Youth for Christ

Para-Church Ecumenism

-  The root error of new evangelicalism is not so much what it teaches that is wrong, but what it refuses to preach and the illicit fellowship in which it is involved. If we don't lift a voice against compromise of this magnitude, surely we must be branded as traitors. More than twenty years ago Dr. Charles Woodbridge defined new evangelicalism as "a spirit of compromise with unbelief." He identified five steps of progression: (1) toleration of error, (2) accommodation to error, (3) cooperation with error, (4) contamination by error, and (5) capitulation to error. Youth for Christ has clearly followed these steps of neo-evangelicalism. The Bible does not speak in vain when it warns, "Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners" (1 Cor. 15:33).

-  Youth for Christ, headquartered in Denver, Colorado, is a para-church organization focusing on the interest of teen-agers.* Established in 1944, it has more than 225 chapters across the U.S.; Youth for Christ/International (YFCI) is represented in 127 countries -- 65 chartered chapters and 62 pioneering chapters. YFC has over 800 full-time employees and over 11,000 volunteers who work with students. YFC claims to work directly with 56,000 students, but to have "touched" the lives of over 600,000 in 1994 alone, with 31,000 coming "to know Christ." It has always been ecumenical (Billy Graham was YFC's first paid employee and became one of YFC's early leaders), but in its earlier years it did take a stand somewhat against Romanism. In the 1940s, for example, Youth for Christ rented a plane and "bombed" the Vatican with gospel tracts (James Hefley, "How I Lost my Protestant Prejudice," Eternity, Nov. 1971)!

Like most of the evangelical world, though, Youth for Christ has since become reconciled with Rome and is given over to the most radical form of ecumenism. As early as 1971, YFC had a Catholic nun on its full-time staff in Rochester, New York. Since the early 1970s, YFC has joined Roman Catholics in ecumenical meetings throughout the world. Sam Wolgemuth represented Youth for Christ International on the Central Committee of the ecumenical Key '73, which had strong participation by Roman Catholic leaders and laymen (Flirting With Rome: Key Men and Organizations, Way of Life Literature, pp. 46-47). Another example of YFC's ecumenical activities is seen in its participation in the Evangelical and Ecumenical Conference for Clergy and Laity in 1983. Together with the Roman Catholic diocese of San Diego, the Salvation Army, and other organizations, the San Diego Youth for Christ co-sponsored this meeting (Foundation,Vol. IV, Iss. II, 1983).

-  Campus Life is a division of Youth for Christ. (Campus Life/JV, or Club JV, is Campus Life for junior high and middle school students.) Teen-agers on junior high and high school campuses are presented an Arminian, psychological gospel (e.g., the "goal is to reach young people with a positive Christian message," asking them to "accept Christ"). It is the working policy of Youth for Christ to then send "converts" to the "church of their choice." Ian Grant, Australian/New Zealand director for YFC says, "We make no judgment of churches -- that's the Holy Spirit's job. Young Christians can be more led into Bible reading and faith in a charismatic Catholic Church than in some conservative evangelical churches." (Reported in the 7/91, CIB Bulletin.) (Grant has also been quoted as saying, "We have to make sure young people hear about the Christian message in a creative way," such as "Saturday night rock music, drama, and dance.") Read what YFC says about Campus Life:

"Campus Life is a relational ministry geared to high school aged young people who meet regularly in private homes, community halls, etc., under the supervision of adult staff leaders. There are no dues or membership requirements. In addition, camps, conferences, and other recreational activities are offered at nominal cost. Campus Life believes in the balanced life concept; therefore, we strive to develop a spiritual, physical, mental, and social balance in the young person's life. If any one area is underdeveloped, the young person is unable to grow to the mature, young adult God intended and parents desire." (Emphasis added.) (Source: YFC Internet web site.)

-  A TOUCH OF CLASS--RAUCOUS COMEDY--LIVE BANDS--HOT DANCE MOVES -- As a Christian, if you read these words in a newspaper ad inviting attendance at a special program, would you want to attend yourself, or rush to invite others? Exactly these words headlined an ad in the New Zealand Herald inviting attendance at a Youth for Christ program to be held on 8/15/92 at the Auckland Town Hall. The rest of the ad read: "Featured Band: 'The Pilgrims' from Waikato. Speaker: Ian Grant. Admission Free. Collection to cover expenses. Another Youth for Christ program. Followed by a Dance Party in the Town Hall. Tickets $5.00 available from Auckland Youth for Christ, or at the door."

