A Follow Up on Young Life

Dear Youth Group family,

As many of you are aware this past week I wrote a post about my frustrations with Young Life over my 25+ years in youth ministry. I admit it was a rant and I never ever thought anyone would actually see it. I may have a handful of people ever read something from my blog in any given week. It is mostly videos I made for the youth group during our COVID year or my sermon transcripts.

Well, my post went viral. I got almost 1,000 hits on it in two days. I will admit that I felt like I have reached my limit with Young Life in that I have always felt like we are constantly competing against each other. I have had teens have to make a choice between our Summer mission trip with Epiphany or Summer Camp with Young Life; Church retreat or YL retreat. If there is one thing you need to understand about me is I hate to put our teens in a position where they have to pick one over there other.

I lead a network of youth leaders in our area that meet together for lunch every month for encouragement, support, and planning so that we can all work together. We have done combined events at Grand Sands and Castle Skateland just to name a few things we have done together. The Cru (formerly Campus Crusade) person for Loveland is always there and works with our calendars so that we do not overlap. There is a lot of cooperation so that we can all work together and support each other.

Needless to say, I have never felt this way about Young Life so I called them out on it. Now, I will admit I was angry when I wrote it, and maybe I should have given it 24 hours to think about it and wordsmith it a little better. But on the positive side, this post did generate a lot of good conversations. I talked with others who shared in the frustration as well as others who did not relate to what I had to say and had more positive experiences with Young Life and their local church working together. I have also had great conversations with some of our own teens and parents at Epiphany. But the most positive thing I have seen out of this is that the director of Cincinnati Young Life contacted me and we went out for lunch. I was able to share my frustrations as well as invite him to our network so that we can have a more positive relationship with one another. I apologized for my tone but he understood what I was trying to say. We left on good terms. I also told him I would take down the post.

I am also aware that the post got forwarded to many of the teens involved in Young Life and Epiphany, while the post was meant for Young Life. Let me make this clear: I am in no way asking our teens to choose between Young Life or Epiphany. I just don’t want to put them in a position where they have to choose one program over the other. I want to create a program that gives them the opportunity to do both if they so choose.

With that said, I hope this gives you some context and clears the air so that we don’t have to address “the elephant in the room” this weekend. I hope this email helps and if you would like to talk with me I am more than available to meet with you: parent and/or teen. Feel free to reach out to me at 513-600-4790.

Epiphany teens: I love you! You know that. I only want what is best for you. I just don’t want you to have to choose between two good things when we can work together so you can do both. Thank you for taking the time to read this and I apologize if I upset any of you. That was not my intent.

Scott Russ