18 Jun

I’m still getting a ton of hits from folks searching for info on Young Life. Just wanted to highlight a new post over at Young Life Watch.

Young Life Watch

One of my bone of contentions, is Young Life’s lack of honesty.  What I mean is this,  Young Life is an Evangelical Christian outreach to teens.  Their goal is to win an audience with teens and convert them to an Evangelical form of Christianity.  The problem is, that Young Life leaders are often coached to be vague with non-Christians.  In other words, hiding their true intent to convert teens.  This is deceitful, in my opinion.

Let me give you an example of what I mean.  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…

View original post 328 more words

Advertisements

23 Responses to “”

  1. Former YL Staff June 18, 2012 at 10:22 pm #

    I am a former YoungLife staff person and I just happened on your site. I left YL staff in 2010 after 18 years to go into another ministry opportunity. I have read enough of the posts on your blog to see your opinions of YL and I am not going to try to argue the other side. What I would like to say to you and those reading is this: YoungLife is not what you have perceived it to be. I can not speak for what you and others have experienced, but I know, from the origins to the structure and philosophy of the mission, that what YL seeks to do is not what you have describe in this blog. The heart of YL (as a whole) and each staff and leader that I have ever known is purely focused on sharing the gospel of Jesus to teens that need to hear it. The approach is to genuinely love for teenagers, unconditionally, just like Christ modeled in the Scriptures.

    If anyone has come to a YL club or camp and felt left-out or had a leader disappoint them in some way (a few of the comments I saw), then that is so unfortunate because that is not the YL I know. But I assure you that that is the failings of an individual and not the reflection of the ministry.

    Anyway, I would be glad to answer any questions that you have about YL if you are willing. Blessings!

    • christianagnostic June 18, 2012 at 11:13 pm #

      Thanks for your reply…I think your perspective would be invaluable. To be clear, I spent 8 years in YL. Three as a campaigner and five as a volunteer leader.

      I guess I’m wondering what you think of my observation, that YL does not disclose to non-christians that it’s sole mission is to convert teens to Christ. As an adult with teeneagers, I find it troubling that YL often keeps it’s Evangelistic intentions vague to parents and teens.

      Again, thanks for the comment and I look forward to your views.

      • Former YL Staff June 19, 2012 at 1:52 am #

        Hey CA, actually, if you count all my years involved (I just included staff before), I was 3 yrs in high school (club, campaigners, camp), 2 yrs as vol leaders, then 18 on staff.

        I saw your post with the quote about what to say to Christian kids and to non, and my initial thought was that that must have come out of a local area training manual. I have never seen that in my old material or anything national. Until very recently, YL did not do a great job of dictating exact training material for areas. You would think that an org that large would print out a manual for volunteers and say,”this is what you will use”, for the sake of consistency. The staff had one and there was great materials floating around within certain regions/areas, but each area was responsible to put its own material together. So you’d end up borrowing content from staff training manuals, the website, and other staff. Sometimes you write your own based on your experience. Unless I saw that in a national training manual/site, I would bet that it was written by a young area director who was (slightly) afraid of the Gospel (Rom 1:16). At all of my schools over the year, YL being a Christian organization wasn’t a secret. Everyone knew that, but what they also knew that it was fun, non-threating, and a place that they could hear the Truth and actually understand it.

      • christianagnostic June 19, 2012 at 7:27 am #

        I think you make a fair point (about local manuals), the manual I quote from, is not too far from where I currently live. I didn’t link to it because it has the names of some local volunteer leaders and I don’t think it’s fair to them.

        However, for parents in my area (which has a large Young Life presence in many schools) I wonder how many parents know the full extent of Evangelism that occurs at Young Life clubs and camps?

        As a former Young Life leader, the only time I was ever concerned about parental consent was when a kid was signing up for a week of camp. Beyond that, it never occurred to me that contact work with minors, is not ethical. I say it’s not ethical, because I did not have permission to speak and relate with their teens.

        I’m sure you’ll disagree…but how would you feel if you found out that the local Muslim Cleric had befriended your teenage son and was trying entice him to go to “Youth Adventure” (I’m making this up) where he’d have a great time at a summer camp.