Of course, Youth for Christ never did take a fundamentalist position, but few people would have ever imagined that this youth organization would have fallen to such depths of worldliness. Grant offered the amazing rationale for his worldly programs by saying, "We have to make sure young people hear about such goings on?" (Foundation, July-August 1992).

-  YFC continues on the ecumenical, rock music kick; every three years it sponsors two "Youth Evangelism" Super Conferences. In July-August 1994, "DC/LA '94" was held. The promotional brochure stated that the music would feature fading lights, rising drumbeats, and the "hottest and latest" sounds in so-called "Christian music" with "Late Night" comedy piped into the hotel rooms. Music groups included: Newsboys; 4 Him; and "Christian" rappers DC Talk. Listed speakers included: Josh McDowell, Buster Soaries, and Tony Campolo. YFC "networked" with the "True Love Waits" campaign, begun by Southern Baptists. The DC '94 conference involved 26 denominations and youth organizations, including Southern Baptists, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Catholics, and Campus Crusade for Christ. In the summer of 1995 at Six Flags Over Georgia, the 9th Annual Atlanta Fest was held. Sponsors included Youth for Christ; CCM magazine; Jerry Falwell; Tony Campolo; Josh McDowell; and Andy Stanley. The 22nd Annual Fishnet conference (7/10/96-7/13/96) featured Tony Campolo with Youth for Christ representatives. (Source: 1/1/95; 6/15/95; 4/1/96; Calvary Contender.)

Youth For Christ expects 35,000 attendees at its 1997 rock gatherings -- Washington, DC (July 16-20) and Los Angeles (June 25-29). The list of over 75 "Christian Colleges" involved include: Oral Roberts University, Fuller, Wheaton, Trinity, Biola, Gordon-Conwell, Baylor, Asbury, Moody, Liberty, Grace (IN), and the GARBC's Western Baptist College and Christian Heritage College. Speakers include: Josh McDowell, Ron Luce, and Buster Soaries. Music is by: Michael W. Smith, Jars of Clay, Newsboys, and Steven Curtis Chapman (4/1/97, Calvary Contender).

-  Warren Wiersbe, a well-known author and Bible teacher, former senior pastor of Moody Church in Chicago, and former general director of Back To The Bible in Lincoln, Nebraska, in 1991 joined the staff of YFC International in Wheaton, Illinois, directing its publications ministry. (Wiersbe later became its staff evangelist.) Wiersbe has tacitly approved or associated with liberals, Roman Catholics, and neo-evangelicals for many years. Wiersbe himself is overtly Arminian in his theology and a blatant psychologizer, and he frequently speaks through inclusivist pulpits (e.g., at Trinity International University [formerly Trinity Evangelical Divinity School], Bill Hybels' Willow Creek Community Church, etc.). (Reported in the 12/1/91, Calvary Contender.)

-  Jim Groen, president of Youth for Christ International, was one of the organizers for the 1987 Billy Graham crusade in Denver, Colorado, which featured close Catholic cooperation. The crusade had the full backing of the regional Catholic hierarchy, trained dozens of Catholics as "counselors," and sent to local Catholic churches the names of hundreds of those who had responded to the altar calls each night. One of the supervisors of the 6,600 counselors was Catholic priest Donald Willette.

-  Youth for Christ has supported many Luis Palau crusades. Palau has honored Soviet atheistic churchmen, endorsed the unreliable Living Bible, spoken at Oral Roberts University and Moody Bible Institute, and his ecumenical evangelism campaigns have involved Roman Catholics, charismatics, liberals, and new evangelicals. (His messages are also heavily diluted with pop psychology and Arminian easy-believism.) The 1993 Palau Crusade in Jamaica featured this note in a 1/31 newspaper ad: "The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kingston gives wholehearted support in mobilizing its members to participate in the National Crusade 1993. This venture is seen by us as an important event in the spreading of the Gospel in an ecumenical manner."

-  On 1/11/92, British Youth for Christ sponsored an appearance by neo-evangelical Tony Campolo. But merely calling Campolo a neo-evangelical is being much to kind. Campolo is a theological liberal and a radical political socialist whose teachings are heretical at best and blasphemous at worst! At this meeting, Campolo's message was one of works salvation, New Age pantheism, and social action. Campolo even had praise for New Age psychologist M. Scott Peck. (See BDM's report on Tony Campolo for more details of this speech.)

-  Youth for Christ has endorsed the Southern Baptist campaign in which teens publicly pledge to abstain from sex. Catholic leaders have also signed on. Baptist Sunday School Board youth consultant Richard Ross met with officials in the National Conference of Catholic Bishops recently in Washington to discuss the 15 million-member denomination's "True Love Waits" campaign. The no-sex campaign hopes to collect 500,000 or more youth pledges. Also endorsing this ecumenical campaign is the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee), the nation's oldest Pentecostal church (7/31/93, The Houston Post).

