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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Young Life
Young Life Logo.jpg
FormationOctober 16, 1941; 79 years ago (1941-10-16)
FounderJim Rayburn
HeadquartersColorado Springs, Colorado, United States
  • Worldwide

Young Life is a religious organization based in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The organization was started in Gainesville, Texas in 1941 by Presbyterian minister Jim Rayburn. Young Life operates globally using several different organizations with different focuses.

As of 2019, Young Life had chapters in 8,513 schools, with average weekly attendance at 369,600 across the organization. Young Life also has 67,000 volunteers as of 2019.[1]


In 1939, Presbyterian minister Jim Rayburn started the Gainesville, Texas chapter of the Miracle Book Club for high school students. The book club became Young Life on October 16, 1941. The headquarters moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado in 1946.[2] Young Life volunteer leadership began in the 1940s at Wheaton College, Illinois. At the beginning of Young Life's ministry its focus was directed almost completely to suburban high school students. By the early 1950s, it had begun ministries in approximately 25 urban areas. Young Life now has over 700 ministries located in 324 cities, reporting about 18,000 members.[3]

Camps and clubs

Swimming campers at Young Life's Washington Family Ranch.
Swimming campers at Young Life's Washington Family Ranch.

Young Life maintains summer camps in 18 American states[4] as well as camps in British Columbia, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Scotland, Armenia, and France.[5][better source needed] These camps incorporate Christian messages presented in a camp setting along with typical camp activities. The most recent Young Life property is Camp Lonehollow in Vanderpool, Texas, purchased in the Spring of 2019.[6]

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 Rajneeshpuram, an intentional living community centered on the Rajneesh movement, which in September 1984 used it to carry out the largest terrorist bioweapons attack on US soil.[7][8]

Young Life also runs local Young Life clubs for high school and college students, held weekly and in local areas, which include singing, skits, and where the Christian gospel is explained in short talks. There are around 700 Young Life Club chapters worldwide. Throughout the United States, some Young Life clubs are held in places such as churches or other places such as barns, fields, etc. Not every Young Life is set to one school. Each club is composed of volunteers who contribute their time to mentor and assist high school students based on Christian values and principles. [9]

Young Life also has branches specifically for teen moms called Young Lives, and for adolescents with special needs and disabilities called Capernaum. [10][11]

Additional properties

In addition to camps, Young Life operates clubhouses.[12] Young Life operates two clubhouses in Topeka, KS directly adjacent to Washburn University at 1615 SW College Ave and 1616 SW Boswell Ave. The property on College Ave is owned by Aim 5 Foundation.[13] The property on Boswell Ave is owned by Our Rock LLC.[14]

Young Life International

Young Life began an international program in the 1940s focusing on teens living on US military bases. Shortly after that, Young Life expanded from military bases to ministry with local adolescents. Young Life International reports divisions in more than 100 countries.[15]


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]."[16] Tony Jones describes Young Life's Statement of "non-negotiables" 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".[17] Eight members of Young Life's teaching staff based in Durham, North Carolina resigned their positions after these "non-negotiables" were announced.[18]

Young Life (USA) allows LGBTQ students to participate in Young Life activities, but does not allow them to volunteer or take leadership roles. In the organization's forms homosexuality is described as a "lifestyle" which is "clearly not in accord with God's creation purposes". Conner Mertens, the first active college football player to come out as LGTBQ, was active in the group as a teenager, and planned to work with the group in college, but not allowed due to his sexuality.[19][20]

Young Life's policy also extends to LGBTQ allies. Local leader Pam Elliott stepped down after being asked to remove a photo from her Facebook page showing her support for the LGBTQ community.[21][22]

Notable people


  1. ^ "Facts at Your Fingertips".
  2. ^ "Young Life History". Retrieved 21 October 2013.
  3. ^ "Young Life History". Retrieved 22 February 2016.
  4. ^ "Find Young Life".
  5. ^ "Find Young Life". Retrieved 2011-12-12.
  6. ^ "Camping".
  7. ^ Preusch, Matthew (2 December 2008). "Christian youth camp at ex-Rajneeshee commune gets $30 million gift". The Oregonian. Retrieved 4 June 2013.
  8. ^ "Once a cult compound, now world's biggest Young Life camp". East Oregonian. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  9. ^ "Younglife Leaders". Retrieved 2018-02-18.
  10. ^ Home. 2020-04-27 Retrieved 2020-04-27. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  11. ^ "Capernaum — Teens and Young Adults with Disabilities".
  12. ^ "YL Houses". Young Life. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  13. ^ "Real Property Information Listing". Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  14. ^ "Real Property Information Listing". Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  15. ^ "Young Life International". Retrieved 2016-11-02.
  16. ^ "Gospel Talk". Christianity Today. Retrieved 2011-12-12.
  17. ^ "Something is Wrong at Young Life". Patheos. 8 January 2008. Retrieved 2011-12-12.
  18. ^ Lawrence, Rick (17 December 2007). "Heartbreak and Controversy at Young Life". Simply Youth Ministry. Archived from the original on 26 July 2010. Retrieved 8 November 2017.
  19. ^ a b Zeigler, Cyd (1 February 2014). "Football player's coming-out story disproves every dumb theory about gay athletes". Salon. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  20. ^ Volunteer Leader Packet. Young Life, 2006.
  21. ^ Large, Jerry. “Snohomish Woman's Heartfelt Decision about Young Life.” The Seattle Times, The Seattle Times Company, 4 June 2015.
  22. ^ Nile, Amy. “Volunteer Quits Young Life over Ban on Gay Leaders.”,, 11 June 2015.
  23. ^ "J.D. Gibbs, a Young Life story". Retrieved 2019-02-21.
  24. ^ "Seahawk Clint Gresham, 'I play football to glorify Jesus Christ'". October 15, 2013.
  25. ^ "New Artist, Brandon Heath". Hope Today Magazine. Archived from the original on September 5, 2008. Retrieved February 21, 2019.
  26. ^ "We Were Made For This". Retrieved February 21, 2019.
  27. ^ "More than 60 Colts players to participate in 'My Cause, My Cleats' campaign". December 3, 2019.
  28. ^ "Cheering on Aaron". Retrieved 2019-02-21.
  29. ^ "Stevie Nicks on Lindsey Buckingham 1".
  30. ^ "Country hit-maker Chase Rice plays at Keith-Albee on Sunday". AP NEWS. April 13, 2019.
  31. ^ "Jordy Nelson and Young Life". Retrieved 2019-02-21.

Further reading

  • 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, Morningstar Press and Whitecaps Media) Rayburn's personal journals, edited and annotated by Kit Sublett ISBN 978-0-9758577-7-9

External links

This page was last edited on 7 September 2021, at 02:29
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