the first of its nature. Why is it still posted as an unanswered question? Why are the irresponsible and false comments most visible (“no background checks” from sennicrap) while their credible rebuttals remain obscure?

        The accusations and reports of representatives lacking gentle kindness, engaging in criminal activity, or abuse is disheartening. I’m terribly sorry for the victims – their pain and their suffering. We live in such a broken world.

  17. gerard December 7, 2012 at 2:53 pm #

    Believe me, if a similar but atheistic organization was brainwashing kids After hours at school, it wouldn’t be tolerated.

    • graceone December 7, 2012 at 10:52 pm #

      Any atheist libertarians out there? I think in most places people are not going to care.

      What’s wrong with both “free-thinking” atheist groups and groups of faith meeting in the school after hours as long as they are student led, attendance is voluntary and with parental knowledge and consent.

      Both the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts meet in the public schools after hours. These organizations reference God. Heck, kids recite the pledge to the flag every day in school which refers to “one nation under God.”

      For the life of me, I can’t see a huge problem here. There are larger issues for us to be concerned about together such as global poverty, world peace, terrorism, and environmental concerns, etc.

      My opinion anyway, guys. :)

      • gerard December 8, 2012 at 10:14 pm #

        Young Life isn’t truly voluntary. They sucker kids into attending the events and then at the last minute hit them with a Jesus message. Kids are easily persuaded. It’s manipulative.

      • ... Zoe ~ December 10, 2012 at 11:19 am #

        When an organization/church/belief system believes in hell it is the larger issue. Saving children from hell is the issue. Global poverty, world peace, terrorism and environmental concerns, etc. are lesser issues when the mission is salvation.

    • Taylor Harrison January 28, 2013 at 3:28 am #

      Because some would say atheism is hateful. YL doesn’t teach anything hateful. Atheist groups should be allowed to meet the same way.

    • plaintruth May 26, 2013 at 10:08 am #

      Does Young Life meet after hours at your school or schools in your district? That is not the norm in the PNW. If any organization uses public school facilities to meet, it is required to receive prior approval, disclose specific information regarding the org and the purpose for meeting, and typically requires rental fees.

  18. seniccarp December 9, 2012 at 12:11 am #

    Manipulative and Intimadated.You have sin in your life and need to accept Jesus .Create guilt and then offer a solution

    • graceone December 10, 2012 at 1:02 pm #

      Zoe, I was thinking more of Gerard’s comment in my response. I feel it would be more advantageous for people to attempt to find common ground rather than to stress over whether groups such as Young LIfe on the one hand or free-thinking atheist groups on the other are using public facilities. I don’t feel that either is a huge problem or violates the separation of church and state.

      In my view as a Christian, part of our witness to Jesus Christ is also to be concerned about all these issues. It’s not about simply presenting the “good news” as nothing more than a fire escape. Why not find things in common to work on with the non-theists whenever we can and build from there? It makes good sense to me, Zoe. :)

      However, I do think in the end regardless of the influence of all these organizations both Christian and secular, young people as they grow to adulthood, sooner or later, will come to their own conclusions anyway.

      How many reared even in the most strict and authoritarian fundamentalist churches have completely left the Christian faith as older adults? And, of course the converse is true for many reared by non-theist parents who later come to faith. An Episcopal priest of my acquaintance had a mother who absolutely hated all things religious. He went totally in the opposite direction.

      • ... Zoe ~ December 10, 2012 at 11:52 pm #

        I think you know Grace that I very well know where you are coming from and you know where I am coming from. That’s why I commented. You see “larger issues” to be concerned about. They don’t. They have one large issue. Jesus Christ and salvation from hell. I am addressing your comment about larger issues. I will not comment further.

  19. christianagnostic December 12, 2012 at 8:18 am #

    grace one-

    you said

    “What’s wrong with both “free-thinking” atheist groups and groups of faith meeting in the school after hours as long as they are student led, attendance is voluntary and with parental knowledge and consent.”

    Nothing is wrong with this…but that is not what Young Life is, nor how it operates. It is not student led, it often times operates without parental consent, and is subtle in it’s use of relational grooming by adult leaders to try and persuade students to participate.

    Young Life absolutely does not want to have to send home permission slips and have only student led groups. They operate under a sort of benign vagueness because it allows them to build rapport with students, teachers, and parents before putting the hard sell in front of kids.

    • plaintruth May 26, 2013 at 11:21 am #

      “it often times operates without parental consent”
      That statement is false. You continue to reiterate that phrase and it continues to be untrue. YL clubs, meetings, and camps are widely publicized. Parents are encouraged to ask questions. Formal consent is required for camps, as well as for some activities that bring kids outside of their usual settings.

      “and is subtle in it’s use of relational grooming by adult leaders to try and persuade students”
      What you are alluding to is disturbing and yet is only evidenced by your personal stint as a volunteer leader. It sounds like you might have struggled with personal boundaries at that time – unable to let the kids wrestle with their thoughts and make their own choices – but this is one of the key aspects of the YL ministry. Another key is to honestly love the kids JUST AS THEY ARE and not to love them only if/when they commit to follow Christ. This ministry aims to bring people into relationship with God. It is as meaningful for the leaders and their faith journeys as it often becomes for the jr. and sr. high kids that choose to participate.

  20. christianagnostic December 12, 2012 at 8:23 am #

    gerard-

    Young Life isn’t truly voluntary. They sucker kids into attending the events and then at the last minute hit them with a Jesus message. Kids are easily persuaded. It’s manipulative.

    I agree…it isn’t totally voluntary if what you are attending (Young Life) has not been made plain to those attending (the Jesus message).

  21. Nothingtofret December 21, 2012 at 8:39 pm #

    Not saying anything against your blog but Young Life is what you make it out to be. I am currently a senior in high school and I have already been behind the scenes, given Young Life talks, ran club, talked to fellow teens about Jesus, and more. Saying Young Life is a cult doesn’t mean it’s bad that is where the word is misinterpreted. A cult is a system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object. Young Life does devote to Jesus but is that bad? I mean they aren’t going around like the KKK brainwashing people to hate everyone but whites, or they aren’t a cult who goes around telling people if they kill someone they will be blessed and rewarded. Young Life does do “Love Bombing” but for what? To maybe help a kid who has an abusive parent, or maybe somebody has self esteem issues, or any other problem they may be going through. Yes, kids can be easily manipulated to believe what you want them to but any other group can do that. I have seen clubs draw people in by offering them stuff before they come and they aren’t discriminated against or their actions aren’t questioned but yet a group who wants nothing but to show teenagers affection and talk about their God? I don’t see the problem, cult or not they still try to help others out through Contact Work, Club, Campaigners, and Camp. Young Life may be a cult but I am a proud member of them.

    • seniccarp December 22, 2012 at 4:33 am #

      When you get older you will give your head a shake

      • plaintruth May 26, 2013 at 11:27 am #

        Seni – is that what happened to you? So far you have contributed very little content and several one liners that leave you appearing uninformed, some times unintelligible, and bitter.

      • Wes June 24, 2013 at 4:10 pm #

        Love this comment below v Thank you plantruth for stating how ridiculous seniccarp sounds…

    • gerard December 22, 2012 at 11:02 pm #

      As long as YL goes about telling kids they are flawed sinners needing to be saved, I’ve got a problem with them being in our schools.

      • plaintruth May 26, 2013 at 11:32 am #

        Is YL actually in your school? What are you talking about?

  22. Taylor Harrison January 28, 2013 at 3:25 am #

    I don’t think what leaders do is “love bombing.” I’ve been on both sides of the Young Life equation and the good leaders, the ones representing what YL is meant to be, genuinely love and care for kids. Also, they don’t hide their intentions. If you go to club, you will hear about Jesus.

    • christianagnostic January 30, 2013 at 7:42 pm #

      But that’s the thing…you will not hear about Jesus until a teen has already decided to trust you or a friend enough to try Young Life out.

      Not letting teens know upfront about Young Life’s evangelistic intentions IS hiding your intentions.

      I don’t doubt the good intentions of Young Life leaders or that they genuinely care about kids. I know from my own experience that they do…but just because they care does not give them the right to be influencing teens religious views without being upfront about those intentions and especially without the full knowledge of their parents.

      It’s dishonest…

      • Eric February 26, 2013 at 10:00 pm #

        What’s dishonest is suggesting that as an organization, Young Life instructs its staff and leaders to hide their intentions to talk with them openly and honestly about Jesus. You may have been taught that, but that is most certainly NOT an organizational belief. Once more, you’re applying your situational reality and suggesting it as normative. It isn’t.

      • plaintruth May 26, 2013 at 11:39 am #

        That just isn’t true, CA. YL staff and volunteers are not ashamed to be followers of Christ nor to profess their commitment to Him. I’m sorry if your witness to young people was far more deceptive when you were a volunteer. It sounds as though you have a lot of guilt now over how you manipulated kids and deceived their parents.

      • JesusLovesYou October 30, 2013 at 12:45 am #

        As these other comments demonstrate, that IS NOT the intention of YL. As a volunteer leader, I am encouraged to be open about the Gospel and Jesus. There is not anything hidden or dishonest.

  23. rob etheridge February 4, 2013 at 4:56 pm #

    I was a YL leader for 8 years. Although there are things with which I disagree, administratively, I think you are totally wrong when calling YL a cult or ‘close to the edge’. Young Life has clear intentions of sharing Jesus (listed on their website for any parent to see). If you truly understand Young Life, you know that your term ‘love bombing’ is an unfair and aspersive term. The goal of YL is to be ‘Jesus with skin on’ to a high school student.
    YL leaders are loving and understanding, for the most part. The goal of a YL leader is to meet students where they are. A YL leader is not there to berate a student but to live life alongside them. Although the expressed goal is to see a student come to know Jesus, there is no pressure to do so. I have had students who are Mormon and Jewish who came to YL Club. They left YL knowing that they were loved and not judged. Maybe one day they will come to know Jesus…maybe not.
    To not allow your child to be involved in YL where there are adults who do love and care for them is sad. Don’t be affraid to allow your child to make their own decisions.

    • christianagnostic February 4, 2013 at 7:35 pm #

      Again..saying that a parent can go look up for themselves that YL is trying to Evangelize their teen and is explicitly Evangelical in it’s mission IS cult like. It’s a form of hiding your true intent. It’s deceitful…

      You are putting the onus on the parents to find out your true intentions. Why not re-name Young life so it’s intentions were clear or make sure that every teen and parent understood YL’s mission before they became involved with Young Life?

      I’m glad to hear of your personal warmth towards others of other faiths, but it does not change the fact that many teens and even more parents are largely unaware of the extent of Young Life’s evangelistic intentions.

      I don’t think Love bombing is an unfair description of what I saw in my own time as a Young life leader. Befriending people with the an agenda is a form of love bombing.

      To not allow your child to be involved in YL where there are adults who do love and care for them is sad.

      No it’s not, it’s my conviction that I am doing the best thing for them, and I am legally obligated to do my best for them whether you agree or not.

      Don’t be affraid to allow your child to make their own decisions.

      I do allow them to make their own choices. My oldest child attended a Young Life event,with my permission, and has decided to never go back, so please don’t assume you know what I do or don’t allow my children to do.

      • marie9393 April 8, 2013 at 7:33 am #

        You have way too much time on your hands.

    • gerard February 6, 2013 at 3:15 pm #

      I don’t think you’d have the same opinion if your child was hoodwinked by an Islamic youth group. Not everyone believes that Jesus is God.

  24. Travis February 5, 2013 at 5:12 am #

    your blog is so good! you keep things real and don’t hold back your thoughts on this issue

    • christianagnostic February 5, 2013 at 6:45 pm #

      Thanks Travis…I hope that people feel that I am being fair in what I say.

      I certainly have my opinions, but I welcome anyone to share their perspectives on whatever pops up on my blog(s).

  25. Dan February 7, 2013 at 8:32 pm #

    Hello CA,

    I stumbled upon your blog late last night quite by accident. I am heartbroken to hear some stories of peoples’ experiences with Young Life that were not very Christ like. Young Life (like anything else) is far from perfect. I’m an Area Director and have been on staff for 15 years. I want to start by saying that I’ve appreciated your tone. While you seem very troubled by Young Life (and possibly the Christian Church as a whole?) you do not come across as rude or disingenuous. In fact you seem to try to be very fair to both sides. From my limited research I do not think you can claim Young Life as a cult unless you claim the entire Christian Church to be a cult.

    My impression is that you have two major concerns with the ministry of Young Life. The first being the issue of “love bombing.” In all of my years I’ve never heard that term before. I’m sure it’s a common phrase but if you Google cults, none of the top articles will mention those words. That being said, your description of love bombing is not what Young Life does. We strive to love kids unconditionally, as best as we broken people can. We don’t love kids with an agenda (so they’ll come to something or believe something), we love them simply because God does. We go to kids’ world to love them because we believe that’s what Jesus did and that’s what he’s called us to do.

    The second issue that I see that you have is with parental consent. You said in a comment,

    “You are putting the onus on the parents to find out your true intentions. Why not re-name Young life so it’s intentions were clear or make sure that every teen and parent understood YL’s mission before they became involved with Young Life?”

    What name do you have in mind that would clarify our mission statement? It’s difficult to communicate all that we are in a name. I’m just not sure how you’d recommend we better communicate with parents on the front end. In all honesty most parents I deal with just aren’t that involved in their child’s life. It’s sad… but true. Do you know the question I get from parents 10 times more than any other? It’s “who do I make this (camp) check out to? You?” It hurts my heart. I don’t understand how a parent would send their kid away for a week with some guy they don’t even know who they think is just cashing their checks in his personal bank account. We want to be an open book to kids and adults, but most are just not that interested (in my experience).

    I’d love to continue to discuss issues that you have with Young Life or with Christianity, it will help me become a better leader and representative of Jesus.

    May I ask where you experienced Young Life in high school, as a leader, and as a parent (not specifically of course, but like what state or region of the country), and in what time frame? I’m guessing the early 90’s as a student?

    • christianagnostic February 8, 2013 at 6:23 am #

      Dan-

      Thanks for your comment…I’ll try to answer your questions as best I can.

      As for my own experiences with Young Life, it actually starts in the 1950′s when my mom was a teenager. She became involved in the Philadelphia suburbs and still keeps in contact with her leaders from all those years ago.

      When I was a teen in the 80′s, it was my mom who gently encouraged me to get involved. After a trip to Saranac Lake in 1985, I became an all out Campaigner/Student Leader for my Young Life club at my public high school in the Philadelphia suburbs.

      After high school, I stayed in the same county for college and became a volunteer leader until 1992.

      I have not been officially involved with Young Life since the early 90′s. But I was pretty well connected to many Young Life leaders because I managed a couple different Christian bookstores where I’d still run into folks from county leadership. My parents also attended a church in Maryland where a prominent Young Life speaker/leader was also a teaching elder. So while not directly involved, I was pretty aware of Young Life for almost my entire adult life.

      Fast forward to a few years ago…my wife and kids now live on the West Coast (job transfer) and many of my customers were Young Life Staffers and Volunteer leaders/speakers, etc…

      One of them suggested that my son might be interested in a Wyld Life event and I attended it with him. It was at this event that some red flags went up, considering we had just emerged from an abusive/cultic church in the past years and I noticed things that I had never thought about. I was now a parent, not a young man and my perspective was changing…

      I also got involved for a few months with our local Young Life and attended a few prayer meetings and leadership meetings in the Northwest. Again, I found myself questioning whether Young Life’s methods may have primed me with their “cultic” methods in a way that left me vulnerable to a real cult?

      A couple of years later I found myself no longer even a believer and started this blog to start writing and asking out loud questions that I had pushed to the back of my mind before my loss of confidence in the Bible as the true Word of God.

      This really is just a bird’s eye view, but I hope that fleshes out the fact that I truly spent over 20 years in constant contact with Young Life. In fact, I loved Young Life…I was a kid who fit in was 100% with the program. Our club was over 100 people at one point and included may folks that I had reached out to and brought in my own car….though unsafe, I often had 8 or 9 people jammed into my parents Oldsmobile to get to club.

      As for love bombing, I’m not sure what to say. Loving people unconditionally is a great principle and one that I still practice as a non-Christian. I would challenge you to really ask yourself if you truly do not have an agenda when you strive to befriend the teens you meet.

      I know as a leader, we talked about and pleaded in passionate prayer for the chance to tell teens about Christ and their need to accept him as their personal Saviour. I certainly had an agenda beyond just showing them unconditional love. I wanted them to accept Young Life’s Evangelical understanding of the Christian faith.

      As for parental consent…YES…this is my big issue. My suggestion for a name change would be like other ministries whose name describes their intentions.

      Billy Graham Evangelistic Crusades
      Youth for Christ

      Are a few that come to mind….pretty hard to misunderstand what your teen is getting involved with when your name states your mission.

      Lastly, you are right that I have hesitated from calling Young Life a cult, because I actually think that Young Life is not an outright cult like the Moonies or Jehova Witnesses. But I do think that Young Life employs some methods that are similar, and it has bothered me. But please don’t blame me for this label….long before I ever wrote this little post I would hear this question raised by believers and non-believers. “young life cult” is the most common phrase that people google when they find my site. Why is it that so many people wonder whether Young Life is a cult?

      I recently described to a co-worker who is 20, about Young Life and contact work. This guy, who had never heard of Young Life thought that it was creepy and taking advantage of the vulnerabilities of teens to have older adults hanging around schools trying to meet and influence their views on faith.

      He thought it sounded like stalking. Please keep in mind, that I did not tell him that had been involved and I tried to describe it to him without any of my own slant. I was just curious to hear someone’s opinion of the very thing I used to do as a leader.

      I fear that I am beginning to ramble, so I’ll end it here. Please feel free to ask away, disagree, comment and the such….

      • plaintruth May 26, 2013 at 12:46 pm #

        “As for parental consent…YES…this is my big issue. My suggestion for a name change would be like other ministries whose name describes their intentions.”

        So changing the name of YL would clear up the issue of parental consent because it would make it’s intentions more clear and uninformed parents could basically remain so. Seriously, CA, this just sounds like you are digging for excuses to label YL a possible cult. Even though you remained in contact with people affiliated with YL, it is clear that you have not had a clear picture of the ministry for many many years. YL club and campaigner groups frequently meet in churches or church buildings. The other most oft used location is someone’s house. If the parent doesn’t ask where his/her child is going, who he/she is going with, and for what purpose, that’s sad. I would not be inclined to shift blame onto YL and call it a cult due parental lacking

    • gerard February 8, 2013 at 2:25 pm #

      How about Young Life For Jesus as a name. Just a tad more ink and honesty.

      • christianagnostic February 8, 2013 at 5:11 pm #

        That would certainly describe it well…

      • Dan February 8, 2013 at 6:25 pm #

        Thanks for sharing a bit of your story with me. I understand some of your other posts a little more now (like when you say perhaps being involved with Young Life left you vulnerable to a real cult). What was that real cult you were involved in? Is there another post where I can read more about that experience?

        I see what you are saying about the name now. That’s a fair point. Although if you aren’t a religious person a name like “Bill Graham Evangelistic Crusades” or “Intervarsity” or “Campus Crusades” or “Navigators” might not mean anything more than Young Life. Of course we all know a 70 year old mission changing its name isn’t something that is probably.

        You said, “As for love bombing, I’m not sure what to say. Loving people unconditionally is a great principle and one that I still practice as a non-Christian. I would challenge you to really ask yourself if you truly do not have an agenda when you strive to befriend the teens you meet.”

        Is that to say that you can try to love without an agenda, but I can’t? I get that it’s a tricky question and it’s all based on what you believe. If you believe that God is real how can you love someone without sharing that which you believe is the most important? I wouldn’t call that any more of an agenda than jumping in a river to save a drowning person (again, if you believe Jesus is God). Is that a fair point?

        I wanted to comment on the co-worker that you spoke with about Young Life who thinks its “creepy and taking advantage of teens to have older adults trying to meet and influence their faith”. Most experts on youth culture (Christian or not) agree that what adolescents need most is caring adult role models in their lives. We may disagree over the importance of faith, but I hope you’d agree with the need for caring adults to come alongside teenagers (be those coaches, teachers, neighbors, or Young Life leaders). I think it seems “creepy” because few adults are entering the world of kids by choice.

        And yes I totally agree that many people call Young Life a cult. Mostly I hear that from teens whose friends invite them to club but they don’t want to go, so they attack. Young Life is supported by every major Christian denomination. So whatever you believe about Young Life I think you’d have to lump the church as a whole in as well right?

        Thanks again for your grace a patience with me.

      • seniccarp February 8, 2013 at 9:09 pm #

        Hello Dan this is not the only blog about Younglife.There seems to be a lot of people upset with Younglife.Cult might be a bit harsh . What other people on this blog have written is true.

      • christianagnostic February 12, 2013 at 5:31 pm #

        Dan-

        you said

        “What was that real cult you were involved in? Is there another post where I can read more about that experience?”

        I was involved with Sovereign Grace Ministries…if you go to my blogroll and click on SGMSurvivors, you will find out way more then you ever wanted to know about how abusive this group really is…as for my own story, you can click on the posts about “Musicman” to read about my personal experiences with this cult.

        As for your comment that your work is like saving a drowning man…I think you have overlaid a false dilemma.

        It’s fine and good that you feel that Christ is the only way to eternal life. But people that don’t believe the same way you do is not equivalent to a drowning man or a burning home.

        A person drowning is not the same as someone who is able to choose for themselves whether or not to follow your version of Christianity. I think it shows an immense lack of trust in God’s sovereignty to say that if you don’t find a way to lead them to Christ than they are doomed forever.

        You may feel compelled to share Christ with all you meet, but you are still obligated to do it in way that is transparent and doesn’t violate the rights of other adults who do not wish to have you do this.

        Certainly, you would feel the same way about adults seeking to bring your child to Islam’s understanding of Jesus as a prophet. You would understand their sincerity, but would want them to respect your wishes that they not interact with your teen concerning a vision of God that you do not follow.

        As for the creepy factor…adults wishing to be role models is not just what Young Life is about. I tire of Young Life’s facade that they are simply adults wishing to be good role models to teens. Young Life’s sole purpose is to bring teens to their understanding of faith in Christ.

        Many experts may agree that teens need adult role models, but I doubt that all these experts agree that good role models can only be found in Evangelical organizations seeking to convert teens.

        Again, you’ve attempted to paint Young Life in a broad brush, like a “Big Brothers” type of mentoring role, when in fact, Young Life has it’s roots in Fundamentalist Christianity that believes in a literal hell and torturous damnation of all that do not accept Jesus as Savior and God.

        There is a big difference….a difference that is not always well known by teens or their parents until after their teen has become enmeshed with Young Life.

        Lastly, the church as a whole is much more diverse than Young Life. I would never lump Greek Orthodoxy, Southern Baptists, PCA, etc… as a whole. They have extremely different doctrines and practices from each other and from parachurch groups such as Young Life.

      • gerard February 9, 2013 at 2:34 pm #

        When you give vunerable kids unrealistic amounts of attention and unrealistic emotional strokes, you are doing the same thing that is is done by the Moonies, the Scientologists, and any other cult. Creating an artificial reality and unnatural sense of belonging. Add to it the deceptive approach out of parental view and you clearly have a cult.

        Wrap it in your purposely naive blanket of love all you want, but to an outsider, you are being very manipulative and damaging.

  26. Dan February 15, 2013 at 8:36 pm #

    Thanks, I’ll read that post about SGM. Ok, any analogy is flawed of course – but IF one believes that Jesus is the only way to real life (John 14:6) THEN the best way to love someone is to communicate that to them. It all just depends on your perspective.

    You said, “A person drowning is not the same as someone who is able to choose for themselves whether or not to follow your version of Christianity. I think it shows an immense lack of trust in God’s sovereignty to say that if you don’t find a way to lead them to Christ than they are doomed forever.”

    I agree with you completely. Let me clarify that I, or any other Young Life leader/pastor/person can’t “save” someone. My job – the job of a follower of Jesus – isn’t to change hearts or convert people. Our job is to share the story of God and our experiences. To use a Biblical analogy we plant seeds… God makes them grow (1 Corinthians 3:6). This has always been the heart of Young Life. Our mission statement reflects that by saying we “introduce adolescents to Jesus Christ.” To return to my flawed analogy, I just want to point people toward (what I believe is) the life raft.

    Again I agree with you that Young Life does not simply want to be good role models. I’m sorry if I said or implied that. My desire is that kids will want to live life with Jesus – that’s not my sole purpose, but it most definitely is the driving factor.

    You said that the church as a whole is more diverse than Young Life, and on this point I would disagree. Young Life’s statement of faith will line up with every major Christian denomination. There is nothing that we believe or teach that a Christian Church doesn’t – because we only hold to the basic beliefs common of Christianity. Young Life has Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, Catholics, Calvinists, Episcopals, non-denominationals, Lutherans, any more.

    There is a lot that you have said that has challenged me. These blog posts have been on my heart and mind a lot the last week. I want to remain faithful to what I believe God has called me to, but I also wish to do that in a way that “doesn’t violate the rights” of parents. I’ve really be wrestling with ways that I can be more transparent without turning into a guy with a bullhorn and signs yelling about Jesus at everyone. It’s a good conversation for me and my friends in Young Life to have.

    • christianagnostic February 20, 2013 at 6:07 am #

      Dan-

      Thanks for the conversation…I apologize that my replies are often days after the fact.

      I do agree with you that Young Life’s statement of faith lines up with most denominations. But statements of faith and practice are very diverse.

      And while it’s true that Young Life has many different denominations represented within it’s leadership (both paid and volunteer) it is essentially an Evangelical theology rooted in the 20th century fundamentalist movement. And in Jim Rayburn’s case, the theology of Dallas Theological Seminary.

      You can be Lutheran and Evangelical, but not all Lutherans are Evangelical.

      Can you honestly report that you’ve never seen or heard of Christian families upset by what their teen is now saying about Jesus and faith?

      I saw many times where Catholic families were very upset by what their teen was being taught. I even saw some anit-Catholic nudging by leaders to help kids get out of the “false” or “legalistic” Catholic Church.

      I saw parents attending non-denominational churches upset by their teen’s involvement in Young Life.

      So while Young Life can claim to represent a Christianity embraced by all denominations, I don’t find this to be true, especially when it comes to how that works out with families raising their teens outside of an Evangelical understanding of the Christian faith.

      Young Life is an Evangelical para church ministry whose mission is to convert teens to Christ. Parents and teens have a right to know this before they get involved. It’s not just a little extra cheering for the Christianity you may have heard at your parents church…for many, it is a radically different “practice” of Christianity.

      • Dan March 7, 2013 at 5:46 pm #

        Sorry I haven’t responded in weeks. I have still be reading!

        I’d disagree with you when you say that “young Life can claim to represent a Christianity embraced by all denominations, I don’t find this to be true”. I don’t want to be argumentative, but can you point to any Christian denomination that doesn’t agree with Young Life’s principles? Feel free to call the Catholic churches in my community. Their leadership will tell you of their support for the ministry.

        Even if you set that aside, you seem to agree that many major Christian church denominations support the values, methods, and mission of Young Life. Again I feel that if you’d choose to label YL as a cult, then you must label those major Christian churches as a cult as well.

    • seniccarp February 21, 2013 at 8:47 pm #

      Evangelical Christians need to keep there religion to them selfs.Stay away from our kids and stay out of our public schools

      • gerardfender February 27, 2013 at 3:30 am #

        I feel sorry for the Young Life crowd. They’re so delusional in their belief that they are holders of “the answer” and everyone NEEDS to find out. Look outside your suburban dream at the rest of the world. Most people don’t give a hoot about your shiny, happy people shtick and most people are not seeking salvation through Jesus. You are not wanted in our schools and as a dad and teacher, if you get near my own kids or school, I’m going to make a noise.

  27. Michele February 21, 2013 at 9:53 pm #

    Young Life gets involved in the lives of the children that attend their gatherings to a point that it is dangerous. My daughter was allowed to attend one of the camping retreats for a week and was told by a judge to return her to her home afterwards. Instead they took her to a very dangerous part of town so she could have sex with and adult. She was a child. Young life is not what it claims to be.

    • christianagnostic February 22, 2013 at 4:03 am #

      Michele-

      I’m sorry to hear about your daughter…

      If it’s not too painful, do you mind elaborating how a judge was involved with Young Life camp? I’m not sure I follow how a judge would be involved with ordering your daughter home from YL camp?

      Thanks again, for your comment…

    • seniccarp February 22, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

      Get a lawyer

  28. Eric February 26, 2013 at 9:52 pm #

    As a Young Life Area Director with 22+ years of experience with the mission (high school kid, volunteer leader, staff member), I have read this blog and the comments with great interest and tremendous sadness. But time and time again, in the midst of the various viewpoints and criticisms expressed, I continue to come back to one simple truth: many of you are taking incredibly situational experiences and erroneously treating them as normative.

    I am saddened by the parents who believe that Young Life has turned their children against them or who believe that Young Life condoned or encouraged in any way a relationship between a high school student and an adult leader. I am dismayed at the incorrect assertions by former “leaders” who think that backgrounds are unimportant to the mission. And I am perplexed that former leaders could at all insist that their personal experience in their very small corner of the world is in any way indicative of the beliefs of the mission as a whole. But I find the criticism of “systemic” practices within Young Life to be incredibly (if not intentionally) misguided, considering those practices are in no way “systemic.”

    Let’s clear up some points, “systemically”:

    1. Young Life does NOT teach, train, or in any other way persuade its leadership to “love bomb” (what an odd phrase) only the “popular” or the “pretty” kids. Young Life’s missional philosophy is “every kid” and I could count to literally hundreds of kids over the past couple of decades who would not fit into those categories, by cultural standards. The simple fact that Young Life has a ministry specifically intended to engage kids with special needs and disabilities would seem to indicate that there is absolutely no organizational bias toward only the popular kids.

    2. Young Life leaders (staff and volunteers) are REQUIRED to undergo a criminal background check before being allowed to be involved with kids. Not only is a person’s criminal background checked, but all leaders are required to complete a driver’s background as well, and Young Life will disallow certain leaders the ability to drive with kids in their car when the driver’s background is not acceptable.

    3. Young Life in no way, shape, or form condones any sort of “indoctrination” as an organization. In fact, if you were to take 20 staff or volunteers from 20 different states or areas, you’d likely find that there would be 20 different sets of doctrinal beliefs. The constant would certainly be the exclusivity and inclusivity of Christ. But there are Catholics, Calvinists, Methodists, Post Millenials, Amillenials, and maybe even a Baptist or two involved in YL Leadership. To say that there is any sort of “indoctrination” that the organization promotes is to be patently false, unless you mean indoctrination to the exclusivity of Christ. But that is not merely an organizational belief, it is a biblical truth.

    4. You state that “love bombing” (contact work) is manipulative because its intended purpose is to invite kids to club or camp or other event. No, it isn’t. The purpose of contact work is to get to know kids in their environment, for who they are. Not once have I ever befriended a kid solely so he would come to my “event.” Nor have I ever witnessed a leader do this (and I have known somewhere in the neighborhood of a couple thousand volunteers over the past two decades.) Nor have I ever trained someone to do so in over 12 years as a “trainer.” Nowhere in any of YL’s mission documents will you find that sentiment endorsed as a missional philosophy.

    Is it fair to ask if YL is a cult? Yes. Is it advisable, even? Yes. But is it fair to suggest that your experience with YL (from a couple decades ago, no less) is in any way normative? Not even close, and you are unfairly misleading your readers by allowing them to think that your experience is in any way the norm.

  29. Eric February 26, 2013 at 10:45 pm #

    One final inaccuracy I will address, and then I will step back and address replies. You say:

    “The nightly talks about Jesus and his crucifixion were followed up by a mandatory 10 minutes of silence to think about what we had just heard. This was then followed up by an hour of hyped up singing by the volunteer staff. Campers would then return to their cabins, where their leaders would lead an hour or more discussion about the talks and about where each student stood in regards to their relationship to Jesus. Every activity was intentional in trying to persuade students to make a decision for Christ. The final activity at a weekly camp was the “say so” meeting. The verse about letting the redeemed “say so” was the basis for the name. Kids would be encouraged to stand up among the hundreds of students and “say so” if they had committed or re-committed their lives to Jesus. It was an intense display, full of emotional stories, lots of tears and hugs…followed up by more tears and hugs as we said goodbye to the many friends we had made during the week and got on the bus to travel home.”

    Whether you intentionally misrepresent this or not, I cannot say. However, there is no “nightly” crucifixion message. There is one per week. After the nightly message, there is no “mandatory 10 minutes of silence.” That is done twice in a given week, and kids are allowed to do with that time whatever they want. (I cannot tell you the number of times a kid has responded to the question “what did you think about during your 20 minutes alone” with “I fell asleep.” To which, my response is always “thanks for your honesty.”) There is no nightly “hour of hyped up singing by the volunteer staff.” That also happens once in a given week, and it is the Work Crew- high school kids who pay their own way to camp and receive no compensation whatsoever to serve their peers. Cabin Time discussions are not an hour where leaders “lead an hour or more of discussion…” That is a misrepresentation, though it is reasonably close to the actual intention. Cabin Time is a time when leaders ask questions and let kids reflect and process what they are hearing. Kids have the freedom to say whatever it is they think, feel, believe, or understand about the Messages they are hearing. Yes, the leader helps clarify points of obvious misunderstanding (i.e, “sins” are the things you “do” and are not the reason that Jesus was crucified; “Sin” is a heart condition that leads us to turn away from God and is the reason that Jesus died.) You say that “say so Club” at Camp is “full of emotional stories,” when kids are explicitly instructed at that event to say their name, where they are from, and a short, one sentence expression of any decision they made that week. There is absolutely zero encouragement to share an “emotional story.”

    Let me be clear: my issue is not with your question, nor with the criticisms of others personal experiences with Young Life. The issue is with the repetitive misrepresentation of missional norms and practices.

    • christianagnostic February 26, 2013 at 11:55 pm #

      Eric-

      First off…thank your for taking the time to read and respond. I have many thoughts to your comments, but I am pressed for time. So for now I will be brief and then follow up at length in the next day or so….

      First off, if I have misrepresented anything, it has been unintentional. I re-read what I first wrote about camp and you are correct. There are nightly talks about Jesus, but in my experience, only once a week is there a very detailed (and emotional) discussion of the crucifixion followed by a mandatory silence. I DID give the impression that this happened nightly, and I will correct my post to reflect what you have correctly pointed out..but it was sloppy editing not an intentional deception…

      As for some of your other characterizations of my posts, I find that you are calling foul on technical terms in attempt to minimize what I am stating…one quick example before I dash away to a basketball game!

      I never said that the “say so” was a time where kids were instructed to tell emotional stories, I simply stated the truth, that kids are encouraged to stand up and say so if they have committed or re-committed their lives to Christ and that many emotional stories are shared.

      Is this not the case? I never stated or implied that leaders explicitly told kids what or how to tell their stories. What I witnessed were often tearful and emotional stories being shared-even if they were short and to the point.

      Anyway…I’ll be back later to address your concerns as best I can…until then!

      CA

      • Eric February 27, 2013 at 1:04 am #

        I don’t want to engage in a semantical debate with you, because that’s dull and trite, and typically leads to contentious dialogue with no intention of finding common ground. That said, you used the words “emotional stories” and I simply clarified that a “one sentence summary” was explicitly asked for. In my opinion, the phrase “emotional stories” reads as though there are 200 teenagers trying to top each other with their conversion stories. And you have no reason to, but you can believe that I’d never- in an eternity worth of Say So Clubs- want to be a part of that.

