Is Young Life a Cult?-Freedom Responds…

7 May

Freedom responded to my last post, Is Young Life a Cult?…

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.

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41 Responses to “Is Young Life a Cult?-Freedom Responds…”

  1. christianagnostic May 7, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

    First off, thanks to Freedom for taking the time to respond (and to all who take the time to comment-what fun is a blog without comments?).

    What struck me, is Freedom’s comparison of Young Life to the home based marketing brands, like Mary Kay. The fact that they both use relationships and emotional bonds to sell a “brand”. I saw it in action just the other day, as a Mary Kay representative chatted up another customer at our local grocery store.

  2. jonnyscaramanga May 7, 2012 at 9:17 pm #

    By the way, thanks for the tips on identifying cults. I will have a similar “Is X a Cult?” post coming soon, thanks to you.

  3. freedom May 8, 2012 at 12:14 am #

    Thx for posting!!!!!! I know people that have been in Mary Kay, Pampered Chef and Southern Living, etc…. it’s amazing how close what they do really is to YL. I think Amway was the first to push that whole model, but I am not sure who created that whole sales model (build on relationships, small group meetings, big conferences) but YL definitely copied it from either Mary Kay or Amway. My guess would be Amway (just a guess) because Mary Kay is run by a female and evangelical Christianity for the most part is male leadership oriented (the Church has tried to keep women out of leadership since shortly after Jesus died, but that’s another topic).

    Is there one person that was behind the foundation of Young Life? I don’t know much about the history of the organization.

  4. freedom May 8, 2012 at 12:34 am #

    I did a little online research on the founder, so that answered my question! BTW – looks like the YL camp in my state is in the same location as one of the largest Boy Scouts camps in the country….Just for fun, I looked up YL on urbandictionary.com – here’s one of the definitions of Young Life:

    A cult in disguise as a place for teens to learn about God. Usually held at some adults house where they play pointless games and sing songs that are suppose to help the young lifers become closer with God.
    Kid 1: Wow, I’m never coming back here again
    Kid 2: Yea, seems like a cult to me

    Serious Young Life Kid: HEY GUYS! COME ON WERE ABOUT TO DOUSE JIMMY IN WHIPPED CREAM AND THEN SEE WHO CAN LICK IT ALL OFF HIM THE FASTEST!!!!! ISNT THIS GREAT?!?

    • christianagnostic May 8, 2012 at 1:27 am #

      LOL…ok, a little too simplistic, but funny none the less!

      What it’s missing, is that all you need is one real cute guy or girl up front, and then a whole gaggle of kids will follow you all the way to camp…not kidding, BTW.

  5. Lorena May 8, 2012 at 4:17 am #

    I’ve always said that Amway is a cult …. so

    • christianagnostic May 8, 2012 at 6:42 am #

      so… a ministry that has many similarities (to Amway) may be a cult as well?

      • Lorena May 8, 2012 at 2:40 pm #

        Most definitely! Isn’t Young Life a branch of Campus Crusade for Christ … They’re trying to imitate HItler there, in my experience.

  6. Freedom May 8, 2012 at 12:32 pm #

    Google YOUNG LIFE CULT – there’s a lot of people that think its a cult. Interestingly, when I typed in YOUNG LIFE, CULT was one of the auto-fill options on google

  7. christianagnostic May 8, 2012 at 3:01 pm #

    Lorena-

    you said

    “Most definitely! Isn’t Young Life a branch of Campus Crusade for Christ … They’re trying to imitate HItler there, in my experience.”

    Actually, Campus Crusade and Young Life are similar, in that their goal is to win people to Christ. But in my experience, there was always a rivalry (nasty sometimes) because the two ministries were very different in their approach to Evangelism.

    Crusaders were trained to be ready to share the 4 Spiritual Laws at the drop of a pin. But Young Lifers practiced relational/ Friendship Evangelism. In other words, Young Life taught people to become friends with someone first so that you could “win the right to be heard” when presenting the Gospel. Very Amway like approach, now that I think about it.

    As for being Hitler like, I assume you mean the way they organize youth clubs in order to indoctrinate.

