Youth for Christ

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Youth for Christ
Motto"Give life to your story"
Formation1944; 76 years ago (1944)
HeadquartersEnglewood, Colorado
  • Worldwide

Youth for Christ International (YFCI) is the name of a number of previously unaffiliated evangelical Protestant religious campaigns which led to the creation of Youth for Christ International in 1946. Youth for Christ is a worldwide Christian movement working with young people around the globe. The main purpose for the organization is evangelism, missionary work targeting young people.

History of Youth for Christ[edit]

Following World War II, some Protestant evangelists began ministering to the youth of America and especially the younger members of the U.S. Armed Forces. These formerly unaffiliated activities became collectively known as "Youth for Christ" campaigns and were inspired by the work of Jack Wyrtzen in New York City during 1940. Wyrtzen was a young ex-insurance salesman who had also played the trombone in a cavalry band. The Youth for Christ campaign idea spread to Washington, D.C., Detroit, Indianapolis and St. Louis. In 1944 Torrey Johnson, a Baptist minister and pastor of Chicago's Midwest Bible Church, staged "Chicagoland for Christ" and became the most successful advocate of this type of campaign. In 1944 Chicago pastor Torrey Johnson was elected Youth for Christ’s first president, with Billy Graham as its first full-time evangelist.

The 1950s[edit]

By 1950, Youth for Christ was already an international movement with Youth for Christ springing up in cities around the globe.[1]

The 1960s[edit]

In 1968, in a little publicized conference in Jamaica, representatives from different countries created the International Council of Youth for Christ with Dr. Sam Wolgemuth as the first International President. The number of nations with Youth for Christ ministry had grown to over 100.

The 1970s and 1980s[edit]

Youth for Christ continued its growth throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Different ministry models and ministry emphases were developed and refined to reach young people around the world.

During this time the current Youth for Christ logo was launched and adopted by the global organization.[2]

The 1990s[edit]

In 1996 a report was presented to the Youth for Christ movement in Taiwan, with recommendations for a restructuring of the organisation.


In March 2000 the Youth for Christ organisation met in Muhltal, Germany. Most of the leadership, including the International Board, attended the gathering. The Youth for Christ worldwide Staff and Leadership Conference (General Assembly) was held in Denver, Colorado later that year.

The Global Ministry Plan[edit]

In 2002, leadership teams worldwide again met in Hungary to further explore how various Youth for Christ entities could unite behind a global ministry initiative. After a week of deliberation and consultation, the participants developed the framework of what later became the Global Ministry Plan. Between 2002 and 2003, The Global Ministry Plan was communicated and discussed throughout the Youth for Christ movement.

After consultations with most of the Youth for Christ chartered nations, the Global Ministry Plan was unanimously approved by the General Assembly at a gathering of the worldwide Youth for Christ family in Belo Horizonte, Brazil September 2003.

At the Belo Horizonte General Assembly a new strategic focus statement was also adopted which is foundational to the Global Ministry Plan:

Youth for Christ reaches young people everywhere, working together with the local church and other like-minded partners to raise up lifelong followers of Jesus who lead by their godliness in lifestyle, devotion to the Word of God and prayer, passion for sharing the love of Christ and commitment to social involvement.

The British branch is now a member of The National Council for Voluntary Youth Services,[3] by virtue of its work for the personal and social development of young people.

2008 General Assembly – Young Leader's Process[edit]

In September 2008 the Youth for Christ worldwide family gathered in Magaliesburg, South Africa for the General Assembly. This was special event as over 350 young leaders from around the world joined the staff and a new initiative was launched: The Young Leader Development and Empowerment Process.

Formation of Youth for Christ International[edit]

In 1945 Charles Templeton of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and Torrey Johnson met with a number of youth leaders from around the United States at Winona Lake, Indiana. Their agenda was to form a working group that would become an organization known as "Youth for Christ International" which was born in 1946. Torrey Johnson was elected as its first president. Popular youth events such as Bible quizzing, which is now embraced by many Christian denominations, were originally begun as Youth for Christ activities.[4]

Billy Graham's evangelistic beginnings[edit]

Evangelist Billy Graham was the first full-time evangelist of YFCI. Graham took over Johnson's local radio program called Songs in the Night which was broadcast over a local station in Illinois and predated YFCI. Later still Graham left YFCI to form his own evangelistic association and commence the Hour of Decision broadcast.

Promotion by William Randolph Hearst[edit]

Success for YFCI came from the promotional publicity in the newspapers and magazines owned or influenced by William Randolph Hearst. Due to the publicity by Hearst during a Los Angeles campaign, Billy Graham suddenly became a media star.

By 1946 Youth for Christ International had approximately 300 units in the United States and over 200 overseas. The average attendance at rallies in 1946 was 350. The largest attendance at that time was 70,000 at Soldier's Field in Chicago.


Current President of Youth For Christ USA[edit]

Dan Wolgemuth, a 1977 Taylor University graduate, is the current president of Youth For Christ USA.[5]

Current International President[edit]

Dave Brereton is the current International Director of Youth for Christ.

Affiliated ministries[edit]

CTI Music Ministries is Youth for Christ International's official at large music ministry. They specialize in mobilizing short term musical missions teams to work with established ministry partners internationally, such as YFCI.


  1. ^ "Records of Youth for Christ/USA - Collection 48".
  2. ^ "The Logo & Its Meaning".
  3. ^ "National Council for Voluntary Youth Services". Archived from the original on May 12, 2013.
  4. ^ "Bible quizzers answer questions from God's word".
  5. ^ "#273 Taylor University".

Book references[edit]

  • Billy Graham, a biography, by Roger Bruns. Greenwood Press, Connecticut. 2004. ISBN 0-313-32718-1 (See pages 23–34 for details of Billy Graham's involvement with YFCI.)
  • Charles Templeton, Farewell to God, by Charles Templeton. McClelland & Stewart, Toronto. 1996. ISBN 0-7710-8508-7 See page 4: "Youth for Christ was a North American phenomenon in the 1940s. The atmosphere was informal and upbeat - more like show business than church - and young people flocked to the meetings in their thousands in various American cities. ... When a few months later a group of us formed Youth for Christ International, I was named as one of three vice-presidents and, at our first meeting, moved that we appoint Graham our evangelist-at-large."
  • Young Man on Fire: The Story of Torrey Johnson and Youth for Christ, by Mel Larson. Youth Publications, Chicago. 1943. Reprinted by Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4367-0738-1

External links[edit]