        Obviously, I am not here to say that Young Life is perfect. Believe me, it is far from perfect, and as an Area Director with over a decade of staff experience in multiple areas and Regions, I have certain misgivings about the ways we may be encouraged to present some things. However, this blog post and several comments within are rife with inaccuracies concerning organizational and “systemic” procedures and doctrines. Again, I don’t question the validity of anyone’s experience, and my heart breaks for parents who have had people “shun” their children in the name of Young Life, and even moreso for those who have had children preyed upon by a volunteer or member of the Young Life Staff. But to judge an entire organization based on the actions of a few is not quite fair. Are all democrats filandering adulterers because Bill Clinton was? Of course not.

        I am not a poster child for the “rah rah YL” mentality, but I am intimately aware of the ways that certain portrayals about the mission are patently false and unfair in this blog and the comments contained within.

      • randallslack February 28, 2013 at 12:50 am #

        Eric, perhaps if you really read my comments (or others) you would have more compassion. Instead you pragmatically dismiss those whose lives have been forever damaged in the flawed logic of “the ends justify the means.” You’re a piece of work.

      • Eric March 2, 2013 at 11:12 pm #

        Randall…

        I have read every comment in the thread, and I dismiss no one who has had their lives changed by a careless/reckless person who committed crimes or even just exhibited poor judgement in their treatment of a kid. I’m really sorry that has happened, and I am glad that our judicial system has rightly administered justice in those cases. My point is that those atrocities are not at all a product of a system that enables, encourages, allows, or condones them. Those are absolutely atrocities, committed by individuals. They were absolutely not committed by any organization, and they are not in any way excused by that organization.

        I’m saying nothing of ends or means. I’m saying that what happened is the product of either evil people or people who gave into evil desires- not an organization who allows or condones that type of behavior. I’ve been taught for my entire 20 years of involvement (and train others now) not to EVER be put in a situation where I am EVER alone with a student of the opposite sex. That’s YL policy, and it should be. And as a dad of 4 little girls, it breaks my heart to imagine there are people who ignore that policy. And it saddens me for the parents and kids who’ve had to endure the careless behavior of adults they trusted. But this is absolutely the responsibility of those adults, and not of the organization itself.

        Sorry if I was unclear in that stance earlier. At the same time, I was specifically addressing CA’s comments, and not yours.

  30. jyork1213 March 4, 2013 at 2:42 am #

    I have to disagree with you on the “cult of cool” idea. Not saying that it wasn’t your experience or even the intention of your particular YL leaders, but I have been involved in several different YL areas (albeit all in MN) and in each area we filled our clubrooms with lonely and outcasted kids, not because we “targeted” them, but because they were the ones who were interested. I don’t think that it is correct to say, “this is my experience so this is what YoungLife is.” I find it devious and wrong to specifically target a type of student in order to make your ministry more popular or palatable. Especially because it is so opposite of how Jesus lived His life. I’m sorry that you had an experience with leaders who were more focused on numbers than on ministry.

    • christianagnostic March 6, 2013 at 9:08 pm #

      Not to be disagreeable, but even Young Life leadership materials talk explicitly of reaching “Key Kids”.

      Check out this quote from JC Bowman, writing for YL Leadership

      “I could probably raise my entire budget if I had a dollar for every time I have heard someone say, “Young Life only tries to reach
      out to the popular kids in a school.” The criticism is partially justified in that we do try to target specific kids.”

      You can read the entire text here:

      http://apps.younglife.org/ServiceCenterDepartments/Training/LeadershipIandII/pdf/CN-Part10.pdf

      Are you serious in saying your leadership teams have never talked about or targeted specific kids? I ask this, because it was core to how YL functioned and trained it’s leaders to do contact work.

      • Eric March 7, 2013 at 1:39 am #

        You’re still twisting the context of the idea here. Nowhere does the article promote targeting the “cool” kid, but the “key” kid. You may not want to acknowledge as much, but those are very different kids. In fact, let’s look at the entire paragraph you quoted:

        I could probably raise my entire budget if I
        had a dollar for every time I have heard
        someone say, “Young Life only tries to reach
        out to the popular kids in a school.” The criticism
        is partially justified in that we do try to
        target specific kids. It is construed
        as the “popular kid” when
        in reality it is a “key kid.” The
        strategy that I have worked with
        in my years with Young Life is to
        find “key kids” in the school,
        those kids who are leaders of different
        groups within the school,
        leaders of the student council,
        leaders of the band, leaders of the
        jocks, leaders of the “boarders.”

        Nowhere will you find an organizational belief that we should target only the “popular” kids. I think this is yet another example of driving toward what would be a great point, if not for the slight misrepresentation that happens along the way.

      • christianagnostic March 7, 2013 at 3:37 am #

        Eric-

        Often times the “key kids” are the popular kids. It’s as simple as that….not always. But look around the high school, popularity or “cool” is often what rules the day.

        Young Life can call it “key kids”, “student leaders” or whatever…but the overlap between these concepts and the cool and popular kids is pretty high in my experience.

      • Eric March 7, 2013 at 4:08 am #

        “Often times the key kids are the popular kids.”

        Sure they are. And often times they are not.

        But again, you’ve taken your very narrow and limited experience and treated it as the norm, when it clearly isn’t. It is your personal experience, and of course there are going to be instances in an organization this size of experiences that lie outside of the bounds of what is expected or acceptable within the organization. But that does not make your experience indicative of the entire organization.

        I don’t mind the criticism of Young Life. Heck, I feel like there are times when I’m pretty critical of the organization as well. There’s just a pattern in this blog of misrepresenting the facts, and treating a limited perspective as normative. Of course, there’s also the matter of how willingly you jump on every negative experience posted in the comments, practically begging for another article to write, yet showing zero interest in giving the same treatment to the opposing viewpoint.

        And my final comment on the entire matter (unless, of course, there is a comment that begs for a reply) IF Young Life were a cult (as you’ve asked and suggested), WHY would there be such differing perspectives on what the organization teaches/expects? Doesn’t it stand to reason that a cult would be quite uniform in its expectations? And yet, what you say you were taught is a completely foreign concept to me and many others who have written to disagree with your assertions. That’s just food for thought.

      • christianagnostic March 7, 2013 at 4:43 am #

        Eric-

        Again, I feel you want to call technical foul over semantics…

        Is it not true that Young Life has trained it’s leaders to go after “key kids”, the student leaders, etc…?

        Isn’t that what Chuck Reinhold taught about contact work? Isn’t that how many Youth Ministry classes talk of Jim Rayburn and his “get the popular kids to come so others will follow” concept?

        You respond as if I am just making this stuff up….

        Even current YL leaders are asking themselves this question.

        http://www.younglifeleaders.org/2012/03/is-young-life-really-for-every-kid.html

      • randallslack March 8, 2013 at 1:06 am #

        Eric, once again you can’t seem to see the Forrest for the trees. To “target” the popular kids is to exclude the “not so popular” kids, because the popular kids consider them losers. The popular kids will not accept them – exactly what happened to my daughter and many others. So, the losers are sacrificed at the expense of the popular – and young life knows this is true. And so do you. It’s called “collateral damage.” It’s the same pragmatic philosophy “The ends justify the means.”

        It is the source of all deception.

        Consider the Jeses Movement of the late 70′s and 80′s. The church opened its door to thousands of Hippies (considered losers by the popular) and hundreds of thousands of people of all ages and social status came to faith in Christ. I personally witnessed it. Standing in church with long hair, arm in arm with those in suits and ties. Such love I have never seen in churches since.

        Perhaps if Young Life just targeted “whosover will” they would have better results without injuring those “not so popular.”

      • Eric March 8, 2013 at 3:15 am #

        Randall, with all due respect, I feel like you’re either not really reading my comments or you’re simply not comprehending them. Nowhere have I ever endorsed the “targeting” of “popular” kids. Please re-read my comments and find anywhere I suggest that popular kids should be our focus. It simply isn’t there. Will you do me the favor of finding the word or phrase that I am using that communicates my endorsement of “targeting the cool kids” so I can clear up the confusion?

        To illustrate the point, let’s take some word-for-word lines from the Leadership handbook I have developed over the past 12 years of training literally hundreds of college volunteers and even Young Life Staff Associates (Interns) on who we should pursue:

        “But, we don’t just do Contact Work because Jim Rayburn did. We take our cue from God himself, who chose to clothe himself in human flesh in order to be with us. He didn’t stand at a distance and say “come, look at me.” Rather, he became flesh and blood and (as Eugene Peterson says) moved into the neighborhood (John 1:14, The Message.) He chose to invade the human situation. And not only did Jesus show up on the scene of our lives, he tells us to do the same. “Just as the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” (John 20:21, NIV) Therefore, we show up on the scenes of the lives of middle and high school kids. We listen, we make ourselves available, we build relationships with kids, we earn the right to be heard, and we share the Gospel. We go because Jesus went. And, we go because we are sent.

        And there is another essential reason we go. Hopefully, we go because (as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:14) we are compelled. We are compelled to show up and love difficult kids. We are compelled to show up and love lost, hurting, and disinterested kids. We are compelled to show up and love the popular and the outcast, and every kid in between. We pay attention to Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:5-8, and we go to those with the greatest need; we go to the lost. And we go because we love them so much that we are delighted to share not only the Gospel of God with them, but our very lives. They are dear to us.”

        That not convincing? How about this:

        “Young Life’s mission is Every Kid, Everywhere, for Eternity. Your Contact Work should reflect that. We go not only to the rich, the popular and the attractive, but to the poor, the outcast and the unlovely. Smile at every kid. Say hello to every kid. Remember, deep down, kids want a relationship with someone who values them, no matter how much it appears otherwise.”

        But those are just words on paper, so let’s have a little time of anecdotal evidence that I don’t believe one ounce in pursuit of “cool kids” over anyone else. Where will you be Friday night? Because after I put my own kids to bed, I’ll be at Munchies 420 Cafe with 8 or 9 high school boys. Among them is a boy we’ll call Caleb- a kid whose family lives on about $300 a month, who absolutely does not think that God exists, but who feels like he matters to our leaders and to other kids at Young Life. There is also James, a kid who plays the clarinet in the marching band. Then there is “Pete”, an atheist who claims no friends and says he enjoys hanging out with us because “it’s the only place in life he feels like he can be himself.” I could go on and on.

        I hesitate to tell you that story because the last thing I want to do is look like I’m trying to pat myself on the back. My point is that these kids are incredibly valuable to me and my team, and will always be valuable regardless of any decision they may or may not make about God or Jesus. And not a single one of them is a kid who anyone at their respective schools would call “cool” (unless being in the Anime Club is something considered cool at some high school somewhere out there.)

        Hear me loud and clear: what happened to your daughter is appalling to me. If one of my volunteer leaders ever hurt a teenager like you’ve explained with your daughter, he or she would be fired IMMEDIATELY. What your daughter has suffered is disgusting to me, but that is the product of one careless person, or maybe even a careless team of leaders, but is not in any way indicative of the organization as a whole.

        I simply don’t know any other way to put it, Randall.

      • Dan March 7, 2013 at 5:33 pm #

        CA and Eric,

        I want to add a point that seems to be missing and that is potentially causing the confusion. Young Life leaders might try to “target” specific kids, but that is for the purpose of reaching EVERY KID. CA you imply that Young Life wants to only reach popular/cool kids, which is what Eric is pointing out as untrue. A YL leader might look at who they know and realize they only know athletes so they “target” a band kid in order to know more band kids. This strategy is purposefully inclusive not exclusive. I’m not sure if that adds clarity or not but wanted to toss it out there. Again, thanks all for the conversation.

  31. BillSan March 6, 2013 at 1:29 am #

    Well, all of this makes me very sad. From the misguided blogger, to the disrespected parent, to the hurt child, none of this is what Young Life is about, and ultimately none of this is what Jesus is about. I’ve been involved with Young Life for some time now, serving in many different roles. If there is one thing I can say, it is that Young Life is all about following Jesus. The way He lived and performed His ministry drives every decision, aspiration, strategy, desire, goal, hope and purpose that we pursue in Young Life.

    We go into schools and meet kids where they are because Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well, first. We love and celebrate kids at Club because Jesus genuinely cared for, loved and celebrated Zacchaeus, Levi, the paralyzed man who came through the ceiling, the bride and groom who ran out of wine, anyone and everyone He came in contact with, first. We provide safe, non-pressure situations where kids can respond to the Gospel because Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” and we believe EVERY kid, everywhere deserves the chance to hear that news and be in a relationship with their Creator! Because Jesus said it first!

    But the truth is, we’re not Jesus. We’re not perfect. We are an organization created by and run by flawed human beings who have the privilege of taking part in a sacred effort. We are doing are very best to live like and for Jesus Christ everyday, but there are occasions where one among us falls to sin. If someone or something in Young Life does not reflect Jesus we do our very best to make adjustments, own our fault and press onward. I am sorry to those of you who felt pain at the hand of someone representing Young Life. Please know that in that moment they were situationally representing sin above their commitments to Jesus Christ or Young Life. While this may not be a remedy for the sting, hopefully it provides peace around who we really are and what we really are about.

    We are about Jesus and kids reaching their God-given potential. Don’t believe me? Check out our mission statement or call your local staff person. I am sure they would love to speak with you about your questions and concerns. Peace and blessings.

  32. christianagnostic March 6, 2013 at 8:55 pm #

    Eric-

    I have edited the original post to correct the impression that every talk at camp was an emotional presentation of the crucifixion.

    Thanks-CA

    • billiesue1 March 19, 2013 at 6:17 pm #

      As a grown woman who was raised in the Young Life culture, my father, Bob Page was a key leader back in the day…is all I can say is I endured years of sexual abuse from my father. Neither he nor anyone in the organization came to my aide. Ironically, the first time I went to counseling was through a Young Life group in Colorado Springs. The YL counselor was associated with a home sponsored by YL for troubled teens. I was in my early 20′s. At the time a YL board member, Terry Morissey, who was a prominent business man in the community began approaching me for sex. He was 20 years my senior and married. When I told my counselor, Jim Sheffer about it he told me not to tell anyone because it could jeapordize their funding. I could go on for hours..but my personal experience as a child growing up in a YL household was that of severe abuse and neglect. Today is the first day that I have ever had the courage to go on the internet to see if any misconduct has been done by YL. I am truly sick to my stomach and feel as though I am coming out of a deep fog. I know for a fact that everyone that I came into contact with in YL tried to convince me that accepting Christ was the only way to go and that I had to convince others of this path. Thank God, as I grew older non of the doctrines that I was raised with made any logical sense to me. How could one religion truly believe that it had all the answers and all the other people of various beliefs were going to hell? I am in the process of writing a story about my childhood and the life long struggle of healing from my abuse. I find YL to be a patriarchal religion and my personal experience was that of extreme abuse from men who preached the word of a loving God.

      • christianagnostic March 19, 2013 at 8:26 pm #

        billiesue1-

        Thanks for taking the time to share your story…I am so sorry for the abuse you endured.

        I have many more thoughts, but I am on a short break and will check in tonight to post them.

        CA

      • christianagnostic March 20, 2013 at 5:32 am #

        Billesue1-

        First off, I again want to say how sorry I am for the abuse you endured and for the lack of support you received from Young Life. It is appalling (maybe criminal) that your counselor advised you to stay quiet because it risked his career.

        I’m no expert on these things, but I do wonder if you should also be speaking to a lawyer about your experiences? It seems that your counselor may have been required by law to report any abuse, especially the sexual abuse of your dad.

        If there’s anything that I’ve learned about abuse, is that many victims feel they are the only ones. Many times they are shocked to learn that there are other victims as well.

        But I’m not here to tell you what you should do…..

        I’d like to make your comment a post of it’s own….but only if you’re comfortable with me highlighting your story.

        Best Regards-CA

      • billiesue1 March 20, 2013 at 11:51 am #

        First of all, thank you for your compassion and kind words. They are greatly appreciated. Your comments are one more step in the healing process. I am not use to someone saying, I am sorry for what happened to you. As an adult when I began confronting my father I was told that I was sick and crazy, and going to hell for my comments. The cover up story with the man in Colorado Springs was my early lesson on how someone within the organization would be treated if they came forward. I agree with you, that it is criminal, both what my father did and the many people in YL that never stepped up to the leadership to take responsibility for their actions. At a minimum, I would like to see the organization reach out to me and reimburse me for the years of therapy I have sought out. Instead of righting a wrong I have always received the canned response, “you are a strong woman and we will pray for you”. To me that is one more step in vilifying the victim, instead of taking action.

        I would appreciate if you would make this a post of it’s own. My intent in coming forward is that perhaps other victims will have the courage to share their story and it will open a path to the healing process. I have begun writing a book called,” Removing the Veil of Shame”. Sexual abuse and incest are a horrific disease that seems to be passed down from generation to generation and I believe that it is so very important to talk about it and end the cycle of violence.
        Thank You….Jennifer

      • billiesue1 March 21, 2013 at 4:22 pm #

        I think an attorney is a good idea……thank you

      • christianagnostic March 22, 2013 at 4:48 am #

        billie sue1-

        Just saw your comment…I really don’t have any experience with the courts in these matters. I know Susan Burke is the lead attorney in the SGM sex abuse cases. Her office may be able to refer you to a local law firm that could help you.

        http://burkepllc.com/attorneys/susan-l-burke/

        I’ve been out all night after work at a kid’s choir concert, I should have your recent comments up as a separate post tonite or tomorrow.

        Please feel free to let me know if you want anything else added or edited whne I get in online….it is your story and I want to be sure you are comfortable with how it is presented.

        Thanks-CA

  33. Jimmy March 20, 2013 at 12:44 am #

    Currently I am in high school as a Sophomore and have been gong to Young Life for about a year and a couple months now, and would just like to share my experience with how YL works for me in Texas. Around here, YL has targeted the two high schools who have about a predominantly half ecosystem of upper middle class kids, and the other half as lower middle class. (There isn’t an inbetween for these two very much). I have been involved in a Protestant Church who agrees and even funds YL a little in our community. The two schools that YL has targeted in this area being about the Upper Middle Class section of these schools to the, “Club” to have fun, and share the word of Jesus and such. I go to the school in a community where the school is about a third of the Middle class, and the rest, lower middle class. At the YL club, I feel a little bit out of place because of how/who they are targeting to attend these, “Clubs” only because of not being as rich/wealthy, or “cool” as one may put it. So I am wondering, are the YL targeting these kids (the upper middle class, predominantly white kids) to go to these clubs to get the other half of these to schools to attend them? Based on experience, that is what would seem that Is what is going to happen/ going on. Right now the clubs are predominantly attractive white people who have enough of a “coolness” factor to keep the club funded and ongoing and maybe bring in others. Though I do not see that happening as much. We do not have a YL club where I live in my community. Thanks for reading y’all.

    • christianagnostic March 20, 2013 at 1:49 am #

      Jimmy-

      Thanks for your comment. I really couldn’t speak to the specifics of your area YL in Texas and about who they decide to target.

      I do think that Young Life has unconsciously adopted a ministry model that works well in wealthier suburbs, considering the cost of camps. But that is just my own opinion from my own experience on the east coast.

      In our area, the richer (and yes-whiter) suburbs had clubs. The schools on the lower end of the economic scale did not have clubs. Again, I don’t think it was intentional at all. But it was how things worked out.

      • seniccarp March 20, 2013 at 2:28 am #

        Why does Younglife always end up in the richest areas of a city?

      • JST March 20, 2013 at 4:17 am #

        Where I live, there are YL clubs at both the suburban schools and the urban schools (as well as the university, a few middle schools, YL for special needs students, and for teen moms). It is never the intention to only reach a certain demographic, however sometimes different YL leaders relate better with certain groups of students and fail to leave their comfort zone. I lead at a suburban school and the club is ~80% African American. Since students bring their friends to club, sometimes it can be difficult to branch out into other friend groups within schools, making it seem “cliquey.” In addition, it is also difficult to run YL at urban schools because there is generally less parent support at urban schools and like you said, ChristianAgnostic, it is more difficult for urban students to pay for camp. Local church support has been critical in my city to start and sustain urban YL.

      • christianagnostic March 20, 2013 at 5:37 am #

        That’s very interesting about your club….I agree that I don’t see YL as intentionally only reaching out to white suburban kids.

        I was a staff volunteer at Lake Champion and we had a week of Urban YL clubs. I had a blast…Very diverse groups and challenges to doing club in the big cities.

        Thanks for your comment JST…

  34. CollegeKid727 March 23, 2013 at 6:29 pm #

    It sickens me that people would think of Young Life in such a negative light. I’m a college student and plan on being a volunteer leader in the future. Yes the majority of the college leaders at my school are preppy, rich, priveledged young adults, but we also have a ton of “out of the crowd” young adults, including middle class, “overweight”, and scene kids. Having grown up and graduated high school in a upper class suburb outside of Washington D.C. in Virginia, I was faced with the temptations of drinking, smoking, and experimenting with drugs. Had it not been for Young Life, I would not have had the amazing support group and friends that got me through those years. Yes, I can see how Young Life can seem like a cult, but seriously, look closely at any group and see how easy it is to consider them a “cult”. In a society that is so corrupt for teens to grow up in with temptations that leave you empty, we need to be thankful for groups like Young Life, who try to replace negative things with positive, fun, fellowship. Yes the majority of kids at club are “potheads”, kids having sex and even drunks, but those are the kinds of kids we want to reach. Why only preach to the kids who already know Jesus? That’s not giving others the opportunity to experiment and meet Christ. We need to remember that when Christ was on earth he was constantly ridiculed for spending his time with the beggars, prostitutes and unloved. How different are you all for talking about Young Life in a negative light, then those who judged Jesus while on earth…? I understand that some may have negative experiences with Young Life, yes it’s unfortunate, but seriously stop basking in the past and realize that with any other group, unfortunate things happen. It’s all about how you go about the experience and make things right

    • christianagnostic March 24, 2013 at 3:11 am #

      CollegeKid-

      Thanks for your comment. I have mixed feelings about what you said…I’ll try my best to explain why.

      you said

      “I was faced with the temptations of drinking, smoking, and experimenting with drugs. Had it not been for Young Life, I would not have had the amazing support group and friends that got me through those years. ”

      I’m glad to hear that your friends in Young Life helped you to stay away from risky behaviors. I mean it, we all need connections to people who we trust to help us navigate tough choices and temptations in our lives.

      you also said

      “How different are you all for talking about Young Life in a negative light, then those who judged Jesus while on earth…?”

      I would say that we are very different. As for me, all I have done is question some of Young Life’s methods and highlight stories of abuse done by Young Life leaders.

      How is this any different than Jesus who called out the Religious leaders of his day for not practicing what they preach?

      lastly, you said

      “I understand that some may have negative experiences with Young Life, yes it’s unfortunate, but seriously stop basking in the past and realize that with any other group, unfortunate things happen. It’s all about how you go about the experience and make things right”.

      I have a serious problem with this sentiment. You’re minimizing the pain, hurt, and even sexual abuse that folks have suffered and told them to essentially “get over it”. In some cases it was more than “unfortunate”, for some it was life shattering and even criminal what they experienced at the hands of Young Life. To simply wave this off as needing to stop “basking in the past” is bull honkey!

    • billiesue1 March 25, 2013 at 5:07 pm #

      Collegekid…I am happy to hear that YL has been a positive experience in your life..I agree with you that negative experiences are a part of life and many lessons are learned. However, sexual abuse is a crime and needs to be handled as such.

      • Eric March 25, 2013 at 5:47 pm #

        Yes it is, and yes it should. And the fact that it wasn’t in your case is appalling. In fact, it is illegal in all 50 states to not report any reported abuse. But I’m not sure how long that has been true or when your abuse occurred, and if the same was true then. Regardless of whether that was the legal responsibility, it was still a moral responsibility, and I am terribly sorry you had to endure that.

      • billiesue1 March 26, 2013 at 12:28 am #

        Thank you Eric…

  35. Tim March 25, 2013 at 5:17 am #

    I was abused by my Young Life Leader 4 years ago.

    This leader showed up to my school, my practices and even gave me rides home after Club and Campaigners. After we had known each other for a little over a year he abused me…I was shocked, I felt betrayed, I felt dirty and I felt more pain in my heart than I ever have before. It was a mess and I hated the fact that I was alive to endure it.

    BUT I have to be honest. The staff responded to my pain in the most Christ-like loving way I could have ever imagined. They were heart broken with me and helped me walk through this tragedy…they wept with me like Jesus wept.

    After counseling and time I came to realize this sad truth; We live in a broken world, with broken people. We will not see anything perfect on this side of death. The BEST people will let us down, so we must put our faith and our hope in Christ.

    Had in not been for Young Life and the staff and other leaders, I would have never known this truth. You could say, had it not been for Young Life that I would have never felt this pain, but the Lord is good…and he uses the broken for His glory.

    The organization as a whole puts kids first and I truly believe that they do as much as is possible to protect us. I was hurt by someone who was involved, but I was also loved far more than I was ever hurt.

    Jesus teaches us to forgive, and that is exactly what I have done.

    Young Life changed my life, by introducing me to my Creator and putting my trust in Him and Him alone.

    • billiesue1 March 25, 2013 at 5:02 pm #

      I am happy to hear that after you reported your abuse that YL stepped in to help you. May I ask if they reported the offender and the crime to the authorities? Sexual abuse is a crime and my concern is that if the abuse is only dealt with inside of the organization, offenders are never brought to justice and may harm other people.

      • christianagnostic March 25, 2013 at 6:25 pm #

        These are my thoughts as well…while I’m glad you (Tim) were shown a lot of love after the fact, I’m wondering how the situation was handled as a whole?

      • Tim March 27, 2013 at 4:28 am #

        Thanks for you concern and kind words, they are well received. The matter was not handled internally, the Young Life staff involved were very concerned about the safety of others. Basically, we went to the authorities and I told them everything that had happened to me and they started a very thorough investigation. The Young Life staff did a great job of documenting everything that went on so that the authorities had a clear idea of how it was handled. After the fact, the YL staff contacted every family that had kids involved in the program and informed them on the investigation. They asked the families to talk to their kids and ask them if anything had happened to them, they strongly encouraged anyone with information or concerns to come forward. The way the staff and the organization responded was a true testament to their hearts…I know my family was crushed by what happened, but we were encouraged to see that they are taking and have taken steps to make sure these horrible things don’t happen to anyone else.

      • billiesue1 March 27, 2013 at 3:10 pm #

        tim…I posted my reply on the site I am new to how these blogs work :)..please read when you get a moment

      • christianagnostic March 27, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

        I am really glad to hear that YL handled your case in such a thorough manner.

  36. billiesue1 March 27, 2013 at 2:10 pm #

    Tim,

    Thanks so much for your reply. I am so thankful that you had the courage to come forward with your story. That takes amazing strength. It makes my heart very happy and hopeful that YL supported you and worked with the authorities. Best wishes to you….

  37. Marcus Jackson April 3, 2013 at 4:09 am #

    I have no idea how you can have been involved in YL and even let the thought of it being a cult cross your mind. YOUNG LIFE practices totally biblical methods. It’s when people decide they know better than the example that Jesus left that it goes wrong. Same as anything: Everything God creates is inherently good, but WE, PEOPLE, mess that up. But seriously? “Love-bombing”? What is that? “I was now involved with inviting my friends, going out of my way to be like Christ to others in my school (student version of Love Bombing)” You mean loving everyone the way the Jesus did? Something tells me Jesus wasn’t being “cultic”. “Some leaders would organize sports events, or have teens they know intentionally invite other kids to an event, (like watching a football game on TV) so that the Young Life leaders could make contact and build a relationship with these students. The sole intent of all of this was to then invite the students to attend a Young Life club or camp.” That is not the intent of contact work. Is that a big aspect of it? Absolutely, but a leader’s intention in contact work should be love kids who may not know what it feels like the way that Christ loved. If you claim that making contact with people in order to get them to attend something (by the way club and camp are both used to illustrate the greatest love that there is) then everything is a cult. Schools that recruit athletes are cults. Heck, school is a cult. The government must be a cult, too. Young Life is in no way secretive about their intents. If you ask, an honest person that is involved will tell you. Is this to say that as human beings people don’t try to make it sound more appealing by not saying “Why are we taking time out to talk to you? Because we want you to know Jesus.” And that shouldn’t be the real intent. Jesus clearly, CLEARLY states that the greatest commandment next to Love the Lord your God…is to LOVE ONE ANOTHER!!!! That is the intent. Loving as Christ did and just because Young Life desires for students to be SAVED by the blood of Christ, doesn’t mean it’s a cult. I could literally disprove everything on this blog with the Bible, not even YL, but I don’t have that time. “A fool is wise in his own eyes.” I suggest asking the Most Holy if YL is a cult.

    • randallslack April 4, 2013 at 1:30 am #

      MJ, have you even read any of the comments posted by people who have been hurt? You are completely clueless. Put your head back in the sand…you’ll be more comfortable that way.

      • Marcus Jackson April 4, 2013 at 1:59 am #

        Actually I have and those stories truly break my heart. But to say that the actions of few define the intentions of many is ignorant. If we abide by that philosophy, we must have issue with all Germans because of the heinous acts of Hitler. All southern farmers must support slavery and racism. My main point is that you CANNOT judge one person because of another person. You take the number of people who have been hurt and try to compare to the number of people who have found that their lives are WORTH IT. Whether YL effectively points people to Christ or not, many find that someone cares about them. Maybe they refuse to believe that it could be Jesus, but there are leaders and campaigners who throw their arms around others and say “Hey, your life matters to me.” Tell me…why do people find the need to make famous those who do wrong and not those who do right?

      • christianagnostic April 4, 2013 at 8:00 am #

        Marcus-

        Nowhere I have stated that all Young Lifer’s are equal Hitler’s Germany or Southern Slavery.

        You are making unverifiable statements. How do you know that more people have been helped and not hurt?

        Even if 99% were helped and only 1% hurt, does that mean we should ignore it?

        I seem to remember a story about 99 and 1…

    • christianagnostic April 4, 2013 at 7:49 am #

      Marcus Jackson-

      I suggest you chill out for a second…seriously, you may not like or even agree with what I have said, but coming in guns blazing is certainly not going to change my mind on the issue.

      That said, let me try to respond to some of the things you stated.

      you said

      “If you claim that making contact with people in order to get them to attend something (by the way club and camp are both used to illustrate the greatest love that there is) then everything is a cult. Schools that recruit athletes are cults. Heck, school is a cult. The government must be a cult, too. Young Life is in no way secretive about their intents.”

      Sorry, but you are minimizing and equating legitimate institutions and methods with Young Life’s methods. When a college sports program recruits you, you know it, your parents know it, and there are strict rules about the process. As for schools, they do not recruit children, they are open to the public without discrimination and are compelled by law to provide instruction to every family that chooses to send their children to school. It’s not like the local school board hangs around homeschool conventions trying to get to know students and try and entice them to go to public school. It’s an absurd comparison.

      While I agree that Young Life is not secretive about it’s intentions, I would say that many Young Life areas and leaders are vague (at best) when they make initial contact with teens. How many of the teens parents/guardians are fully aware of Young Life’s evangelistic intentions when they allow their children to go to club or camp?

      I noticed that you didn’t mention anything about my concerns of parental consent. This is my major bone of contention and just because you think Jesus is swell and you want to love teens with Christ’s love, does not give you the permission to be relating to other people’s minor children.

      How would you feel if you learned that the local Muslim Youth Jihadist group had befriended your teen and was hanging out with them without your prior knowledge of their full intent?

      As for your comment about Love Bombing, if you think that Jesus’s methods of discipleship and Love Bombing are the same, then I am concerned. Love Bombing, is a form of deceptive relationship. It describes the method of emotionally bombing someone so that they uncritically accept a person/groups desires or doctrines.

      Finally, you are more than welcome to disprove this blog and think of me as a fool. I have always valued truth, if what I say is false, I welcome the education. But be careful what you wish for…

      best regards-CA

      • Marcus Jackson April 4, 2013 at 2:02 pm #

        Okay well first off I’d like to apologize because, yes, I was a bit heated. But I’m sure you can understand that it’s not far fetched for that to happen. I care a lot about YL and you are devaluing it. People get significantly angrier over sports. But regardless, I apologize.

        Now I hear you on the whole thing about people’s children. But high schoolers are not little kids. Half of them are allowed to drive. In some states they can marry at 16. These kids are old enough to make decisions. I’m in no way saying they can make big, complex decisions like buying a house. But YL isn’t a big, complex decision. There’s no contract. The function of club is a perfectly fine thing. It’s significantly better than going to a wild party where there are numerous laws about minors that are broken. If a HS kid wants to join a club at school, then can just do it. They need not their parents permission or even their parents knowledge. They are old enough to make that choice. And if they’re not, chances are that their parents still drive them places and at that point, it’s the parent’s responsibility to find out if YL is an okay establishment for their 14 (or whatever) year old to attend.

        You stated “Love Bombing, is a form of deceptive relationship. It describes the method of emotionally bombing someone so that they uncritically accept a person or groups desires or doctrines.” I can’t say that I see that. And I can only speak from personal experience where in the two areas of YL that I’ve been able to experience first hand, those leaders to through thorough training and and are interviewed and observed a number of times. I understand that it’s not as thorough or personal in all areas, especially the south, but I cannot speak for which I do not know. In my experience, leaders love the kids because Jesus loves those kids. It’s way less important to get those kids to club. There are kids I know who’ve never attended a single YL event, but appreciate the genuine love and concern that the leaders show them.

        “Even if 99% were helped and only 1% hurt, does that mean we should ignore it?

        I seem to remember a story about 99 and 1…”. In no way am I saying ignore it. People should operate in truth and justice in regards of those things. But what I’m saying is, generalizations is a dangerous game to play. That 1 should be taken care of properly, but how can you define the other 99 by the 1? That’s hardly justice in itself. Like there are a lot of football players who have been abusive and commuted violent crimes. Yes, bring them to justice, but don’t make it so that all of those other players who’ve committed none of those things have to suffer for that.

        I do agree that there are many leader who should not be leaders. Is YL for everyone? No. Should any kind-hearted Christian be a leader? Not at all. I think what happens is there are a lot of leaders who should not be leaders, but because they are, they do things in a manner that’s not appreciated by the public and certainly not of YL.

      • Tarin June 26, 2014 at 6:06 am #

        My experience with YL…

        As a cheerleader and part of the so called “in” crowd I was targeted. I was asked to start hosting club at my house which I did. As a freshman going into sophomore year I was young and naive to say the least. I went to camp at Woodleaf in California. I will say this, I was presented the gospel for the first time and made a decision for Jesus. It was me and a God at that moment and I have never been the same since. That was not YL that was God. Now, keep in mind. Teenagers are emotional, confused, hormonal, and in my case VERY vulnerable. I had a crappy home life and my YL leaders had no problem overly trying to fill that void for me. I actually ended up moving in with YL leaders which ended disasterously in spiritual, emotional, and sexual abuse with the dad of the family who had been a leader for over 30 years. Looking back and after much counseling and being in a recovery group I see more clearly my vulnerability preyed upon for “sake of the kingdom” for someone’s sick need for control. So, is YL a cult? I definetly think it needs to set different boundaries and guidelines. I have 3 children and I would have some major concerns and red flags if I saw my kids being led the way I was. But at the end of the day I’m thankful now that that situation has caused me to be more grounded in my word and test peoples actions against scripture. There needs to be more boundaries set up in this ministry but at the end of the day it’s parents jobs to take care of and watch out for their kids, not YL.