    I’d be interested to hear your experiences with Young Life, if you’re up for it.

    • Lorena May 8, 2012 at 4:26 pm #

      My experience was with Campus Crusade. I volunteered to work in their local office for a few weeks. They interview you to check your suitability and ask questions like, how many times a day do you pray? How many times a week do you witness? What do you think about first thing in the morning?

      Very invasive stuff. It’s like being in the military. The people there felt phony to me, and they must have been. You have to pretend heavily to belong. For example, I found a former co-worker there playing the role of saint. I knew he was a smoker and a drinker.

      • christianagnostic May 8, 2012 at 5:39 pm #

        “Very invasive stuff. It’s like being in the military.”

        I guess they named it Campus Crusade for a reason….

  8. Freedom May 8, 2012 at 3:45 pm #

    Lorena – Hitler Youth came to mind when I read CA’s first blog about YL……

  9. jonnyscaramanga May 8, 2012 at 3:54 pm #

    By the way guys, I recommend the book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” by Robert Cialdini. I’ll get around to a book review explaining how its ideas relate to religion at some point.

    It’s a book explaining psychological factors that explain our actions. One of the principles is reciprocation: As human beings, we find it really, really hard not reciprocate when someone does us a good turn or gives us something. There are good evolutionary reasons for this (the survival of the gene pool is enhanced when people help each other out) and social reasons too.

    This mechanism is easily manipulated though. That’s why Amway will give you a free sample: we feel obliged to buy (Cialdini actually uses that example). Hare Krishnas will give you a free gift because then most people feel obligated to donate.

    And that relates to this because… Who hasn’t seen a Christian Youth Event that lures you in with free pizza or friendship?

    And once you join in once, Cialdini’s next principle, commitment and consistency, kicks in. Very interesting read.

    • christianagnostic May 8, 2012 at 5:37 pm #

      “Who hasn’t seen a Christian Youth Event that lures you in with free pizza or friendship? ”

      Exactly…there are no free lunches in Youth Ministry….a friend of mine used to call this “bait”. Brings new meaning to the phrase “fishers of men”.

  10. Emily May 16, 2012 at 4:42 am #

    I don’t want to get in on this or start an argument, but I have been involved with the ministry of Young Life for a long time. We do want high schoolers to know Jesus, but it’s because we have found a joy in that that we want to share. Whether or not they ever decide to make that decision, we want to be their friend. Young Life leaders genuinely care about young people. We do not ever want to emotionally manipulate. Every kid who is involved does so voluntarily. Our “success” is not measured by how many “members” we have. I don’t want to offend anybody, and if you never ever want to let your child set foot in a Young Life meeting, that is your decision. But I did want to implement a different perspective.

    • christianagnostic May 16, 2012 at 6:03 am #

      Emily-

      Thanks for taking the time to comment and offering your perspective. No offense taken…

      I totally understand your perspective…it’s the one I had when I was a Young Life leader. I totally believe that you care for the students you come in contact with at your local High School.

      I never wanted to force someone to follow Christ and I certainly didn’t think I was being manipulative. But I look back now and realize that it is manipulative to befriend someone with the sole purpose of evangelizing. I think it’s especially dicey, because it is often times adults, teachers, and college students that are actively seeking out young teens. By virtue of age, you have an advantage in the relationship.

      My other question, would be if you seek out parental consent before talking to any students?

      What I mean is this….When I did contact work, I would hang out at the high school (after hours) and try and introduce myself to any students I knew or didn’t know. Sometimes a student I knew would introduce me to a student I didn’t know. At this point, it never crossed my mind that I was relating to underage children (minors) without the consent of their parents. Parents have a right to know who their children are in contact with, especially adults who are seeking to influence their Religious views.

      Unless Young Life has changed, parental consent wasn’t even a concern that we ever discussed at Young Life leadership meetings or at Leadership retreats.

      Sorry, if this is long…just trying to be clear. Let me put it another way….
      How would you feel if you found out that a middle aged adult man had befriended your 14 year old? As you speak to your 14 year old, you learn that this man is a religious leader who leads the local chapter of Allah’s Youth (I’m making this up….)? How comfortable would you be? Wouldn’t you be concerned that this person was allowed on campus, or deliberately hanging out at football games in order to ingratiate themselves in your teens life and try to persuade them to their vision of Islam?

