Tag Archives: Youth

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…From My Inbox

21 Nov

It’s funny, I’ve had very little time to blog recently.  Despite my inability to continue blogging, I’ve had many new readers and quite a few email conversations about my posts on Young Life.  You can read some of my previous posts about Young Life here, here, & here.

One of my email correspondents shared some of their perspective on Young Life and I thought it would make a nice guest post.  When I asked, they gave me their permission to post their thoughts.

I don’t mind sharing my experience with Young Life at all.

I was involved with Young Life during the first two years and a tiny bit of  my third year of high school before I realized it wasn’t something I wanted to be associated with. I think there’s this potential threat of causing division among students, and that’s just not right. Young Life basically divided my school into cliques and we all know the last thing a high school needs are more cliques.

Something else that occurred with Young Life, in my grade, was the ending of many relationships. The female Young Life leaders at my school preached that God should be the only man in our lives. Although I tried understanding where the leaders were coming from, I didn’t see the issue in dividing time between religion and boyfriends. The female leaders influence on many girls in my grade caused them to end relationships with long time boyfriends. One of my good friends was broken up with by his girlfriend. Her explanation was that she needed to give her time to one man, God.

I also recall during sophomore during club when one of the girls in my grade was crying to one of the leaders. The girl was dating another boy in our grade whose family practiced Hinduism. I wasn’t aware of what he did to make her cry, but the female leader’s response was, “Well what do you expect? He’s not a Christian boy.” Even though I didn’t know exactly what the boy did to make her cry, I know for a fact that his religion isn’t the reason for his actions. I thought it was completely unfair for the leader to accuse him of his wrongdoings based on his beliefs.

It wasn’t until Rockbridge, the winter camp during my junior year that I realized I had to quit this organization. During cabin time one night, our leader asked everyone, “So how does everyone go about trying to convince new people to attend club?” And the second she said that, it hit me. If people don’t want to come, then they should simply be left alone.

School is a place of education, not a place of religious education. One of the girls in the cabin replied, “I usually just give everyone a flyer, even if they’re Jewish because I still want to see them in heaven.”  That was when my personal beliefs started to initiate. I personally don’t believe anyone else’s religion is above another’s. It is no one’s place to tell someone who is Jewish or any other religion that they need to attend Young Life because they won’t end up in heaven.

Young Life caused so much division in my high school, I couldn’t wait to get out. Most of the people from my grade are leaders in college now. A lot of what you said in your blog about Love Bombing and the fact that you were to go after the “popular and more influential kids first” was very eye-opening. I realize now that’s exactly what took place in my high school.

Sorry this was so long, I really could talk about the negatives of Young Life for hours on end.

Young Life-How the “Cult of Cool” Crushed a Teen’s Faith

7 Aug

I was a Young Life volunteer leader for 5 years.  As a leader, we were encouraged to go after the “leaders” at our school.  The kids that everyone looked up to.  The ones that led the pack. Decades of ministry experience showed that if you could get a “leader” to come to Young Life, their followers would come as well.

In High School, the “leaders” are almost always the popular kids.  Kids with good looks, talent, or charisma.  In other words, they were cool.  I’ve dubbed Young Life’s method of targeting popular kids the “Cult of Cool”.  Meaning that there is an unhealthy emphasis on reaching “cool” kids and making sure that Young Life and it’s leaders are “cool”.

I know, I know…cool kids need to be loved too.  And I’m not saying that they shouldn’t.  But there are some unintended consequences that follow when you focus on cool.  One of them, is the kids that aren’t as cool, feel left out or marginalized.  For a ministry that claims to love all teens, it sure seems that the “cool” ones get most of that love.

You’re free to disagree (as I know many of you do), but I want you to understand how that played out for one Christian family whose daughter attended Young Life.  Here’s a brief summary from randall’s comments that I don’t want you to miss:

Young Life crushed the spirit of my younger daughter. She was “heavy” in High School, and some of the “top students” they target didn’t like her. So, after being involved and going to the former Soviet Union, she was told she could not be involved any longer. She has never recovered from the disappointment.
Are they a cult? I don’t know. Are they cold, insensitive and cruel? Without a doubt.

Responding on another post randall added this:

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

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.

More recently, he shared this:

You should take the time to read my comments from previous discussions. I am still dealing with a brokenhearted daughter who has turned her back on Jesus because of  Young Life.

Stop drinking the Koolaid…

I highlight what Randall has shared because I think it’s important to see what Young Life did in the case of his daughter.  She was a normal Christian kid, willing to travel overseas to share her faith.  But because she was overweight and didn’t “fit in” (read-not cool like us) the Young Life leader asked her to not come back to Young Life.

This is where the “cult of cool” can lead you.  Instead of showing love and acceptance, this Young Life leader showed shallowness and conditional love.  And that is a far cry from the mantra that Young Life exists to show every kid the love of God.

In the end, Young Life not only crushed this girls spirit, but they shipwrecked her faith.

I know this may sound odd from someone who no longer has faith.  But it’s wrong to treat families this way.  Randall was raising his daughter to be a Christian, and Young Life’s “cool” version destroyed it.

It may be a sin to bore a kid, but it’s even worse to destroy their self-esteem so that your club can stay “cool”.

 

PS from Randall-

It is not my desire to destroy Young Life. I hope that, if they read these comments, that real change will come and that everyone would be welcome. Ministries that “target” certain types of people (young or old) almost always damage those who “don’t fit in.” I’ve seen it and personally spoke with those who have been ignored because they were in the “target group.”

I pray that para-church groups will realize that they have responsibilities not to offend the least of these and respond accordingly.

5 Jul

Ok…I promise this is my last Young Life post over at the Christianagnostic. Still getting an unbelievable amount of hits from searches for “Young Life Cult” or similar type phrases and trying to move the discussion over to Young Life Watch. Not sure it’ll work, but here goes…

Young Life Watch

I think it’s important to highlight instances of area directors that have been convicted of sex abuse with minors and molesting teen boys.

Does it make all of Young Life staff guilty of similar offenses?  No and I’m not equating all staff with these few men that have been convicted.  But I do want to point out the fact, that such abuses have occurred.  Especially since they involve  area directors.

Area Directors are paid full time staff.  They are responsible for recruiting and training volunteer leaders.  Usually run at least one Young Life club in their area.   And are responsible for organinzing Young Life weekends and weeks at camp.  Many times, area directors will be a camp director for 1-3 months of the summer.

All this to say, Young Life area directors affect a lot of people and are in constant contact with teens through club, weekends, weeks, and…

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Is Young Life a Cult ? Introducing….Young Life Watch

11 Jun
English: YLlogo

English: YLlogo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I started this blog, I had no idea what I’d be writing about and how people would respond.  Overall, I’ve found that I love to write and genuinely enjoy the folks who take the time to comment and add to the discussion.

One of my big surprises, has been the huge amount of hits due to Google searches on Young Life.  In fact, the number one search engine phrase that people use when clicking to the christianagnostic is “Young Life Cult” or some similar phrasing.  It seems, that there are a lot of people with questions about Young Life, but there are not a lot of places on the web that discuss the ministry with candor.

Since the focus of my blog is not exclusive to Young Life, I’ve set up a separate blog called Young Life Watch.  All of my older posts dealing with Young Life can be found there, and hopefully, it  can be a place where people with questions or insight to Young Life can go and discuss the relevant issues.

If you have story to tell, or a question about Young Life, please click on over and add to the discussion!