  38. marie9393 April 8, 2013 at 7:13 am #

    I feel like maybe you had a poor community of people when you lead in Younglife. I have been a Younglife leader since I graduated high school and always always we have been about reaching out to everyone. Especially the farthest out kid. Loving them where they are. And showing them the love that Jesus showed to the people of the world 2000 years ago. Younglife is an amazing ministry that brought me to God. Without it, I wouldn’t be here. Contact work isn’t about “recruiting kids”. Contact work is about showing your support for the kids. It’s about lending the hand to someone who may really need Younglife. Camp is a great tool for the right kids at the right time to hear the word. To hear the gospel. It’s not your average church camp. They don’t shove it down your throat. They give you am option of accepting Jesus as your savior. And the say so’s are such a great thing to do- especially when the kids who didn’t know Jesus before- and now they do are proud to stand up and say that they accept The Lord. I think you completely missed the ball when it was pitched to you. Younglife, loves kids exactly where they are. Broken, and messed up. Cutters, drinkers, drug users, all of them. Younglife is a representation of what Christ was like.

    • seniccarp April 9, 2013 at 3:06 am #

      Like telling a kid that there life has sin .That you are born with sin and the wages of sin is death.Talk about a guilt trip !Not all teenagers are mess up.I was with Young Life for 12 years .

      • Eric April 9, 2013 at 11:17 am #

        Kids DO have sin in their lives, same as you and I. Why the faux shock at an Evangelical Christian organization relying on the authority of Scripture to determine and communicate one of the truths of the Gospel?

  39. billiesue1 April 10, 2013 at 4:43 pm #

    Folks, if you are a parent, would you let your child die on a cross to save other people…..mmm I don’t think so, just sayin!!!

    • Jer April 11, 2013 at 4:51 am #

      Total misunderstanding of the Trinity. God was on the cross – He was the atonement. God didn’t “send” His Son – God was the Son.

      Of course, many people that read this blog already have concluded there is no God – so they’ll cling to their bad ideas about Him, no matter what is said. But at least get the basics right – so you don’t embarrass yourself…

      • billiesue1 April 11, 2013 at 11:46 am #

        No embarrassment here……..

      • Jer April 11, 2013 at 10:53 pm #

        Ignorance isn’t embarrassing? Hmmm… To each his own – I suppose… ;-)

      • seniccarp April 13, 2013 at 7:34 pm #

        I talk about 100% B.S

  40. Anonymous April 13, 2013 at 2:23 am #

    Young Life isn’t a cult. It is this amazing group of people just wanting kids to have fun. I don’t know which Young Life you attended, but that’s not at all how it is. I’m not religious in the slightest bit, but I still go because of the amazing fun we have and all the jokes we share. I’m going to camp too because it’s a place that is completely amazing. Also, I’m that over-weight girl and I get to particapate in the skits and I’m friends with all the leaders because they are genuinly nice people, their not fakes. One can only be who they are not for so long. I know these people and I love these people. Everyone in Young Life is a family.

    • EddieMunster April 15, 2013 at 6:55 pm #

      This is 100% wrong. As a leader, I can proudly say that I love my kids with my whole heart. They don’t have to accept Christ- that isn’t in my timing- it’s in The Lords. If they feel the need to accept Christ at camp than that is awesome. But I know for a fact that EVERY SINGLE TIME I attended camp as a student, I never once felt pressured to accept Him. The speaker always says in the club talks at camp that “hey, maybe this Jesus thing isn’t for you.” I’ve been to camp many times and looked around and seen people who just weren’t engaging or crying or anything. It doesn’t hit everyone at camp, that’s not my goal as a leader. My goal is to show these kids the best week of their life, and have them hear the gospel- doesn’t matter if they accept it or not. Camp is a tool, not Jesus. Yes, Jesus is there and preset because He is everywhere. But not every kid that goes to camp feels pressured to accept Him.

      Coming across this blog I got really upset. Please just speak for YOURSELF. I don’t know what younglife you came from, but I can certainly say that my area accepts everyone- no matter where they are in life. I love on these kids, and I show them the generous love of Christ.

      With that being said, I will continue to lead my kids, be there for them, and encourage them every step of the way. I have a heart for kids, serving them, and being someone they can look up to.

      It’s sad you got the wrong idea from younglife.

      • christianagnostic April 15, 2013 at 9:39 pm #

        Thanks for your comment…I’m going to have to change your name from Anonymous and request that people pick a name other than Anonymous.

        Back to back comments from different folks using the same Anon name is just confusing. For the moment I’ll change you to Eddie Munster (no puns or insults, just first thing that popped into my head)-you can let me know what name you care to use and I’ll edit this comment to reflect your wishes.

        Now that the admin part is done, let me try and respond to some of things you said concerning my blog.

        you said

        “Coming across this blog I got really upset. Please just speak for YOURSELF. ”

        I’m not sure exactly what you mean by this, in most cases I do speak for myself. This post has generated a lot of comments with people that have had far worse experiences than myself and I have tried to let them speak for themselves. But I do not pretend to be an expert and have stated plainly when someone asks me a question that I don’t know.

        I do understand your emotions of being upset…it’s probably how I would feel if I were in your shoes. But just because I have said things that you don’t like, doesn’t make them false.

        you said

        “It’s sad you got the wrong idea from younglife.”

        Sigh….I am probably going to have to devote another post detailing my history with Young Life. I didn’t get the “wrong idea” from Young Life. I loved Young Life and probably would be an area director today if I hadn’t gotten married and been involved with a cultic church. Well, that and the fact that I can no longer trust the Bible as God’s word…but that’s another issue.

        My personal experiences with Young Life were exciting and life changing. I was truly devoted to Christ and the mission of Young Life for 8 years of my life. I lived, breathed, and sacrificed my personal goals to be a Young Life leader.

        I really am going to have to try another go at why I question Young Life’s methods, despite my own experiences and see if I can be a little more clear….

        best regards-CA

      • Eric April 16, 2013 at 2:33 am #

        “Sigh….I am probably going to have to devote another post detailing my history with Young Life. I didn’t get the “wrong idea” from Young Life. I loved Young Life and probably would be an area director today if I hadn’t gotten married and been involved with a cultic church. Well, that and the fact that I can no longer trust the Bible as God’s word…but that’s another issue.

        I really am going to have to try another go at why I question Young Life’s methods, despite my own experiences and see if I can be a little more clear….”

        Might I make a suggestion, ca? Maybe when you do this, you start with the question “does Young Life employ cultic tactics, or do cults and cultish organizations instead use legitimate techniques and manipulate them to accomplish what they want to do?”

        I think the answer is fairly obvious, but I imagine you’d probably have a different angle on it.

      • christianagnostic April 16, 2013 at 3:46 pm #

        Eric-

        The short answer is that Young Life employs tactics common to cults in many (not all ) instances.

        Befriending a vulnerable demographic (teens who are minors) without consent and without being up front about motive is cultic. It’s similar to the tactics of the Boston Church of Christ and Amway.

        Friendship, enmeshment, and then indoctrination.

        It’s a cultic tactic no matter how you slice it. It doesn’t mean that you or other leaders are not good people or that you don’t really love teens (I’m sure you do).

        But, it is dishonest if you are not upfront with someone about your motives for befriending them (in Young Life’s case-to share Christ’s love and present the Gospel from an Evangelical/Fundamentalist perspective).

  41. AM Jackson April 15, 2013 at 11:24 pm #

    In everything you have said, all I hear is that this organization is attempting to teach teenagers, most of whom are turning to drugs alcohol & sex, that God can be cool! My daughter is a freshman, she is popular, plays 3 sports, is in marching band, in 5 different clubs, has a 4.2 GPA and does not want anything to do with drugs, alcohol or sex & feels like she’s losing friends to those poor choices, this organization has given her the opportunity to feel like there is nothing wrong with her making good choices because the older kids from her school who also make good choices are involved and they now know they aren’t alone in this new phase. I don’t see anything wrong with anything you have said except the seeking out the good looking ones part, I’m unsure of your issue? It’s a Christian organization, of course they are teaching these kids about Christ? Why would you join a Christian organization and then question them teaching about Christ? I hope you truly know what your teenagers are doing because in our small privileged community, the teenagers who aren’t involved in Young Life, for the most part, aren’t because they’re too busy partying to fit it in after practice & games, and their parents are ignorant or play ignorant to it all! I am a single mother with a lower income in this community & my daughter has chosen to be an acception not the rule as she chooses God over partying & I’m thankful for the opportunity for her to do that. Nothing you mentioned is wrong, giving teens an opportunity to make good choices, feel loved & supported in those difficult choices & feel like they belong…seems a lot better than the alternative if you ask me?

    • christianagnostic April 16, 2013 at 12:04 am #

      AM Jackson-

      I think you present a false dichotomy. That either kids are off doing drugs, partying, and sleeping around or they are being rescued by Young Life.

      I just spoke to a middle schooler and I asked him to honestly estimate how many people at his school are pursuing these sort of unhealthy choices. His estimate was about 15 out of 100.

      I am sorry to hear that your daughter has lost some friends to poor choices, but that does not mean the only alternative is Young Life.

      One of my main issues, is what about kids or parents that do not want their kids to be Christians?

      I don’t question Young Life’s commitment to their belief in Christ, I question their methods in which they are vague about their evangelistic intentions. It’s deceitful and un-christian in my opinion.

      I have heard from many parents who were dismayed to learn after the fact, that their child was being indoctrinated into a form of Evangelical Christianity that they did not share or approve.

      • L April 19, 2013 at 4:21 am #

        Seriously, you trust the numbers of a middle schooler? Great source.

      • christianagnostic April 20, 2013 at 3:31 pm #

        Thanks for the condescending tone towards my son…I’ll be sure to pass it on in the name of Young Life.

  42. Former "lifer" April 19, 2013 at 12:42 am #

    Young Life is a heavy user of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, a discipline originally developed by Richard Bandler and John Grinder by studying the work of the preeminent therapeutic hypnotist Milton Erickson. Bandler and Grinder distilled the most effective aspects of hypnosis into verbal patterns that don’t require the subject to be formally induced into a trance state. I repeat, these techniques allow one to achieve effects of hypnosis WITHOUT putting anyone into a trance. They codified these aspects into a set of techniques to produce sometimes astonishing therapeutic results in patients. Young Life uses these to manipulate children.

    The emotionally charged crucifixion story?There won’t be a dry eye in the room during that story. The telling of how a person was whipped 39 times (40 was said to be lethal) with a cat o nine tails with nails and glass chunks designed to rip the flesh, then spiked with a crown of thorns, then nailed through his ankle bones and wrists to a wooden cross is told incredibly graphically, and with a purpose: it is used to get the listener to understand and conceptualize of a tremendous amount of pain by relating to the story. That pain is then “anchored” (to use an NLP term) to certain behaviors to create an absurdly strong motivation NOT to do those things. The psyche will go to great lengths to avoid the anchored pain. This is just like cults that use physical punishment to attach pain to certain thoughts or behaviors; Young Life uses advanced psychological manipulation to create the same pain and use it to direct behavior.

    Young Life also used to (I don’t know if they still do, but they did in the 90′s) use these techniques to try to “turn” gay people straight, with tremendous damage to the psyche resulting. A good friend of mine broke up with her girlfriend and married the most feminine man I have ever met as the result of her programming.

    • Eric April 19, 2013 at 2:22 am #

      This is, by far, the most patently absurd statement in the entirety of the comments section.

      We are apparently perfectly content to go from speculation and conjecture straight into blatant libel.

      I mean, my goodness, what a fairy tale.

      • Former "lifer" April 19, 2013 at 3:09 am #

        re: Eric

        Ridicule is the refuge of those who have no argument.

        If you do actually have an argument other than a knee-jerk response, I would welcome it. But unless you know anything about Neuro Linguistic Programming or hypnosis, you are speaking from a position of limited information and that makes your statement the one that is patently absurd, not mine. Feel free to do some actual research and evaluation first if you decide to respond again.

      • Eric April 19, 2013 at 4:42 am #

        I don’t ridicule as one with no argument; I ridicule because you made a ridiculous comment.

        You’ve accused Young Life (the entire organization, mind you) of employing tactics that are manipulation at the very least, and brainwashing at worst. And you’ve stated it as fact.

        It’s interesting to me that in 19 years of Young Life, I have not even one single time been “trained” or “taught” how to tell the story of the Cross. Not once been encouraged to talk about flogging, not once taught anything about how to deliver a message or to use repetition or anything of the sort. Essentially, what I’m pointing out is that your accusation is absurd.

        You also accuse the entire organization of using the same technique to turn gay people straight. Another hilariously fabricated comment with no basis in reality. And I find myself attempting decide if you actually believe that this is what Young Life legitimately trains its staff and volunteers to do, or if you’re just deliberately making libelous comments. I honestly do not know. I’m hopeful for the first, because if you’re legitimately deceived it should be easy enough a myth to dispel.

    • JL April 19, 2013 at 4:10 am #

      This literally made me laugh out loud.

  43. L April 19, 2013 at 4:16 am #

    Here’s where I am confused. You say you have lost your faith in Jesus. Young Life is founded on spreading faith in Jesus. Young Life models their ministry after the ministry of Jesus. Jesus spent time with sinners. He was in their homes, fishing with them, etc. The Young Life website can tell you all about this. But you do not have faith in Jesus, so at the core what you disagree with is the belief that they are spreading, yet you spend time picking apart they way that they share this faith and you cannot understand the way that they do it because you do not believe in Jesus as a savior as they do. Also, these people are out trying to improve peoples lives in the way that they believe their own has been improved. You waste your time on the internet complaining. How are you positively impacting people around you with your time? Not saying that you aren’t, but there are far worse things going on the in the world than people trying to convert others to a belief that you do not share.

    • t October 30, 2013 at 12:04 am #

      totally agree!

  44. Former "lifer" April 19, 2013 at 3:15 pm #

    re: Eric

    First, you are correct in saying I worded my statement to include the entire organization. That was improperly stated. I can speak to only the camps I attended during the times I attended. I attended Saranac 3 times and Lake Gaston 4 times, all in the early 90s. Second, it was only the “featured speakers” or “guest speakers” (their terms, not mine) who led the major presentations including the crucifixion description preceding the conversion decision point and mandatory 10-minute silent period. That is as far as I can assert, and organizations can change over time. Eric, if you have 19 years of experience in Young Life that would put you as a camp attendee during some of that time, and not in a leadership position until later on (were you ever a featured speaker?). But subjecting my original assertions to that limitation, I stand by them.

    Third, the sexual conversion assertion I am willing to table as unable to substantiate without violating the person’s privacy or getting her input here. I can say that a mutual acquaintance who sometimes goes on christian radio has referred to her recently as evidence that homosexuals can be converted. I can also say that evangelical christians (such as Michele Bachmann’s husband Marcus Bachmann) have actively been working on homosexual conversion protocols, to the point where the State of California recently banned the practice, and I can say that such work would not conflict with the Young Life belief in the absolute truth of the bible, which condemns homosexuality. I can also say that I attended a Saranac camp where on the last day participants could choose one of two seminars on sex and sexuality: one on promiscuity and the other on homosexuality. This was my third year at a camp and I had been to the promiscuity one twice before so I went to the homosexuality seminar with my friend I referenced earlier. And I can say that many of the NLP techniques (that I only learned of later) were used in this presentation.

    • Former "lifer" April 19, 2013 at 3:17 pm #

      You see, I have spent several years undoing the beliefs Young Life installed into me personally, and in doing so I learned a lot of NLP techniques myself. There are a lot of things you can learn about how the mind works.

      It’s just like when I was a witness to someone attempting to steal my car. I went to court to testify against the would-be thief. In order to protect myself and my rights I had to learn what the proper legal techniques were. As I walked into court I found myself very curious as to what version of the events would be presented by those with an agenda.

      Because you often don’t know what agenda people have ahead of time. I remember when I later talked with my parents about my experience with Young Life, and my father said that it sounds like Young Life offers what he called “the iceberg of generosity.” That is, the 10% that you see looks safe, but you don’t know what 90% is lurking beneath the surface. This looks so great from above the water line! But you find myself thinking, What is being hid? And more important, Why are they hiding it?

      When I started to think about Young Life this way I realized some very important things about the organization as I had experienced it:

      1) Young Life is not upfront about its practices in the sense that it actively recruits minors without seeking parental consent first or actively disclosing their full agenda of conversion.

      2) Young Life camps that I attended do the following:
      a) take minors away from their parents
      b) put them in a situation as a captive audience during presentation time
      c) expose them to massive peer pressure and at times heavy emotional content
      d) set up a life-changing conversion decision point with no access to parental guidance or resources during the 10 minute silent time
      e) all while the children are minors under the age of 18.

      3) There are communication techniques that exist that can be used discreetly and non-invasively to profoundly persuade and influence people and their experience, often without their consciously noticing it. One good example is Tony Robbins helping someone here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ANY8-_kqCZQ although there are others. Search youtube for “Jamie Smart” or “NLP” or “Tony Robbins” for more examples.

      4) Young Life is not all bad; it is good for some people.

      5) Parents, be VERY careful as Young Life has proven to be destructive to individuals as well as families, as evidenced by some comments on this blog. If you allow your child to attend a weekend or week-long camp, you WILL see fundamental changes in your child.

      These realizations are good to consider if your child starts talking about this thing called Young Life, because I would rather someone avoid the pain that some people have experienced if Young Life is not right for them or their child.

      Now I don’t think many Young Life volunteers or staff have any malice and I think they generally are upfront, but I do think that the organization as a whole is less than upfront about what their agenda is and I think it is inappropriate that they don’t seek parental consent for their including minors in their activities. I also think that there are or have been some speakers that use NLP and related techniques to enhance the persuasiveness of their message. From my own experience in the early 90s, I can confirm the NLP use at least at that time by the featured speakers. Look out for the iceberg of generosity here.

      But there is also good news. In my court case, the judge decided in my favor, and the would-be thief had to pay for all my car repairs, as well as change his behavior to avoid jail time. I considered that a win.

      And the NLP techniques I learned enabled me to start recognizing the structure of how beliefs are changed. One way is through associations to pain and pleasure. Another is through associating shame and guilt and ridicule to a belief one wants to remove (which is Eric’s approach here :-) ). A third way is to induce someone to think of a belief you want them to have, with the same internal representation (inside their mind) as a belief they already have and already absolutely believe as true. All these are effective and when applied by someone with skill to someone who is vulnerable, are even more effective. I think many people would agree that taking a minor (who are often vulnerable to begin with), taking him away from his parents for a week and exposing him to peer pressure in an environment where he is a captive audience would count as inducing vulnerability.

      I have said my peace about my experience and what I know, and I will not be responding any further. I have moved on and I want no more of this. People’s experiences can vary; what I do know without any hesitation is that I experienced techniques of neurolinguistic programming at the hands of speakers multiple times at Young Life camps Saranac and Lake Gaston that I attended in the early 1990s, that the beliefs and changes induced at these camps were very difficult to undo, and that Young Life is less than upfront about their full agenda of converting minors.

      • BillSan July 18, 2013 at 9:51 pm #

        Former “lifer”,

        I’m just going to take these libelous statements one at a time.

        1) Young Life is not upfront about its practices in the sense that it actively recruits minors without seeking parental consent first or actively disclosing their full agenda of conversion.

        1) From the Mission Statement, publicly broadcasted all over the web.
        “-Praying for young people.
        -Going where kids are.
        -Building personal relationships with them.”

        2) Young Life camps that I attended do the following:
        a) take minors away from their parents
        b) put them in a situation as a captive audience during presentation time
        c) expose them to massive peer pressure and at times heavy emotional content
        d) set up a life-changing conversion decision point with no access to parental guidance or resources during the 10 minute silent time
        e) all while the children are minors under the age of 18.

        2) Lake Gaston is not a YL camp, it is manmade lake in Southern Virginia where my grandparents have a summer home.
        a) Parents must sign a consent form before sending their kids to camp. No children are tricked into getting on the bus unbeknownst to their parents like the villain offering the kids candy from “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”. They choose to be there, and their parents must agree to it.

        b) Kids elect to be at camp and they elect to step foot in the room where the speaker is sharing. They are not forced to be anywhere, I’ve sat outside the club room with kids many times when they haven’t felt comfortable going in. No one is being held captive as an audience against their will.

        c) In 15 years of being around Young Life camping, I have never seen or been a part of peer pressure tactics. What exactly would that be like? A room full of the “cool” kids chanting “Convert”. Also, teenagers come across emotional content everyday.

        d) Your point here contradicts “c)”…so are kids being peer pressured or are they being left alone? There often can be an opportunity in the week for kids to get away from the noise and distractions of peers and process for THEMSELVES what they have experienced. If they truly wanted to, in that moment campers could phone home and talk to mom or dad, the pay phones on camp are always available.

        e) Two of the guys in our cabin next week are 19. I understand that’s not your point…just don’t discredit the maturity and intuition of teenagers. They are smart and capable. Again, they are present at camp by choice and at the will of their parents.

        3) There are communication techniques that exist that can be used discreetly and non-invasively to profoundly persuade and influence people and their experience, often without their consciously noticing it. One good example is Tony Robbins helping someone here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ANY8-_kqCZQ although there are others. Search youtube for “Jamie Smart” or “NLP” or “Tony Robbins” for more examples.

        3) I’ve been through years of training with Young Life and I have never heard of Tony Robbins, Jamie Smart or NLP. The camp speakers are YL staff people who would have received the same training.

        4) Young Life is not all bad; it is good for some people.

        4) Fair enough.

        5) Parents, be VERY careful as Young Life has proven to be destructive to individuals as well as families, as evidenced by some comments on this blog. If you allow your child to attend a weekend or week-long camp, you WILL see fundamental changes in your child.

        5) The nature of the Gospel is reconciliation. I hurt for the families on this blog who have been illy advised by misguided YL staff. Please know those specific incidents do not reflect the heart of the organization and I am truly sorry for any pain that has ensued. I have no intention of discrediting those situations, I would just encourage readers to associate them with the poor judgement of a person, not with Jesus or an organization. And yes, kids are changed. Not by Young Life though, by the Gospel, Jesus changes everything.

  45. Micah April 22, 2013 at 7:43 pm #

    I for one have had a truly awesome experience with YL, as a teen I was surrounded by a lot of “cool” friends who were doing a lot of “cool” drugs. I started going to YL freshmen year and was really the only kid out of my groups of friends in my class going, I was immediately accepted for just who I was kids I’ve never even talked to I became best friends with, because of meeting that group of “campaigner” kids(already accepted Christ) I realized I didn’t have to do all the things all my friends were doing to have a good time. That turned into me being the care taker of my crazy friends who liked to pop way to many pills. Without having the love surrounding me from my group of friends from YL also the leaders, I prob would have gave in and became like most of my friends. I never once felt pressured to follow Chrst, in fact I recall my leader saying multiple times referring to accepting Christ into my life, ” if this is something you wanna do or wanna know more about I would love to talk with you about it, if your not interested in this and want nothing to do with this God stuff, hey I still Love you and think your awesome so keep coming back.” I infact was a regular member and took parts in skits while I was still denying a relationship with Christ for about 2 years! Went to camp both years too. Now I did stay interested in Jesus this whole time and was interested in why this 30 year old guy and college students were so different from other people their age. Eventually I realized God is real and Jesus is real and that the bible is real and that the reason these people were doing what they were doing is because they had a savior that makes them feel full and lead them through life. The reason they were so different is because they were reading the bible and seeing what Jesus did and just simply following what he told them to do. Which is love people like he does. Those year molded me to the man I am today, I’m still very involved with YL as a leader but I don’t find my identity in YL my identity is in Christ alone. I just choose to spread the Love of Christ through the missionary field of Young Life. Something I believe YL staff and volunteers pride themselves on is if YL wasn’t here we would still be doing this loving people where there at and showing Christ through our daily lives.

    • christianagnostic April 23, 2013 at 3:42 pm #

      Micah-

      I am truly happy for you that Young Life was a safe place for you to ditch the drug scene. I mean it, I have lost people to the vortex of drugs/alcohol and have a personal appreciation for how damaging those choices can be.

  46. BK64 April 26, 2013 at 12:06 am #

    I think everyone that is commenting on this blog has some kind of experience, whether good or bad(myself included). CA, I understand fully where you are coming from with the “love-bombing”. I think YL leaders are guilty of doing that. But saying that ALL YL leaders do that without the consent of the parents is false. I am close friends with my YL leaders and from the very beginning one of my leaders picked me up from my house but didn’t just wait in the car; he came in, introduced himself to my parents, and talked to them about what he was doing. Sure, there are going to be people in the organization that do not have the same motives, but hey, it’s like that everywhere you go.

    Also, people saying that YL only goes after the “cool” kids is false in my experiences. I hate this about me, but I am seen as a jock, and not an “uncool” or “unpopular” kid. (sidenote, i wish labels like those never existed, i do have friends that my other friends deem “uncool” and i’m ok with that. but back to my point.) In my YL club, there are kids from every “clique”. The sports players, the drama club, academic team, robotics team, choir, etc.. My YL leaders go after everybody and I am deeply sorry to the man who’s daughter hurt because of this. I truly am.

    My comment was in no way my way of offending anyone. Whatever your beliefs are, I respect them. I just wanted to set things straight. A lot of comments on here are blaming ALL YL leaders. I do not think that that is very accurate. As I said in my previous paragraph: I’m sure there are some bad ones. It’s like in the case of Muslims. There are a few fanatical ones that make everyone believe that every Muslim is a terrorist. That’s just not the case.

  47. sue April 26, 2013 at 3:53 pm #

    I was in Young Life in the early 80s, and found it to be a positive experience. I was not a popular kid, although popular kids were involved. I found Young Life to be an equalizer as far as the high school social caste system is concerned. At least it was in my club. I went to camp, too. It’s funny-I remember the meetings every night, the singing and preaching, but not half as much as I remember the fun activities, like mountain climbing, the ropes course, white water rafting, etc.

    My mom had a lot of issues with Young Life, because my brother told her it was a cult and she believed him. When I expressed my fear to the YL leaders that my mom might not let me attend meetings, they said “you have to obey your parents”. When the issue for camp came up, my mom wouldn’t sign the permission form. The YL leader reminded me that I had two parents, which my mom saw as interfering with her role, although my parents were married at the time.

  48. Christine Pickering May 5, 2013 at 5:00 am #

    My 15 year old daughter is being recruited by Young Life and I have concerns. She is pretty, smart, athletic, with a friendly, outgoing personality – probably on the Young Life “A” list. They have “love-bombed” her and leaders take her out for coffee. I first became concerned when she went to Weekend Camp in the fall. She came back totally exhausted and over-stimulated, and her behavior was “off” for a few days. Now she wants to go to summer camp at Canyon in central Oregon. Several of her friends are going and she really wants to go. I seem to be the only parent around here with concerns about Young Life. My own beliefs are agnostic or Unitarian. I understand my daughter’s spiritual journey may not be the same as mine, but YL seems too high pressure. I’ve discussed Young Life’s intention with my daughter, and she assures me that she just likes the social aspects of Young Life and she doesn’t want to be left out. But I’m afraid of YL tactics. They seem to be pros at indoctrinating young people by offering over-the-top “the best week of your life” activities, designed to exhaust and wear down defenses, then ask them to commit. I am alarmed, and have a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach every time this camp is discussed. The Canyon camp is in a remote area 11 miles from the nearest town down a dirt road. No cell phone reception. Isolated. Creepy. Canyon used to be the location of the infamous Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh cult. Double creepy. My daughter is going to hate me if I don’t let her go, and I am going to hate myself if I do let her go. Young Life has a strong hold in a few of the high schools in our town – I wish they would leave the kids alone.

    • ... Zoe ~ May 6, 2013 at 12:49 pm #

      Listen to that “pit in your stomach.”

      • Julie June 11, 2013 at 1:21 pm #

        I didn’t listen to the pit in my stomach and my daughter has returned from camp a changed person. Undue influence from strangers over 5 days. I’m having my regrets.

      • christianagnostic June 11, 2013 at 3:37 pm #

        I’m sorry to hear this…having been to camp many times, I can tell you that the emotional highs are very real and concrete.

        I’m sure many who read will say that this is a change for the better, and that she’s more connected to Jesus because of YL camp. I’ll leave that up to you to decide.

        Do you mind sharing what’s different about your daughter since camp? Only if you’re up for the discussion….

      • ... Zoe ~ June 12, 2013 at 11:04 am #

        I’ve had the same experience Julie with one of our children. It’s not funny. Not at all.

        As well, same thing happened to me.

        An evangelical church camp is where I was born again at age 13. I well understand the “influence from strangers.”

      • BillSan July 18, 2013 at 9:58 pm #

        Christine. Thanks for being a concerned parent! Those are the best kind! A phone call with your local staff person could be a great start if you haven’t spoken with them already. I am sure they would love to field any questions or concerns.

  49. Kari Stilwell May 5, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

    Is this similar to Clear Camps? It sounds a lot like the same group.. my daughter is going off traveling with for the summer June 3rd..I have had my doubts about it but I knew the preachers daughter went last summer so I assumed it is all right …but after reading this article now I really am concerned..help pray for her safety for one bcz she is innocent for one and for two gullible and hyped up about teaching the gospel to kids at camps..I sure pray God gives her clarity upon her thoughts and actions for Him as well as shield of Protection from the cultism and brings her safely home..to go onto college… in the Name of Jesus! May the Lord be with all the teenagers who do Love the Lord to go forth and preach the Gospel of Truth as the Bible tells us to do ..that the enemy would not be allowed to lure them into cults and that God may receive the Glory from my daughter along with each one of them ..Selah!

    • Eric May 5, 2013 at 7:40 pm #

      Kari..

      There is no affiliation between the two groups. That said, I’d really encourage you to read the comments from some of the more informed commenters on this article.

      As an 11 year staff member with Young Life, I can absolutely guarantee you that Young Life is not a cult, and would seem to be the exact type of organization you would want your daughter involved in as a college student. I cannot speak to what Clear Camps is or does, because I am completely unfamiliar with them, but you have no reason to fear Young Life, especially as a parent who isn’t trying to shield your daughter from the Christian faith.

    • Jer May 6, 2013 at 1:09 am #

      Here is Young Life’s website.

      Maybe this will clear up some confusion for those that don’t seem to know anything about the organization:

      http://www.younglife.org/us

      As you can see – Young Life is NOT up front about what they stand for at all! TOTALLY SECRET.

      Oh wait…. ;-) haha. Just kidding. YL is TOTALLY transparent. “Sneaky” is the opposite of this organization. That’s the comedy of this blog and many of the responses.

      If you’re looking for good information about Young LIfe – you probably shouldn’t trust a blog written by someone who was hurt by religion (and by hurt – I mean – tragically deceived by an actual cult)

      I applaud the warning given by someone that got burned by manipulative people – and we should all put up our guard against those people that deceive in the name of God, but sometimes the pendulum swings too far the other way – and that’s where we find ourselves in this blog.

      Young Life is far from being a cult.

      Do research people! Don’t just look for what you agree with – look at source materials.

      Look at their website. Read “Dance Children, Dance” – or “Back to the Basics” – or Jim Rayburn’s Diary – if you want to know the history and “methods” of Young Life. Go talk to your local area director or volunteer leaders. Meet the people involved – don’t be afraid – they won’t bite.

      And if you don’t want your kids going to Young Life – don’t let them go. You are the parents – you can give permission and take it away. As parents – you should be the ones that are informed. Inform yourself.

      If you just stumbled upon this blog and you’re just “unsure” about what YL is – do your research. Not all information on the internet is as biased as this negative opinion piece.

      The ONE thing I totally agree with on this blog is that we should all be proactive about looking into the things our kids are doing. Your kids are YOUR responsibility, after all. So – go look up what this Young LIfe is – start at the website. Find out what they’re all about. Maybe it’s not as bad a picture as some people paint.

      In my experience – Young Life is a wonderful organization. The leaders aren’t all perfect – there’s lots of flaws – but their mission is a worthy one.

      Hope this at least adds something positive to the conversation.

      Have a great day!

      Jer

      • YL-Leader September 17, 2013 at 4:17 am #

        I agree as a 7 year YL leader. Its about facts and accuracy. This is what I thing it should be titled differently.

        NOTE: Although I find this offensive, My tone and emotions are completely calm in expressing this.
        This should not be titled, “Is Young Life a Cult.”
        The most accurate title would include the Club’s, Camps, Areas. that you noticed all of this.happened. Example:
        “Is Abcde Young Life Club a Clut”
        “Is Abcde Young Life Camp a cult”
        “Is Abcde Area Young Life”

        If you wanted to title it “Is Young Life a Cult”, you need to have HUGE amount of studying, testimony’s, evidence to really ask that question,
        I’m offended that you have done this article in the first place. You should not have taken sides if you wanted to get questions and feed back. Rather just have left the title and then left the description: What do you think? Also, I notice you reply to the negative comments with more welcomenees then to the positive ones, Thus your bias and are against Young Life.

        And take note with a fallow up blog on what you got from ### this so many people. If you really are that experienced in young life, you know its ALL about Jesus Christ. So why would you go after LOVE bombing? Jesus was the great Love bomber of all. And why would you add “bombing”. I think you need to read why leaders do everything in young life. You will find a mojority of why they do this, is based on what the scripture commands Christians. So technically, you are saying Young Life and Christianity is a Clut.
        Please say this to your self, Jesus is a cult leader? You have a very difficult time saying that? So would I?
        Please be more careful with your words. And I hope that your aware Gods going to judge the words we type and that mean yours to.

  50. Charles May 9, 2013 at 11:02 pm #

    I attended Young Life during high school and volunteered at two camps in college. I had a great experience with Young Life. I can’t say I don’t have issues with YL but when I get together with my old atheist friends, we still talk about how much fun it was. YL is not a cult but fun ministry that can be ruined in the hands of the self righteous and narcissistic. It was very interesting to read the hosts remarks about his YL days. I would have to concur with many of them. However, if it we’re not for YL, I would not have stopped drinking alcohol, smoking pot and would have never gone to college/grad school. I am more like an agnostic Christian (a believer with a whole lot of unknown questions) now but I still give money for kids who can’t afford YL camp so they can go and have a great time.

  51. seniccarp May 28, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

    HELLO PLAINTRUTH.I DIDINT MAKE ANYTHING UP!

    • Plaintruth May 29, 2013 at 2:53 am #

      Hello Seniccarp. I didn’t say that you made things up. Instead, I said that your statements are false in that they are no longer the case. I don’t doubt the notion that when you were involved with YL 30 years ago you did not undergo a background check. I take issue with the fact that, as of yet, you haven’t bothered to correct yourself, apologize for posting misleading information or at least checking your facts before posting something potentially damaging to a person or organization. It’s just irresponsible. I hope that the pain or anger that you correlate with YL is alleviated or even rectified one day. It is sad to see someone negatively impacted by a person identifying YL as his/her ministry. I’m sorry.

