Tag Archives: Contact Work

Young Life Tactics-Cultic or Legit ?

16 Apr

Eric asked a good question that I didn’t want to get lost in the comments of Is Young Life a Cult .

He asked

“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?”

The short answer, is that Young Life employs tactics common to cults in many (not all ) instances.  Of course, this is just my own opinion. But it is how I see the issue.

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).

Young Life, School Prayer, and Student Rights

9 Mar

I mentioned in my last post, that I used to be a  Young Life leader.  For those ignorant of Young Life, it is an Evangelical Para-church ministry that primarily focuses it’s Evangelistic efforts on Public High School students.  When I was in college, I spent 5 years (yes I was on the 5 year program…) as a volunteer leader for Young Life.  This meant spending all most all of my free time hanging around the public High School to do contact work.  In other words, with the express purpose of meeting students on campus in hopes  of befriending them, and then using my relationships to invite kids out to Evangelistic clubs and camps run by Young Life.  Young Life called it incarnational ministry.

I was thinking about this today, as I visited the local middle school to attend a student conference for one of my kids.  On the walls, all throughout the school, were hand written signs for a student Bible study. Now that I no longer believe, I see these signs and cringe.  I’m also frustrated that the school allows their public spaces to be used for the promotion of the Christian faith (it specifically stated that it was a Christian Bible study).  Don’t get me wrong, Christian students are free to be Christians and talk about their faith…I’m even somewhat ok with the fact that some students with the same religion gathering together to discuss and study their beliefs.  But I am not ok with what appears to be an endorsement by the school.  I very much doubt, that the school would be comfortable with one of my kids starting a Jihadist study of the Koran, or an after school Astral Projection prayer session-you get the idea.

I’ve debated whether to say something, but I know that a large number of the teachers and office staff are Evangelical Christians involved with the local Young Life.  I’m sure they see this as just “allowing” something really good for students to be involved in and wanted to promote it (or let it be promoted).  After all, it was not that long ago that I was giving my time and money to do this very thing at my local public school.  What to do?