        He wants to go because his friends ( and some girls he’d like to be friends with) are going, and all they talk about are the lakes, the mountains, the rock climbing, etc…I think you see where I’m going with this, so I’ll stop.

        But how would you feel about it?

  2. randallslack June 19, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

    “The heart of YL (as a whole) and each staff and leader that I have ever known is purely focused on sharing the gospel of Jesus to teens that need to hear it. The approach is to genuinely love for teenagers, unconditionally, just like Christ modeled in the Scriptures.”

    I don’t believe it even for a second. My daughter was/is still a victim of YL.

    “…they also knew that it was fun, non-threating, and a place that they could hear the Truth and actually understand it.”

    It wasn’t fun for my daughter when she was told she couldn’t participate because the “other” kids didn’t think she fit in (she was overweight and not part of the “popular” crowd). When we approached the Leader, she had no answer; she just walked away.

  3. Former YL Staff June 19, 2012 at 4:47 pm #

    CA- In my experience, the parents and the schools supported YL and the parents that I knew were more than happy to have us hanging out with their kids. As far as your statement about evangelism being unethical, yes you are correct, I do disagree. Atleast in the way that I have seen it done. As you know, YL calls it “Friendship Evangelism” where you “win the right to be heard”. This sounds cliché but is truly how I and other staff looked at it. I would have lots of light-hearted conversations with kids, sometimes for a year or more, before I would ever see them come to Club. As a matter of fact, I had a rule with my leaders that you never invite someone to a YL event without first being asked, “Where is YoungLife tonight?” That way they would always remember why they were there (to be a friend, not to promote an event). I had hundreds of friendships with kids that never came to any YL event (club, camp, etc).

    In regards to your question about my son being invited to a Muslim event, I would say this. It is my job as a parent to teach my children about God and to raise them to know right from wrong. So, if my child was invited to such an event, I would expect him to know the difference (and they do). But I know that that is not the norm with parents today and so I always encouraged parents to look at us and investigate YL. Many did, and those parents had to make their own decision. I certainly knew kids & parents who were not pro-YL but that was usually because they wanted to be involved in other groups where they would feel more comfortable (home church group, etc).

    To Randall, I am so sorry that your family had that experience. It truly hurt me to read your words and I can tell you sincerely that the YL folks that I have known and served with for 15 years would feel the same way. When I read your statement, it reminded of a less significant, but maybe relatable story in my life. I love to eat at Outback. We go there all the time in my city. A few months ago my wife and I were out of state and went to eat at an Outback in that city. It was bad. The steak was burned, the bread was stale, and the service was poor. We were so surprised. The next day I decided to send a complaint on the OB website and I actually got a call from a district manager. He apologized for that experience and said something that I think applies here. He said that throughout Outback, the food is the same quality and the recipes are the same. The structure and standards are expected from restaurant to restaurant, but the difference that I experienced was the management at that local store. I think that person should either be fired or at least, re-trained. I say the same thing regarding your daughter’s unacceptable experience with YL. That is the fault of that leader (and therefore that director) but is not the standard and normal practice of the overall mission. YL used to have a slogan that was “Every Kid”. Your daughter fits into that slogan and would have been welcome in my or 99.99% of any other YL club. I don’t represent the org anymore but I am deeply sorry for her and the damage that it did to her self-confidence and personal development. They were wrong, and I am ashamed that they did that in the name of Christ and YoungLife.

    • christianagnostic June 19, 2012 at 4:58 pm #

      To be clear, I do not think Evangelism is unethical. It is well within your rights to share your faith and seek out an audience for your views.

      What I think is unethical, is relating to minors without parental consent and full disclosure of your intentions to Evangelise.

      I too always made sure to be a friend first, but it would be a lie to say that I wasn’t hoping that my friendship would earn me the chance to present my faith.

      Again, it never occurred to me that parents have the right to know when an adult is in contact with their children. Especially since the specific purpose is being an advocate of Christianity.

      If I as a parent, don’t realize that you are already befriended and seeking influence with my teen…then you have taken away that choice from me as a parent. That is unethical in my opinion.

      • Former YL Staff June 19, 2012 at 5:32 pm #

        I think those are all fair concerns. All parents should know who their kids are talking to, especially when that person is an adult. They should research the organization that their child is attending and possibly even set up a time to meet the leader first. That is good parenting.

