Tag Archives: Evangelicalism

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.

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 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.

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.

And just for fun…..

What to Do When Young Life Converts Your Teen?

27 Aug

When I went to Young Life as a teen, my parents were fully aware of the Evangelical nature of Young Life and it’s desire to convert and disciple teens into their version of Evangelical Christianity.  My own involvement caused no tension with my parents or their religious convictions.

When I was a senior in high school, I invited a girl friend to Saranac Lake.  She went and converted to Young Life’s version of Christianity.  This did not go over well with her family who was Roman Catholic and felt that my girlfriend had been preyed upon by Bible thumpers.

Her family was always kind to me, but they let it be known that they were unhappy with the decision to let their daughter be involved with Young Life.  But at that point, it was done and she continued to be adversarial towards her parent’s church and faith.

Recently, two comments have been left on the Is Young Life a Cult?-Freedom Responds post, expressing worry and one asking for advice.  I do have some thoughts, but I’m certainly not an expert and wanted to highlight their comments.  Please feel free to respond to our worried and Janet’s concerns and what you think they might need to do.

worried left this comment:

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.

and Janet recently added this comment:

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 young life people she had “met” through twitter and facebook over the summer, swooped in and became her best friends 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 pilgrimage. 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 ventriloquist, etc.), because of deciding she’d rather go to a young life barbecue. 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 state tuition – for her to go to church!
Any advice is greatly appreciated. I’m at a loss and worry constantly about it. :(

Help!

David Barton-A Victim of His Own Success

19 Aug
English: Portrait of Thomas Jefferson, founder...

English: Portrait of Thomas Jefferson, founder of the University of Virginia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I first heard David Barton speak at a large Calvary Chapel in the late 80’s and again in the early 90’s.  At the time, this fast talking, historical quote wielding teacher persuaded me that most of America’s founding fathers were Evangelical Christians.  That the United States was suppossed to be a Christian nation, and that liberals had scrubbed our Christian roots in order to promote secular humanism.

I assumed that what he said was true and it fit nicely with my own belief that Christianity should play a more prominent role in public life.  It wasn’t until I started to read and study history that I realized that much of what David Barton was saying was misleading.

One example from Barton that stands out, was his claim that most of the founding fathers had attended seminary.  At the time, it blew me away that so many of our nations leaders were seminary trained.  It seemed a convincing argument that our Christian heritage as a nation was being diminished by omission.

The only problem with his claim (as I found out years later) is semantics.  While it’s true that most of the founding fathers attended seminary, what I didn’t know was that most colleges or higher learning institutions were called seminaries.  In other words, the common usage just meant a school.

So if I was alive in the 18th century and attending seminary, it might have been a seminary for architects and have nothing to do theology.  For whatever reason, the word seminary has come to mean a school for Theological training in this day and age.  But at that time, it meant nothing more than a school of higher learning.  A detail that Barton omits and allows his listeners to assume that most founding fathers attended Theological seminary.  Which would be incorrect.

After coming across my own suspicions about Barton’s claims,  I was always curious to see his rise to prominence.  First as a speaker and self published author, then to hosting his own radio show, and finally to some prominence within political circles in his own state of Texas and some Federal officials.  Even appearances with Glenn Beck and featured in Time magazine.

But it seems that Mr. Barton has become a victim of his own success.  After years of flying under the radar, he hit it big with a publishing deal with one of the worlds oldest and most prominent publishing houses, Thomas Nelson.  Publishing a book on Thomas Jefferson titled The Jefferson Lies.

The book was supposed to show that Jefferson was actually an Evangelical Christian and that most of what we’ve been taught about him is untrue.  In a twist of irony,  the only lies exposed by the book have been the lies Barton has been telling.  The overwhelming response, even by Christian Historians, is that Barton’s book is full of unsupported claims and outright falsehoods.  So much so, that Thomas Nelson has recalled the book and put it out of print.

Here’s a quote from World Magazine about Barton’s book

Richards emphasizes that he and the scholars he consulted about Barton are politically conservative evangelicals or Catholics. They largely agree with Barton’s belief that Christian principles played a major role in America’s founding, but Richards argues that Barton’s books and videos are full of “embarrassing factual errors, suspiciously selective quotes, and highly misleading claims.”

Seems that Barton’s long run may be winding down.  And I’m glad…not because I don’t like what he’s saying (I used to).  I just think people claiming to care about truth, should tell the truth.

Is that too much to ask?