      Again…sorry that this is long. Feel free to respond or not…..Thanks again for stopping by and commenting.

    • christianagnostic May 18, 2012 at 3:27 pm #

      Emily-

      Not sure if you’re still reading, but I’d like to use your comment for my next post.

      Here’s a little of what concerns me about the whole parental consent issue. The following are two quotes from a Young Life Leadership manual published in 2008…,

      “How would you explain Young Life?

      Christian: Young Life is a Christian outreach to adolescents.
      Non Christian: Young Life is a non-profit that connects caring adults with kids.

      Christian: Young Life is a ministry that shares Christ with kids through relationships and helps them grow in their faith.
      Non Christian: Young Life is a faith-based organization that reaches out to high school and middle school kids through
      mentor relationships.”

      Notice that the manual is explicitly telling YL leaders to tell Non-Christian parents
      something less candid than what they tell Christians.

      I have a real problem with this-I think it’s unethical and somewhat deceitful.

      I have more thoughts on the subject that I’ll save for a post.

      • worried July 13, 2012 at 10:54 pm #

        So, My question is what to do next? My son is now 18. He has gone to several young life “get togethesr” over the past couple years. It was fun to him & many of his friends also attended. He just graduated high school and a couple friends talked him into going to the camp at Rockbridge. First thing that threw me off was they take their phones from them as soon as they get there. He went there as a free spirit excited about just having a good time before college. He came back six days later praising the camp, letting me and everyone else know (via social networking) that he excepted Christ into his life and that he is a changed man. He’s acting strange and I just don’t like any of it…What now? What happened there? Six days and my son is a totally different person, praising God & praying for me …lol. I want to support my son in every way but something just doesn’t sit right with me.

        Help!

  11. christianagnostic July 14, 2012 at 8:54 pm #

    Worried…yes, it’s been a common practice to take away all electronics and limit contact with family during camp. Another form of controlling the environment without consent. I doubt that most Young Life leaders tell parents or kids that they will force them to hand over their phones before entering the property.

    What happened there? Well your son probably had the most emotionally connecting experience of his life and is convinced that the experience validates the Christian message. My guess is that he would be unable to discern that much of what he saw and experienced is rehearsed and controlled with express purpose of making him choose whether of not to become an Evangelical Christian.

    What to do now? I really just don’t know what to tell you. I wish I had some foolproof advice on what to do, but I don’t.

    My only advice would be to continue to try and have an open loving relationship so that you can offer your perspective on the things that don’t sit right. Luckily, while Young Life skirts close to using cultic tactics, they don’t typically encourage people to cut off relationships. It’s why I hesitate to just brand them as a cult outright.

    In fact, they encourage their followers to be a witness for their new found faith by relating to people in hopes of “winning the right to be heard”. If anything, you may find that he wants to spend more time with you, in hopes of winning you to Christ.

    I hope that helps…please feel free to post any questions or updates on your situation.

    • Ren September 16, 2012 at 4:04 am #

      The proper terminology is EARNING the right… winning implies a game and salvation is not a game. Comments about seeking out the jocks and leaders is not accurate either. Kids who go to club regularly and make the choice to commit their lives to Christ and those who want to become “leaders” on YL are encouraged to invite friends to club, plan the music, select the games/skits/mixers. There are no requirements to be in YL, there are no “rules” or memberships. The reason phones/technology are not allowed at camp is simple- it is a distraction- look around- everyone is so plugged in to a screen that they miss the real world and real relationships around them. Regarding baptism of babies- look for this in the Bible- it is not there. Adults who confess their sins and make a decision to follow Jesus are the ones who should be baptized- it is a matter of obedience and a very personal decision. If you are confused about what YL is- go to a club, see about attending a camp week or weekend as an adult guest, ask the parents who host these clubs- educate yourself before making statements that are simply untrue.