      • Eric May 29, 2013 at 3:02 am #

        I appreciate what you’re trying to do, but it’s become abundantly clear that CA has an agenda and a lack of interest in objectivity. I had hoped when joining in the discussion that the subjective bias so evident in this blog might fade in light of the truth, but it hasn’t and I don’t expect it to.

        It’s sad, really. I thought there would at least be lip service paid to the truth, but it is what it is.

        On a somewhat related note, I’d invite any one of you to call any of the parents I met with tonight to discuss our upcoming trip to Windy Gap and ask if I was up front about the intent of the week. Would certainly quiet all the “Young Life is not honest about their intentions” type down.

      • christianagnostic May 29, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

        Eric-

        I take exception with your notion that I have an agenda and am not interested in being objective. I don’t delete comments that differ from my views and I don’t mind that people often blast my views and personal experiences.

        I’m glad you are up front with parents…maybe you’d care to write a guest post that details what you say to parents about YL Evangelistic efforts at camp.

        On a personal note, I’ve not been a very good blog host of late because of overtime, attending my kids ball games, and a recent death in the family. I apologize to all our new commenters and readers for not responding..

        I’m hoping to get more time to blog…but we’ll see how things shake out.

        Best Regards-CA.

      • Eric May 29, 2013 at 4:23 pm #

        CA… I’m sure you do. But answer this question:

        Taking out the offer you just extended to me, how many people with positive reflections on YL have you asked to turn their comments into a separate blog post? How many people with negative experiences? Have you (up until this moment) given thought to offering a counterpoint blog article that expresses the “why’s” that you’ve insinuated happen for less than savory reasons?

        It’s your blog, and it’s your prerogative to include or exclude what you want, but it’s not accurate to suggest that you’re offering equal voices. Not deleting comments is not equal to offering to turn comments into articles. Does that make sense, or am I off base?

      • christianagnostic May 29, 2013 at 4:47 pm #

        Eric…honestly, you’re starting to sound a little defensive. Of course I don’t “offer” equal voices, it’s my own thoughts and experiences for crying out loud.

        How could you or anyone else offer equal voice to my experiences?

        Does Young Life’s blog offer equal time to it’s detractors? I offered a minor criticism on Young Life’s leaders blog and it was deleted within 24 hours.

        Should I expect that they are now open to me coming to the next leadership training to offer ” balance”?

        I’ve never claimed to be the end all on the subject, and I’ve offered (you to write a post) because you keep harping that my blog is “biased” and has an “agenda”.

        The only agenda was offering my thoughts and allowing people to decide for themselves whether they agree, disagree, or plain don’t care what I have to say on the subject.

        I really don’t understand why you can’t believe this of me…

        I’m allowed to offer to turn comments into posts if I care to…it’s my blog and I’ll cry if I want to, so to say.

        But in the interest of trying to show some good will towards a perspective I don’t agree with, I am more than willing to hand over a post or 10 to pretty much anyone who asks. Ball’s in your court on this one.

        Heck, you could start your own blog if it concerns you that much….my only request, is that if you use comments from my blog, offer a link so others can see where it came from.

        Other than that, I really am open to whatever…

      • Eric May 30, 2013 at 7:31 pm #

        Couple of quick things…

        1. I’m sorry for the loss you recently experienced. Didn’t want to just ignore that.

        2. I’m not at all defensive; just calling it like I see it. Mind you, I’m not arguing that it isn’t your right to be biased or to offer biased perspectives or to not be objective. It’s your blog, and it’s your right. But there is absolutely bias and a lack of objectivity found throughout this blog and its comments, evidenced by you turning negative encounters with Young Life into separate blog posts, while essentially ignoring those with far more positive experiences. You’ve done that, and it’s right here in print for all to see. You cannot deny that it’s biased to do that. And no way you can say with any level of integrity that turning negative posts into separate articles, while not giving the same courtesy to the positive ones, does anything other than promote a certain agenda. (Not saying you shouldn’t… just that you did.)

        2. Your point about what Young Life would allow you to do is irrelevant. I’m not saying that you should do or be one thing and that Young Life should not. I have no interest in your justification, because you don’t need to justify yourself to me. I was pointing out what is… not what should be. (And as an aside, the Young Life Leader Blog is not officially operated by Young Life, but by a volunteer Young Life leader in NC. Much as you have the right to allow/disallow whatever you choose, so does Drew. And I cannot speak to why he deleted your post. I’m not him, and I have no idea what you wrote. So, that’s really neither here nor there, and I’m not sure why you felt inclined to include that.)

        3. Not once have I belittled or sought to diminish your “experiences.” All I have done from the outset is to demonstrate that your experiences are absolutely *NOT* normative, and are in no way indicative of systemic beliefs or practices. I’ve acknowledged that you had less than adequate training and a less than acceptable experience, as have others in this comments section. But those are not the norm, and yet there has been no formal admission of this. Just repost after repost of the negative. Understand, I am not trying at all to simply be argumentative here… just pointing out that one side of the coin (the one that paints the whole organization in a bad light) has been given spotlight, while the other is left to languish in the relative obscurity of the comments section.

        Finally, I don’t mind the scrutiny… Lord knows this mission needs it. As does every other organization in the world who seeks to be involved with kids. Scrutinize away. But when you choose to highlight only the negative, then those with far different (and even, dare I say, far more) experiences have a valid complaint against you.

        Now, are you sure you want me to write a follow up counter article, lol?

      • christianagnostic June 11, 2013 at 6:33 pm #

        You are more than welcome to still write a guest post…I am still curious as to what exactly you shared with parents about camp.

  52. seniccarp May 28, 2013 at 6:49 pm #

    Look a other blogs about Younglife. I am not the only one that has issues with it.

  53. Sally J June 7, 2013 at 7:36 pm #

    Sounds like what you are saying is that it is better to be an Occupier protester to use Alinsky tactics to destroy America, but not to use them in a positive way. Why would you think that way?

    • christianagnostic June 11, 2013 at 3:34 pm #

      I’m afraid I’m not smart enough to understand your point. I don’t remember ever advocating for the destruction of America via Alinsky tactics.

      Care to explain in laymen’s terms?

  54. sarah June 26, 2013 at 9:49 pm #

    I skimmed this blog as I am bored and looking at things, i didn’t read every word but I am a part of Young Life as a matter of fact I am a student leader. I have been changed by Young Life, This ORGANIZATION not a cult brought me to have a strong relationship with my savior Jesus Christ. I don’t mean to bash this but the point of Young Life is to share the Gospel and how much God loves us all no one in the group forces people to give their lives to God it is just to get the Word out. Their is no comparison of Young Life and a Cult. “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching” 1 timothy 4:13

    • christianagnostic July 18, 2013 at 11:41 pm #

      I too was once a student leader…sorry I have bored you. I do hope that you are careful. Maybe you should read some more of my posts on the topic, but if not…best wishes and thanks for the comment!

  55. amanda June 29, 2013 at 3:41 am #

    All i have to say about this is young life is what introduced me to Jesus. YL was the beginning of my walk with Christ which has changed my life forever. literally. my leader is my best friend now and i am so thankful that she reached out to me and poured out her life to me. jesus is the only hope for this world anymore and whatever reaches lost hurting teens and shares the gospel with them i will support.

    • christianagnostic July 18, 2013 at 11:47 pm #

      amanda-

      I wonder if you will still be friends ten years from now. I spent much time following and believing that I was building relationships to last a lifetime. Many of the leaders moved on with little interest in a relationship once they were not actively leading at my school.

      I hope it’s not the case for you, but it’s more common than you think. I think “Love’s Recovery” by the Indigo Girls describes exactly what so many of us experienced post Young Life.

      Thanks for your comment and best wishes as you finish High School!

  56. Angela July 17, 2013 at 6:21 pm #

    I’m currently interning at a church and I just want to share what ive been learning and to see what you think of this perspective. I didn’t read through all the comments but hear me out :)

    So, in the church of America, yes there is definitely a whole lot of cultic groups even among the branch of Christianity. There’s a verse in proverbs that says that there are ways that seem right to man but in the end it leads to death. Any “method” of evangelism may be useful but certainly should not be the formula. Jesus doesn’t teach formula. I think even as believers we can often start setting a certain method as evangelism, instead of evangelizing out of live. I believe that evangelism, simply put, just means telling others about Jesus and what He has do e for us, and inviting other into that. Evangelism methods are only a guide.

    Paul talks about 5 basic ministries of the church in Ephesians 4. There arw two pastors that I am learning from at my training g both worked together as primary leaders in the past at Young Life. After hearing from them and also reading what you posted, I don’t think it’s accurate to say Young Life is necessarily a cult, but I definitely see a distortion in the heart of a ministry. I’ve even seen it in my own home church. The leaders there love God, but often times they fall into the trap of “getting people in”. Yet, I personally feel Christ has called me to build His church and not to tear it, to offer my observations and convictions as gifts, not as rods.

    We recently had a talk about evangelism and we all agree that more than often we see more negative evangelism than positive/genuine hearts. But I think it comes from a distortion and separation from knowing Jesus’ heart for people. In regard to young life, I think that its the same way. We start to function out of responsibility and we say “I must evangelize better and ‘be loving’ to be a good Christian”. You see, in that sentence we’ve said that we perform based on a method in order to earn our identity in Christ. But if we say “because of the Father’s love for me and the authority and power I have through Jesus, I can go out and impact the broken (Isaiah 61).” See here, our effort is operate out of the covenant with God that flows out of our identity. Here identity isn’t earned but already given.

    God is definitely working through Young Life but I also think it’s a place that needs a lot of prayer especially on leadership. I don’t think it’s a cult, but I really believe God wants us to have a prayerful heart. Building relationships and spending time with people isn’t wrong (we see Jesus do this) but i think its a matter of discerning where we are, and getting back to where Jesus wants us to be. i definitely want to see redemption in many ministries and churches who have drifted from the passion of Jesus. :) hope that makes sense.

  57. Donna September 6, 2013 at 11:03 pm #

    It seems like they are trying to innovate differen ways of bringing people to Christ in different ways but there is only one way. Through Jesus Christ and it is the Holy Spirit who convicts someone and then it is the persons choice to follow Christ. All we have to do is preach the Gospel and demonstrate love like how Jesus would. Seems like young life has been led astray from the true mission. This makes sense though because I went to lake champion one summer and I was browsing through the Young Life Gift Shop and I was speaking to the cashier and I told her my name was Donna. Then I said its easy to remember just think of Madonna, “donna”. She goes who is Madonna. Mind you this is a grown women, mid 30′s early. So then she goes on to say she doesn’t watch tv and on and on. Yes this was May 2013. So This is all making sense.

    • YL-Leader September 17, 2013 at 3:58 am #

      NOTE: Although I find this offensive, My tone and emotions are completely calm in expressing this.

      1
      This should not be titled, “Is Young Life a Cult.”
      The most accurate title would include the Club’s, Camps, Areas. that you noticed all of this.happened. Example:
      “Is Abcde Young Life Club a Cult”
      “Is Abcde Young Life Camp a Cult”
      “Is Abcde Area Young Life”

      2
      If you wanted to title it “Is Young Life a Cult”, you need to have HUGE amount of studying, testimony’s, evidence to really ask that question,
      I’m offended that you have done this article in the first place. You should not have taken sides if you wanted to get questions and feed back. Rather just have left the title and then left the description: What do you think? Also, I notice you reply to the negative comments with more welcomeness then to the positive ones, Thus your bias and are against Young Life.

      3
      And take note with a fallow up blog on what you got from ### this so many people. If you really are that experienced in young life, you know its ALL about Jesus Christ. So why would you go after LOVE bombing? Jesus was the great Love bomber of all. And why would you add “bombing”. I think you need to read why leaders do everything in young life. You will find a majority of why they do this, is based on what the scripture commands Christians. So technically, you are saying Young Life and Christianity is a Clut.
      Please say this to your self, Jesus is a cult leader? You have a very difficult time saying that? So would I?

      Please be more careful with your words. And I hope that your aware Gods going to judge the words we type and that mean yours to.

      • Travis September 17, 2013 at 7:14 pm #

        I think that CA has the right to voice his opinion about his experience in YL. He doesn’t need to do research when he has WITNESSED it FIRST HAND. Also,I don’t know what a “clut” is. I would spend a little more time proofreading your posts before you start attacking someone voicing their experiences and how they feel.

      • christianagnostic October 23, 2013 at 6:23 am #

        Calm down man…geesh.

        In reply to your calm and gentle toned post….

        1. I can title my post however I want to…it’s my blog and I’ll cry if I want to.

        2. I guess 5 years as a college volunteer leader and 3 years as a Campaigner doesn’t count. Thus my reason for writing the post in the first place.

        Is Young Life a Cult? was a question I heard or heard about from other YL leaders and is the #1 search phrase that people type into their search engine when they click through to this site.

        3. Read up on Love Bombing. Christianity is a religion, many forms of Christianity are cults or use cultic methods (such as love bombing). If Jesus used love bombing, than yes-he’s a cult leader.

  58. Jon Root September 17, 2013 at 2:30 am #

    As a Young Life Leader myself, I enjoyed and was deeply saddened about reading your post. By no means do I try to manipulate a kid into making a decision about Christ (while on the other hand I do try to get them excited about Jesus just as I am myself) and in no way do my fellow leaders or I force kids into making decisions that our ultimately their own to make. Just as my walk with Christ was a decision of my own. Even though I was born in a Christian home it is undoubtedly my decision to have a personal relationship with Christ. My parent’s relationship with Christ is not mine, it is up to me to make a decision to have a relationship with Christ. This is precisely what I tell my students I lead for and I hope, just as my Young Life leaders did for me, that I am able to provide these kids the tools to understand Christ, His love, His purpose, His sacrifice and His faithfulness. Not make the decisions for them but provide them the tools to make up their own minds and come to their own conclusions.

    On the topic of Young Life seeking out the “popular kids” is something I believe to be outdated and something that Young Life does not stand for anymore. While some Young Life teams around the country might stick with this philosophy in some way, shape, manner, or form, I believe (along with the majority of Young Life leaders, staff and committee members), that Young Life has moved on from this and has explicitly shown and said that this is wrong and by no means how we should be reaching out to kids. My Young Life team and I (South Pasadena Young Life) discuss this regularly because some staff at South Pasadena High School were victim to this flawed philosophy, which I understand and feel extremely sad about. Young Life is supposed to be a place that kids feel like they can be themselves, not another place where they can put on another mask in order to fit in with the “cool kids”. We specifically tell each other to find the kid you would think would be the last person to care about Jesus or Young Life. Whether they are in band, gay, straight, bi, jock, loner, nerdy or whatever other you can think of. If Jesus spoke only to the “popular”/powerful people of His day where would his ministry would have gone? NO WHERE! Jesus knew that love and compassion needed to be spread everywhere and to everyone. He constantly shows in scripture how he sought out the “unpopular” the “least of these”. For Example, the woman at the well, the cripple, the woman that was bleeding (going through her menstrual cycle) for years, heck! He even sat down with tax collectors and ate with them, He had fishermen as disciples. Jesus sought out the people that weren’t in the spotlight because he knew that how to love. I wholeheartedly believe Young Life lives by that philosophy nowadays.

    While keeping relationships is hard in itself with high school friends, college friends, old work colleagues, keeping a relationship with a Young Life should be of high priority. We don’t want kids to feel like Young Life was just some emotional high for a year, two years or their entire high school career. My Young Life leader, while we don’t talk throughout the year too often I know that he will always have me over to his home during Christmas break to talk about life, my Young Life experiences, my challenges/struggles, how I see God working through my life and how I can invite others to see as well. My Young Life leader from high school seeks me out and wants me to do the same with my students. This is why I think it is so essential to have leaders that are committed to poring into kids lives. Not for a year or two but for life. I know this is hard but continually challenging myself and other leaders to do the same is a tremendous way to keep us accountable and realize how much Young Life is more than just club or contact work, it is supposed to be relationships that reflect and honor God. If God continues to seek us all out, even though we sin and disrespect Him on a daily basis, I don’t know why we wouldn’t try to do stay in relationship with our students.

    While I see myself as extremely blessed in my Young Life experiences I truly believe all this to be universally true in Young Life today. I would love to discuss this further with you sometime and thank you for speaking out on this subject. This is something I needed to hear and continue to be aware of.

    Blessings,
    Jon from South Pasadena High School Young Life

    • christianagnostic September 17, 2013 at 3:21 am #

      Jon-

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment and your perspective as a current leader.

      I would love to discuss these things further….but I have been so short of time and have become a once a month blogger (not my preference).

      I would love to include your comment in a future post that highlights the various comments about Young Life that I’ve received over the summer.

      Let me know if that’s ok…

      Best Regards-CA

      • jonnyroot September 17, 2013 at 7:21 am #

        Feel free to shoot me an email whenever and I’d be happy to discuss this more with you.

        Also, thank you for your quick reply along with offering to integrate my comment with your next post. Please let me know what parts you are going to use if you are not going to integrate the whole comment.

        Thanks so much and I look forward to talking to you.

        Jon

  59. interestedinyouropinion October 1, 2013 at 12:15 am #

    Quick question, do you consider Mormonsim to be a cult?

    • christianagnostic October 1, 2013 at 5:10 am #

      yes…I would call it a cultic in many of it aspects. Especially the social pressure it exerts on it’s members and former members.

    • BuzzardSays October 11, 2013 at 2:30 am #

      Yes it is.

  60. Dylan October 8, 2013 at 3:22 am #

    i was a camper at a younglife summer camp and in no way did i feel forced to make a commitment to christ i am still involved with the organization the say so just makes you think about setting your priorities

    • christianagnostic October 12, 2013 at 2:00 am #

      Dylan-

      I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed yourself at camp. Thanks for your quick comment!

  61. BuzzardSays October 11, 2013 at 2:29 am #

    Dr Walter Martin who wrote Kingdom Of The Cult would disagree. I read the book and find no evidence that Young Life would even remotely resemble cultish redefinition of truths. Those who hate Jesus are anti-Christ or are not strong enough in their own Christian faith to deal with on-fire people who walk the walk not just talk the talk. My guess is this guy is now an atheist.

    • christianagnostic October 12, 2013 at 2:34 am #

      BuzzardSays-

      Dr. Walter Martin approaches defining cults by the orthodox or un-orthodxy of their theology compared to his own Protestant/ Evangelical creed.

      But that’s not how I am referring to the use of the word cult. I am speaking in more of a social sense.

      Does a group require ultimate obedience? Is a group upfront about it’s doctrine and practices with potential converts? How does it treat former members? Does it try and separate potential converts from their network of friends and family in order to indoctrinate?

      These are some of the questions that reveal whether a group (no matter what their doctrine is) is a cult or has cultic tendencies.

      To simply say that those who question YL hate Jesus is silly. I knew Evangelical pastors who questioned YL and their methods. I knew Campus Crusade Directors who were “on fire” and questioned YL and their methods.

  62. Kristin October 20, 2013 at 2:51 am #

    I’m a new young life leader and in my 30′s. I see where you’re coming from, for sure, as a parent of a small child. However in our district we definitely make known we are Christians. No secret or cultish activity :) the bible calls us to go out and make disciples if we believe in the Christian faith. There will always be nay Sayers with every ministry. Not just ministries but in life. Perhaps these parents didn’t like being convicted by the truth their teen was sharing. I love my students no strings attached whether they end up believing in Christ or not. I love them for who they are. That’s what Christ calls us to do. Love without boundaries because he died for all. Not some. We live for who people are not by what they do. My rant is over. I’m sorry you had a bad experience with young life but I’m having a blast hanging with these kids and giving them a safe place to be on Monday nights

    • ... Zoe ~ October 20, 2013 at 7:57 pm #

      How does “hell” fit in with the phrase “love without boundaries” in your work with the students Kristin?

    • christianagnostic October 23, 2013 at 6:09 am #

      Kristin-

      Thanks for your comment…

      I think you have misunderstood some of what I have written. I did not have a bad experience with Young Life. There are things I look back upon and see differently than when I was involved. But I didn’t write this post because of a bad experience.

      A few questions to consider….

      You make yourselves known as Christians….do you do this before or after you have befriended a student?

      Once you’ve befriended a student, how soon after do you inform their parent(s) that about your Evangelical beliefs and intentions?

      A few thoughts….

      Perhaps some parents don’t like their teen children being in contact with adults in their 30′s whom they have not met or do not know personally.

      You may love students, but they are not yours and I am concerned about your statement about no boundaries. People who do not respect boundaries not safe people…no matter how nice or well-intended they may feel.

      • Eric H October 30, 2013 at 12:10 pm #

        You’re doing that thing again. You know, that thing where you take a comment that you are certain means one thing but twist it just enough so as to cast doubt on the meaning or intention of someone’s words. Why must you do that so much?

        Your last paragraph is hilariously out of context… but after months of following your logic and your discourse on this topic, I am certain that you know that.

      • christianagnostic October 30, 2013 at 4:06 pm #

        Eric-

        In all honesty, I do not intentionally try to twist someone’s words.

        Totally unrelated…but are you still interested in writing a guest post?

        Or am I confusing you with someone else….

      • Eric H October 30, 2013 at 4:13 pm #

        Sure. I’d be glad to. I just need to know what specific context you’d want it to address.

        On the comment, I cannot imagine that you actually believe that the “love without boundaries” comment could mean anything other than “no predetermined criteria that makes a kid “worthy” of love.” I cannot believe that you could- in any imaginable way- honestly believe that there might be some sort of negative or sinister connotation or implication that there are no actual boundaries to the relationships between kids and the adults who pursue friendships with them. I just don’t buy that, CA.

      • christianagnostic October 30, 2013 at 4:53 pm #

        If that’s what you took away from my comment, than I apologize.

        I believe that most YL leaders are good people that truly care about kids. But it doesn’t mean that they have the right to relate to kids on a high school campus without full disclosure to parents.

        That is my main concern when I referred to boundaries and safe people.

        This leader may be a safe person, in terms of criminal intent, but that doesn’t mean I want her to befriend and influence my children and their religious beliefs. Which is, after all, the ultimate goal of YL.

        On the other hand, there have been, and continue to be arrests of YL leaders that have sexually abused students.

        They may not be the majority, but the incidents raise the issue of safety and the unbalanced relationship of an adult to a vulnerable age group.

        I find it curious that most of the pro YL folks will hang out on this post, but are almost completely silent when I link a public record incident of sexual abuse and arrest of a YL Area Director or leader.

        Why is that?

      • Eric H October 30, 2013 at 5:00 pm #

        Who’s being silent? (Or the better question may be… where are you linking these?)

        I’d have a hard time believing anyone is coming to the defense of anyone in an inappropriate relationship with a minor. I can completely understand someone having nothing to say on the issue, if only because this isn’t a Young Life problem. Young Life and its staff and leaders are no more or less dangerous than the tens of thousands of teachers, coaches, and administrators that our kids spend hours with on a daily basis. Your allusion to those criminal acts is a bit of a straw man.

      • christianagnostic October 30, 2013 at 5:04 pm #

        seriously….click on the front page and you’ll see that latest link to a recent incident.

        Here’s a link:

        http://christianagnostic.wordpress.com/2013/10/23/associate-pastor-young-life-leader-arrested-for-sexual-relations-with-a-minor/

        Go to YoungLifeWatch.com for past incidents…

        I am not alluding to anything, the criminal acts have occurred and are a matter of public record.

      • Eric H October 30, 2013 at 6:13 pm #

        It’s awful. It’s criminal. And I hope that the legal system successfully does what it is intended to do in this matter.

        But it has nothing to to do with this blog post. It has nothing to to do with this discussion, or the people taking part in it. And as such, your questioning why people are talking about this topic and not that one is a straw man. There is nothing “curious” about people factually refuting the multitude of inaccuracies contained on this blog post and not making comments on another, separate, blog post.

        But you know that. And you also know that posting those links no more “exposes” Young Life as a dangerous organization than it would “expose” the public school system to post links to the dozens of similar stories that have taken place at the hands of teachers, administrators, and coaches.

      • plaintruth October 30, 2013 at 6:35 pm #

        Eric H & CA – I tried to make the same point to CA several months ago. CA remained radio silent. I guess he didn’t have a link for deflection back then. At any rate, Eric H., you are right and I appreciate your ability to articulate and provide an accurate perspective.

        CA – I am not sure, but I believe that Eric H and Eric, are not the same person. Although, they both provide a great deal of intellect and clarity.

      • Eric October 30, 2013 at 7:11 pm #

        One in the same. Mobile does not have the H, desktop does.

  63. Anna October 23, 2013 at 2:06 am #

    I partly agree and disagree. I am a Christian. I have a few times walked from my faith but it is the pursuit of my church leaders that drew me back. Now it wasn’t under any pressure circumstance or anything by that means but it was out of love. I mean who doesn’t want to feel loved when going through a hard time. It was by my own choice that I came back to my faith. The part I disagree with most is your statement of the camps. As a Christian camp they have moral standards at which they have to obtain for fear of people looking into every nit-pickey detail. So a parent could assume that their child will be hearing/singing many messages. Also if you feel that the Christian religion is a bit similar to a cult would you believe that other religions are cultist in themselves? Also just a question is it possible to be more like a cult and less like a cult? Out of pure curiosity seeing how I don’t know much about cults :p thanks for sharing your thoughts! I love when people are so open with their opinions!

    • christianagnostic October 23, 2013 at 6:00 am #

      Anna-

      Thanks for the comment….quick question before trying to go further.

      Have you been to a Young Life camp or club?

      Thanks-CA

      • Anna October 25, 2013 at 4:44 pm #

        I have not. I have heard much of it from peers who have been though. That being said I am not one to claim it as a cult or justify against that!

  64. seniccarp October 23, 2013 at 7:04 pm #

    Plaintruth this blog sure has you upset.

  65. randallslack October 25, 2013 at 12:23 am #

    YL Leader: Have you read the previous posts before spouting off? Young Life destroyed my daughters relationship with Christ. She was rejected because the “popular kids” didn’t like her. And when we spoke with her she was completely uncaring.

    • StephenRay October 30, 2013 at 6:03 am #

      That doesn’t sound like a problem with Young Life. YL leaders are there to try to make a difference but they can’t prevent kids in or outside of schools from disliking somebody. All they can do is attempt to provide a safe place for people to gather, have fun, and learn about God.

      I’m not sure how long ago you claim Young Life destroyed your daughter’s relationship with Christ, but something tells me you’re way off base. Failure to know Christ, feeling rejected by others, and being completely uncaring when being spoken to are signs of a bad relationship between a parent and child. The reason I say that is based off of my own experience with my dad, who was a preacher, and my mom.

      The low self esteem, constant criticism from my mom, constantly being made fun of in school, etc. made me question my faith and made me suicidal many times. Those things can’t be blamed on anybody but me and my parents. It’s not to say circumstances weren’t different in your case, but I’d wager they’re fairly similar. Parents just don’t like to admit they failed.

  66. ashelizah October 25, 2013 at 9:33 am #

    First of all I was involved in Young Life all through High School, my parents have been very involved for over 20 year, I went to Young Life camp, and I personally know and have known many young life leaders and staff. I am a criminal justice major and am well informed on what a cult is and how they work! To think for one second that young life is a cult is far from the truth!! Young Life provides children the chance to hear and learn about God and what it means to have him in your life. The leaders are usually collage students who volunteer their time to reach out to kids and be a friend, leader and teacher. For me going to young life was the highlight of my week and camp was one of the greatest weeks of my life. They teach the truth and in no way force it upon anyone or operate in any way like a cult! If anything you should want your kids to be involved with an organization such as young life rather then be involved with negative influences that lead our kids to trouble My daughter will be attending wyldlife which is young life in middle school. She is excited about going and i will always encourage her to be involved. It is to bad you didn’t benefit from young life experience. I pray that one day you will and it is then that you will understand the true meaning of what young life has not only done for me but millions of other young people.

  67. seniccarp October 25, 2013 at 10:05 pm #

    YOUNG LIFE was only in the wealthy areas of the city.Very white upper class kids .In a city that huge populations of Chinese and East indian where were those kids .There was mold, good looking ,white and rich.

    • Eric H October 25, 2013 at 11:40 pm #

      And the Dodgers were a team in Brooklyn.

      If this blog were entitled “Things that were true in the 1950′s”, you’d have a relevant and compelling point. Alas, it is not, and you do not.

      • t October 30, 2013 at 12:47 am #

        You’re awesome.

      • christianagnostic October 30, 2013 at 6:23 am #

        clever…that would be similar to claiming that the LA Dodgers had the same radio announcer as the Brooklyn Dodgers. It’s just silly to think that things hadn’t changed that much in 50 or more years…right?

      • Eric H October 30, 2013 at 12:07 pm #

        Of course it’s silly to think that there haven’t been significant changes in over 50 years.

        One would think that after a multitude of proofs that statements such as seniccarp’s are ignorant, inaccurate, and simply untrue that some of those folks making said comments would recognize the simple fact that “hey, I’m just spouting off things that I honestly have no idea about.” But when repeated proofs continue to go ignored, one can only assume that the people repeatedly making the false claims are either incredibly stubborn (and I can appreciate that… believe me), intellectually incapable of following a simple debate, or else intentionally spreading falsehoods.

        I guess it is what it is, huh?

      • christianagnostic October 30, 2013 at 4:11 pm #

        That’s why I allow anyone to comment here…

        You are more than welcome to bring your perspective and experiences to the table, so to speak.

  68. plaintruth October 30, 2013 at 5:56 pm #

    You are right, CA. My droning doesn’t make my statement(s) true – what makes MY statements true is that they are factual. What makes something factual is that it can be proven; it is real. I’ve already addressed your statements about communicating to Christians vs non-Christians (months ago). In brief, rather than some tactic to mislead individuals, you are referring to a communication aid, which is designed to help volunteers answer questions without using a bunch of Christian jargon that may not mean anything to the listener. It is actually designed for clarity, as opposed to obscuring reality.

    There are no marketing videos about YL camps that leave out the fact that a primary purpose is to introduce kids to Christ. Maybe there were in the 80′s, but i don’t recall that. And isn’t this what you are doing here? Recalling your myopic experience of Young Life 20+ years ago. Based on my recollection, there were club nights when camp photos were converted to slides and projected on screen (pretty cool back then, if not high tech). And, there may not have been any audio other then music during the slide show. I’d hardly call that elusive.

    And, my recurring statement that anyone can access information about Young Life has nothing to do with being elusive or “catch me if you can.” It is a consistent response to your false accusation that YL doesn’t provide full disclosure. YL absolutely does as an organization and its staff absolutely does without hesitation. I offer up the fact that it is all in writing too because I do think it is a parent’s responsibility to know what their kids are involved in.

    With that, YL staff and volunteers do nothing to camouflage their faith in God, or their reasons for working with kids, or the young life ministry – a Christian outreach. You need to give that piece up. Their is no adult picking up a minor at home for a fro-yo that honks the horn and expects the kids to run out so as to avoid meeting the parent or guardian. That’s ridiculous and you know it. That is basically the kind of picture you are trying to paint. I’m sure there are many occurrences of YL staff and volunteers being at the same place as kids at the same time, both planned and unplanned. It is true, YL leaders go to school games and volunteer (or are asked) to help out at school events. They are actively involved in the lives of kids. They all have background checks. If they help with a school event, the school requires background checks. All of this stuff is a forgone conclusion and yet you continue to bring it up as though people are missing the (untrue) fact that adults are grooming minors for secret Christian conversions and parents are kept in the dark. In reality, YOU are missing the facts. This is why I keep thinking that you are stuck in your teenage mindset. But, I’ve given you too much credit. I am beginning to come to terms with the fact that instead of wrestling with your actions as a youth (where you somehow felt it appropriate to be misleading and target cool kids), you are just trying to perpetuate these myths about Young Life for as long you can. Why is that?

    • StephenRay November 1, 2013 at 1:45 am #

      plaintruth,

      I think I know where they came up with the idea on videos. If you go to the Youtube part you can find the occasional video, such as the one at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWaY8N3vSyE , which makes it look like just a regular camp. Those types of videos are rare but they exist, purposefully or not.

      The argument one has to make is that they also make videos like http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fcbHtJRYdXw and people are always capable of looking things up. If the first video is all they saw, then might be why they came to the conclusion. Doesn’t mean they were right but, due to the information they may have been aware of, they would have thought they were.

  69. StephenRay October 31, 2013 at 11:25 pm #

    Well, it’s not letting me reply to some of the things above so I guess I’ll need to make a new post. Let’s go ahead and focus on your replies.

    (1) You claim Young Life does not get permission from parents before doing anything with the kids. That is where you’re dead wrong if you talk about how things are today. I can’t speak on how things used to be many years ago but I can tell you that parents were there when we picked up the kids and home when we dropped the kids off. Each person had permission and parents knew what it was. Please be specific on where you’re getting information and also how old that information might be. Some of your posts say you were involved in Young Life but I don’t recall you ever stating how long ago that was. I hope you consider that many things have changed in the past 5-10 years.

    (2) Young Life is clear on what they are and have MANY resources for people to see. It’s not hard to go to Google to find it. They provide business cards, websites, literature, and anything else you need to know exactly what they are. It’s not some top secret hidden agenda. The club meeting I went to played painfully obvious Christian music and gave their view of Halloween, in which the kids were able to then freely question and debate. Nobody said what the kids could or couldn’t do but they did want the kids to be a little more educated on the history, what it stands for, and what their beliefs on the matter were.

    (3) Yes, I was being a little harsh on Randall. The reason being that there’s more to the story than he’s telling. He’s putting 100% blame of his daughter feeling depressed, turning away from Christ, and not talking to him on Young Life. Anybody who ever tries pointing their finger at just one person or organization for things like that is in denial. Let me explain a couple things for you before you ask how/why I can say such things.

    *I was raped, molested, and beaten by my dad between the ages of 10 and 13

    *While in school kids constantly called me names, picked fights, and made my life a living nightmare. Before the age of 16 I had made multiple suicide attempts.

    *Every club I tried to participate in shut me out.

    *My mom never gave me the time of day while I was growing up. The only attention I received from her was when she was telling me how much of a failure I was.

    *Churches I reached out to did not give the attention I needed. In fact, some turned me away when they found out I had been victimized when I was younger. Their argument was people would feel uncomfortable having me around because I am more likely to abuse other children since I was a victim of abuse.

    We’ll ignore the things I’ve done in adulthood, things ranging from going through the police academy, going to college to be a teacher, and many other topics.

    What I’ve learned in all of that and through talking to people who have been in similar or worse circumstances is that it is never just one thing or place that pushes a person over the edge. It’s a series of events and circumstances that causes a person to be “unfeeling” or for their life/faith to be destroyed.

    The story I see by Randall is that she didn’t fit in because she was fat. People made fun of her. Guess what, I dealt with the same thing…though they chose other names as well that had nothing to do with me. I was called everything from nerd, geek, faggot, “gay Ray,” “fat ass,” and all sorts of other names. It tears you down little by little. The main thing is, that was happening at school. Of course, those same school kids are who you see in other events and activities. She ran into them and, according to Randall, the kids did not include her. One thing we can agree on, if he isn’t lying, would be the idea of the leader not doing their job. If that is indeed the case, we can agree that Randall’s daughter drew the short end of the stick and had a bad experience. Thing is, do we then shift 100% of the blame to Young Life or do we look at how it was the kids picking on her that made it tough? How much responsibility shifts to the parent for not knowing what was going on and for not being able to help the child cope? What about the school and everybody else in between? What about the church? Was Randall even bringing her to church? If so, could we not then say the pastor and others there also failed her?

