Young Life & The Problem With Nice People

14 Sep
Shiny happy people

Shiny happy people (Photo credit: Donna Cymek)

This was my response to Allie, from a comment she made concerning Young Life.  You can read the original post and comment here.


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 to 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 are 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 to 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.,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).

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.

And just for fun…..

6 Responses to “Young Life & The Problem With Nice People”

  1. christianagnostic at 7:58 pm #

    Reblogged this on Young Life Watch.

    • joe schmo at 9:16 pm #

      Hello. Is it typical for volunteers to pay $150.00 each to come in from another state to clean the Sharptop Campsite or (any other campsite in the YL ministry) in preparation for the next session of high schoolers. I believe it’s called service vacations. Have you heard about this? Volunteers PAYING to volunteer?

      • christianagnostic at 3:10 am #

        I’ve been on what we used to call work weekends. It was a volunteer basis to help run the camp and prepare for the next camp. I never had to pay a dime to volunteer.

        Maybe they’ve started to charge for food and transport to the camp, but that’s the first I’ve heard of a fee for those volunteering.

        Anyone been on a “service vacation” that can verify the details?

      • Janet at 3:58 pm #

        My daughter (the original one this post was based on – the one surrounded by the “nice” people) had to pay the full amount to go to camp last summer as a Junior Leader……. Granted, she wasn’t yet a leader, but she ran a cabin, organized games, etc. We paid the full camp fee – over $500 for her. No discount at all.

  2. joe schmo at 9:26 pm #

    Isn’t this YL group just another front for Zionist organizations that believe Christians are here as servants to all that the Zionists desire?

  3. Craig at 4:58 pm #

    Kind of a shame reading this…the first time I heard about YL was in middle school. I started going because it was really fun. I got to know the YL leader and throughout the next decade, I grew really close with him and his family. I became a leader in college and after that, now work for YL.
    Young Life changes lives; regardless if you believe in God or not. Some of the high school guys Im closest with would NEVER even think about sharing their issues with parents, school counselors, or even friends! So like any organization working with youth, I’m there to try to make a difference. Of course i would love for them to know Jesus, but that is not my reason for hanging out with them.

    To tackle your “Paid Staff” thought. Of course there is paid staff. There are over 30,000 Volunteers throughout the organization. Young Life is in all 50 states and in 70+ countries worldwide. My area alone has almost 100 volunteers. It would be impossible to manage that many volunteers without a full time staff person (and yes, 70% of our volunteers are Young Professionals/Post College). And 100% of the funds are directly provided from the area itself.

    Lastly, my hope is that you would talk to a Young Life Staff person about YL and the “whys” behind everything. Its too easy to settle for what you find on the internet or what you hear from other people. Young Life is an organization that changes lives. And I will say it again, of course we want kids to know who Jesus was and is, but we dont “love” kids based on whether or not they make that choice. Whether you believe in the bible or not, look into the character of who Jesus was (not what Christians are) and tell me someone better to model after?

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