      • christianagnostic September 16, 2012 at 7:45 am #

        Ren-

        I’m wondering if you’ve read my other posts about Young Life. Totally cool if you haven’t, they’re not all grouped together. I’ll link them at the bottom of my comment.

        Briefly, I was involved with Young Life for over 8 years. Three as a Campaigner/Student Leader and then five as a volunteer leader in 3 different clubs, all county club, worship leader for a couple leadership camps. helped open up Saranac Lake a couple times, and spent a month on staff at Lake Champion. I am not confused about Young Life and would consider my years of experience education enough to speak about what I remember.

        “The proper terminology is EARNING the right… winning implies a game and salvation is not a game.”

        Yes, yes…many Young Lifers talk about earning the right to be heard. But you’re just being nit picky about semantics. Many of the older Young Lifers used to talk about making the gospel “winsome” or talk about “winning kids to Christ”. I really don’t see the difference unless you force a sports analogy.

        “There are no requirements to be in YL, there are no “rules” or memberships. The reason phones/technology are not allowed at camp is simple- it is a distraction- look around- everyone is so plugged in to a screen that they miss the real world and real relationships around them. ”

        Ok…while claiming that there are no rules, you then turn around and defend a rule about phones and technology being disallowed at camp.

        I’m actually fine with this rule except for one thing…the rule is strictly enforced without notice. What I mean is this, if Young Life is not going to allow teens to use their phones and physically take them away, then teens and parents should know about this rule upfront, not 5 minutes before you pull into camp. Why withhold this information?

        Your sentiment about not missing the people around them is nice, but it really isn’t within Young Life’s right to force kids to do this without prior notice.

        “Regarding baptism of babies- look for this in the Bible- it is not there. Adults who confess their sins and make a decision to follow Jesus are the ones who should be baptized- it is a matter of obedience and a very personal decision. “

        And this strict form of Evangelical Christian interpretation of the Bible is why Young Life should be more upfront about the fact that they are an Evangelical Protestant ministry whose sole purpose is to disciple kids into their form of Christianity. By calling it a club or camp or whatever, you’re omitting the important distinction that Young Life is Evangelical in nature and is willing to indoctrinate teens into a form of Christianity that may conflict with the faith of their parents. Not letting parents of minors know this upfront is sneaky. It’s one of the most common complaints I hear about Young Life from parents who had no idea the depth of Evangelic teaching their child would encounter at a camp or club.

        Again, totally fine if that’s what Young Life wants to shoot for, but totally not fine if they are not upfront with parents and teens about their mission and beliefs.

        I’ll stop for now…since I’ve written a tome. Here’s the links about some of my own experiences with Young Life.

        https://christianagnostic.wordpress.com/2012/05/04/is-young-life-a-cult/

        https://christianagnostic.wordpress.com/2012/05/17/is-young-life-a-cult-young-life-leaders-behind-the-smile/

        http://younglifewatch.wordpress.com/2012/06/26/young-life-camp-whats-it-all-about/

        http://younglifewatch.wordpress.com/2012/06/12/its-a-sin-to-deceive-a-kid-or-a-parent/

  12. Janet August 24, 2012 at 12:54 pm #

    Worried, I’m having the same fears about my daughter. She started going to a “church” at our high school, which I considered cultish itself. They even allowed her to get baptized at age 17, without us knowing or our consent. I found out about it on facebook! The thing is, she was baptized in a catholic church when she was a baby.
    She started going to more and more young life and church related meetings, camps, etc.. She even started reading the bible all the time, and she doesn’t read books ever!
    Now, she just started college and of course, not knowing anyone, the youngl life people she had “met” through twitter and facebook over the summer, swooped in and became her best griends in just a day or two. These over the top Christian kids are the ONLY one’s she’s become friends wtih. The only organizations I see her expressing interest in are Christian organizations – Campus Crusaders, Young Life, etc. And I’m afraid that she’s going to even give up the one thing she absolutely loves – volleyball, because the practices and try-outs are the same night as young life leader training.
    I’ve told her that I don’t want her to go to college, just to spend her time at the high schools, recruiting kids for young life. We’re paying out of state tuition for her to attend the “school of her dreams”, and little did I know that it would turn into a religious pilgramage. If in fact she does give up the volleyball, which she’s wanted to play in college since she started playing in middle school, I don’t know what I’ll do. She’s already missed a lot of the freshman fun things to do (a ventrilaquist, etc.), because of deciding she’d rather go to a young life barbeque. She went to 4 church events (all wanting to bring college kids to be as one with Christ), in the first 3 days……
    When I’ve asked her about friends, she talks about the young life people and how “nice” they all are….
    I’m really worried. I don’t know what to do or how to talk to her without her rebelling and becoming even further entrenched. 😦
    I’m not paying for college – especially out of statue tuition – for her to go to church!
    Any advice is greatly appreciated. I’m at a loss and worry constantly about it. 😦