    With the number of people who failed his daughter, why is it that we only say Young Life is what ruined his daughter’s faith? That’s where I have issues with his comment and I was harsh on him. He failed to assign blame to himself and everybody else involved. It is due to all these interactions in his daughter’s life that he failed to mention that I question his integrity on the story. Were you too quick to run with what he said without thinking about all of that?

  70. Kate November 3, 2013 at 10:51 pm #

    After reading your initial post and much of the comments, I decide to throw my opinion in and perhaps try to clarify some of the misconceptions about Young Life.

    I began attending Young Life as a junior in high school. It is because of Young Life that I came to know Jesus and why I would call myself a Christian today. I am currently a Volunteer Young Life leader and full time college student and have been for the past two years. In order to become a leader I had to go through a background check. This was done before I ever set foot onto a high school or ever met a single high school kid.

    The goal of Young Life is to tell high school and middle school kids about Jesus and if they so choose, for those high school and middle school kids to have a relationship with Him. In order to accomplish this we have clubs, and camps, and leaders that all serve to basically let kids know that they are loved by God. We are not trying to manipulate or brainwash anyone into anything. The decision to come to club or camp or almost any YL function for that matter is made by the student and/or their parents. If the students or their parents don’t feel comfortable, they are more then free to not attend.

    Regarding the issue of parental consent, pretty much all of the kids I know have to ask their parents before going to pretty much any YL event. I have met several of the kids’ parents and established relationships with them, and they are aware of what YL is all about. Unfortunately, there are even more kids who have parents that are too busy or don’t care too much about the affairs of their children for me to get to know all of them. If given the opportunity, I would love to be able to meet the parents of every kid who comes to YL, but that’s unfortunately not very realistic.

    It breaks my heart to hear about how so many of the people who have commented on this post have had such negative experiments in Young Life. I could say that the actions of these people don’t reflect the organization as a whole, but that would not be a sufficient excuse for the things that have occurred, as they are completely and 100 percent unacceptable. I apologize that those things happened, and hope that your hearts be healed.

    So, is Young Life a cult? Some people would definitely say so, but if the “tactics” we use get kids to know, experience, and understand how much they are loved and valued by God (and that’s really all we’re trying to do) then so be it.

  71. anonomous November 5, 2013 at 3:58 pm #

    The overall premise of the organization is deceptive. Even on the basis of the statements of people defending young life on this blog it is evident that it is designed to change people’s faith.

    It attempts to draw teens in using an understanding of the social structure of high school and not mentioning its goal of religious conversion. From the statements on this blog it would appear that the group actively recruits popular students. Then it reaches out to other students through the popular students. In my school students who had been to young life meetings were competing getting a point for every new person they brought. It also appeals to the teens not associated with the popular clicks on the basis that they will fit in. A poster in my school actually advertised it saying “Want to get more out of life and find a place where you and every one else will fit in.”

    While earlier in this blog someone quoted the mission statement of “praying for young people, going where kids are, and building personal relationships with them” as evidence of the fact that young life is open in their intentions, that statement does not openly state the intention. Young Life is clearly designed to deepen people’s faith, their relationship with God, and their general inclination toward the evangelical religious experience. I found this website because I had no idea what Young Life was and someone had asked if it had a religious affiliation. Clearly it does have both a religious affiliation and motivation.

    While the organization may help children get away from drugs, sex, or the general problems with our current culture and get them on track to success, the purpose of the organization is to indoctrinate people into evangelical Christianity and to provide a positive association with Evangelism and Christianity. Any other benefits are irrelevant to its cult-like nature. The fact is that the Young Life leaders are not just nice people; they are nice Evangelicals with the goal of helping youths by indoctrinating them into the faith under the pretense of helping them fit in. This is fundamentally deceptive because they do not advertise the fact that they are promoting a religion.

    There is controversy at my school over the peer pressure towards religion of voluntarily saying the pledge, yet Young Life slides under the radar despite its clear religious affiliation.

    • Travis Davis November 5, 2013 at 7:22 pm #

      Amen

    • StephenRay November 5, 2013 at 8:39 pm #

      (1) “The overall premise of the organization is deceptive. Even on the basis of the statements of people defending young life on this blog it is evident that it is designed to change people’s faith.”

      All religions aim to convert others to their faith, though I would have to agree if you want to say that Christians are much more active in this endeavor. We, meaning Christians, feel it is our duty to preach the gospel to all. This calling is taken from Mark 16:15 and several other passages of the Bible.

      (2) “It attempts to draw teens in using an understanding of the social structure of high school and not mentioning its goal of religious conversion.”

      This comment tells me you didn’t pay attention to anything said above and you haven’t looked into the program. Go to younglife.org. Once there click on “What is Young Life?” and you’ll see the following:

      What is Young Life?
      Young Life doesn’t start with a program. It starts with adults who are concerned enough about kids to go to them, on their turf and in their culture, building bridges of authentic friendship. These relationships don’t happen overnight — they take time, patience, trust and consistency.
      So Young Life leaders log many hours with kids — where they are, as they are. We listen to their stories and learn what’s important to them because we genuinely care about their joys, triumphs, heartaches and setbacks.

      We believe in the power of presence. Kids’ lives are dramatically impacted when caring adults come alongside them, sharing God’s love with them. Because their Young Life leader believes in them, they begin to see that their lives have great worth, meaning and purpose.

      This is the first step of a lifelong journey; the choices they make today, based upon God’s love for them, will impact future decisions … careers chosen, marriages formed and families raised. All ripples from the time when a Young Life leader took time to reach out and enter their world.”

      Kind of hard to miss where it talks of God twice in there. You’ll also see a part that says “Young Life brings the good news of Jesus Christ into the lives of adolescents with an approach that is respectful of who kids are and hopeful about who they can be.”

      Essentially your comment about not mentioning what they stand for is way off base.

      (3) “From the statements on this blog it would appear that the group actively recruits popular students. Then it reaches out to other students through the popular students. In my school students who had been to young life meetings were competing getting a point for every new person they brought. It also appeals to the teens not associated with the popular clicks on the basis that they will fit in. A poster in my school actually advertised it saying “Want to get more out of life and find a place where you and every one else will fit in.”

      This comment is one I can’t argue with as it is quite possible a student or a leader made remarks they should not have made. What I can say is that they don’t target those who are popular. In fact, we look more for people who are struggling and who don’t fit in. The reason behind that is to help them be productive and to prevent depression, suicide, and more. It also exists to provide a place for productive activities rather than leaving kids to go off selling drugs or getting into all sorts of trouble.

      (4) “While earlier in this blog someone quoted the mission statement of “praying for young people, going where kids are, and building personal relationships with them” as evidence of the fact that young life is open in their intentions, that statement does not openly state the intention. Young Life is clearly designed to deepen people’s faith, their relationship with God, and their general inclination toward the evangelical religious experience. I found this website because I had no idea what Young Life was and someone had asked if it had a religious affiliation. Clearly it does have both a religious affiliation and motivation.”

      http://www.younglife.org/AboutYoungLife/MissionandVision.htm has the mission and vision statement. A surprisingly quick Google search made the site easy to find. You’ll see “Sharing our lives and the Good News of Jesus Christ with adolescents, Inviting them to personally respond to this Good News, Loving them regardless of their response, Nurturing kids so they might grow in their love for Christ and the knowledge of God’s Word and become people who can share their faith with others…”

      The value then go on to talk of “Living according to and communicating the whole Gospel of Jesus Christ…”

      Doesn’t take a genius to realize their intention from that.

      (5) “While the organization may help children get away from drugs, sex, or the general problems with our current culture and get them on track to success, the purpose of the organization is to indoctrinate people into evangelical Christianity and to provide a positive association with Evangelism and Christianity. Any other benefits are irrelevant to its cult-like nature. The fact is that the Young Life leaders are not just nice people; they are nice Evangelicals with the goal of helping youths by indoctrinating them into the faith under the pretense of helping them fit in. This is fundamentally deceptive because they do not advertise the fact that they are promoting a religion.”

      As I showed you above, they do advertise what they represent. Club meetings that people attend are held at churches. Christian music is played, the Gospel is shared, and more. Young Life is only one of many places that exist in the world for children to go to escape problems, nobody forces them to go. These events and activities do not take place at school and are not obligatory for anybody. Your whole post of trying to say they are deceptive has been unproven. You’re free to give your opinion but please don’t attempt to make it sound like fact.

      (6) “There is controversy at my school over the peer pressure towards religion of voluntarily saying the pledge, yet Young Life slides under the radar despite its clear religious affiliation.”

      Young Life is an organization that has nothing to do with the school. Any person in a community is permitted to volunteer at school functions and some people from the organization lend a helping hand when needed. The Pledge of Allegiance is a debate going on as people believe that the school, which is part of government, can’t have ties to anything with religion. Children are still allowed to partake in religious practices, speech, and more but the staff and faculty can’t force it or be the ones to introduce the concept. In any case, it’s a COMPLETELY different thing than what Young Life is and does. Not sure what you were trying to do by comparing the two.

      • VoiceOf Logic November 6, 2013 at 4:05 am #

        It is obvious when looking online that Young Life stands for the religious indoctrination of teens. However, at least at my school, the posters and general recruitment strategies are not come to our young life meetings or the middle school’s WyldLife meetings and find God. Rather it is placed as come to the meetings and fit in. I cannot speak for how Young Life recruits at other schools, but from the comments it seems that other people have also found that they are surprised by how actively the organization attempts to convert people to a specific religion.

        This is because wen the group begins recruiting people it pretends that it is operating only to provide them a place to fit in and have fun. Until you go to a meeting their is no mention of religion. Even then, the focus is initially still on the love bombing/legitimately caring/ social fitting in. It is only once that pretense has created a connection that Young Life begins to attempt to convert people or deepen their degree of religious devotion.

        There is a group called Zero Hour at my school. I ave no idea if it is in anyway connected to Young Life nor does it matter. This group is essentially a prayer group which meets before school. It makes its intention clear. Young Life and WyldLife claim one purpose, to help provide children a place to go and fit in and use that platform to gain access to children before unveiling the purpose of conversion. That is a deceptive model. Whether they are more open about their purpose in other regions, I cannot say. However, from the gist of the comments on this article it would appear that people do feel at least partially misled and deceived in other areas. Perhaps, you can vogue that in your area Young Life is more open about its purpose and the posters, if any, advertising it in schools say a message more along the lines of come to Young Life and hear God’s word rather than come and fit in. However, at my school and apparently in other areas, not necessarily the majority, the model is to draw people in under the premise of social conformity or having fun, build a relationship, and then leverage the relationship between the leader and the student and the relationships between the student and participating friends to influence their beliefs which I find fundamentally deceptive.

        Perhaps, in your area meetings are held at churches, but at least the WyldLife meetings in Mattawan are held in the middle school cafeteria after school. This uses a public building as part of the process of converting middle school students and is why I raised the issue of separation between church and state. Of course they are not obligatory, but neither is saying the pledge at our school. However, there is social pressure in either instance. One instance, the saying of the pledge attempts to minimize that pressure while providing the opportunity to say it. The other, Young Life, attempts to maximize the pressure.

        I am a Christian. admittedly not fervent, and resent your statement that “We, meaning Christians, feel it is our duty to preach the gospel to all.” I would say that it is certainly my duty to educate people about my beliefs, but not that I need to express this to all people. I certainly would make every attempt to be completely open about the fact that I was attempting to inform people rather than seeking to maximize the number of people, particularly middle and high school students, I could reach by drawing them in under the pretense of helping them find a spot to fit in.

        It is a fact and not merely my opinion that none of the many posters on the walls in my school mention either God, the Bible, or any religious quotes in association with Young Life or WyldLife. They do not even state that it is a Christian organization. What they state is that they provide a place for students to fit in. That is deceptive. From the comments under this post it appears that I am not the only one who felt that was a deceptive model and that practicing it upon middle and high school students is unethical.

        Perhaps in your area the organization is more open, but my general impression from reading the comments here and under other articles is that the deceptive model is more the norm than the exception.

        Of course, it is my opinion that the model of Young Life is generally deceptive. I am simply extrapolating the situation in my school which is stepped in facts like the composition of the posters and the recruitment mechanisms to the larger organization. Perhaps the larger organization uses the fact that they are spreading the word of God as the means to draw people to meetings, but I for one doubt it and believe that they likely use the rational of providing students a place to fit in and have fun as the primary draw, then build connections, before utilizing social pressure to leverage students to conform and either convert or deepen religious commitments.

      • Travis Davis November 6, 2013 at 9:53 pm #

        good post, VoiceOf Logic. I do agree that these groups are deceptive, and it’s sad that they have to go to those lengths to go and “convert” others who might not even want to be “saved” in the first place.

  72. StephenRay November 7, 2013 at 4:46 am #

    VoiceOf Logic,

    I appreciate your reply and I can understand where you’re coming from if all is true. There’s always mixed emotions when people do things the wrong way. My information in regards to Young Life comes from my recent interest and participation in Tampa. Upon my first inquiry I was invited to come to club with them so I could observe and see if it’s a place in which I would like to volunteer. I agreed and talked to the leader for a while and then hopped in the van so we could pick the children up and bring them to the location used for club meetings. We went to a church and I was never left alone with any kids since I had not yet joined the organization and did not have a background check done. Throughout the night I saw the kids having a great time and was able to hear positive feedback from nearly all of them. In fact, one of the kids who was there for her first time mentioned she wanted to bring some of her friends with her the next time. When I asked kids how they knew about Young Life, they told me that other kids told them about it.

    Since I am newer to Young Life, I can’t speak much about knowing whether they have posters up. All I can say is that the leaders of the program here told me their #1 goal is to provide a safe haven and a fun environment for kids. The secondary goal is to present the opportunity for them to know God and learn more about Him. I’m not sure if it’s like this in other areas, but it was explained that there are different levels of the program. Children can strictly show up for club and other similar events where they mainly socialize and play with others or they can come to other activities, such as holding Bible studies and volunteering.

    Also explained by the leader that night was that they try not to shove the idea of God down the children’s throats. They provide a safe place, let them have fun, try to mentor them, and then spoon feed (not her words, that’s my phrasing) bits and pieces to the kids. If they decline, I was told nobody is to pressure them. We only keep providing a place to come and, if they ever want to know more, all they need to do is ask. Stressing the importance of not pressuring them and not making it feel like they were at church or a Bible study was definitely important.

    I guess it seems more to me a place that wants to provide a positive atmosphere for others and a place where we can make a difference. It might be one of those things in life that people can see either way based on their past and personal beliefs. I’ve just been trying to challenge people here to look beyond the basics and to be more understanding. There were plenty of responses filled with emotion and/or based on what others stated without first doing research. Guess you could say these past two years in college has drilled in the importance facts and research over personal experience and word of mouth.

    My final thought on your post is based on ethics. There are two things I’d like to point out, only to challenge your thinking.

    (1) Organizations and businesses do not have or follow “ethics” as you may know it, hopefully you understand better when you read the definition of ethics below. Instead they have and follow a social responsibility to protect and enhance the society in which they operate. (These differences are more recently pronounced, so the use of social responsibility can be debated…just sharing with you what I’ve seen in scholarly articles used in my classes)

    (2) Ethics are “an individual’s personal beliefs regarding what is right and wrong or good and bad.” What is ethical to me may not be ethical to you.

    On a side note….

    Those of you who were talking about background checks and all. Young Life just sent me my email the other day from where I expressed interest in volunteering. The email states the following:

    Young Life’s Screening Process is for all staff and volunteers and must be complete before working with kids. This process includes submitting a criminal background check and acknowledging Young Life’s Faith & Conduct Policies and helps us ensure the safety of the kids we’re so fortunate to work with.

    Once you have completed the screening process, you will then have access to a number of resources through the Staff Resources Site. Just a few of the resources available to you include:

    *My Account: Manage your account information by being able to quickly and easily change your personal information online.

    *Service Center Departments: Each Service Center department is represented here and offers a variety of information and resources to assist you in your daily administrative tasks.

    *Leader Tools: Find information and helpful hints on the “five C’s” (including camping), Young Life (our program for high school students), WyldLife (our middle school program), Young Life College, our multicultural ministry, ministry to kids with disabilities (Capernaum), ministry to teen moms (YoungLives) and ministry in small towns. You’ll also find recommended resources (including discounts) and youth culture stats and insights.

    *Bulletin Board: Connect with other staff, volunteers and committee and ask for advice, share successes and/or discuss issues of common interest/concern.

    *Help Desk/Contact Information: General questions and answers to various topics that are constantly being updated.

    • VoiceOf Logic November 7, 2013 at 8:20 am #

      StephenRay,

      Clearly some matters of ethics are subjective and they certainly do not have to be followed. Personally I find that mixing providing a social place to fit in for minors and religion while using the social place to fit in as the primary publicized draw unethical. That being said, organizations like Young Life certainly provide necessary services to others. To me they would be entirely acceptable if they were more upfront about the fact that their is a religious motivation and affiliation. For example, “Come to Young Life and find a place within a caring Christian community; God accepts everyone.”

      Too me spoon feeding bits and pieces to kids is simply a more subtle pressure. I would probably approve of it compared to a more confrontational approach and it is probably more effective, but that is more a matter of degree and type of pressure than its presence. This to me means that disclosure of that religious affiliation.motivation is still necessary not from a legal perspective, but from a moral one.

      With regards to legality, the only thing about Young Life that I find questionable is that the Wyld Life events are held in the middle school cafeteria. I am certain that no malice was meant by locating the meetings there. Our school is the center of our community and thus was probably the most convenient place to locate meetings. My only objection is that the location seems to blur the line between church and state. Had they held meetings less than a mile away in the community center that is rented out extremely cheaply, I would have no legal objections.

      Finally with regards to ethics, businesses or organizations are not and should not be legally bound to them, but the individuals in such organizations still have their personal code of ethics and that responsibility does not disappear when they walk in a door.

      While an individual’s ethical standards are their own there have been several attempts to create a universal ethical code most notably organized religion. The universal bit may not have worked so well, but there are commonalities in the ethical codes of most major religions and certainly most major monotheistic religions. These commonalities could be said to represent a nearly universal ethical code.

      I personally believe that the fact that those codes were developed in religions which had competition led them to place too little emphasis on acceptance of others’ beliefs. Perhaps, that is the primary discrepancy between my ethical code and that of most people in organizations like Young Life is that I believe that the ethical way to convert someone is through logical argument not by creating associations between my religion and good things. Any technique short of literal debate seems slightly manipulative to me. I also think that I am not alone in that belief and thus that it might be more effective to avoid the backlash of people feeling tricked by being more open.

      The best way. though it likely still would not work, for someone to change my beliefs or deepen my faith would be to be as open as possible in arguing in favor of their religion’s position on the distinct points separating our theologies. Many people on this site in favor of Young Life have argued that teens are more than capable of choosing their own spiritual path, possibly one opposing that which their parent might approve of. It would seem to me the best way to give them that ability to choose a path would be to present an argument with logical appeals rather than appeal to emotions or a desire to fit in.

      • VoiceOf Logic November 7, 2013 at 8:22 am #

        Sorry, I forgot some commas and wrote too instead of to. There are likely other mistakes too. However, I believe my general idea is conveyed.

      • plaintruth November 7, 2013 at 11:29 am #

        No one is mislead about Young Life or what they will be doing at a YL function. There is no secrecy or deception. Your examples are insipid and tiresome. There is nothing unethical, immoral, or deceptive about a youth group poster that invites those interested to attend and possibly find it as a means to make friends or fit in. In fact, I’d hazard a guess that most kids who see the poster have a general sense for what Young Life is…’some kind of religious or church thing.’ Furthermore, it is most likely that the poster says what it does because the school does not allow statements using words like God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, etc.

        Additionally, there is no sudden or unexpected lecture about God with intent to convert. Every weekly YL club includes a brief message which is typically a story from the Bible. There are no expectations of conversion, nor pressure to convert to anything. The stories are told so that kids can hear about God’s Great Love for them, which is the primary purpose of the very public Young Life ministry. There is no bait and switch and you’ve never actually experienced one with Young Life, correct?

        It is legal to allow a Christian or religious group to meet on public property, including in public school buildings. It is ILLEGAL to not allow those groups access to public facilities due to their beliefs. You see, that is discrimination. And there is no line in the U.S Constitution or the 1st Amendment with the phrasing, “separation of church and state.” The 1st Amendment speaks to no church, nor “religion” being made the official faith of the United States. The Free Exercise Clause provides that Congress shall not make laws “prohibiting the free exercise” of religion. In short, there is no legal basis for your complaint about Wyldlife being held in your cafeteria after hours.

        Also, Young Life is not a religion nor does it have any religious affiliations. So, perhaps that is why YL volunteers have failed to disclose such things. There is nothing to disclose. YL staff and volunteers select their own churches and attend myriad types of services = no affiliation with any one particular church. Young Life is a Christian outreach without religious dogma to push upon it’s unwitting participants. No indoctrination necessary – kids are encouraged to ask questions and respond to the message(s) as they see fit.

        Do some research. This blog doesn’t count. It’s riddled with inaccuracies, false statements, and ill-formed conclusions.

      • Travis November 8, 2013 at 12:39 am #

        again, how can you refute someone’s personal experiences or articles that he’s found? It doesn’t seem like you’ve been reading all of these posts thoroughly.

      • StephenRay November 8, 2013 at 7:06 am #

        VoiceOf Logic,

        You make good points and it all comes down to personal preference. Separation of church and state originally meant something completely different than it means now. I’m not sure how much you know of American history, but one of the reasons many people immigrated here was because they were killed for their beliefs. Protestants wanted an English translation of the Bible but the Catholic church didn’t feel it should be released. The queen and/or king of England, depending on whether they were Protestant or Catholic, would kill those who opposed. Thousands lost their lives for having Bibles translated in English and it was all a nightmare.It was due to this type of persecution that we came up with both the 1st amendment and created the separation of church and state. The idea was to protect people from the backlash, not to prohibit the practice of one’s faith. Should teachers and staff force people to pray? Of course not. Should I be able to pray with fellow students if we wish? Heck yes. It’s kind of messed up how we live in a society that is all or nothing on ideas, never wanting to meet in the middle or willing to come up with creative solutions.

        I’d also like to respond to your bit about teens being capable of choosing their own spiritual path. Quite frankly I’d have to say that’s bull when all is said and done. I have no statistics for this but, if you ask me, I believe many adults have extreme difficulties choosing their own spiritual path. Teen years are a time when you are flooded with lots of information, both good and bad, and you’re trying to identify who you are compared to how others label you. These experiences can be great ways to find what you want to believe and how you think you should live your life, but they will only be the years where you’re testing the water and start to build your foundation. In that sense I think organizations like Young Life are wonderful because they give kids a “taste” of what it can be. They’re able to judge how Leaders are living their lives, what effects they’re having on the community, and more.

        The final statement I feel I need to make is on the obligations of parents. Some of what’s been mentioned in previous posts is the concern of places like this targeting children or being concerned about what they teach. Is it not the responsibility of the parents to know what their kids are getting involved in and to see if it’s healthy? What stops these parents from attending activities, researching online, asking questions of the offices, or anything else before allowing their kids to attend? It also feels like parents should be communicating with their teens to find out how their experiences are and helping them find their own path, not telling them what to do or providing answers but helping them to solve problems on their own. I understand some parents are busy and all, but how often are we going to allow people to shift the blame?

        On a side note….

        (1) “In Europe, a lady was dying because she was very sick. There was one drug the doctors said might save her. This medicine was discovered by a man living in the same town. It cost him $200 to make it, but he charged $2,000 for just a little of it. The sick lady’s husband, Heinz, tried to borrow enough money to buy the drug. He went to everyone he knew to borrow the money. He told the man who made the drug that his wife was dying and asked him to sell the medicine cheaper or to let him pay later. But the man said, ‘No, I made the drug and I’m going to make money from it.’ So Heinz broke into the store and stole the drug”

        Did Heinz do the right thing?

        (2) A runaway trolley is heading down the tracks toward five workmen who will be killed if the trolley proceeds on its present course. The only way to save the five workmen is to change tracks; however, there is another trolley coming from that direction. Do you continue forward and kill the five workmen or do you change tracks and risk the deaths of those on the trolleys?

        Since you used the term “moral” above I figured I’d give you a nice idea of moral dilemmas. Try to check out Kohlberg’s levels of moral development and you’ll see that throwing the terms “moral” and “immoral” can be a little difficult at times. Those two examples are by no means related to the discussion of YL, they were just meant to challenge you further and pass on information if you were not already aware.

        VoiceOf Logic,

        If you ever want to have a health debate (not argument) or would like to discuss anything further, please feel free to email me at stephenray@mail.usf.edu (saying that because I do want to make sure not to ever go too far off topic on this blog, so if you want to get into more detail or discuss anything else contact me)

  73. plaintruth November 8, 2013 at 5:34 am #

    I’m not refuting his personal experiences. What are they? A poster that doesn’t mention God?

    I can very easily refute the conclusions he’s drawn from someone else’s blog posts or an article he found on the web.

    If you knew someone’s editorial to be inaccurate, false, illogical, or just plain silly why wouldn’t you provide some actual facts, common sense, realities and an alternative perspective? Isn’t that what this blog is for, Travis?

    • VoiceOf Logic November 8, 2013 at 6:07 am #

      A fundamental misunderstanding of the Establishment Clause and an inconsistent belief about the rights our Constitution grants us which consists of religious groups having a right to special access to public buildings beyond that of other organizations and students not having the right to mention religion on posters advertising religious groups is not actual facts. I would prefer that rather than absolute statements of common sense you provided some logical basis for your claims.

      Well I would agree that you did not refute my personal experiences with Young Life which are admittedly limited, you certainly do condescend the personal experiences of others on this blog by saying “Do some research. This blog doesn’t count. It’s riddled with inaccuracies and false statements.” I have no evidence to suggest that people have lied about their experiences.

      I would think that the normal response to believing someones argument was silly would be to refute it using a different logical argument rather than absolute statements like ‘No one is misled about Young Life or what they will be doing at a YL function.’ ‘There is no secrecy or deception, there is nothing unethical, immoral, or deceptive about a youth group poster that invites those interested to attend and possibly find it as a means to make friends or fit in.’ ‘Nor does it have any religious affiliations…Young Life is a Christian outreach without religious dogma to push upon it’s unwitting participants.’” some of which are evidently false based on my and others’ experiences, others of which are clearly opinions, and finally some that are logically inconsistent.

      “I can very easily refute the conclusions he’s drawn from someone else’s blog posts or an article he found on the web.”

      My conclusions about Young Life in my area are based on personal experience and knowledge of it. I simply am using other’s blog posts as evidence of a pattern of deceit rather than one isolated to my school.

      While I cannot state the purpose of the blog, I certainly would agree that the one thing you have successfully done which I appreciate is to outline an alternate perspective, admittedly one steeped less in logical argument and rational than snap judgements and condescension, but an alternate perspective nonetheless.

      • plaintruth November 9, 2013 at 7:30 am #

        Response to voice of logic: Thanks for the information on the fundamental misunderstanding of the establishment clause, VOL. It doesn’t have anything to do with my mention of it. I don’t think, nor implied, that YL or other Christian groups ought to have special privileges and access to public facilities that other groups and organizations don’t have. I was simply responding to your charge that it seems wrong and could be unconstitutional to hold Wyldlife at your school. If other groups are denied access, that’s wrong. It’s worth noting the way you presented your data it sounded like you don’t know why other groups don’t use the cafeteria after school but you speculate it could be that YL is getting special consideration. Musings like that one weaken your points.

        As with several of your points in your previous comments, you present many of your opinions/statements/claims as something that you may not have first hand knowledge of, or something that you are hypothesizing based on the comments and posts of others. It sounds like that isn’t really the case and that you want it known that you have experienced these things first hand, as opposed to drawing conclusions from your limited exposure and the reports of others. I will keep that in mind while reading your comments.

        You listed my statements and said that other comments disprove or contradict mine. I fail to see that. Most of the comments I’ve read here are presented as opinions and not personal experiences, save for Randall’s daughter and a couple other disheartening stories. Comments by many have been made that YL is deceptive, but I don’t recall anyone on this blog reporting from personal experience that they were mislead to attend or told that YL club had nothing to do with God. VOL, you did say that you went and were struck by it all. Your comments read more as though you judge the leaders for building relationships with the kids because you believe it is solely for the (unspoken) purpose of conversion and you were skeptical because the signs didn’t mention God. In my opinion, that experience doesn’t make a big case for YL being deceptive. We might just have to agree to disagree.

        My statement that YL is not a religion is indeed a true statement. I made the statement in response to comments made on this blog and I believe by you (but I could be wrong). Perhaps it is semantics, yet I believe it is an important point to make. When it is said repeatedly that YL deceives youth because their in-school poster and the leaders don’t disclose that it is a religion or has religious affiliations, I am prompted to correct that. To say there is no religious affiliation means that YL is not working for or a specific church or denomination. It is its own entity and falls under the description of a Christian organization, but is it not a church nor a religion.

        I made a broad statement about the purpose of YL being to express God’s love and somehow you took issue with it. Meh.

        I described the examples as insipid and tiresome. They are repeated by you tirelessly and they lack substance. Sorry. I guess we will agree to disagree. I’m okay with that.

        Yes, I encouraged research, because false statements and poorly drawn conclusions have been made. You may or may not agree .

        Finally, I didn’t realize that absolute statements are only allowed by respondents who sympathize with the host blogger. Note taken.

    • StephenRay November 8, 2013 at 7:41 am #

      plaintruth,

      It wasn’t letting me reply to one of your above comments so I wanted to do so here. I suppose it kind of fits in with this comment of someone’d editorial being inaccurate, false, etc.

      The comment you made above that is partially correct and partially incorrect is as follows:

      “It is legal to allow a Christian or religious group to meet on public property, including in public school buildings. It is ILLEGAL to not allow those groups access to public facilities due to their beliefs. You see, that is discrimination. And there is no line in the U.S Constitution or the 1st Amendment with the phrasing, “separation of church and state.” The 1st Amendment speaks to no church, nor “religion” being made the official faith of the United States. The Free Exercise Clause provides that Congress shall not make laws “prohibiting the free exercise” of religion. In short, there is no legal basis for your complaint about Wyldlife being held in your cafeteria after hours.”

      You are wrong because the first amendment reads

      “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or of the right of the people to peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

      Believe it or not, the term “respecting an establishment of religion” was/is determined to mean that government is not allowed to do anything that makes it appear to favor one religion over another. It also prohibits government from preferring religion over non-religion and vice versa. The Supreme Court has had multiple rulings on issues of religious displays at courthouses, state funding supplementing teacher salaries at religious schools, and more.

      Check out http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/schoolprayer.html and http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/first_amendment

      In that sense the government, which you must keep in mind schools are a government entity, is not permitted to sponsor such things. There is some good news for you though…

      You are right because:

      Recent rulings from federal judges and the Supreme Court have been released stating that religious clubs and organizations must be allowed to meet in public schools after class hours, so long as the same opportunities exist for clubs and organizations of other faiths and non-religious groups.

      Two news articles you might want to see can be found at http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=92875 and http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/30/nyregion/religious-groups-allowed-to-use-new-york-city-schools-for-services.html

  74. VoiceOf Logic November 8, 2013 at 5:43 am #

    “There is no bait and switch and you’ve never actually experienced one with Young Life, correct?”

    Everything that I wrote except about how prevalent the problems with Young Life’s model are was based upon personal experience. I have never been to a Young Life meeting because in middle school I went to Wyld Life, the sister organization in middle schools, and was relatively appalled by the blending of the social pull of the group and religion. I would not call it a bait and switch as I would agree that there is no sudden switch. Instead, there is only an attempt to gradually blend what drew students there, the inclusive social dynamic expressed on posters, with further commitment to the more religious side of the organization.

    “The stories are told so that kids can hear about God’s Great Love for them, which is the primary purpose of the very public Young Life ministry.”

    That is not the purpose mentioned by either the posters in the school or the mission statement on Young Life’s website. Rather the only mention of religion in either those posters in my school or the mission statement is praying for kids.

    “Your examples are insipid and tiresome”
    I am rarely criticized for my abundance of boring examples so I was somewhat surprised to read this comment given that other than references to others’ posts I have two total examples. The first are the policies used by Young Life and Wyld Life at our school. If these are tiresome it is likely because they are similar to experiences that others have documented on this and other sites. The second example, Zero Hour, demonstrates a group which is open rather than deceptive about its religious motivations and goals. I also alluded to the debate in our school about whether the school can use the PA System to broadcast the pledge because it says under God.

    Your Ill Thought Through Complaints About My Understanding of The Establishment Clause and its Accompanying Free Exercise Clause

    No other organization is given access to the middle school or its cafeteria after school. It would be illegal to discriminate against a group on the basis of religion. However, it is equally illegal to discriminate in favor of one providing resources not provided to any other organizations to one solely on the basis of its religious involvement. Obviously, it would be difficult to prove the motivations of the school, but the fact that it has not allowed any other organizations the same access is an indication that the access is provided because of religion.

    Student posters in schools including mine are allowed to and do mention God. They are also allowed to mention it in words and on their clothing. The only thing that cannot occur is for the school to sponsor one religion or group of religions by either devoting special resources or time to it, thus the argument about the use of the PA system during class for the pledge, and the argument I was making about giving special access to Wyld Life in our middle school. I would recommend that you do some basic research on constitutional law in schools. However, if you are unwilling to I will provide the gist of it. Students largely can express their beliefs and schools cannot attempt to sponsor or establish a religion by devoting special time or resources to it.

    “In fact, I’d hazard a guess that most kids who see the poster have a general sense for what Young Life is…’some kind of religious or church thing.”

    I agree, but Young Life seeks to minimize that impression and maximize the impression that it is only about providing an inclusive social community unrelated to religion until people are attached to the social structure.

    “Also, Young Life is not a religion nor does it have any religious affiliations…There is nothing to disclose….Young Life is a Christian outreach without religious dogma to push upon it’s unwitting participants.”

    Christianity is a religious affiliation just not a specific denomination. Young Life is actually more specific than Christianity primarily composed from Evangelical Christian denominations as opposed to Catholics, but either way Christianity as a whole or Evangelical Christianity are a religious affiliation. I am not certain how you come to the conclusion that Young Life is suddenly not a religious organization which is promoting certain ideas when you just stated that you thought it was open about the intention of sharing stories of God. I would tend to think that sharing stories of God is about as close as one can come to expressing Christian beliefs given that the bible is composed of stories of God.

    With regards to the unwitting participants part I would not describe high school students such as myself as unwitting, but you need not be unwitting in order for someone to attempt to manipulate you or even for someone to succeed in manipulating you. There are people who are drawn in by the social message that Young Life represents and then accept the religious message because it is bundled with that accepting social structure. I would rather that people formed their religious beliefs on the basis of the religion’s merits than social pressure and that organizations promoting religions did so openly, but if they would rather swell their ranks with people who are drawn not by the merit of the faith, but by a social structure that is their right. A desire to do so, however, indicates to me a fundamental cynicism and distrust in either God’s message or potential future believers. If you believe that His message can stand on its own and that we are capable of hearing it, then there is no reason to stoop to such deception.