-  The CoMission is a coalition of over 60 New Evangelical groups (Wheaton, Navigators, YFC, Campus Crusade, Moody Bible Institute, Cedarville College, In Touch Ministries [Charles Stanley], Biola, etc.) chaired by Bruce Wilkinson, the ecumenical, charismatic head of Walk Thru The Bible Ministries. It exists to teach former Soviet Union educators Christian ethics and morality ("Character Education") for them to teach to students. A 1995 letter canceling the Protocol had negligible effect. Tongues-speaking CoMission members are asked to refrain from public exercise, but private exercise of tongues is permitted. In an 11/22/96 paper from the Navigators, CoMission stated its policy for dealing with doctrinal diversity: "All CoMission organizations and individuals must agree to the Lausanne Covenant. This provides for great commonality. CoMission training focuses on what we have in common and what we have to offer each other, not on different doctrines, traditions or gray areas." The Graham/Stott Lausanne Covenant is weak on Biblical inerrancy. (Source: 7/1/93 & 1/15/97, Calvary Contender.)

-  More than 100 evangelical leaders and academics, declaring Biblical faith is essential to solving environmental problems, are calling on Christians to make their lives and churches "centers of creation's care and renewal." Nearly 150 so-called evangelical leaders have signed the 1,600-word "An Evangelical Declaration on the Care of Creation," which was prepared under the auspices of the Evangelical Environment Network (EEN). "As followers of Jesus Christ, committed to the full authority of the Scriptures, and aware of the ways we have degraded creation, we believe that biblical faith is essential to the solution of our ecological problems," the statement declares. Signers include at least seventeen seminary and college presidents, World Relief, World Vision, Youth for Christ, Young Life, Zondervan, Tyndale House, Christianity Today, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, SIM International, and Latin America Mission (Christian News, 4/4/94). [The Evangelical Environmental Network is part of the National Religious Partnership, which also includes the National Council of Churches, the U.S. Catholic Conference, and the Consultation on Jewish Life and the Environment.]

-  Promise Keepers is the gigantic new (1991) "men's movement" among professing evangelical Christians. Its roots are Catholic and charismatic to the core. PK's contradictory stand on homosexuality; its promotion of secular psychology; its unscriptural feminizing of men; its depiction of Jesus as a "phallic messiah" tempted to perform homosexual acts; and its ecumenical and unbiblical teachings should dissuade any true Christian from participating. Promise Keepers is proving to be one of the most ungodly and misleading movements in the annals of Christian history. Nevertheless, Youth for Christ is a promoter of this ecumenical, charismatic, psychologized men's movement: A fax from a former GARBC pastor states that the Battle Creek (Michigan) YFC organized a group of 80 pastors to attend the 2/96 Atlanta Promise Keepers Clergy conference. Pastors from United Methodist, Presbyterian (USA), Regular Baptist, Christian Reformed, etc., churches were "flying together, staying together, praying together and trusting God to give us a vision to win Battle Creek together." Speakers at this ecumenical event included: E.V. Hill, Jack Hayford, Joseph Stowell, and Chuck Swindoll. Approximately 40,000 clergy from every denomination participated. (Reported in the 1/1/96, Calvary Contender.)

* YFC describes its mission thusly -- note the references to using "what works" in evangelization of the lost, and by whatever "means" or "creative" methods YFC deems "responsible":

"Youth for Christ's mission is to communicate the life-changing message of Jesus Christ to every young person. Our purpose is to participate in the body of Christ in the responsible evangelism of youth, presenting them with the person, work, and teachings of Jesus Christ, discipling them, and leading them into the local church. Our strategy is to mobilize the Christian community to reach lost youth wherever they are and by all responsible means.

"YFC is committed to doing whatever it takes to reach young people with the Gospel. This means that we need to find what works best in each community. Young people live in such diverse cultures -- from the suburban junior high student to the inner city gang kid. Our strategy is to mobilize the Christian community to reach lost youth wherever they are and by all possible means.

"YFC divides it's ministries into schools, institutions, neighborhoods and churches with more than 40 creative models of ministry. YFC sponsors national training/leadership events, campus ministries and programs for at-risk teens, emphasizing crisis pregnancy centers, AIDS prevention, abstinence education, gang reconciliation and non-violent conflict resolution through schools, neighborhoods and institutions." (Emphases added.) (Source: YFC Internet web site.)

[Back to Text]

Biblical Discernment Ministries - Revised 4/97