    • christianagnostic August 25, 2012 at 8:10 pm #

      Janet-

      Thanks for your comment….I’m sorry to hear about the tension that Young Life has caused. I do have some thoughts but I’m on the way out the door. I’ll try to put my thoughts together for you tonight.

      I might post your comment to the front page to see if anyone else might have some advice as well.

      thanks-CA

      • Allie P. Ackard September 11, 2012 at 10:21 pm #

        “When I’ve asked her about friends, she talks about the young life people and how “nice” they all are….
        I’m really worried. I don’t know what to do or how to talk to her without her rebelling and becoming even further entrenched.”

        This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. You’re worried about her meeting “nice” people?

        Would you prefer her getting plugged into a crowd that smokes pot, plays beer pong, and sleeps around?

        I have many friends who went through Young Life, and it has done nothing but help change their life for the better. Young Life’s mission is not to make people “Young Lifers”. It’s about getting them plugged into a church if they want a relationship with god. Most people who go to Young Life know NOTHING about god at all.

        Anyone who I’ve ever heard say anything about Young Life says “It was not YL that changed my life, it was Christianity. Young Life was just the avenue it took for me to understand it.”

        Young Life is a volunteer ran non-profit organization, no body has any “Rewards” for having more kids at their Young Life.

        I like to think that if I were a super “Religious” person that I would give my teenage child the freedom to explore all the avenues of her spirituality, and not force on him or her what I believe.

        I suggest people like myself who do not get the spiritual side of things, let your kids figure out for themselves who they are.

        Seacrest out.

  13. christianagnostic September 12, 2012 at 4:52 pm #

    Allie-

    Thanks for your comment.

    There’s a few things you’ve said that are not accurate and a few issues that I’ll try to clear up.

    This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. You’re worried about her meeting “nice” people?

    Would you prefer her getting plugged into a crowd that smokes pot, plays beer pong, and sleeps around?

    Let’s talk about nice people. Of course we all want our children to grow up and be nice and hang around with nice people. But there’s one thing you are forgetting. Many people will be nice because they hope to gain your trust to their advantage. They are nice because they have an agenda.

    Cults do this, it’s called love bombing. I’ve met very nice folks who wanted to be my friend, only to find out they wanted me to be their Amway down-line. I’ve met nice people who want me to join the Jehovah Witnesses. I’ve met many nice people, who in the end, their main reason for being nice was to try and gain my financial support.

    Nice doesn’t guarantee safe. I know this first hand. Nice people are great, if they are truly nice. Nice people with an agenda is a whole other ball of wax.

    Young Life has perfected the art of being nice with an agenda. They are intentionally nice so that can try and win a hearing for their version of Evangelical Christianity. They may be the nicest, most well intentioned people on the planet, but it doesn’t change the fact they have a very specific agenda.

    Young Life’s mission is not to make people “Young Lifers”. It’s about getting them plugged into a church if they want a relationship with god. Most people who go to Young Life know NOTHING about god at all.

    I’d have to half disagree with this statement. I’ve known quite a few Young Life staffers and volunteers, on both coasts. While they certainly are committed to introducing teens to Christ, many of them are less than enthusiastic about church.

    I’ve had many a Young Life leader express disdain or frustration about their churches. Some have expressed that the only reason they go is because it’s the proper thing to do, kind of like eating your vegetables. This attitude isn’t universal, but it is prevalent.