    I might, however, describe Wyld Life’s targets middle school students as more unwitting than high school students and both as slightly more vulnerable to manipulation than experienced adults. Either way my point is not a legal one it is an ethical one. I am not saying that organizations which intend to change people’s faith such as Young Life should be prohibited from doing so. That would be a violation of their freedoms. What I am saying is that from an ethical standpoint they should be more open and honest about their intents and not engage in the kind of self deception where they attempt to convince themselves and their targets that they have no religious affiliation, are pushing no beliefs, and are simply trying to provide a place where everyone can fit in.

    • StephenRay November 8, 2013 at 8:04 am #

      VoiceOf Logic,

      Please make sure you double check yourself before making some of these comments. Towards the beginning of this last post you mentioned “…the only mention of religion in either those posters in my school or the mission statement is praying for kids.”

      While I can’t say what appears on the posters at your school, I can say what the mission statement comprises of. Please read the following:

      Our Mission
      Introducing adolescents to Jesus Christ and helping them grow in their faith. We accomplish our mission by …
      • Praying for young people.
      • Going where kids are.
      • Building personal relationships with them.
      • Winning the right to be heard.
      • Providing experiences that are fun, adventurous and life-changing.
      • Sharing our lives and the Good News of Jesus Christ with adolescents.
      • Inviting them to personally respond to this Good News.
      • Loving them regardless of their response.
      • Nurturing kids so they might grow in their love for Christ and the knowledge of God’s Word and become people who can share their faith with others.
      • Helping young people develop the skills, assets and attitudes to reach their full God-given potential.
      • Encouraging kids to live connected to the Body of Christ by being an active member of a local congregation.
      • Working with a team of like-minded individuals — volunteer leaders, committee members, donors and staff

      You’ll see that the Mission statement is “Introducing adolescents to Jesus Christ and helping them grow in their faith.”

      They then expand on that and explain how they accomplish the mission. As such, you can see comments like “encouraging kids to live connected to the Body of Christ by being an active member of a local congregation” and “Nurturing kids so they might grow in their love for Christ and the knowledge of God’s Word and become people who can share their faith with others” appear in the Mission. You can view this on their site at http://www.younglife.org/AboutYoungLife/MissionandVision.htm

      Please be sure to check your facts before posting them. Sadly you omitted the mission statement and the things they mentioned of how they plan to accomplish the mission. I’m not sure if the mission was intentional or not but it can weaken a strong argument either way.

      • StephenRay November 8, 2013 at 8:08 am #

        *if the omission was intentional…

  75. StephenRay November 8, 2013 at 7:46 am #

    Bah, forgive me for all typos in my previous posts. Think y’all understand everything I said nonetheless. Usually I come on here and type things up quickly between my busy schedule. I now volunteer with Young Life, go to church, work two jobs, and am going to college. Needless to say I’m usually half asleep on here and guess I don’t do as well in my typing as I’d hope under the circumstances. If anything ever seems not to make sense, please be sure to ask and I’ll try to rephrase or correct it if I notice a mistake.

    • VoiceOf Logic November 10, 2013 at 6:06 pm #

      Stephen Ray,

      Thanks for the correction. I was quoting BillSan upstream on the thread. Because he was arguing that Young Life was indeed open rather than deceptive, mentioned his credentials as a former member of Young Life, and said that he was quoting the mission which is broadcast publicly all over the web I assumed that he both knew the mission and had no incentive to truncate out of it the parts which actually make Young Life’s goals clear, seeing as he was arguing that they were clearly expressed. I should have checked that and apologize. I would ask that you disregard any of my comments on the mission statement. I would edit them out, but cannot. I had scanned the Young Life website and thus it seemed familiar and I trusted that his quote was complete.

      Because my interpretation of my local Young Life, is mostly based on actual observation of their policies at my school this does not change my characterization of them. I also still believe that there is an issue of Young Life members initially seeking to minimize its representation of the religious elements of its goals on a larger scale. However, that assertion was based largely upon the mission statement that I perceived to be Young Life’s in addition to the abundance of opinions and experiences on this thread. Though I had not mentioned it because it was not a allegation that I could substantiate it was my impression that minimizing prospective attendees impression of the religious goals of Young Life was in someway a top down orchestrated thing. Had it not been for your correction or me returning to the website that belief probably would have eventually come out and may have been being subconsciously built toward in the construction of my statements. I apologize for that as it is unfair.

      While the many comments by people who seemed to have felt deceived still indicates a pattern of that deception within Young Life to me, I have no way to measure the strength of that pattern and thus am inclined to believe that it could be weaker than I had previously inferred and that it derives simply from the fact that some local chapters find that a social appeal rather than an actual religious appeal is a more effective way to attract members. I am still opposed to that as a whole and believe the attempt to appeal in that way partially results from the larger model of Young Life which is heavily focused on the social, but concede that the goal is more clearly stated than I had previously inferred on an organization wide level and thus that I cannot continue to globalize my interpretation of my local young life’s means of recruiting members, posters emphasizing social inclusion and the competition where each person a member brings to the meetings is a point. I still wish attempts at conversion were more purely religious and incorporated less of a social aspect, but am satisfied that the whole of the organization seems less reliant on the deception that it is purely social than I had initially feared.

      The only other confusing typo that I believe that you have made was your earlier offer to me of not an argument a health debate via e-mail. I now assume that you meant healthy debate. i was bewildered by that phrasing, but now realize your meaning and will send you an e-mail when I have time. I would also like to state that my interpretation of an argument is simply a logical attempt at persuasion rather than the more conventional interpretation as a petty fight. That is a result of my high school English classes and I apologize for any confusion. Thus when I initially read that you wanted a health debate rather than an argument, I was more bewildered than I should have been and took so long to understand.
      Thanks,
      VoiceOf Logic

      I cannot seem to respond to any of Plain Truth’s comments so I am doing so below in the hope that He will read it.

      Plain Truth,

      I would agree that mentioning legalities at all weakens my points because my central objection are not based on the law. However, I do believe that my local branch of Young Life is granted special access to our middle school due to its religious associations, access that no other organization has. If you wish to contest that you can, but I would recommend that you take my word for it. The school is not kept open after school for any reason other than Wyld Life and fund raisers. This is because it costs money to heat and light the school until 8 when they normally shut the heat off at about 1 and let it gradually get colder for the rest of the day. We have severe budget problems in Michigan schools and our school does not want an emergency manager appointed by the governor so they are rather tight with money.

      Most of my opinions/statements/claims of my local Young Life are drawn from my experience as I assume most other people’s are. I only was globalizing them based on others comments.

      With regards to your criticism that my many examples were insipid and tiresome I was slightly surprised because I felt my comments weakness was that my opinion not based on many examples. The criticism that they lacked substance makes far more sense.

      Whether you wish to acknowledge it or not, Christianity itself is a religious affiliation.

      Clearly, I could have done more research, but the assertion that people on this blog’s experiences “don’t count” remains offensive to those people.

      Obviously this is the comment section for a blog. Absolute statements are allowed. However, phrasing opinions as absolute statements and not providing any basis for those opinions is not productive toward resolving anything.

      VoiceOf Logic

      • Travis November 10, 2013 at 10:31 pm #

        I agree with you VoiceOf Logic. I don’t understand how people can just discount the experience of others and say they “don’t count”. The way plaintruth has responded to you has been borderline rude, and doesn’t fall in line with how “Christians” are supposed to act.

      • plaintruth November 10, 2013 at 11:12 pm #

        I didn’t say that personal experiences don’t count. I have said that many of the comments on this blog read less as first hand experiences and more as general perceptions solely based on how respondents chose to voice their opinions. In the instance where I said this blog doesn’t count, it was clearly not referring to personal experiences. I said that this blog doesn’t count as a source for research. Perhaps I should have said that it doesn’t count as a source of reliable data. It surely does cite perceptions and provide a forum for discussion. I just don’t think that taking a strong stance like VOL has against Young Life and claiming that it is a deceptive organization (absolute statements with little data to back it up) and similar types of statements by others on this blog, make it a reliable source for information. So many claims on this blog have been false and repeatedly shown to be false. So I say, if you want to know about YL or any other organization that seems sketchy, go to the source. You might not like YL’s practices, but I don’t think you will find much deception. I say that from my own personal experience.

        This blog certainly raises questions and perhaps awareness. Unfortunately, in my opinion, the awareness that it raises is unfair – an inaccurate picture of what the organization is all about. Perception matters though. So it is something to consider. In my opinion, it just isn’t something to put too much stock in.

      • StephenRay November 11, 2013 at 4:46 am #

        VoiceOf Logic,

        It’s the assumptions made by some people on here that has been a little upsetting. Part of me thinks that is what plaintruth has been trying to argue, though he’s been more aggressive in comments. Word of mouth is hard to go by for many reasons. Some people on here shared legitimate experiences, some completely lied, others posted rumors, etc. The difficulty is determining who and why.

        None of us should talk negatively of another’s experiences, but we can ask for more info as I did with randallslack and christianagnostic. To this point I have been left with the impression that they did not tell the truth in some instances and did not have the best intentions since they have not responded. One such example is In Randall’s case. I believe he put blame on YL when there were plenty of others who also were responsible for his daughter’s issues.

        Questions and comments I raised were things from this blog’s use of the word cult versus the scholarly definition, the accuracy of the term “love bombing,” and who should be accountable for kids. If nothing else, love bombing refers to a feigning of interest, meaning to pretend you like people just to get them to join. Accusing YL and the people who volunteer for it of love bombing is to say you know what’s in their hearts and minds, which is difficult. The only thing I can do is speak of myself and what I’ve observed since going.

        I participate with Young Life because I have a sincere concern for others and am constantly out trying to make a difference. This translates to me going to food banks, soup kitchens, events for the Humane Society, and more. Ideally I’m hoping to open a place that can provide education, food, and counseling to all who need it sometime in the future. Until then I’m left with volunteering at a bunch of different places to make what difference I can and to learn how the places operate.

        Running out of time before running off of work, so will leave the above as is. In the meanwhile, I’m going to say two quick things and would like to challenge you on something as well.

        (1) Check out http://www.speaking.pitt.edu/instructor/argue-debate.html as to how they say to “debate.” One of the most important things I see needed on this page is Reflect and Reform opinions, especially in regards to plaintruth. He has potential to have good arguments but likes to attack people and never seems to consider opposing viewpoints.

        (2) Have you contacted your local Young Life office or called a main number? I’m curious if you’ve ever inquired more of them directly and what they may have said.

        Challenge: Is there a way for you to prove what you said in regards to other organizations not being able to meet at your school afterwards? I have trouble believing it and would like to inquire on the matter. If true, then something is out of place and people need to be talked with. If you can’t prove it directly but don’t mind sharing the school you’re referring to, then feel free to do that as well.

  76. VoiceOf Logic November 12, 2013 at 2:29 am #

    Oddly, I can no longer respond to anyone. Anyways, the school that I attend is Mattawan High School in Michigan. The school where Wyldlife is held is the middle school. I cannot guarantee that no events are held in the middle school that late after school, but know of only two both of which are fundraisers for the school. One is the activity nights held for middle school and occurs at about the same time as Wyld Life, but on different days. Students pay money to go in which pays for the event and generates revenue used for the school. The other, an annual craft fair, has vendors rent out a space and then they sell their wares. I do not believe that Wyld Life pays in any way for the space. Middle school sports and the other school sponsored events occur immediately after school. Frankly, the legal angle was merely a side note. I have no knowledge of whether any other organizations have actually requested that they can use the school at that late of the time. It could be that Wyld Life was not an exception to the rule, but merely the first and only group so far to ask. After all, if anyone was craving a cafeteria to use they likely would have asked to use the high school cafeteria one building down which we do use for sports banquets.

    My objection that the model of Young Life is deceptive is not saying that the religious purposes of Young Life are deeply hidden in a sinister plot. It is that they have not been projected toward the students that the group tries to attract by those attempting to recruit them and that in place of making clear that religious purpose there is an appeal on social grounds. They say come to have fun, come to be included, but never come to be exposed to a Christian community. I fail to see why the first appeals are made, but not the ladder.

    At least to me the general model of inviting people in on the basis of providing a social place to fit in and not mentioning religion in posters, but only after students often those who crave interaction have blended with the social scene is deceptive. I can send you pictures of the posters via e-mail if you want. Because no one has disputed the model’s blending of social interaction with religion or that it uses that bait of social interaction to draw at least some prospective religious converts who otherwise are not interested in religion, I do not feel a need to seek out and provide large amounts of data to prove my premise that Young Life is a deceptive organization. If you find drawing teens in for religious conversion through appeals to their feeling of social isolation justifiable that is your opinion, but to me that is deceptive.

    Clearly, Young Life, is likely occupied by many great people attempting to help teens and indeed help them in exactly the ways its supporters and members of its organization have outlined. To me the fact that that hand is the same hand attempting to convert people is wrong. To me there are two separate operational purposes that Young Life could embrace which I would endorse and support via volunteering, attending meeting, or recommending, one path would appeal to people purely on the basis of religion and then provide any additional benefits such as a socially accepting environment. I guess I would view this as outreach to teens by single body on overarching principles rather than being done in the traditional means by separate denominations of the church. The other would provide only the socially accepting environment and other non-religious benefits that Young Life espouses without any mention of religion or God.

    “Challenge: Is there a way for you to prove what you said in regards to other organizations not being able to meet at your school afterwards? I have trouble believing it and would like to inquire on the matter. If true, then something is out of place and people need to be talked with. If you can’t prove it directly but don’t mind sharing the school you’re referring to, then feel free to do that as well.

    No, I cannot prove that nor do I intend to try. What I can prove and do not feel the need to prove because it is an essentially indisputable fact given that I have been in the middle and high schools for 6 years. What I have no idea of and do not intend to discern is whether Wyld Life is allowed to operate in middle schools due to religion or not. It could be that no student related organization has ever asked to be in the middle school at that time, that any such organization was turned down for legitimate reasons, or that I am wrong and Wyld Life did pay some small sum to the middle school to cover any operating costs. Either way, I do not view it as a major infringement and have no intention of inquiring because to me it is simply a liability concern for the school or maybe Wyld Life if some parent with the means ever became upset at either organization, but not a major infringement on the principles of our constitution which I am responsible to act on as a citizen.

    I have not contacted young life, only talked to student members. To me the practices of Young Life in recruiting are mostly a matter of concern for members of Young Life or the churches most closely associated with it by the public. As a Catholic I do not believe the public closely associates the Catholic church with Young Life and thus am not that concerned about how it negatively impacts public perception of my church. There is of course a loose responsibility that I feel for students as citizens of this country who need protection from the kind of tactics of Young Life I currently oppose. That protective instinct may grow on me as I become older and am no longer a member of the targeted demographic (It does after all feel stronger with regards to middle school students), but currently it is relatively weak, just strong enough to drive me to share my opinions on the issue with those who I know are interested.

    I read the attached article and was interested by the different categories of ideas it mentions as subject to debate and argument. While I am certain that I have not been perfect in this regard it is generally more productive in argument to at least feign civility. It is often more persuasive to take a the tone of a discussion.

    I will check back at this page for future statements, but unless something is said which I believe merits a response different than those I have already made I likely will not further post. I believe my perspective and the rational behind it is now clear enough to follow for an open mind.

    In the event that someone contends that Young Life does not attract students partially through non-religious means and then exposes them to religion or has any questions about my any portion of my opinion which is unclear, feel free to e-mail me at voiceoflogic.conclusions@gmail.com. StephenRay that is the e-mail I intend to e-mail you from at some point about topics such as ethics, arguments, and debates only peripherally related to Young Life.

    Thanks for the conversation and debate,
    VoiceOf Logic

    • VoiceOf Logic November 12, 2013 at 2:33 am #

      What I can prove and do not feel the need to prove because it is an essentially indisputable fact given that I have been in the middle and high schools for 6 years (is that no groups do operate in the school that late.)

      Sorry, I accidentally omitted that part creating a nonsensical fragment.

    • StephenRay November 12, 2013 at 3:51 am #

      VoiceOf Logic,

      Nobody will be able to prove that Young Life does not attract students partially through “non-religious” means. Don’t get me wrong, they don’t hide what they’re there for but they also do not come fully announcing commends like “come be converted” or “best Christian organization around.” As I stated in a previous comment, the first priority is to provide a safe place for kids to socialize and have fun in a safe environment. The second, though not lower in priority, is to introduce and strengthen the idea and faith of God.

      You find it deceptive and I suppose there’s little that can be done to sway your opinion without talking in-depth with you and finding organizations of which you approve. Then I’d have to try to see if there are any similarities and argue whether both are deceptive or if you’d change your opinion.

      At least it sounds like you are more open minded than you were at the beginning and you know how to do more research if the needed ever arises. You definitely have a lot of opinions and can be a great person for debates once you adapt to doing so in an academic style, such as finding sources to support what you say.

      For example:

      “However, I do believe that my local branch of Young Life is granted special access to our middle school due to its religious associations, access that no other organization has”

      When I asked, you said you can’t guarantee no events are held or others have tried. Without that type of information to support your argument that no other organization has access or Young Life is granted special access due to religious associations, it becomes invaluable in debate.

      If you could have supported that comment by pointing out organizations that were declined access, then your argument would have been valuable and a person wouldn’t be able to dispute it.

      I hope to hear more of you in the future, especially if you continue to grow as you have shown since some of your original posts.

      • StephenRay November 12, 2013 at 3:56 am #

        *don’t come fully announcing comments like, “come be converted…”

        Also, I wouldn’t mind seeing those posters if you want to send the email. I’m curious to see what they look like and say since I haven’t seen any down here.

  77. plaintruth November 12, 2013 at 8:13 am #

    Young Life does a lot of things really well, including amazing camps and events. But at its heart, Young Life is entirely about relationships. Our staff and volunteer leaders live out Paul’s words when he said “So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our very lives, because you have become so dear to us.”

    It’s so true. Kids in our community are very dear to us. So dear that we give them our time, our energy and our undivided attention so they know without a doubt that they are loved and that their story matters to us and it matters to God. We listen intently and offer kids a chance to truly open up. And we encourage them to put their faith and trust in the one who will never leave them or fail them, Jesus Christ.

    How he/she responds is a choice which does not alter our commitment to spend time with the kids who show up and to build relationships among those who keep coming.

    For every kid that meets a YL leader at a school sporting event, there are likely 10 who meet him/her at a YL club night or activity. Middle schoolers don’t go unwittingly. They require parents/adults for transportation. Parents often call and ask questions ahead of time, or sometimes they stay to see for themselves. In Young Life, half of those kids don’t drive either. Their parents’ or their friends’ parents drive them. If a leader picks them up, the parent meets the leader who gladly answers questions. Parents are rarely clueless as to what YL is or isn’t. If you don’t mind having your child exposed to individuals with a heart for kids who will boldly name God as their reason for Hope and motivation to serve, then check it out for yourself. That is the best way to learn about any youth organization in your neighborhood.

    With Young Life, I think you will find it to be welcoming, fun, social, wacky, playful AND you will hear about Christ and pray. VOL, the time spent is social and “religious” – as are the staff and volunteers. As a Christian, or as a non-believer, it may or may not be your thing. As much as I’d like for it to appeal to everyone, it just doesn’t.

    • VoiceOf Logic November 13, 2013 at 3:46 pm #

      I guess I am confused about whether this comment is addressed to me or not, but I will respond because the quote you choose perfectly exemplifies my premise.

      “So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our very lives, because you have become so dear to us.”

      The message of this is clearly that one is to start by sharing the word of God with others and then if in that process a deeper love is developed one can share their lives with others. Thus, one is to incorporate the social element not first, but second, not to draw people in, but because the power of His word already drew people in and there is no alternative to have, but an accepting social structure in a Christian community.

      If one wishes to express one’s love for all the children of God, those Christian and non-Christian then there is no need to tie that love to religion, no reason to ever make any child question whether that love was for them or for a prospective member of a faith, no reason to ever risk the perception that you are placing a condition upon His unconditional love. There is no reason to give the impression that religion is a quid pro quo where He gives love and one gives faith, because it is not; he gives love and as a result one gains faith.

      I believe I made it clear that I am a Christian so if the non-believer or Christian thing is directed as a sleight to my faith because I believe in bringing people to my religion on the basis of God’s words rather than deception and social manipulation, then it is clear that you intend not to have any sort of rational debate, but only to insult.

      It does not appeal to everyone because it uses a method of recruiting youths which is insidious rather than clear, deceptive rather than honest.

      • Eric H November 13, 2013 at 3:59 pm #

        I would say it’s quite clear that you have no idea of the context or intent of Paul’s writing. To clarify, Paul did not at all endorse sharing the Gospel first, and then life second. He was simply pointing out that htey demonstrated love by doing both in concert.

      • plaintruth November 14, 2013 at 10:33 pm #

        VOL – My last comment was for anyone who is reading (as is this one). There was no intent to insult or slight you or anyone else. I know you are Christian. I wanted to point out to you specifically, that this ministry is both social and “religious” – that’s all. Additionally, I think that being both is okay.

        I see your point of view. For you, there is a clear process by which someone ought to go about sharing the Gospel. Correct? It seems you might go as far as to say that that particular process is the only acceptable way to go about it. If I’m wrong, I apologize. Either way, I want you to know that I am paying attention and you have been heard.

        We might approach our religious beliefs differently. For me, it is a matter of heart and mind. It isn’t enough that I have intellectual knowledge of God – studying the universe and concluding His existence, believing the documented account of an historical Jesus, trusting the text in the Bible and holding it as His Holy Words. Even though it makes intellectual sense for me to respond to those things, it often isn’t enough. I wish that it were, but I admit that it is not. I have doubts.

        I know many intellectually superior people (superior to me) who respond to God and that helps me. But their are many superior to me intellectually who do not. It is the personal experiences of others and their willingness to share their lives with me that brought me to my knees and declare Christ as my Lord. Relationships with followers of Christ and my own encounters of the heart, which I attribute to Him, took hold and anchored my faith in God. It is not the same for any one person – I know that.

        I described my religious response because I think it speaks to a difference in perspectives. There are infinite ways to come to a place of assurance in one’s faith in God. A heart response was transformational for me. My brother has an appetite for intellectual knowledge and Biblical stories that resonate with what he has learned and experienced. Describing my heart to him is often a bust. But that is where I find meaning and so it is most often how I choose to relate to people. Consequently, relational ministry makes perfect sense to me. I want to share the reason for the Hope that I have and I need the support of my friends to get through the dark times.

        I share my faith in relationships. I’m not a crusader. I don’t consider myself an evangelist (at least not a good one – lets face it I get irritated, feisty, and lose patience) but I know God has called me to be in relationship and share with others. Conversion is not my goal yet, I absolutely want my friends and neighbors to know how God has sustained me. As a believer, I want everyone to come to know His story. How a person responds to that story is between him/her and God. And I am compelled to repeat that this has been my personal experience with Young Life, as well as what I’ve observed in countless yl events, clubs, camps, and relationships over the years.

        The notion of combining religious data while sharing personal experience seemed lost on you, VOL. It didn’t resonate and you questioned it. That doesn’t make it wrong or nefarious or manipulation. It’s just different. Because of my long exposure to Young Life, I am not compelled to debate whether this unknown yl staff person is genuine and acting in love, nor whether large groups of some ones are acting in love when they share their lives and faith experiences with others. I don’t aspire to change your, or other reader’s, way of thinking in that regard either. I realize that would be futile and is unnecessary.

        Instead, I am simply crying fowl. False statements about Young Life have been made and presented here as fact. I’m not isolating you, VOL, or saying that any one person lied about his/her experiences. I am simply crying fowl to the comments, assumptions, and gross generalizations posted here that are not factual, accurate, verifiable, nor true. These things aren’t debatable. They are refutable. On occasion, I have called those things into question or tried to debunk a falsehood. For any of you readers who have experienced deception, fraud, mind control, or discrimination, first-hand from a YL staff member or trained volunteer, this clearly does not apply to you. I only take issue with the statements of those who did not experience these things first-hand yet chose to espouse them as common yl practices, or worse, suggest that these are widespread problems in YL. There are numerous accusations on this blogpost that fit that bill…

        On the other hand, I see no reason to refute some of the issues presented here, including:
        - disagreeing with the ministry model, which is fair (voiceoflogic)
        - questioning one’s own motivation while putting said ministry model into practice, which is essential (Christianagnostic)
        - exposing the dangers and realities of our broken society, which is important (Randall)
        - blowing the whistle on abusers and those who don’t spring into action to help a victim, which is critical for our youth and society

        Please accept my apology for putting you on the defensive and giving the impression that I want to debate these things. I do not. Nor do I desire to insult you, VOL. (I was already very antagonistic with CA – I lost my patience). At any rate, you’ve expressed that you find yl’s relational ministry model offensive or deceptive (maybe both). Why not just say you didn’t like it and it was uncomfortable? Your reported exposure to YL just doesn’t lend to such a definite and critical conclusion about the motives behind a person or entire group of people. I take offense. What is more, I find calling individual’s integrity into question and then having the audacity to label those who offer opposing views, like me, judgmental an equally offensive tactic. That’s all.

  78. jennifet November 14, 2013 at 8:35 pm #

    Wow..last time I checked, Younglife accepted people and met them on the kids level as to be relatable. They didn’t try to change people to mirror the leaders like a CULT does. Who is anyone to judge when the heart of this is pure? Nobody wants to groom others to become any pre designed idea of a Christ follower. They just want to teach kids, many of who are emotionally neglected at home, that Jesus loves them and other people care what happens in their lives. YL was a GOD SEND for my 9th grade daughter who moves mid semester of her freshman year. I’d venture to say she probably would have tried to or succeeded in killing herself if other people did not come along and invest in her. I am a great mom and would not allow people who were insincere into my daughter’s already fragile life. If you don’t like YL, don’t be involved but don’t be critical of something bc your OPINION is different.

    • Travis November 14, 2013 at 10:11 pm #

      The opinions may be different, doesn’t mean they are wrong. If others have had negative experiences with YL and there’s suspicion or evidence of cult like tactics, you can’t really tell them NOT to be critical.

      • plaintruth November 14, 2013 at 10:37 pm #

        suspicion is one thing. clearly there are suspicious people commenting of this blog. evidence? please travis, present your evidence.

    • VoiceOf Logic November 14, 2013 at 10:18 pm #

      What other reason is there to be critical of something or is critique universally wrong? Aren’t you being critical of his stance in this article because your opinion is different? I know that I am being critical of your stance on when it is the correct time to be critical because my opinion on when to be critical is different from the one you expressed.

      If you know that your daughter is/was considering suicide I would strongly recommend therapy rather than Young Life or any other religious experience. While finding religion or an accepting social dynamic may be therapeutic they are no substitute for professional help.

      If you believe the source of your daughters angst is emotional neglect at home I would spend time with her rather than sending her off to Young Life. However, as long as you and your daughter recognize that part of the goal of Young Life is religious conversion perhaps it could be a useful means of informing her of the fact that suicide is a sin.

      VoiceOf Logic

      • plaintruth November 14, 2013 at 10:49 pm #

        Ummmm…VOL. Jennifet did offer a different opinion, but was not being critical of his article. She challenged his assumptions. And WOW you went for the jugular. It seems things are getting a bit off kilter.

      • StephenRay November 15, 2013 at 7:56 am #

        VoiceOf Logic,

        I think you went ahead and made a false assumption here. Jennifet mentioned the idea that her daughter might have tried to harm herself and Young Life helped. I don’t see where the post mentioned Young Life being the only solution or the cure, only that it was a big help.

        Let’s just say her daughter was struggling with self esteem and didn’t have many friends, which are issues many kids struggle with nowadays, I imagine any organization similar to Young Life could be a great help. We all need encouragement when we’re feeling down and can use a place to meet people with similar beliefs as well.

        I think it was this part that ChristianAgnostic was claiming to be Love Bombing, though inaccurately so. The idea is to try to help people realize they aren’t the names they’re called. Many have been labeled as losers, geeks, ugly, fat, and more and go through so much bullying that it is hard to find any value in one’s own life. Some are able to deal with it easily and others struggle. Heck, look at recent news of people being arrested for bullying others and the ongoing investigation in the NFL on Incognito.

        In any case, she was just saying that the social impact helped her daughter to build her self esteem, make friends, and learn to be happy. I’m sure there were other things at work, such as Jennifet talking to her daughter and doing all she could. Sometimes we just can’t do everything on our own.

        On a separate note…

        I’d like to let you know that the whole “suicide is a sin” comment is not accurate. That concept came from the churches, not the Bible or God. Churches have come to this conclusion based on the poorly translated “thou shall not kill” commandment. If you were to research, you’d learn that the actual translation would be something along the lines of “thou shalt not murder” or “thou shalt not kill out of malice.” Essentially it means to take the life of another out of anger or for a dumb reason, such as to take their property.

        We see suicide quite a few times in the Bible and not once did it say they sinned or were going to Hell for it. You’ll see in Judges 9:54, Judges 16:28-31, 1 Samuel 31:1-4, 1 Samuel 31:5, 2 Samuel 17:23, 1 Kings 16:18, and Matthew 27:5 are a few places where we see people commit suicide.

        By no means am I encouraging suicide but wanted to point out there’s nothing in the Bible that prohibits it. That is just one of the many things people assume based on random parts of the Bible as well as some of the poorly translated verses. Let’s not get into that though…as this could be a very long debate and I’m sure would be a heated topic for many.

    • StephenRay November 15, 2013 at 8:10 am #

      jennifet,

      VoiceOf Logic has been speaking based off of experiences and is voicing personal opinion. To this point he/she has not said that YL tries changing kids to be mirror images of the leaders. Instead they have voiced the concern that attempts to pass the Word of God to these kids is wrong, especially if the kids aren’t not aware that it is a Christian organization before participating. Many of us feel kids and their parents know what Young Life stands for before participating, but VOL has laid claim that posters at his/her school are missing that information and they are thereby deceptive.

      If true, one could see his/her point of view. Before I could formulate an opinion I’d have to find out if the schools prohibit advertisement of religion on the posters, what the posters say, and what kids must first do before attending meetings/camp in his/her area. Is it not possible that some places could be doing things better or worse than others? Maybe we have had good experiences but Young Life in his/her area could improve on how they operate? Just as I encourage VOL to be careful on coming to quick judgment, I also would ask that you try to consider their perspective and realize it is only their opinion based on experience.

      In any case, I’m glad to hear Young Life had a positive impact on your daughter’s life. I hope that you also are active within Young Life, as positive influences and active parents help contribute to the success of both YL and the kids involved.

      • StephenRay November 15, 2013 at 8:26 am #

        *if the kids are not aware

        I wish we could edit our posts sometimes. Guess I need to stop posting before proofreading. Sadly I get in a huge rush to type this responses before running off to my next job/class/appointment and don’t take the time to make sure things read correctly.

        Anyways, y’all are making good points at times. The only thing I wish I could see on here is for people not to feel the need to insult others. Attack the argument, not the person.

        Btw, were the two of you using the term “critical” the same way? Something tells me one was referring to it more in the way of “critical thinking” while the other meant “critical” the sense of being antagonistic and intolerant of others.

        Suggested reading for all in terms of critical thinking, which might help in these conversations can be found at http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/becoming-a-critic-of-your-thinking/478

        Along with that, the other definition of being critical would be http://zenhabits.net/how-to-give-kind-criticism-and-avoid-being-critical/

      • StephenRay November 15, 2013 at 8:41 am #

        ChristianAgnostic,

        Thanks for letting us post so much on here in this debate and search for a conclusion. If you’re still reading this, I’d love to hear what you have to say based on what has been said over the past couple weeks.
        _____________________________________________________

        Unfortunately it seems the post where I said I need to start proofreading before posting had even more typos, which is kind of sad. I also wanted to add another link before posting, something that goes along with the post on being critical. That link can be found at http://zenhabits.net/how-to-accept-criticism-with-grace-and-appreciation/

        Though these links have nothing to do with Young Life or whether it’s a cult, I do think the information might be quite helpful for those of us who are debating and discussing the topic.

  79. VoiceOf Logic November 16, 2013 at 5:00 am #

    Plain Truth: Sorry if I drew you into a debate that you did not wish to have. I would say that it is not necessarily that I believe one method of sharing one’s faith is right. I would say that all methods which are open about the primary purpose of conversion are ethical means and that methods which draw people in on a non-religious means are if not deceptive, at least appealing on a less pure level.

    I don’t think that I ever called any individual’s integrity into question. I suggested that you were being insulting when you questioned my faith and the veracity of others comments instead of making legitimate points and that you were making snap judgements when you did not substantiate your absolute statements. if you found that to be labeling you as judgmental, know that I was not labeling you as judgmental for your views on the topic, but for your views on the character of people commenting on this blog. With regards to my statement about snap judgements I was only trying to express that it is more effective to offer proof or rational for them than to simply make them unsubstantiated. Given that no one is denying that part of the motive of Young Life is strengthen religion in teens or convert them, I don’t think that I falsely categorized the motives of Young Life or people involved.

    I questioned the model as offensive and deceptive because that is the problem that I still have with it. I did dislike it and find it uncomfortable, but that could be remedied simply by not taking part. The thing that continues to bother/offend my sensibilities is that Young Life reflects negatively to non-Christians and Christians alike on charity work done by Christian organizations. If that charity work is seen as a sinister attempt at conversion because there is an implied quid pro quo (I will do this for you and then you will listen to my message), then the global opinion of Christianity is diminished which does affect me as a Christian. I would rather that our charity was perceived as unconditional love and our attempts at conversion consisted of drawing people in with our beliefs and His word rather than an inviting social structure or any of the other works of charity that we do.

    Finally, challenging assumptions is being critical nearly by definition. I do not believe either critique or debate are bad things; in fact, I believe they are generally beneficial or neutral.

    Thanks for the debate whether you intended it to be one or not.

    VoiceOf Logic

    Stephen Ray

    Jennifet said without Young Life her daughter would have tried to or succeeded in committing suicide. To me that does not imply that it was simply part of the solution, but that she view it as the main solution and because Young Life does not seem to solve the root problems Jennifet described, I simply meant to address that she should probably look at other solutions more directly related to the problem if Young Life has been the main solution. Young Life or any other community may help, but it seems to paper over the problem she mentioned, emotional neglect at home.

    With regards to my statement on suicide being a sin, I am not entirely convinced by your interpretation, but either way it is a moot point. I view suicide as at the very least being a bad outcome. The churches, Jennifet’s daughter is likely to become involved in through Young Life largely interpret that suicide is a sin. Hence, by becoming more deeply involved in religion through Young Life, she might pick up that belief which I believe would be beneficial.

    I think that Christian Agnostics description of that embracing as Love Bombing rather than the way that you have described it is largely because it is used to draw people in. Regardless, of the fact that it is likely genuine, it is still accomplishes a similar purpose as that of love bombing. Generally, I would view love bombing as more sinister and deliberate, but believe that the perception that it is Love Bombing is one that can easily arise when the general Young Life model of drawing people in with acceptance and then introducing religion is used.

    I believe that in your response to Jennifet you interpreted that her response was to me as I initially did as well, but I believe she was responding to Christian Agnostic’s initial statements.

    I would also love to hear from Christian Agnostic and am grateful for this space to debate the subject as I view both debate and reasoned critique as beneficial endeavors.

    I would agree that everyone including myself can be more gracious in acceptance of criticism, but we must ensure that we do not lose the emotion which drives at least my interest in debate. After all, without emotion where would comment sections or humanity be?

