Young Life's Impact Over 8 Decades

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Recently I was at a meeting with a prospective investor to one of our Young Life camps. This person said something that many have said in a variety of ways, and we need to have an answer. Does Young Life have an impact? Do you have statistics or hard facts to back up what you say?

Historically, what I have said are these two statements:

  1. 90% of all adults who profess to be followers of Christ made this decision before their 18th birthday, and this is the target audience for the Young Life mission.

  2. 33% of all summer campers meet Jesus for the first time. (This is based on our own camp director reports as to how many Bibles we gave out, how many kids went on new believer walk, and those who stood at “Say-So.”)

These are true statistics I am sure, but there has been no way to “footnote” them that I know of so that we can put them in a foundation request as a statistic with a bibliography or a citation.

Young Life Forward, i.e., Newt Crenshaw our very own president, has an Executive Campaign Committee gathered around him as he leads us. They said to Newt nearly two years ago, “You know, if you could say, ‘Barna says,’ this would be very helpful in documenting what we already know: Young Life has an impact.” And so, we commissioned Barna to do just that.

Who is Barna? “Barna Group is a visionary research and resource company located in Ventura, California. Started in 1984, the firm is widely considered to be a leading research organization focused on the intersection of faith and culture.”

Young Life wanted to put into the hands of our area directors, regional directors, SVPs, and our executive campaign committees across the mission some gunpowder. We know that Young Life is making a difference, but what do donors say, staff say, alumni say, students say, as well as pastors and believers in the U.S.? We aimed to find out!

Thousands upon thousands of unique people filled out surveys, and Barna consolidated, scrubbed and did their own version of analytics on this data to come up with the following:

  • 4.9 million U.S. adults participated in Young Life as students and are still practicing their faith today.

  • 6% of pastors are Young Life alumni.

  • 1.1 million adults CREDIT Young Life as the MAIN influence in developing their faith.

  • 3.2 million adults CREDIT Young Life as ONE OF the main influences in developing their faith.

  • Before participating in Young Life, 22% of our alumni say their faith was very important in their lives.

  • Today, 85% of alumni say their faith is very important.

You can see for yourself, and truly, this is just a fast highlight reel to get you excited to digest this material for yourself.

We know, you know, and people out there need to know that Young Life is making a difference. This may be an entrée for you to consider serving up in some way, shape or fashion. Here are a couple of fast ideas for you to consider:

  • Take the poster, digest it a bit, and send it alongside a letter from you to all of your current investors.

  • Have this poster be a “placemat” at a thank-you dinner this summer, or for that matter, your fall banquet.

  • Share this with your local committee and use it as a discussion starter as well as a brainstorm for how you could use this in your local area.

  • Equip leaders and staff to at least have two or three notable quotes at their fingertips to be able to use.

  • Share with school officials who are insiders and may find this survey helpful as well.

There are growth areas we have as a mission, and as you look at this survey you will see them. We have a lot of room for growth for sure. I will let you see these for yourself and how they might be fleshed out in your area/region.

Young Life is having an impact, and this will not be our last survey. As for now, let’s aim to use what we have until another one is completed.

Read the full summary HERE.