    My other problem with your statement, is the idea that most who go to YL know nothing about God. I’m sure there are some, but many grow up in a family that attends church. They might not be in an Evangelical church, but saying they know nothing about God is not a fair characterization, in my opinion.

    Young Life is a volunteer ran non-profit organization, no body has any “Rewards” for having more kids at their Young Life.

    This is simply not true. Young Life has over 3,000 paid staff, according to glass door.

    http://www.glassdoor.com/Overview/Working-at-Young-Life-EI_IE26139.11,21.htm

    According to Charity Navigator, Young Life had revenues of $238 million and it’s CEO, Denny Rydberg, was paid $370,333 (that’s his yearly salary).

    http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=4791

    There is plenty of money flowing. You might only see the volunteer leaders, 95% are unpaid college students, but that is not the whole story. I was shocked, when as a volunteer leader that spent all my spare time and money doing club and contact work, I learned that Denny Rydberg was making more than a quarter million a year.

    I’ll stop there, since this is already approaching the length of a regular post (which, come to think of it, might not be a bad idea).

    Thanks again for the comment.

    • ... Zoe ~ September 13, 2012 at 3:36 pm #

      I very much appreciate this response to Allie.

      Jim Jones was once a “nice person” and a whole lot of people drank the koolaide.

      As well Christian youth/adults are not exempt from pot, beer and sex.

      • christianagnostic September 13, 2012 at 3:45 pm #

        Thanks Zoe…Not to beat the “nice” drum too much, but I’m one of those people who is naturally naive about nice people.

        I am trusting to a fault, it’s only because of being taken advantage of that I’ve learned to smell out when someone is being nice and when it’s just a form of manipulation.

        As for pot, beer, and sex… well, let’s just say I knew a few YL leaders who occasionally dabbled in this unholy trinity of the flesh. No one is exempt from indulging, even if they are in Christian leadership.

    • Ren September 16, 2012 at 4:14 am #

      You also neglect to mention that paid staff members are required to fund raise a large portion of their own salary. Those who volunteer are background checked and trained- then receive further training throughout their time as a leader. The amount of time and self that is given by volunteer leaders is done because they are living out their faith. Revenues… I would guess that all camp payments are a part of that- so be careful throwing around numbers without qualifying what those numbers represent. Any organization requires money to operate. YL is no different. A very high quality program is delivered with very high standards. Again, do the research before making statements that are untrue or only half the story!

      • christianagnostic September 16, 2012 at 7:18 am #

        Ren-

        Thanks for your comment.

        My response was not meant to be a comprehensive lesson on how Young Life is funded. But your input is welcome.

        You’re correct that many staff people have to fund raise their salaries. I’ve been to one too many banquets and remember the constant pressure on area directors to maintain their salaries by appealing for funds.

        “Again, do the research before making statements that are untrue or only half the story!”

        I’m not sure what your objecting to here, I linked the numbers I “throw around” to show folks where I got them. I was trying to point out to Allie that Young Life is not a volunteer run program exclusively and that quite a few people actually make a career out of being a Young Life leader.

    • Janet January 15, 2013 at 8:26 pm #

      Hi- I’m one of the original posters who wrote about my daughter, and who’s post Allie replied to. (which I actually just saw for the first time) My daughter has just started her second semester at college, and wouldn’t you know it – she is now a Young Life leader, and I’m just as worried.
      She continued to neglect things that used to be her passion for Young Life and related activities. I’m Catholic – went to Catholic school a couple of years, and to church every Sunday until High School. Now, I have to admit I don’t get there much at all, so her total religious zeal has me baffled. Young Life and all the church events she now attends – most nights of the week, have totally taken over her social life. She attended the Passion conference in Atlanta in early January, a religious gathering of something like $60,000 college students. Something about it just didn’t seem right when they boast about raising over $2,000,000 last year. These are college students who don’t have that kind of money.

      She’s also being told that Jesus is the only man in her life. That he IS first. I don’t like that, to be honest. I don’t see how she will have a true relationship someday, if that’s what she’s feeling. Maybe it’s my lack of a background, but it scares me.