    VoiceOf Logic

    Jennifet,
    One thing, I forgot to mention is that that you stated she would not allow insincere people into her life. I do not believe anyone suggested that Young Life was a group of insincere people. CA’s comparison that people used cult-like tactics and my statement that the model was deceptive and less pure than it could have been were not attacks on its their sincerity. From my knowledge on cults, extremely limited though it is, their members are likely incredibly sincere. Either way my argument and I believe CA’s argument were not based on the character or sincerity of the leaders of Young Life chapters; I believe he was one for a while. Our arguments were against the model that it uses.

    VoicOf Logic

    • plaintruth November 16, 2013 at 10:23 am #

      I think you need to go back and read over the bulk of your comments. Also, I believe that your recounting of CA’s position isn’t completely inline with the statements he has made here. And, if you have any desire to continue our far from productive exchange, then revisiting the discourse between you and me would be good too. I would completely understand if you are done with it – I don’t know that I have anything new to add to our conversation…

      “I don’t think that I ever called any individual’s integrity into question.”
      I just don’t know how to respond to that statement other than suggesting that you read your own comments.

      “you were being insulting when you questioned my faith”
      Never happened. I never questioned your faith. I made a general statement (to the masses) with phrasing like, ‘As a Christian, or as a non-believer…’ It was in no way a comment about your faith. It wasn’t even directed at you. Furthermore, I just reiterated that in my previous response to you. I said something like, “I know you are Christian.”

      “know that I was not labeling you as judgmental for your views on the topic, but for your views on the character of people commenting on this blog”
      Oh. Okay. Now it isn’t offensive. Really though, let me clarify. (The fact that I am even bothering with this next point has me laughing at myself and shaking my head in disbelief. But I will obviously do anything to avoid folding the enormous mound of clothes beside me. You can disregard this part, VOL – it’s really for the “i just made an awesome mixed tape!” crowd). Anyway, when you suggested that I was judgmental, I didn’t take offense. Instead, I find it insulting that you have called the actions of so many to be impure (why are you trying to deny it now?), questioned the motives of an entire organization OF PEOPLE, and said both that they and their actions are deceptive (you used deceitful too). Then you called me judgmental (for lesser things) as though that isn’t the accepted protocol here. Yes, I rate my comments as less offensive. Why? For one, I don’t recall making blanket statements regarding the character of people commenting here. Rather, I’ve posted “absolute statements” about the COMMENTS made. The statements were things like, “false accusations have been made,” “gross generalizations have been posted.” Here is a direct quote from me:
      “I’m not isolating you, VOL, or saying that any one person lied about his/her experiences. I am simply crying fowl to the comments, assumptions, and gross generalizations posted here that are not factual, accurate, verifiable, nor true.” Finally, I’ve already substantiated those claims as have many others. Those statements don’t speak directly to the character of bloggers here and its not really scathing stuff.

      The rest is just more than I want to deal with. Alas, you have inspired me to quote the absolute best philosopher of our time:

      To me, truth is not some vague, foggy notion. Truth is real. And, at the same time, unreal. Fiction and fact and everything in between, plus some things I can’t remember, all rolled into one big “thing.” This is truth, to me.
      -Jack Handy

      • VoiceOf Logic November 16, 2013 at 5:17 pm #

        Response to claims

        Claim: I have questioned your integrity

        The only places in the postings where either of us questioned anyone’s integrity or honesty were here “Do some research. This blog doesn’t count. It’s riddled with inaccuracies, false statements, and ill-formed conclusions.” That was when you insulted others integrity and honesty.

        and here where you strongly suggested that I was not Christian despite the fact that I had already brought up the fact that I was.
        “VOL, the time spent is social and “religious” – as are the staff and volunteers. As a Christian, or as a non-believer, it may or may not be your thing”
        When you slander someone and then take it back it is still slander and stooping to insults.

        “I don’t think that I ever called any individual’s integrity into question. I suggested that you were being insulting when you questioned my faith and the veracity of others comments instead of making legitimate points and that you were making snap judgements when you did not substantiate your absolute statements.”
        Refer to the first statement I quoted initially for evidence that you questioned the honesty of others.

        Claim: You did not take offense to me calling you judgmental for suggesting that I was not Christian and that people were lying on this blog.

        “What is more, I find calling individual’s integrity into question and then having the audacity to label those who offer opposing views, like me, judgmental an equally offensive tactic. That’s all.”

        “when you suggested that I was judgmental, I didn’t take offense”

        You complain about me labeling you as judgmental because you have a different point of view. I explain that I was not calling you judgmental for your views on the topic, but because of your comments on the general honesty of people on this blog you claim to have never taken offense. Either you did take offense or you didn’t. If you did as I would hope you would then don’t question the honesty of people you don’t even know. If you did not take offense at being judgmental then disregard my attempts to explain why I suggested that you were.

        Claim: You made comments about the honesty of poster’s collective statements, but did not actually judge them.

        Stating that people have lied is casting judgement upon them. I have no reason to believe from reading these posts that it is a substantiated judgement; but even if it is, it is still judgement.

        Claim: By questioning the organization, Young Life’s methods I was insulting everyone in its character.”

        “I find it insulting that you have called the actions of so many to be impure (why are you trying to deny it now?), questioned the motives of an entire organization OF PEOPLE, and said both that they and their actions are deceptive (you used deceitful too). Then you called me judgmental (for lesser things) as though that isn’t the accepted protocol here.”

        Since we are offering quotes now this opinion seems rather along the lines of the Romney’s, “Corporations are people, my friend.” only applied to organizations.

        The simple fact is that neither corporations, organizations, nor any other entity are the people in them. Questioning the organizational structure of Young Life and describing that structure of inviting people in for a basis other than faith only to attempt to spread God’s word to them anyway as deceptive, deceitful, and less pure than openly attempting to convert people, is not questioning the motives of the volunteers within the organization. The only thing I said about their motives was that they had a religious motive in addition to their other motivations. Actually, offering my critique of their organizational structure was done primarily out of trust in those people’s purity of motivation. I offered it hoping those from the organization who read the comments and were able to keep an open mind and might agree with me or at least see that their were others who perceive that structure in the way I do and be more inclined to make changes within their local organization which alter that structure.

      • plaintruth November 16, 2013 at 10:33 pm #

        When someone makes a false or inaccurate statement it could be a lie, or it could be that the person doesn’t have all of the facts. For example, Sennicarp stated that there are no background checks done on YL leaders…while it’s true that they probably weren’t done in the 80′s and she didn’t get one back then, it is false to claim that they are not administered now. I didn’t call her a liar, although I claimed that she presented her point out of context and it was irresponsible. Yes, that was a judgment call and if you chose to call me (or similar statements I’ve made here) judgmental for it, that’s fine.

        It’s insulting, or it’s offensive, or I take exception (whatever makes most sense to the reader), to perceive comments by you and CA that clearly state, or in some cases implicate, a group of people to be deceptive on the grounds that you think you know their motives and then reducing my comments and me as judgmental. That’s my point. Perhaps it isn’t clear or doesn’t make sense – I’m not really offended and was just trying to illustrate how ridiculous that is to me. It’s a double standard. Plus, in my estimation, both you and CA responded to me with the judgmental schtick because you didn’t have anywhere else to go with your arguments. In effect, I took it as you both saying, “and and and…and I think you’re mean!” But maybe I’m just a condescending, judgmental, butt without a healthy amount of self awareness. I like to think that isn’t the case.

        I didn’t question your faith. I wouldn’t keep responding to this but it’s important to me that you and other readers know that. I don’t care much whether you think I’m judgmental because it’s difficult to have opposing views on topics held close to the heart without taking things personally. But, I have no desire to question your faith and I have no reason to believe that you aren’t a Christian. Not sure why you won’t drop that. “As a Christian, or a non-believer…” could have been written, “Christians and non-believers alike…” or I could have simply left out that phrase. But when saying “it may or may not be your thing,” I wanted to make it clear that I believe that for anyone who was reading my comment. Sounds like I failed to make that clear. I’m sorry. That statement was not a comment on your faith. I guess that’s one problem with trying to communicate through writing – inferences are not always clear. Let me state one last time…I believe you and I take you for your word that you are a Christian, Voiceoflogic.

        Onto your other topics. Now you are using the term organizational structure and losing me. For the purpose of my discussion with you, I’m changing my “cry” from fowl to uncle. This is to you VOL – UNCLE UNCLE UNCLE! (at least until the laundry gets backed up again).

        I have great hope that your passion for this topic continues to bring meaning to you and to others. Also, thank you for blessing the community with charitable service.

      • VoiceOf Logic November 18, 2013 at 5:50 pm #

        I believe you on the faith thing though if you read that line in context it certainly seems to refer to me. Maybe this is why many languages have a plural form of you and part of the reason why its use is frowned upon by the academia.

        I guess the reason that the religion thing bothered me is that I have come across a surprising amount of Evangelical Christians who believe that Catholicism is not Christian. This makes very little sense to me since almost all of those groups split from the Catholic church on issues that had nothing to do with the existence of Jesus Christ and thus are not any more or less Christian. I feel like those groups ought to have at least a hazy feeling for how their religion was created and thus ought to know that their split from the Catholic church did not make them more or less Christian. You could say that bizarre yet oddly prevalent belief which I recently encountered again irks me enough that I overreacted. I first encountered it in elementary school when nearly half of my class insisted that because John Kerry was not Christian since he was Catholic and hence they would not vote for him in our mock election. Apart from my objections to ever voting based on religion the belief that Catholics were not Christians irked me. Anyways, as I have grown older I have realized that the strange confusion is not just in elementary school students, but in high school students, and adults which I don’t understand. sorry if I projected some of that onto you.

        I was calling you judgmental because you described the collective postings as riddled with lies, inaccuracies ect. instead of making logical points, not because there were any points that I was unwilling to respond to. If there had been I would just not have responded to them though my love of debate/arguing probably would not have permitted such a choice.

        When I am saying organizational structure I guess I could be using a better or more accurate term. I am simply trying to concisely refer back to the tendency of Young Life to recruit kids with non-religious appeals and then to later introduce religion. If you have a better way to concisely refer back without rehashing that entire line of thought please tell me.

        With regards to the condescending bit. You probably are a bit condescending, but I can be too.

        I would not expect to glean all that much meaning from this issue since I was really simply drawn in by what seems to now be a degraded debate. I have always believed in debating things to a consensus and while we might have failed at that I believe that I have gained a more thorough understanding of your position and hope that you at least understand that the position I seem to at least loosely share with Christian Agnostic is a legitimate one.

        For anyone who chooses to continue this debate enjoy. I have attempted to outline our central positions below.

        As I understand the basics of your position and the general position opposite mine it is that Young Life does not operate in a deceptive, cult-like, or otherwise misleading way because it provides the social benefits it promises. The fact that it may place some pressure upon kids to conform to the expressed religious preferences of the adults is not a bad thing, but necessary because Christians have an obligation to spread their faith. Additionally, the use of the term pressure in the previous sentence was misleading. There is absolutely no pressure on children of any age to conform, they can come to Young Life and collect the benefits without converting.

        My argument and the general gist of CA’s is is that while Christians have an obligation to spread our faith we do not need to do so all the time. We should do so only when we have an audience that is free to leave without losing benefits such as an accepting social structure or other acts of charity which we provide. Manipulating children’s desire for a social group in this way is especially reprehensible and should be avoided.

        VoiceOf Logic

      • plaintruth November 18, 2013 at 10:24 pm #

        I hear you, bud. I appreciate the time you took to revisit this and summarize our positions. Nice work. For the most part it seems you’ve heard me. And you are, at best, leary of Young Life for its use of a relational ministry model. [shoulder shrug]. Maybe you will have an encounter which alters your current perspective. Peace.

      • StephenRay November 17, 2013 at 9:13 am #

        Plaintruth,

        I’m ignoring most of everything at this point as the topics aren’t worth getting into at the moment. One thing that’s irking me however is your confusion of a word you’ve used a few times now. I’m sure you’ve heard of homophones, words that sound the same as another but are spelled differently.

        You have used the word “fowl” over and over. Fowl is a bird and is not the proper spelling for what you meant. Instead the word you should be using is foul, meaning unfair, obscene, or offensive.

        Other than that, looks like y’all aren’t too productive on conversation at this point. I’d suggest you take a break.

      • plaintruth November 17, 2013 at 11:19 am #

        HA! I hate it when I do stuff like that. It would be rude of me to call CA and his flock a bunch of turkeys, wouldn’t it? Oh, but I do enjoy a well placed pun. If only I had thought of that…

        Ever hear the term, a day late and a dollar short, StephenRay?

  80. Nancy Veldman November 21, 2013 at 12:05 am #

    After reading this blog and most of the comments, I would like to leave an unrequested note. I am 64 years old and want you to know that I can say without a doubt that Young Life impacted my life more than any other single event that happened to me as a youth. As a young adult. I was raised in the Episcopal Church and would have remained blined had I not met a few Christian youth who were involved in Young Life. I went to a meeting at a home in Memphis, Tennessee and it was full of at least 75 young people who all had their Bibles and were listening to the speaker with as much intent as they would have a favorite rock star. I sat on the floor lost in the sea of young people, listening to a man’s testimony… with my heart flooding with the love i felt in the room. They were all strangers but we were there for a united purpose. To know God.

    I did accept Jesus that night. I was not pushed or shoved into doing it. I made the decision myself… and I am so glad I did. Later I was involved in Campus Crusade for Christ which helped me as I developed as a young woman. Most churches have an outreach program.. to get more people into the church. But the motivation behind that is a life or death decision of salvation. So I do not see Young Life as a cult at all. I see it as a group of caring Christians who are wanting to give the youth of today an opportunity to know Jesus… and make that decision at some point to follow Him. It was not shoved down my throat. No one was forcing me to go or to make the decision. But we don’t get many opportunities in life to be surrounded by Christians at a camp or meeting, with a relaxed atmosphere , so that we can read and understand the Word.

    Everyone has their opinion… but I just wanted to leave a note that Young Life was good in my life and still is today. I have now a ministry of my own… feeding the homeless..helping people who are suffering, abused or lonely. There is nothing innately wrong with caring about someone’s salvation. Their understanding of what happens after death. I would rather be around unconditional love..that may appear false but is really more genuine than we can grasp…. it gives room for freedom of choice and also draws us in… that is how God treats all of us. He loves us unconditionally and that love draws us in.

    thanks for listening. Have a wonderful life.

    • christianagnostic November 21, 2013 at 12:12 am #

      Thanks for reading and for your perspective on Young Life.

    • VoiceOf Logic November 21, 2013 at 4:12 am #

      I agree that Young Life seems to an excellent choice if you have a desire to know God. However, if people who have no interest in that are drawn there for other reasons like a caring social atmosphere would they have felt manipulated? Obviously, I can’t know the answer to that question in an area other than mine and with the passage of time marketing of Young Life may have changed. However, I think that what you have shared speaks to the original purpose of Young life which was probably more clearly expressed at that time, to teach people to know God. I feel that in my area and possibly others from some comments here Young Life makes that fairly noble purpose less clear. Well I can see neither the minds nor hearts of people in Young Life I think that speaks to a certain loss of faith in the power of God’s word and the willingness of people to hear him, a loss of faith that I do not believe is warranted. To me the cult-like practices mentioned by CA are a result of that loss of faith in people, a result of the hopefully incorrect belief that straightforward appeals no longer work and people must be tempted in by other means to hear the voice of God.

      It was pleasant to hear your perspective about the power of an open young life. The part I do not understand, perhaps because I have never been to an Episcopal church service, is why you would have been blinded had you remained in that church. I think you implied that you changed denomination, but I did not get a clear sense to why.

  81. Corrine November 25, 2013 at 8:57 pm #

    You seem to leave out the bigger parts of Younglife. I don’t think you realized how much Younglife means to people. People have changed for the better because of Younglife. There are different kind of Younglifers. There are the ones that just go to club and then the ones that go to Campaigners and club. In your opinion of the “cultic Younglife”, you state you focus on the “popular” kids. I feel like you are judging them for going just for the fun not the Godly experience, but the truth is, everybody takes time in their faith to fully mature and Younglife is just a step! It is a fairly easy step! Especially camp! Being a high school student myself and going to camp last summer (therefore I have a more fresh mind than you), has made me realize that that choice to follow Christ was fully my own. I also know SO many people who have completely changed their lives around because of YL. And YL to me is family. I see you now as a sad man who is having troubles maybe, but you obviously haven’t gotten the awesome experience of life that YL let’s you take in and realize that you can live an awesome life through Christ and being happy! I know for a fact that all my YL leaders will be there for me FOREVER and it’s sad that some people aren’t allowed to go because of people like you. YL is NOT a cult.

    • ... Zoe ~ November 28, 2013 at 10:56 am #

      Hi Corrine. When my mind was “fresh” as yours is now, I accepted Christ at an evangelical church camp. I did so because for the first time ever I learned I’d burn in hell if I didn’t. Was learning about hell part of your awesome experience in Young Life?

      • Eric H November 28, 2013 at 5:02 pm #

        Certainly Corrine can answer this question from experience, but since I have been a part of over 20 Summer Camps through Young Life (kid, leader, Work Crew, Assigned Staff, etc), I can tell you this about YL Summer Camping:

        There are 7 messages total. Exactly 1 of those would deal with the topic of Sin (a fundamental reality of the Christian faith… and life in general.) During that one 20-minute message, there are around 4 minutes typically dedicated toward the discussion of eternal separation from God (again, fundamental to the Christian faith.) And of that 4 minutes, it is likely that around 20 seconds are dedicated to the mention and/or “description” of Hell*. So, yes, I’m sure “learning about Hell” was a part of her experience.

        If what Christians believe is true, it would be completely irresponsible not to mention the just desserts for continuiing a life lived with a back turned toward God. It would be as heartless as a Doctor who knows you have cancer, knows it is in Stage 2 (and treatable), and yet doesn’t tell you because he doesn’t want to upset you or even potentially scare you. It’s foolish to think that if what Christians believe is true, that we are somehow irresponsible or manipulative for telling that truth. Even noted atheist Penn Jillette agrees with that fundamental point. Goodness.

        *- I am using words like “around” and “likely” and “typically” because there is not script, and no one dictating how long you must make mention of these doctrines. Hmmm… come to think of it, that lack of “script” sure would seem to put another dent into the argument that this is some sort of well-orchestrated cult, huh?

    • VoiceOf Logic December 4, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

      As a high school student I guess you would view me as fresh minded. Personally I think that is a shortfall rather than a benefit, but if it qualifies my opinion for you, I will take it. It is precisely the larger parts of young life which could be beneficial, but are not so because they are tied to religion. Assembling ever more control of people’s relationships with each other and then mixing that with God is exactly what makes Young Life like a cult to whatever extent it is. The fact that Young Life is like a family to you means it has a lot of influence. Influence is the factor which makes Young Life cult-like.

  82. John November 26, 2013 at 5:46 am #

    Blah blah blah

    • mechanicdude November 26, 2013 at 11:49 pm #

      YL is the worst kind of cult. One that feeds off the souls of children.

  83. ... Zoe ~ November 28, 2013 at 6:27 pm #

    Eric H: “Certainly Corrine can answer this question from experience, but since I have been a part of over 20 Summer Camps through Young Life (kid, leader, Work Crew, Assigned Staff, etc), I can tell you this about YL Summer Camping:

    There are 7 messages total. Exactly 1 of those would deal with the topic of Sin (a fundamental reality of the Christian faith… and life in general.) During that one 20-minute message, there are around 4 minutes typically dedicated toward the discussion of eternal separation from God (again, fundamental to the Christian faith.) And of that 4 minutes, it is likely that around 20 seconds are dedicated to the mention and/or “description” of Hell*. So, yes, I’m sure “learning about Hell” was a part of her experience.”

    Zoe responds: Thank you for taking an interest in my comment to Corrine Eric H. Do you think the formula you’ve shared here is done universally throughout all the camps? I well remember the messages I heard at an evangelical camp. I think hell was discussed minimally but it doesn’t take much to scare the hell out of a child, that’s for sure. I remember it as a traumatic experience. Of course I’m not saying that all youth at camp will hear about hell and be scared to death.

    Eric H: “If what Christians believe is true, it would be completely irresponsible not to mention the just desserts for continuiing a life lived with a back turned toward God. It would be as heartless as a Doctor who knows you have cancer, knows it is in Stage 2 (and treatable), and yet doesn’t tell you because he doesn’t want to upset you or even potentially scare you. It’s foolish to think that if what Christians believe is true, that we are somehow irresponsible or manipulative for telling that truth. Even noted atheist Penn Jillette agrees with that fundamental point. Goodness.”

    Zoe responds: What concerns me is the assumption that one’s belief is the truth and the vulnerability of young minds to believing that those who are sharing their truth know the truth at all. I trusted my leaders to know what they were talking about. How could I even know if what they were saying was true? I’m young, I’m trusting, I believe with little or virtually no study or research or scholarship and quite often from those who have only believed and trusted on faith alone that those who instructed them knew what they were talking about. Children/youth trust often before they even know anything much about the Bible and about Christianity. You might believe you know the truth Eric H. but a child/young person is trusting that you do whether you do or not. That’s what concerns me. They are believing that you do know the truth.

    Eric H: “*- I am using words like “around” and “likely” and “typically” because there is not script, and no one dictating how long you must make mention of these doctrines. Hmmm… come to think of it, that lack of “script” sure would seem to put another dent into the argument that this is some sort of well-orchestrated cult, huh?”

    Zoe responds: I think this answers my question as to the universality of the formula you mentioned at the start of your comment. It seems there is some flexibility in the delivery of the message or doctrines as you say. So maybe in some situations hell does get more than 4 minutes or so. Perhaps it depends on the leader.

    • Travis Davis November 28, 2013 at 6:38 pm #

      thanks for sharing Eric and Zoe. I enjoyed reading and I think it just adds more credibility to how manipulative YL can be when they try to “convert” young impressionable kids.

    • Eric H November 28, 2013 at 8:10 pm #

      Zoe… It’s certainly a fair question, and while I have likely the most extensive experience of all the commenters on this blog, I cannot speak to the exact specifics of every message if every week at every camp. What I can say is that I have never (in over 20 years) heard even 90 seconds of explanation on Hell in any message anywhere in a Young Life setting. Never. Why? Because even in the midst of discussing sin, we want kids to understand grace and love more than they fear separation from God and what that means.

      I could go much further into the trustworthiness of the message or the messenger, but I want to limit my response to the immediate topic at hand.

  84. J December 3, 2013 at 10:02 pm #

    This whole blog is so upsetting to me. Young life is an amazing organization and having experienced club and camps so many accusations made here are such ridiculous here say and careless. Everyone I have interacted with in Young Life is nothing but kind, loving and dedicated to the organization and God so to make such broad statements is just obsurd. I know from my personal experience we have had students who have openly said at camp they are still unsure of their faith in God and they did not receive any pressure. We supported them and treated them exactly as everyone else- a friend. They continued to come to clubs so clearly even though they were unsure of their stance on God they didn’t feel any cult like pressure you seem so adamant of. I pray you can resolve whatever it is that is causing you such hate in your heart to lash out and say horrible, defamatory things about an organization, or to be more general anyone- including your harsh comments back on this blog. I am BLESSED to have and be involved with such an upstanding organization as YL.

    • randallslack December 4, 2013 at 1:36 am #

      An amazing organization? Tell that to my daughter.

      • StephenRay December 4, 2013 at 7:42 am #

        randall, you still haven’t addressed my questions and comments. You talk a lot of negative but have failed to assume any responsibility…

      • StephenRay December 4, 2013 at 7:55 am #

        randall, just to help you out on what I’m saying you never responded to…

        Initial message was:

        That doesn’t sound like a problem with Young Life. YL leaders are there to try to make a difference but they can’t prevent kids in or outside of schools from disliking somebody. All they can do is attempt to provide a safe place for people to gather, have fun, and learn about God.

        I’m not sure how long ago you claim Young Life destroyed your daughter’s relationship with Christ, but something tells me you’re way off base. Failure to know Christ, feeling rejected by others, and being completely uncaring when being spoken to are signs of a bad relationship between a parent and child. The reason I say that is based off of my own experience with my dad, who was a preacher, and my mom.

        The low self esteem, constant criticism from my mom, constantly being made fun of in school, etc. made me question my faith and made me suicidal many times. Those things can’t be blamed on anybody but me and my parents. It’s not to say circumstances weren’t different in your case, but I’d wager they’re fairly similar. Parents just don’t like to admit they failed.

        Then I posted:

        (3) Yes, I was being a little harsh on Randall. The reason being that there’s more to the story than he’s telling. He’s putting 100% blame of his daughter feeling depressed, turning away from Christ, and not talking to him on Young Life. Anybody who ever tries pointing their finger at just one person or organization for things like that is in denial. Let me explain a couple things for you before you ask how/why I can say such things.

        *I was raped, molested, and beaten by my dad between the ages of 10 and 13

        *While in school kids constantly called me names, picked fights, and made my life a living nightmare. Before the age of 16 I had made multiple suicide attempts.

        *Every club I tried to participate in shut me out.

        *My mom never gave me the time of day while I was growing up. The only attention I received from her was when she was telling me how much of a failure I was.

        *Churches I reached out to did not give the attention I needed. In fact, some turned me away when they found out I had been victimized when I was younger. Their argument was people would feel uncomfortable having me around because I am more likely to abuse other children since I was a victim of abuse.

        We’ll ignore the things I’ve done in adulthood, things ranging from going through the police academy, going to college to be a teacher, and many other topics.

        What I’ve learned in all of that and through talking to people who have been in similar or worse circumstances is that it is never just one thing or place that pushes a person over the edge. It’s a series of events and circumstances that causes a person to be “unfeeling” or for their life/faith to be destroyed.

        The story I see by Randall is that she didn’t fit in because she was fat. People made fun of her. Guess what, I dealt with the same thing…though they chose other names as well that had nothing to do with me. I was called everything from nerd, geek, faggot, “gay Ray,” “fat ass,” and all sorts of other names. It tears you down little by little. The main thing is, that was happening at school. Of course, those same school kids are who you see in other events and activities. She ran into them and, according to Randall, the kids did not include her. One thing we can agree on, if he isn’t lying, would be the idea of the leader not doing their job. If that is indeed the case, we can agree that Randall’s daughter drew the short end of the stick and had a bad experience. Thing is, do we then shift 100% of the blame to Young Life or do we look at how it was the kids picking on her that made it tough? How much responsibility shifts to the parent for not knowing what was going on and for not being able to help the child cope? What about the school and everybody else in between? What about the church? Was Randall even bringing her to church? If so, could we not then say the pastor and others there also failed her?

        With the number of people who failed his daughter, why is it that we only say Young Life is what ruined his daughter’s faith? That’s where I have issues with his comment and I was harsh on him. He failed to assign blame to himself and everybody else involved. It is due to all these interactions in his daughter’s life that he failed to mention that I question his integrity on the story. Were you too quick to run with what he said without thinking about all of that?
        ——————————————————————————-

        With that said, why do you want to keep pretending everything is all Young Life’s fault when there were MANY other people and organizations involved in her life?

      • christianagnostic December 4, 2013 at 5:16 pm #

        Stephen-

        You could’ve asked your question without the “When did you stop beating your wife?” type of questioning.

        Isn’t it safe to assume that maybe his daughter’s situation might have been a little different that yours?

        Why is it that you seem so adamant, to the point of harshness, in failing to assign any blame on the part of Young Life?

        You’ve essentially accused him of being a liar and made him out to be like your dad who beat you and abused you (which, I am very sorry you went through-I mean it-it’s just beyond awful).

        Not all Dad’s are your dad…and maybe, just maybe, not all Young Life’s experiences are as good as yours.

    • Travis Davis December 4, 2013 at 4:13 am #

      I think that is why this blog is so good-it is sparking debates and upsetting people. I feel like people are just voicing their experiences and there’s nothing wrong with that. Of course you’re going to defend and say how great YL is. CA has been in it and now is out. Nobody in YL is going to come here and say it’s a cult. Why can’t you see parents are hurting because of what YL has done to their son/daughter? That’s something that nobody in YL has come here to speak upon.

  85. StephenRay December 4, 2013 at 6:14 pm #

    christianagnostic
    December 4, 2013 at 5:16 pm #
    Stephen-

    You could’ve asked your question without the “When did you stop beating your wife?” type of questioning.

    Isn’t it safe to assume that maybe his daughter’s situation might have been a little different that yours?

    Why is it that you seem so adamant, to the point of harshness, in failing to assign any blame on the part of Young Life?

    You’ve essentially accused him of being a liar and made him out to be like your dad who beat you and abused you (which, I am very sorry you went through-I mean it-it’s just beyond awful).

    Not all Dad’s are your dad…and maybe, just maybe, not all Young Life’s experiences are as good as yours.
    —————————————————————————————————————–

    christianagnostic,

    If you have paid any attention, you notice I said not ALL the blame could be put on Young Life. There was even a part where I said if his story is true the leadership team of his branch/chapter did her wrong. It is unfair to judge an organization based on one location and time period. We also aren’t hearing his daughter’s side, only his. I’m asking why he refuses to admit his portion of blame, why teachers, pastors, his wife, the kids picking on his daughter, etc. were not blamed in his story. The only one he blames is Young Life. Don’t you think there’s something wrong with that logic?

    • christianagnostic December 4, 2013 at 8:42 pm #

      Your question of “Why doesn’t he admit to his portion of blame?” assumes he is to blame (at least partially)for this situation. As for only hearing his side, of course you are correct, but the same could be said about your experiences.

      By this type of cold logic, I should hold your story of beatings and abuse as unproven and incomplete until I’ve heard from your Father and Mother-correct?

      Frankly, I see this sort of “I won’t believe until it’s 100% proven and documented” as a way of ignoring a story with information that you don’t like or refuse to believe. You certainly can ask for more info or more perspective on Randall’s or anyone’s story…but in my experience, bombastic questioning and a harsh tone usually shut down conversations-not further them.

      Lastly, how can you know that YL isn’t fully (or largely) to blame? Were you there, have you spoken to the leadership team responsible for telling Randall’s daughter to not return to YL? It seems to me you aren’t trying to discern the truth of his story, but to discredit it.

      I agree, that an organization should not be judged on one incident in one time period.

      But does that mean a person can not share the incidents and their impressions-does it?

      Does it mean we aren’t allowed to ask if something is wrong when there are multiple incidents stretching out from school to school and decade to decade?

      • StephenRay December 5, 2013 at 7:16 pm #

        I can speak with 100% as I said every person who had an interaction with his daughter held some sort of responsibility. Parents are always #1 on that list as they should ALWAYS know what their kids are involved in and what affects it’s having on them. Whether he was ignorant of his daughter being picked on, unaware of what Young Life was, or whatever the situation may be…we have to face facts that his daughter was supposedly hurt by her participating in a club. The problem is, it wasn’t only at Young Life that she faced issues.

        She was picked on by the kids at school before she ever decided to get involved with Young Life. That means teachers, principals, students, and the parents of all the other students had a responsibility they failed to live up to.

        When she went to Young Life, it would have been with the same kids she went to school. Common sense tells you if they picked on her at school, they would pick on her outside of school as well. It doesn’t make it right but is what happened. The leaders in charge there should have kept an eye out for it and had a responsibility to make it a safe, fun, and encouraging place to be. Sadly, according to his story, that didn’t happen.

        Essentially we saw what we are focusing on in the media today, bullying. What’s important to remember is that it’s not just a school-based issue. It can occur at any place where people, especially children, learn, live, work, or play. Adults have a responsibility to create positive environments for children to develop and maintain healthy relationships. It is their responsibility to teach children how to connect with people respectfully, in positive, healthy ways. If they don’t, the only types of relationships children will understand as they grow up will be dysfunctional ones. Without healthy relationships, children cannot develop in healthy ways.

        So who is at fault?

        (1) The parent. (Randall)

        (2) The parents of the other kids (how they raised their children impacts how they treat others)

        (3) The faculty and staff at the schools this was occurring in.

        (4) Any pastors or clergyman aware of the situation

        (5) The leadership team involved in Young Life

        (6) The higher ups who should be checking up on YL clubs and events

        So, am I trying to discredit his story? No. I’ve said all along they had some responsibility in the matter. I’m just trying to get people to use their brains and realize there were many other people who influenced the outcome and who could have prevented any negative from occurring.

      • randallslack December 6, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

        StephenRay: You are a cruel and harsh person. Your comments are typical of those who defend their “organization” over the hurts and pain of others. You had a good experience with YL, so anyone who doesn’t or speaks negatively against your “pet” group, is obviously wrong.

        Where is the compassion in your voice?

        Where is the love of God you profess in your comments?

        You have attacked me personally without knowing me or even attempting to establish a dialog. You are guilty of judging me.

        Do you have any training in counseling?

        Do you have a degree in phycology?

        You have established yourself as an “expert” in knowing what goes on in my heart. You must be quite a person. I am sure that the Holy Spirit is glad He has you so He can take a break every now and then.

        What you are, by your harsh and cruel comments, is a Job’s comforter. “No doubt you are the people (person in your case), And wisdom will die with you!” (Job 12:2, NKJV).

        I suppose that it is my fault that my daughters were molested as children also? That both still suffer the scars and nightmares of such (even though both are in their mid thirties)?

        I feel very sorry for you. It must be a great burden to do the work of the Holy Spirit (judging the secrets of the hearts of men).

        I refuse to enter into a debate with someone who pretends to be the Holy Spirit. I have nothing but pity for you.

        Go ahead and continue to stand your ground (no doubt you will); but remember this: Job’s comforters were wrong… Perhaps you should read Job 42:7-8.

      • VoiceOf Logic December 8, 2013 at 7:11 pm #

        Stephen Ray and Others

        If Young Life was perpetuating the problem and was partially to blame, why try to shift blame to the other factors? I am not saying that Young Life was the only thing wrong in Randall’s daughter’s life, but as I have heard him describe the problem it was Young Life that tipped the balance in a negative way. Could he, the school, other parents, and church groups have corrected the problem that Young Life created in her life? Possibly or possibly not, but that was a problem that they would not have had to deal with in the absence of an organization that reinforces the social hierarchy within middle and high schools which contributes to the problems Randall’s daughter faced which have been worked against by parents, schools, and religious groups.

        Why does Young Life feel the need to appeal on through methods strongly reliant upon peer pressure? While, I am no psychologist, I would suggest that it is because they know that, though detrimental to children, it will help to pressure them more deeply into the faith and they lack faith in the word of God to do the same or in the ability of people to listen to that word.

        My belief is that if people are to accept the word of God, they will do so despite seeing the methods of Young Life and that on the whole Young Life will repel people from Christianity rather than towards it. It is my belief that the repulsion of potential Christians from the church, too, is a problem that Young Life is partially the source of along with other organizations assuming its model and that churches and individuals will have to attempt to take up the slack that Young Life has created. Hopefully churches and individuals will be more successful in dealing with this problem created by Young Life by distancing themselves from it and possibly denouncing it than they were in solving the problems Young Life created for Randall’s daughter.

        You may state that Young Life was not the only factor at fault for the emotional trauma Randall’s daughter has had to deal with, but from the pattern of events and Young Life’s known model of playing on teens desire to fit in, it is evident that Young Life is the source of the problem and that churches, schools, and parents are only at fault because they failed to stop the damage Young Life caused.

