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Young Life is an evangelical Christian ministry based in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The ministry was started in Dallas, Texas in 1941 by Presbyterian minister Jim Rayburn. Young Life operates globally as several different organizations with different focuses.
Young Life was founded by Jim Rayburn in October 16, 1941 in Texas. Jim Rayburn was a young youth leader who started a weekly club for high school students which evolved to Young Life with the collaboration of 4 other seminarians. The headquarters then moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado in 1946.
Young Life's organizations include:
- Young Life, which is geared towards high school students.
- Wyldlife, which focuses on middle school students.
- Young Life Capernaum, which focuses towards mentally and physically handicapped youths.
- Young Life Military, which focuses on children of active military personnel.
- YoungLives, for middle and high school girls that are pregnant or raising children on their own.
- College Life which trains and ministers to college students.
Camps and clubs
Young Life maintains summer camps in 14 American states as well as two camps in British Columbia, Canada, and one in the Dominican Republic. These camps incorporate Christian messages, with many secular activities mixed in.
The largest of Young Life's camps is the Washington Family Ranch (and accompanying Big Muddy Ranch Airport) in Antelope, Oregon. The ranch was formerly the site of the Rajneeshpuram, an intentional living community centered on the Rajneesh movement.
Young Life also runs the Young Life Club, which is a Christian social club for high school and college students. There are around 700 Young Life Club chapters worldwide, and usually one Club is associated with one high school. Each club is composed of volunteers who contribute their time to mentor and assist high school students based on Christian values and principles.
Criticism and controversy
In November 2007, Jeff McSwain, the Area Director of Durham and Chapel Hill, along with others, was fired after taking issue with the organization's "sin talks." McSwain's theology emphasizes that "God has a covenant, marriage-like relationship with the world he has created, not a contract relationship that demands obedience prior to acceptance [as in that of Young Life]." This statement alludes Young Life's Calvinism. Tony Jones describes Young Life’s Statement of "non-negotiatables" as telling staffers that "they must not introduce the concept of Jesus and his grace until the students have been sufficiently convinced of their own depravity and been allowed to stew in that depravity". Eight members of Young Life's teaching staff based in Durham, North Carolina resigned their positions after these "non-negotiables" were announced.
- "Young Life History". Retrieved 21 October 2013.
- "Find Young Life". Younglife.org. Retrieved 2011-12-12.
- Preusch, Matthew (2 December 2008). "Christian youth camp at ex-Rajneeshee commune gets $30 million gift". The Oregonian. Retrieved 4 June 2013.
- "Gospel Talk". Christianity Today. Retrieved 2011-12-12.
- "Something is Wrong at Young Life". Patheos. Retrieved 2011-12-12.
- Lawrence, Rick (17 December 2007). "Heartbreak and Controversy at Young Life". Simply Youth Ministry. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
- Cailliet, Emile; Young Life (1963)
- Meridith, Char; It's a Sin to Bore a Kid: The Story of Young Life (1977) ISBN 0-8499-0043-3
- Miller, John; Back to the Basics about the early years of Young Life including a lot of Rayburn's life.
- Rayburn, Jim III; From Bondage To Liberty – Dance, Children, Dance a biography by his son (2000) ISBN 0-9673897-4-7
- Rayburn, Jim: The Diaries of Jim Rayburn (2008) Rayburn's personal journals, edited and annotated by Kit Sublett Morningstar Press and Whitecaps Media ISBN 978-0-9758577-7-9