      My biggest issue is that she’s become judgmental. She and I got into a huge fight over Christmas, when she told me that I “wasn’t a Christian”. I argued with her about my Catholic upbringing, etc., and her response was that I was not “spreading the word” or showing I am a Christian by my actions. I can’t tell you how hurt I was since I consider myself a good person who doesn’t hesitate to help others, who has raised over $12,000 on my own for Breast Cancer research, that has walked in numerous breast cancer walks, including the 60 mile, 3-Day walk three times. Just because I’m not at church every Sunday does not mean I’m not a Christian – at least in my book, but that’s what she’s being taught to think.
      I just don’t know what to do. Or know if there is anything I can do to try to make her see what’s going on. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe it’s fine. But I see that her life now revolves around this organization and all of her bible study nights, church services, etc. She told me that she’s worship every night if she could. And my take? I’m spending tons of money to send her to her dream school, out of state, for her to go to church…..

      And, now she’s one of those who will be influencing everyone else’s children.

      The problem is, she’s SO happy. I’ve never seen her so happy. And her friends that I’ve met are so nice.

      So, am I wrong? Am I just having a hard time accepting that she’s not the girl that I thought I had raised? The girl with such a passion for volleyball that it was all she wanted to do? That cared so much about her grades, that she hated to be a B? That she’s just now so different than I am that I’m uncomfortable with it? Or, should I truly be worried?

      Anyway, I”d appreciate any input. I DO have a problem with too nice, and the words you used – “Love Bombing” are exactly what I saw happening when she got to school…….

      a huge fig

      • Janet January 15, 2013 at 8:27 pm #

        That last “a huge fig” somehow inserted itself. 🙂 Sorry about that!

      • christianagnostic January 15, 2013 at 8:52 pm #

        A huge fig? Just kidding….

        you said

        My biggest issue is that she’s become judgmental. She and I got into a huge fight over Christmas, when she told me that I “wasn’t a Christian”.

        I’m sorry you’ve endured this type of attitude from your daughter. It’s not surprising, since Young Life essentially espouses a fundamentalist type of Evangelical Christianity. Most Young Life leaders I knew viewed Catholics as non-Christians or immature Christians.

        The problem is, she’s SO happy. I’ve never seen her so happy. And her friends that I’ve met are so nice.

        I don’t doubt she’s happy on one level. She has all sorts of friends and believes she is on a mission from God to save high school students from hell. It can be a heady and intoxicating environment. Again, her friends probably are some of the nicest people on the planet. I used to be one of those nice Young Life leaders.

        I wish I had some profound advice for you, but I don’t. I really don’t know what would convince your daughter to hear your point of view.

        If anyone else has an experience or advice for Janet, please feel free to chime in!

      • billiesue1 March 19, 2013 at 3:59 pm #

        Hi Janet….Oh I could give you an earful about this organization. I am a 54 year old woman who was raised in the Young Life CULT….ture so to speak. My father was a major leader in this organization. I was sexually abused by my father until he finally left our family. To me the organization is scary at a minimum. If you would like to discuss further perhaps we can exchange emails.

  14. Sarah December 10, 2014 at 2:27 am #

    I think you are very wrong about Young Life. What is so bad about a loving environment during difficult middle and high school years. From what I see all they do is encourage the kids, and support them. They attend things that are important to them, listen to them, are in a caring relationship with them. A safe place to have fun with their friends instead of partying and making bad decisions. The people who work and volunteer are making little to no money volunteering their time to these kids, many of them use their own money to attend their sporting events or take them out to eat. I am personally grateful for the leaders in my children’s life. And they did change, A positive change. YL teaches them to care and reach out to others with acceptance not based on their looks. All types of kids participate and all have issues they deal – YL leaders help them deal in a positive way, not by drugs, cutting, violence or the unhealthy ways kids deal with problems, by listening to them and taking the time to just be someone they can trust and come to. People find negativity in anything. If you are not a Bible believing Christian I guess you would be skeptical of someplace that teaches of Jesus Christ, however try getting involved and learning it may surprise you. Parents are always welcome at any YL activities, And the changes in the kids is a wonderful thing to witness.

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