  4. randallslack June 19, 2012 at 11:56 pm #

    There is a hell of a difference between a burnt steak and the soul of a child. A very poor (and ignorant) comparison.

  5. christianagnostic June 20, 2012 at 5:53 am #

    Randall-

    I cringe ( as a father myself) whenever you share about the humiliation your daughter endured. Part of me wishes I still had faith…I would offer to pray.

  6. Former YL Staff June 20, 2012 at 5:07 pm #

    Randall,
    The point of my story was not intended to be a comparison but a symbolic example of how we can point blame in the wrong direction. I think I was clear about my regret and sorrow felt for your daughter. I agree with christianagnostic in that, as a father, I too cringe at the humiliation that she endured. I have been in prayer for her since I first read your statement and will continue. Forgive me if my example was received wrongly.

    • christianagnostic June 20, 2012 at 5:21 pm #

      Ok…hazards of two blogs. But this comment came in from a former YL staffer over at YL Watch.

      as a former YL staff, I am saddened by this article. I once loved the organization and do believe there are a few who have a wonderful heart. But can 100% agree on everything that was stated. YL is corrupt and full of men who should not be around teenagers.Communication and organization lacks along with professionalism. YL loves to cover up problems and is loyal to veteran leaders. I know for a fact that there is an area director who is married to YL leadership having an affair and is a pervert and still on staff. It is incredible how these people feel that they are not deceiving our future generation.

      Original comment is here

      • Former YL Staff June 20, 2012 at 6:11 pm #

        I have been in and around YL (as a kid, leader, staff, and post-staff) for 25 years. I have never seen, heard, or remotely thought of anything that this former staff person has stated.

        I have submitted a few questions for that former staff on the other blog. As someone who seems to be a believer (he didn’t say otherwise) and is slandering a 70+ year old International Christian Ministry, I want to make sure that he has real grounds to do so. Our friend Randall does, but if he was a young guy who dreamed of being on staff with the ministry that he grew up with and, after going through the two year training, wasn’t deemed qualified, and is now bitter, I won’t let that voice go unchallenged.

      • christianagnostic June 21, 2012 at 6:56 pm #

        I have submitted a few questions for that former staff on the other blog. As someone who seems to be a believer (he didn’t say otherwise) and is slandering a 70+ year old International Christian Ministry, I want to make sure that he has real grounds to do so. Our friend Randall does, but if he was a young guy who dreamed of being on staff with the ministry that he grew up with and, after going through the two year training, wasn’t deemed qualified, and is now bitter, I won’t let that voice go unchallenged.

        How do you know it’s slander? It’s fair enough to ask questions to be sure the claims are true. But you seem to have the assumption that this is a young person who is just bitter and making it up.

        You are speculating about their motives before they’ve even hinted at what they are.

      • christianagnostic June 21, 2012 at 7:04 pm #

        I have been in and around YL (as a kid, leader, staff, and post-staff) for 25 years. I have never seen, heard, or remotely thought of anything that this former staff person has stated.

        Have you read my post Young Life Leaders…Behind the Smile ?

        Other public record cases include this and this .

  7. Former YL Staff June 22, 2012 at 1:56 am #

    “YL is corrupt and full of men who should not be around teenagers” = SLANDER. You have said yourself in the post you just shared with me that not all YL staff/leaders are bad, yet this individual uses the word “ALL”, and calls the entire ministry of YL “CORRUPT”. He didn’t ask any questions, he made that statement. That is slanderous!

    In regards to your other comment, I am not assuming that he is young and bitter, I am asking him a few follow-up questions to determine if I think he is young and bitter. Secondly, I never said he was making it up- I don’t believe that.