        I am certain all of these other groups wished they could have better dealt with the problem Young Life created, but as Randall explains, when he went to Young Life they refused to stop perpetuating the problem.

        May organizations and individuals alike better handle the damage dealt by Young Life to children and to faith, and may Young Life come to see the errors in its methods, the error of its way.

        Voice Of Logic

      • Eric H December 8, 2013 at 10:21 pm #

        I’ll not answer this as a Young Life Area Director and person who has been responsible for training hundreds, if not a couple of thousand people, in ministry methods. Instead, I’ll answer as a staff member of a local church who is responsible for teaching Incarnational Evangelism and Discipleship in our Christian Education curriculum.

        It makes me sad that you claim to be a follower of Christ, yet have absolutely zero clue how he modeled ministry, how he taught his apostles to do ministry, or how the vast majority of the New Testament describies the manner in which we should share the Gospel. The fact that you hope Young Life recognizes it’s errant ways in ministry shows me that you are fundamentally ignorant of the type of ministry the Jesus you claim to follow both engaged in and trained others to do.

      • VoiceOf Logic December 9, 2013 at 3:49 am #

        Eric H.

        I am going to answer this as myself as I normally answer things. I am not certain why you would attempt to falsely split yourself into two different people one involved with and supporting Young Life, and one a member of your local church and a person educated upon how Jesus spread God’s word. Perhaps, it is because the two are fundamentally incompatible.

        Additionally, I believe you stated previously that “I didn’t question your faith. I wouldn’t keep responding to this but it’s important to me that you and other readers know that. I don’t care much whether you think I’m judgmental because it’s difficult to have opposing views on topics held close to the heart without taking things personally. But, I have no desire to question your faith and I have no reason to believe that you aren’t a Christian. Not sure why you won’t drop that. “As a Christian, or a non-believer…” could have been written, “Christians and non-believers alike…” or I could have simply left out that phrase. But when saying “it may or may not be your thing,” I wanted to make it clear that I believe that for anyone who was reading my comment. Sounds like I failed to make that clear. I’m sorry. That statement was not a comment on your faith. I guess that’s one problem with trying to communicate through writing – inferences are not always clear. Let me state one last time…I believe you and I take you for your word that you are a Christian, Voiceoflogic.”

        Am I to assume that your use of the phrase “the Jesus you claim to follow” and the phrase “you claim to be a follower of Christ” are also directed at a general audience of people, that you have suddenly departed from your previous willingness to accept my word, or that you simply are unable to maintain consistent beliefs? If the first is true, you need to learn how to write because I have never come across someone else who so frequently implies that my religious beliefs are either false or mere claims by accident. If the second is true then I guess I would state that you were not judgmental initially, but have become so which seems unlikely given that people’s character rarely devolves so quickly. If as I believe the ladder is true and you simply lash out at people assuming that they are not Christian when they do not agree with your interpretation that Christ would approve of pressuring children to join the church not with His words, but with peer pressure and by strengthening teens harmful social hierarchy, before claiming that you never meant to imply that belief did not exist, then perhaps you need to reexamine your faith and incorporate some love and acceptance.

        If on the other hand these seemingly incongruous statements about my faith are not as I have assumed merely attempts to lash out at me for disagreeing with you before again accepting that it is not your role to question my faith, a matter between me and God, but rather the result of multiple personality disorder or some mental illness which renders you incapable of maintaining consistent beliefs then please forgive my insult to your character/ ability to write.

        While I am not an expert on Jesus or his ministry, I never claimed to be such. However, I feel that the fact that you believe Young Life, which all the information I have clearly indicates is not built on a model of unconditional love or openly sharing God’s word, but rather an attempt to conventionalize that love, is consistent with Christ’s teachings indicates to me that my understanding is substantially greater than yours.

        The entire structure and model is not one that promotes true belief, but one that causes potential followers to turn away to be replaced by false believers who accept God for social gain. While I believe that Young Life does effectively act in this way I can understand people attempting to argue that it does not or that this effect is an accident. The fact that you would rather argue that this policy and its ramifications are consistent with the teachings of Christ is incomprehensible to me.

        VoiceOf Logic

        Sorry for any who read this other than Eric H, but if you read some of our previous exchanges he first insinuated that I was not Christian, then vigorously denied that he had done so which I eventually excepted as true. Now it appears he has regressed to once again questioning my faith. This disappoints me and though I do not know whether he will return to denying he has needlessly questioned my veracity or continue attempting to slander my faith as an attempt to insult my character, I am confident that whatever decision he makes will reflect the fact that he is either unable to believe that a Christian can disagree with him, or believes that criticizing my faith somehow discredits my beliefs in the eyes of others.

        Either is incredibly insulting to Christian’s and agnostics alike. The first is insulting to Christians because we definitely are a diverse enough group to have varying opinions which is one of the factors which raises us above Cults which attempt to have uniformity of belief. It is insulting to agnostics because it suggests that only the devout can speak with authority on topics like Young Life. The second is insulting to Christians because it suggests that we are not capable of looking at reason and rather care only about the source of that knowledge. It is insulting to agnostics because none of my beliefs were based upon my faith in God, only slight references to the most central assumptions of Christianity, and could have been made with just as much authority by an agnostic.

        I would like to state on behalf of tolerant Christians that we do all not agree with either of these beliefs. In fact I am glad that Eric H’s intolerance is not representative of the majority of Christians who I know, but of a small minority who diminish the Church in the eyes of the world.

      • plaintruth December 9, 2013 at 3:52 am #

        VOL – you quoted me in a response to Eric.
        - plaintruth

      • plaintruth December 9, 2013 at 4:02 am #

        VOL – you are terribly confused. You just went off on Eric because his comment is not in line with your conversations with me, plaintruth. For the record, I never questioned your faith and Eric H pointed out the discrepancy in your claims. Peace.

      • Eric H December 9, 2013 at 2:03 pm #

        1. I cannot recall ever having typed as response to you on this blog regarding your own faith. Seriously, go back and look for yourself. You’re confusing me for someone else.

        2. Since the context is clearly missed in my comment earlier, let me clarify: I am not separating myself into two different people. What I am pointing out is that I am not defending Young Life as a Young Life staff person alone. Rather, as a staff member at a church who has received a post-graduate degree relative to the subject and who is charged with teaching Incarnational Evangelism as a Christian Education class, I can say without hesitation that you are demonstrably ignorant when it comes to discussing methods of evangelism. Not only is Young Life’s style of evangelism widely accepted as one of 6 primary forms of evangelism, it is modeled throughout the New Testament, most notably by Jesus himself. The fact that you are a young believer who has no idea of that reality is disheartening. Granted, it isn’t surprising… but it is disheartening.

      • plaintruth December 9, 2013 at 1:10 am #

        VoiceOfLogic – not even Randall himself claimed that Young Life CREATED this problem for his daughter. It is clear that Randall’s daughter was struggling before she attended YL. She was victimized and had already experienced social isolation and insensitive treatment from her peers (he may have implied for years). What Randall seemed to communicate early on was that he had hoped Young Life would be a saving grace for her and it wasn’t. That pained her and it pained her father. And, her young life leader may have or may not have tried to help her. We don’t really know, do we? What we do know is that Randall and his daughter are still hurting and he feels as though Young Life failed her. It is very sad.

        Hopefully you are reading this too Randall…MANY people who are pro YL have responded and expressed their sorrow for your and your daughter’s pain. Your story is atypical but I believe you – your local Young Life area was unable to transform the situation for your daughter. You’ve mentioned that you want to make Young Life better for future kids. It sounds like you ought to revisit the local Young Life area and tell your story again. It won’t change what has already taken place but it is clear that you have a need to be heard and that you feel apologies are in order. It could cause a shift in thinking either for you, or for the YL staff person or volunteer. This remains an open wound and your current tactics don’t seem particularly productive. As a former Christian pastor, it just seems like you must possess gifts and talents that you could employ to effectuate positive change in your community in regard to bullying.

        Back to VOL…you have just added yet another accusation to your list of bogus and unsubstantiated claims against Young Life. To your credit, you are a high school kid and I am most often inclined to remind myself of that when I read your libelous statements. I am wondering, haven’t your parents or teachers explained to you the possible consequences of defamatory remarks? Have they explained to you that the media you post on the internet doesn’t “go away?” It remains a lasting documentation of your morals, ideals, exploits, etc. I think you should consider this more seriously since you continue to present false information as factual. Seriously, ask your mom before you post.

        That said I wanted to correct your jargon about YL creating this situation for Randall’s daughter and take this as an opportunity to address something else that has been bothering me. You continue to state in every comment that Young Life tries to convert children. It is almost always presented by you as though Young Life does it in a sneaky fashion, that the org preys on children, and that its ultimate goal is conversion. Your depiction is not only unfair, it is false. You have taken great license with this notion, young man, and with no actual experience of the kind.

        It would be fair to say that Young Life uses the opportunity with kids to teach, not convert. Yes, YL wants to share the Good News. The organization is purposed to teach kids who chose to attend club, or campaingers, or camp, about the Loving God and the Hope we have in Christ. I also see that if a kid or his/her parents don’t ask questions beforehand, he/she might be surprised to hear a five minute talk on the person of Christ at club. Truly though, from my experience, you would have to be living under a rock not to know that Young Life is a Christian organization and that it includes “Christian stuff” when you attend. Regardless, I don’t let my kids go anywhere, or watch a movie, or sometimes download a song even, until I know where they are going to do what, or what themes will be covered, or how much violence is in the movie, etc.

        You have a serious beef with evangelism even though it isn’t just God’s suggestion, it is His command. There are different ways to go about it and not only one acceptable practice. It shouldn’t be manipulative or pushy. Young Life isn’t manipulative or pushy. Relational ministry is an acceptable practice, but more importantly I think you ought to know that evangelism is acceptable and often celebrated, by many different Christian churches and organizations, including Catholicism. The pope is an evangelist. Here are a couple of links for you: http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Item/1548/lessons_from_catholic_evangelists.aspx
        http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2013/may/catholics-take-up-protestant-style-evangelism.html

        Young Life didn’t create Randall’s daughter’s problem.
        Young Life does not attempt to convert anyone – it teaches participants the story of Christ’s life.
        Libel is serious and your posts on the web are permanent.
        Even Catholics evangelize.

        PS – Stephen Ray – too much.

  86. Fred Reeg December 5, 2013 at 8:05 pm #

    This is an impressive discussion and unfortunately, I haven’t had the time to read every post. In 1970, I became a born-again Christian through the camping ministry of YL (with absolutely no coercion I might add). Since that time, I’ve been involved with most of the ministries of YL at one point or another. I completed seminary and have also served in vocational pastoral ministy. Some of my own children have also appreciated involvement in YL. Neither the Church, nor any para-church ministry is perfect, and people will continue to find fault with YL. But to get back to the original question, “Is Young Life a Cult?”…definitely not. A cult is a group/movement which denies or contradicts the core tenents of the Orthodox Christian Faith found in the Bible. If you examine the YL Statement of Faith at: http://www.younglife.org/About/Pages/StatementOfFaith.aspx , you will find it solidly biblical. You may want to take some time to explore the rest of the website, and even better, contact your local YL volunteer leader or area director and invite him/her to meet for coffee. I’m sure he/she would love to get to know you and answer any questions you may have about YL or it’s work in your local area.

    • randallslack December 6, 2013 at 1:33 pm #

      Fred Reeg: You sound like a compassionate person (by your comments). I would disagree with you about YL, but I do understand that you have the right to your opinion.

      My wife and I tried to deal with situation involving my daughter, but everyone we spoke with refused to listen. There was no compassion. (We hosted meetings in our home and the leader looked me directly in the face and said that there was nothing she could do. YL was targeting the “popular” kids and my daughter was not one of them. So, she became “colleratal damage” so the program could go on).

      You are correct; there are no perfect ministries. But no one is asking for perfection (in my opinion and I certainly don’t speak for everybody). What we/I am asking for is honesty, openness, and a willingness to recognize and deal with things that are wrong.

      No one who has posted on this blog has been willing to address these comments or help reconcile, which I personally find disturbing.

      I too have served in the vocational pastorate, having pastored (2) churches full time and served as an associate a few times too (now I work in the secular community, by choice).

      I hope YL is aware of this blog. If they are, why haven’t they addressed these comments and concerns?

      One last thing. You state: A cult is a group/movement which denies or contradicts the core tenants of the Orthodox Christian Faith found in the Bible.” I would agree, but not limit a cult to this definition. There is such a thing as a “Christian cult;” that is, a group that uses cult-like means and methods to get and keep followers.

      Grace and peace to you sir…

      • Travis Davis December 6, 2013 at 7:26 pm #

        Good comments by you randall!

  87. StephenRay December 7, 2013 at 8:27 am #

    randallslack,

    For you to know, I’ve only been to a couple events with Young Life and have done research. Sadly I’ve been too busy with work and college to dedicate any time to it. When I talk of any place I look at it from both sides. As such I have conceded points to you and others. Sadly you continue to dodge topics because you know what I say is true. To answer your question, yes…I have had some training in counseling. My current degree is in Education, so we can definitely agree I have not majored in Psychology. This does not mean I have not taken Psychology courses nor that I have no knowledge of the topic, only that I have not taken some of the necessary electives to obtain the degree.

    I also said nothing of what is in your heart. If you pay attention, you’ll have noticed that I said there were MANY people who failed your daughter according to your own story. Why you fail to admit you failed as a father is beyond me. If nothing else we could relate this to Ephesians 6:4 and Proverbs 22:6. You see, this world is full of parents who don’t know how to raise their children. When things go wrong they never take responsibility for how they raised the children, instead they like to point their fingers at everybody else.

    To claim I pretend to be the Holy Spirit is insane as well. That is not to say that I am not filled with the Holy Spirit, as I guarantee I am. If you need to, please refer to Acts 2:38-40, I Corinthians 6:19, Romans 8, and much more. Any who accept Christ and love God with all their heart, all their soul, and all their strength are filled with the Holy Spirit.

    The communication you have brought here has not been to focus on your daughter or to try to make things better. Instead you have come bearing false witness by blaming an organization for a myriad of events that occurred in her life. Not once did I say the organization may not have played a part but I have attempted to correct your words.

    I’m finished discussing this topic with you. I’ve done my part and can only pray you soften your heart. Per Titus 3:10-11, I Timothy 5:20 I have attempted to correct your transgression. My prayers have been reaching out to each and every person that has shared their stories, both positive and negative.

    Hopefully you will one day let go of the hatred in your heart, stop bearing false witness, and will try to live according to God’s will.

  88. StephenRay December 8, 2013 at 8:56 pm #

    Voice Of Logic,

    Your post, which I have pasted below, is the type of response I’ve been hoping to get all along. In any case, I’m not sure I’d say it’s through peer pressure as you make it sound but I know where you’re coming from. None of us will ever know for sure what the tipping point for his daughter may have been, all we can do is look at all the things that played a part in her life and try to overcome each one. That means we can’t point our finger at only one source…we must look at them all. When you look at clubs, it’s all about being a part of something bigger. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about fraternities, bands, sports teams, churches, Bible studies, volunteer groups, or anything else. The big part is that a person has to find where their passion lies and where they “fit in.” A computer geek with no athletic skill won’t fit in as much around people who constantly want to play football as much as they would in a place where they work on computers. That’s how life works and we have to sort through the millions of things around us to decide what we want to do.

    As far as psychology goes, people like to be around others. The sense of belonging and sense of purpose drives us each day. That is why they say it’s important to volunteer, work, or join clubs of some sort. This whole blog focuses on Young Life. We have discovered that YL made many positive and negative impacts on people’s lives over the year. What I’ve requested people do is to compare Young Life to any other clubs, organizations, or places where people gather. You won’t find huge differences. Some might talk more of politics than religion, others may focus more on sports, but they all have a central theme for what they feel is important. It’s clear some people feel religion shouldn’t be a central focus, others feel it should be in big bold letters and completely announced before somebody shows up to learn about it, and others think it’s fine. All in all that’s just people’s opinions and it’s hard to say what’s right.

    In any case, I need to go to work. Just wanted to do a quick response. The whole group thing is that people struggle. A support system is nice to have, so much so that some argue it’s a necessity in life. Religious organizations try to form groups so they can help each other out. It’s tough to live what the Bible calls a righteous life. Many Christians struggle with the loss of loved ones, question why bad things happen to us, and need to learn how to become better believers. That’s the only reason it’s there, not to force people to believe. I’m sorry if you feel that way but there’s not much I can say or do to change your mind I’m sure. It’s a difference of opinion and I hope it one day changes.
    ———————————————————————————————————-

    Stephen Ray and Others

    If Young Life was perpetuating the problem and was partially to blame, why try to shift blame to the other factors? I am not saying that Young Life was the only thing wrong in Randall’s daughter’s life, but as I have heard him describe the problem it was Young Life that tipped the balance in a negative way. Could he, the school, other parents, and church groups have corrected the problem that Young Life created in her life? Possibly or possibly not, but that was a problem that they would not have had to deal with in the absence of an organization that reinforces the social hierarchy within middle and high schools which contributes to the problems Randall’s daughter faced which have been worked against by parents, schools, and religious groups.

    Why does Young Life feel the need to appeal on through methods strongly reliant upon peer pressure? While, I am no psychologist, I would suggest that it is because they know that, though detrimental to children, it will help to pressure them more deeply into the faith and they lack faith in the word of God to do the same or in the ability of people to listen to that word.

    My belief is that if people are to accept the word of God, they will do so despite seeing the methods of Young Life and that on the whole Young Life will repel people from Christianity rather than towards it. It is my belief that the repulsion of potential Christians from the church, too, is a problem that Young Life is partially the source of along with other organizations assuming its model and that churches and individuals will have to attempt to take up the slack that Young Life has created. Hopefully churches and individuals will be more successful in dealing with this problem created by Young Life by distancing themselves from it and possibly denouncing it than they were in solving the problems Young Life created for Randall’s daughter.

    You may state that Young Life was not the only factor at fault for the emotional trauma Randall’s daughter has had to deal with, but from the pattern of events and Young Life’s known model of playing on teens desire to fit in, it is evident that Young Life is the source of the problem and that churches, schools, and parents are only at fault because they failed to stop the damage Young Life caused.

    I am certain all of these other groups wished they could have better dealt with the problem Young Life created, but as Randall explains, when he went to Young Life they refused to stop perpetuating the problem.

    May organizations and individuals alike better handle the damage dealt by Young Life to children and to faith, and may Young Life come to see the errors in its methods, the error of its way.

    Voice Of Logic

    • randallslack December 9, 2013 at 2:24 am #

      Mark 9:42: “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea.” (NKJV)

      Luke 17:1-2: “Then He said to the disciples, ‘It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! 2 It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.’” (NKJV)

      It is really sad that the “blame” has been shifted to me just so YL can be justified. Again, this is typical of those whose “faith” is so shallow, that they could never admit that their “pet group” could ever be wrong. Tell that to the 900 followers of Jim Jones who also “drank the Kool-Aid.”

      Pragmatism continues to take its toll on the victims of those who embrace “the ends justify the means.”

      • StephenRay December 9, 2013 at 5:52 am #

        Randall, are you that stupid? (and yes, I’m showing a bit of anger now). Not once did I say Young Life had no part in the situation based on your story. I’ve said the leaders of YL in your area did a horrible job and misrepresented YL as a whole and put a bad taste in the mouths of others for what Christianity stands for.

        “Your Young Life leaders = bad people. They did a no no.” (little kid speak, just in case you can’t understand the first paragraph. After all, I’ve said it multiple times and somehow you still can’t grasp it)

        Sadly along with that, you also have shown me that you are an irresponsible parent by refusing to take responsibility for the things that have happened in your daughter’s life. You also have done horribly by trying to do the finger pointing game. There were many things that hurt your daughter, YL only being one of them.

        “Remember when you point a finger there are three fingers pointing back at you!”

        I’m not saying you didn’t love your daughter. Not saying you didn’t provide for her. I am saying you could have done more. I’m also saying the teachers could have done more. The parents of the children who picked on your daughter and said she didn’t belong could have done more. Lots of people failed her, not just one person or organization.

        There are some things you have said that makes me question if you lack common sense. For example, for you to say both your daughters were molested at some time in their age (didn’t say where, what ages, and whether was at the same time or different times) shows me you really screwed up on being a good judge of character on where to leave your daughters. It doesn’t make it your fault unless you knew the person had a history of such actions. It just shows a mistake was made. You were the one who chose to leave your daughters under the care of the person who abused them, so in that regard you do share some responsibility. I’m not saying you should be blamed (unless you knew the person had abused people before, one of your daughters had been abused and you didn’t learn your lesson on trust, etc) but am trying to help you understand where I come from.

        You see, what I despise more than anything else in this world are people who can’t admit what they have done or failed to do. You seem mentally stuck at saying “Young Life did it!” Where does everybody else come in? Did her teachers, counselors, parents, pastors, elders, etc. mean nothing in her life? Did you keep her locked up in her room so she had no interaction with anybody except for Young Life?

        Hopefully my point has gotten through that thick skull of yours and you can accept responsibility and also learn to blame all the other people who hurt her. It’s okay to say the people who were in charge of Young Life there hurt her. What’s not okay is to say Young Life as an organization is horrible and ruined her life. It’s also not okay to say it’s all their fault, as they were the not only ones who influenced what happened.

      • christianagnostic December 9, 2013 at 6:41 am #

        ok…enough on this point. I’ve never banned anyone on this site, but when it breaks down to personal attacks, I’m done.

        Seroiusly…either tone it down or your out!

      • plaintruth December 9, 2013 at 6:55 am #

        It isn’t a pleasant conversation, this is true. Both are clearly hurting. An abused young man is righteously indignant. A parent is placing all the blame for his child’s painful childhood on one organization. They both seek justice. They are both displacing their anger.

  89. VoiceOf Logic December 9, 2013 at 5:08 am #

    Plain Truth,

    It still will not let me respond to your comments.

    Sorry for the misquote. In that case it is just Erich H. that does not believe me about my faith and he will is at least more consistent.

    With regards to your other comment,

    VoiceOfLogic – not even Randall himself claimed that Young Life CREATED this problem for his daughter. It is clear that Randall’s daughter was struggling before she attended YL. She was victimized and had already experienced social isolation and insensitive treatment from her peers (he may have implied for years). What Randall seemed to communicate early on was that he had hoped Young Life would be a saving grace for her and it wasn’t. That pained her and it pained her father.

    More than the fact that it was not a saving grace it was part of the problem by strengthening the social hierarchy doing the damage.

    And, her young life leader may have or may not have tried to help her. We don’t really know, do we? What we do know is that Randall and his daughter are still hurting and he feels as though Young Life failed her. It is very sad.

    We know that Randall said he asked the Young Life leader to help and was refused. Do you have knowledge to the contrary or just deny his version of events on the basis that they do not fit your version of Young Life?

    Hopefully you are reading this too Randall…MANY people who are pro YL have responded and expressed their sorrow for your and your daughter’s pain. Your story is atypical but I believe you – your local Young Life area was unable to transform the situation for your daughter. You’ve mentioned that you want to make Young Life better for future kids. It sounds like you ought to revisit the local Young Life area and tell your story again. It won’t change what has already taken place but it is clear that you have a need to be heard and that you feel apologies are in order. It could cause a shift in thinking either for you, or for the YL staff person or volunteer. This remains an open wound and your current tactics don’t seem particularly productive. As a former Christian pastor, it just seems like you must possess gifts and talents that you could employ to effectuate positive change in your community in regard to bullying.

    Even if he does effectively act to counter the damage dealt by Young Life the damage was still dealt and Young Life was still wrong to deal it.

    Back to VOL…you have just added yet another accusation to your list of bogus and unsubstantiated claims against Young Life.

    I would not say that there is a list. They all fit into the same category. So really there is just one claim against Young Life. That claim is well substantiated and is merely a development of the primary one on this blog, that Young Life uses tactics to recruit teens which are cult-like, damaging to the aforesaid teens, and generally do not reflect well upon the church.

    To your credit, you are a high school kid and I am most often inclined to remind myself of that when I read your libelous statements.

    Being a high school kid is not to my credit it is simply a reflection of my age. My statements are not libelous. They are mostly opinions and those that are facts are true.

    I am wondering, haven’t your parents or teachers explained to you the possible consequences of defamatory remarks? Have they explained to you that the media you post on the internet doesn’t “go away?” It remains a lasting documentation of your morals, ideals, exploits, etc. I think you should consider this more seriously since you continue to present false information as factual. Seriously, ask your mom before you post.

    What information have I presented as factual that is not? It is insulting and declamatory that you dismiss my rational as based on inaccuracies when it is based on personal experience and the experiences of others as detailed on this blog. Additionally, anyone who intends to refuse me employment or another opportunity in the future based on the fact that I am attempting to defend the values of Christians on the internet against the perception that the main means of evangelism is Young Life’s insidious model is not someone who I would wish to be employed by.

    That said I wanted to correct your jargon about YL creating this situation for Randall’s daughter and take this as an opportunity to address something else that has been bothering me.
    It clearly at the very least made it worse by using the social structure doing damage to her.

    You continue to state in every comment that Young Life tries to convert children. It is almost always presented by you as though Young Life does it in a sneaky fashion, that the org preys on children, and that its ultimate goal is conversion. Your depiction is not only unfair, it is false. You have taken great license with this notion, young man, and with no actual experience of the kind.

    As I have repeated several times I do have limited experience with WyldLife the sister organization to Young Life which as you put it “preys” upon middle school students rather than high school students. The fact that I did not cave to further involvement in Young Life preferring to remain on the outs of that group does not mean I have no experience with it. Additionally, I have remained peripherally aware of Young Life through its members promotion of it in my school. I have several times stated not that Young Life’s ultimate goal is conversion, but that the conversion or deepening of faith is one of its goals. Deny this as you will. I would agree that it does this in a sneaky fashion. None of the members who promoted it in our school with posters which I have pictures of, mentioned religion being involved. They all acted as though it provided an accepting place with no pressure when it has a religious end.

    It would be fair to say that Young Life uses the opportunity with kids to teach, not convert. Yes, YL wants to share the Good News. The organization is purposed to teach kids who chose to attend club, or campaingers, or camp, about the Loving God and the Hope we have in Christ. I also see that if a kid or his/her parents don’t ask questions beforehand, he/she might be surprised to hear a five minute talk on the person of Christ at club. Truly though, from my experience, you would have to be living under a rock not to know that Young Life is a Christian organization and that it includes “Christian stuff” when you attend. Regardless, I don’t let my kids go anywhere, or watch a movie, or sometimes download a song even, until I know where they are going to do what, or what themes will be covered, or how much violence is in the movie, etc.

    Teaching is in this case simply a euphemism for converting. I have nothing against converting, evangelizing, or teaching people about the Good News as long as an organization presents doing that as teaching about God rather than as providing an accepting place to be.

    You have a serious beef with evangelism even though it isn’t just God’s suggestion, it is His command. There are different ways to go about it and not only one acceptable practice. It shouldn’t be manipulative or pushy. Young Life isn’t manipulative or pushy. Relational ministry is an acceptable practice, but more importantly I think you ought to know that evangelism is acceptable and often celebrated, by many different Christian churches and organizations, including Catholicism. The pope is an evangelist. Here are a couple of links for you:

    I have nothing against evangelism, only the way that Young Life does it. I support most evangelism. I am against the way Young Life does it because it claims to exist to provide an accepting place before making that acceptance conditional, reflects negatively upon Christianity by filling the exact stereotype that many atheists have complained that Christianity follows, and gains false believers who were not swayed by learning of God, but by a desire not to lose the possibility of social connections.

    Young Life didn’t create Randall’s daughter’s problem.
    It made it worse.

    Young Life does not attempt to convert anyone – it teaches participants the story of Christ’s life.
    That is the traditional means of converting people. I have no idea what your problem with the word convert is. You cannot seriously think that sharing the story of Christ is done with the hope of changing people’s faith.

    Libel is serious and your posts on the web are permanent.
    Libel is a serious inaccurate accusation which requires statements to be made which are false. As is it is merely an excuse to change the subject.

    Even Catholics evangelize.
    Most Catholics and other Christians evangelize in a responsible manner. Young Life is the exception.

    PS – Stephen Ray – too much.
    Only in the sense that he mistook not succeeding in stopping the damage dealt by Young Life for causing the damage. At least he did not deny the truth of Randall’s statement that he went to the Young Leader who looked him in the eye and denied him help as you did.

    • plaintruth December 9, 2013 at 7:14 am #

      You are uninformed Voiceof Logic. I only need to quote you directly to illustrate the point: “Everything that I wrote except about how prevalent the problems with Young Life’s model are was based upon personal experience. I have never been to a Young Life meeting…”

      • VoiceOf Logic December 9, 2013 at 7:45 am #

        Right but I have been to a Wyld Life meeting. You merely need to include the end of the quote, but choose not to.

      • plaintruth December 9, 2013 at 9:16 am #

        Well, I apologize then. The rest of the quote said that you didn’t attend YL because you were appalled by Wyldlife. So you were an active participant in Wyldlife? No where in your comments do you allude to being an active Wyldlife participant. That just wasn’t clear to me.

        You’ve stated a couple of times at least that your experience is limited (you only went a couple of times I thought) and that your statements here are largely based on what you’ve read on this blog. You seem to have made it known that you do not have first hand knowledge of YL practices and procedures. Like you’ve said – you are just elaborating on the things that ChristianAgnostic has thrown out there. You assume that his claims are valid and that your opinions (often presented as facts) are equally valid despite your lack of real experiences on the subject. And then you have the audacity to repeat saying that my statements are not factual even though I speak from my personal experiences as an outsider, as well as an active participant in myriad roles. My statements are based on real life experiences spanning the last 30 years.

        You can’t keep saying that your statements are facts backed up with evidence when you’ve already admitted you have none. You only have evidence of a poster which invites kids to attend YL without mentioning Christ. With regard to that, you KNEW what Young Life was about. Do you think that you are that much smarter than most of your classmates? You knew what it was about, but you are positive that other kids aren’t bright enough to figure out that the public Christian organization is in fact a Christian organization and will likely make mention of God or Christ?

        I think you are uninformed about Young Life. I realize that we disagree. I just think that every time you regurgitate those false claims, I might like to take a moment to mention some of the other things you’ve stated here. Most noteworthy:
        -you’ve never attended Young Life,
        -your experience and first hand knowledge of Young Life is limited to a Wyldlife meeting or two (3? 4?), and
        -you admit that your statements are limited to what you’ve inferred from reading the comments of other critics on this blog

        That’s all.

    • Randall Slack March 24, 2014 at 3:12 pm #

      VOL: I do hope I never meet you in person. Here in Texas, it is illegal, but understandable, to kick the living &#$@ out of a person from time to time. Sounds like you are about ready…

  90. StephenRay December 9, 2013 at 8:48 am #

    christianagnostic

    ok…enough on this point. I’ve never banned anyone on this site, but when it breaks down to personal attacks, I’m done.

    Seroiusly…either tone it down or your out!
    —————————————————————————————————————–

    I’ve said one thing over and over and he continues to act like I’m defending an organization. I’ve acknowledged that his daughter may have been hurt by the people in YL but then he acts like I never said it. “Stupid” is defined as showing a lack of ability to learn and understand things. Clearly he has shown an inability to understand what I have said in multiple prior posts. He also continues to insult in his own way. What I’ve done is attempted to be as abrupt as possible so there is no possibility for confusion and he might come to understand what I’m saying.

    Any debate I enter into, I do not take sides (until I am forced to do so). Since the beginning I have tried to make points and ask questions of people. I’ve both attacked and defended views and hold no affinity to either side. As such it angers me he talks of “pet groups” and act like some of the people on here are brainwashed. Quite frankly I have not seen anything logical posted from randall.

    christianagnostic, you have avoided questions and concerns I posted a long time ago as well. I thought this forum was here so that people could discuss and debate topics. Sadly there has been little discussion, nearly no input from you (except to praise people who supported your thesis), and people like randall who only come in screaming things happened without being able to step back and look at things without their emotions blinding them.

    • Randall Slack December 9, 2013 at 12:05 pm #

      SR: you win. You are smart and I an stupid. Do you feel better? You can go home now and put another notch in your gun.

      CA: I am sorry that it has come to this. I will not discuss this subject with this gentleman again. I began to post on your blog years ago (and will continue to do so) in an effort to show that Christians could hold rational, loving conversations. However, as you suspected, we can’t.

      I look forward to continuing to post comments; but just not with SR. Thanks.

  91. Ethan Payne (Junior in High School) December 9, 2013 at 8:46 pm #

    I guess we all have our opinions, but how could anything that is getting kids in a relationship with Christ be a negative? I know you didn’t blatantly say that you thought of Young Life as a negative, but even writing this just seems so… futile.

    You sound like a leader that isn’t able to take the stress God has asked you to carry for not yourself (you seem to have forgotten it’s not about you… nothing is) but for the kids who are walking the halls of their high school aimlessly wondering why they are doing what they’re doing.

    I was the popular kid at my high school my freshman year, smoked a lot of weed, drank with my friends, and absolutely dominated both sports I played, but felt lost… why was I doing anything? Even getting good grades seemed pointless and with no motivation.

    After being introduced to Younglife and the power of God’s love, I am currently one of the only student leaders in my grade, maybe sacrificing some of the popularity I had held in previous years. I saw life’s meaning, and our hearts longing desire to be in a relationship with God, while also craving to spread it to others.

    I am extremely saddened by this post, and I’m actually going to pray for you… and I’m not just saying that.

    • Sophie December 13, 2013 at 9:12 pm #

      That was a much nicer way of saying my thoughts exactly. I’m a senior this year, and Young Life has helped me tremendously. This insulted me. It doesn’t force you into anything or even make you pray. They love you no matter what. And for “love bombing” to work, it has to be real. People can tell when someone is uninterested in them, and my leaders have shown endless hours of dedication of their own free time, and spent more money on me than someone who was just told to.

  92. Sophie December 13, 2013 at 9:03 pm #

    You are so full of shit it makes me sick.
    As a former leader, you should know how much time and effort goes into Young Life club and its camps. Does it surprise me that they are told to love bomb? Not at all. But the amount in which my leaders have “love bombed” me shows only true dedication and passion for Jesus. They honestly love us. They would not pour endless hours of their busy lives and their own money into teenagers if they did not. Due to your pessimistic and quite frankly, paranoid views, I would take it that you were the kind of leader that really didn’t give too much of a shit about if high school students found Jesus or not. You probably just wanted to look good or feel as if you had a reason to get into heaven. Young Life helps teenagers everywhere, and if those teenagers choose not to follow it, they are still loved, and they are missed. They are not forced to come to club, they are not forced to go to camp, they are not forced to do anything. At our club, praying is always optional, and if we don’t want to, we don’t have to talk about Jesus with our leaders. They are our friends, and we can talk to them about, boys, school, politics, or whatever we want. I will repeat, because they actually care about us. Also, I would like to point out the amount of volunteer hours that go into Young Life, and how even the staff of young life have to go to camp for a month and help there at least every few years. People dedicate their lives to teenagers finding Christ, and that, my friend cannot be anything but positive. Young Life does not kill people for not joining or leaving, and Young Life never makes anyone do anything that they do not want to. So whereas selfish shitheads such as yourself may not have been in it wholeheartedly or for the right reasons, there are many people that are. Young Life is not a cult and clearly you have been calloused with aged and closed mindedness.