    On your other reply, I was not aware of those stories. Those were all new to me. With that said, this whole blog and all the many comments in your favor are still a very minimal representation of overall opinions of YL. I could flood this site with hundreds of positive testimonies regarding YL. I not going to do that because I don’t think the mission of YoungLife needs defending. I appreciate a few things about you and this blog: 1) you have been honest, 2) you have not said YL is a cult, etc, but given your examples and left the question open, 3) you have not made blanket comments like “YL is corrupt”, etc, 4) you have continued this friendly debate with me with respect. But, if I can sum up your criticism of YL it seems mostly two-fold: First, they should be more forthright about their spiritual intentions to kids coming to club and going to camp & 2) there are staff and leaders in various parts of the country who are not living up to the moral standards of an ambassador of Jesus Christ. In both cases, I agree. YL leaders and staff should be open to who they are and what they are doing. In my experience, they are. I’ve never heard of a kids coming to camp and being surprised that its a Christian camp. Maybe its happened, but it would be a very unique scenario. And yes, there are lots of people in ministry (paid and volunteer) not living the way they should. There is sin in the world and “the thief comes to kill, steal, and destroy” (John 10:10a). I don’t excuse it nor do I think YL (as a mission) does either. If an Area Director excuses it, he/she should be fired.

    • christianagnostic June 22, 2012 at 6:46 am #

      Former YL Staff-

      I agree, that the statements made by the other Former is a more broad sweeping statement. I do wish they’d come back and clarify why they feel that way. But I can’t speak for them. I wouldn’t call it slander, because I have no way of knowing whether it’s true or false. But it is their opinion, and that’s why I have the site. So that anyone can voice their opinion or share their story. I think most folks can navigate the difference between a believable story and someone with an axe to grind. Right now, I don’t have enough info to judge.

      I agree, that most of the YL folks I knew were good decent people. I do question some of the methods and some of the moral failings I was aware of at the time. I think you have correctly understood my concerns, so I won’t repeat them.

      The only reason I addressed your questions to the other former is because of my experiences over at SGM Survivors. In short, SGM is a cult. Many times, supporters will come on the Survivors board and be combative, essentially claiming we are just bitter and should stop taking shots at such a Godly church. They are often shocked to learn the extent of corruption and even criminal activity that has gone on over the years from the top down, among it’s pastors.

      Just because a majority of the folks in these churches have never seen or experienced these types of abuses doesn’t mean they didn’t happen. I don’t know if that helps or muddies the water. But that’s the context of my concerns.

      I do appreciate the conversation and hope you’ll check in. To be honest, I really, really hope that incidents like the ones I linked are isolated and not widespread. But I’ll leave the site up for folks to see for themselves.

      Thanks again for your perspective.

  8. Former YL Staff June 22, 2012 at 4:13 pm #

    christianagnostic-
    I’m glad that we have had these conversations. I feel like I understand your take on some of the ministries that you were once a part of. Honestly, after reading your last reply I had to Google SGM because I am not familiar with it. I plan to read some of your other (non-YL) posts because I am interested in how you got to where you are today. I hope that we can continue the conversations. Peace!

    • Former YL Staff June 22, 2012 at 4:17 pm #

      PS, I don’t know what “Your comment is awaiting moderation” means. I didn’t type that.

      • christianagnostic June 22, 2012 at 5:14 pm #

        sorry…for some reason your comment went to spam. Should be good now…

    • christianagnostic June 24, 2012 at 3:34 am #

      Thanks…peace to you and yours as well!

  9. Former YLstaff II June 23, 2012 at 6:52 pm #

    I do want to clarify my comments. I apologize if they seemed slanderous, not my intention. YL is a fined oiled machine that does work well with the unchurched teenagers. Camping is amazing along with building relationships. It works, the downfall is the tenure of staff and enforcing their high moral beliefs. YL has some major holes with that. I have experienced many many wonderful honest men who have served on staff or volunteered. My old area has just been under some turmoil. I have seen many great morally sound staff come off just to protect YL and cover up this situation. I do have a high sense of loyalty for YL and love their work. I do hope one day YL will take a closer look at what is happening locally.

    • Former YL Staff June 24, 2012 at 2:09 am #

      Former Staff II – Thanks for both replies and for what seemed like a toned down response that clarified your stance. You did not say anything that I didn’t agree with. It sounds like the situation that you were responding to was a failing in leadership. Someone, a Committee, Area Director, Regional Director, or higher should have done a better job of knowing who they are leading and clean house when needed. I couldn’t agree more.
      I saw lots of failings in my 15 years as an AD. From leadership (not caring well for staff, etc) to lacks of training and more, but I agree with you that YL is a worthy ministry that has done good in millions of lives.
      I hope your experience with YL didn’t, in any way, pull you away from your relationship with Christ. Blessings to you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: