By Jason Lanker
JIM RAYBURN's (1909-1970) passion to see young people come to faith in Christ led to the establishment of Young Life in 1941. This parachurch organization focused on youth evangelism through after-school clubs and summer camps. The high-energy, adult-lead, conversational and incarnational program focus that was characteristic of these forums eventually moved beyond Young Life - influencing much of how youth ministry operated through the rest of the 20th century.
The Early Years
Jim Rayburn was born in 1909 to the family of a Presbyterian evangelist based out of Newton, Kansas. He was the oldest of four sons and like most boys they found their share of fun and trouble. But none of that came on Sundays, as no work or play was allowed - though Jim could never quite get his arms around why God detested baseball on Sunday and became a fan once Monday morning rolled around. Yet he learned to play the "Christian" game because his family "went to church whenever the doors were open" (Rayburn III, 2000, p. 1). Because of this upbringing, his life appears to have been shaped in two very different ways. First, he would always have the desire to reach out to those that did not yet know of the Savior, just as his father had done. The other is that he would always strive with the established church as being too rule bound, rather than just trying to accept those outside of it.
This frustration with the church would see its first major escalation through meeting of the unchurched and orphaned Maxine Stanley. They may have seemed an odd couple, he the son of an evangelist and she having had little interaction with the church. Yet despite the disparagement (and possibly because of it) they immediately hit it off and soon decided to join each other as students at Kansas State University. Maxine soon had to drop out, but Jim continued on, graduating in 1932 with a major in civil engineering. He followed this up with graduate work in mineralology at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Soon after entering study there he was confronted with the possibility of losing the woman who had become such an important part of his life. So on Sept. 11, 1932 he rushed home and eloped with Maxine in nearby Missouri. He knew that because of his parent's beliefs they would not approve of his wife, so he put off telling them until he returned back from school in December. When he finally did tell his parents they demanded that Jim and Maxine perform a proper wedding immediately. This incident was viewed by Maxine as a ridiculous, religious show and put the first wedge in Jim and Maxine's relationship with not only his parents, but also the church as a whole.
The First Steps in Ministry
After the marriage was official, Jim and Maxine stayed and helped his parents with the ministry. Because of the Great Depression jobs were hard to find so in 1934 Jim accepted a position serving rural Presbyterian churches in the deserts of the Southwest. Jim took the position mainly because it got him and his young bride away from the stifling situation in his parent's home, but God had other plans.
The first position was a small pastorate in Chama, New Mexico. In less than a year he was moved to Douglas, Arizona. His time in Douglas proved to be foundational for much of his future ministry. First, he began to see that running the church programs the same way as he had always seen them done was proving to be largely ineffective. This is when he fashioned his famous quip regarding Sunday school, "If you want anybody to show up, don't have it on Sunday and don't call it school" (Rayburn III, 2000, p. 15). As a result he began to go out and try to connect into the normal, everyday lives of people. Increasingly he found that his best contacts were with the youth in the area and these times of close interaction came when he would accompany them into the nearby wilderness area for campouts and hikes. He latched on to this form of ministry due largely in part to his personal constitution and also because of his inherent love of the natural world that had been refined in the halls of academia. Not only did he connect with the youth in ways that he never had inside of the church, but he also made a significant contact with the town drunk. This turned out to be providential because it was he who financed all of Jim's further excursions with the youth in that area. It also became the prototype for Young Life fund raising - the entire community should be involved, not just a single church budget.
After a short time in Douglas he was then moved to Clifton, Arizona. One night, while searching through the small library attached to the church he came across the book "He Who is Spiritual," by the then President of Dallas Theological Seminary, Lewis Sperry Chafer. This book changed his life forever as he was made aware that life as a Christian was not about abandoning the enjoyment of life in order to fulfill a list of do's and dont's. Instead it was about living in ecstatically intimate communion with God. From that moment onward "Jim would yield to that living reality, and be molded into the fit instrument that would evermore adequately work in him the purposes of God" (Cailliet, 1963, p. 9).
That intimate communion with God immediately led him to apply for seminary. He first tried at Princeton, but was rejected due to too much emphasis on the sciences during his previous studies. He was then faced with a choice between the Presbyterian seminary in San Francisco, where he knew his tuition would be covered or Dallas Theological Seminary, where he felt God leading him but with no assurance of financial aid. He chose Dallas, and in the fall of 1936 as a 27-year-old ordained Presbyterian minister he took his first steps toward redefining ministry with youth.
The Beginnings of Young Life
After working with local churches his first two years in seminary, the summer of 1938 began with evangelistic meetings that he had organized for teenagers in the Gainesville, Texas area. He did this with the help of other seminarians and the financial backing of Herbert Taylor - who was also investing heavily in Child Evangelism and InterVarsity (Meredith, 1978, p.19). These efforts were soon noticed by a progressive, local minister named Clyde Kennedy, who offered him a position at the Gainesville Presbyterian Church. While serving in this position the minister provided further impetus toward the foundation of Young Life when he explained:
I'm not particularly worried about the kids who are in [the church]. They're safe, and as far as they're concerned I don't need your services. To you I entrust the crowd of teen-agers who stay away from the church. The center of your widespread parish will be the local high school. (Cailliet, 1963, p.11)
So Jim immediately began entering the world of local high school students - a concept he had learned in the deserts of Arizona. He would either just head onto the campus or meet them at their games and then invite them to come to one of his club meetings. In these early meetings he used a non-denominational after school program started by Evelyn McClusky called the Miracle Book Club. In 1933 Ms. McClusky had started a group in Portland, Oregon and in so doing unwittingly became "the mother of parachurch club ministry in the United States" (Senter, 1992, p. 44). This is largely due to the fact that both Youth for Christ and Young Life first began as Miracle Book Clubs.
For Jim this was a good start, but as he often did, he began to improvise along the way. He first "reasoned that a meeting after school, at the school, in competition with many other extra-curricular activities simply was not attractive to a majority of the students" (Cannister, 2003, p. 179). He also decided to change the name and borrowed "Young Life" after the founders of an evangelistic organization in England had visited Dallas seminary (Senter, 1992, p. 115). Yet his biggest development was to take more of a relational approach with the students, figuring:
it is best to demonstrate love, kindness and friendship to people before confronting them with the issue of their salvation…Jim would later give it some names: earning the right to be heard, friendship evangelism and incarnational ministry. Ironically, organized religion found this approach to be an absolutely novel concept. (Rayburn III, 2000, p. 37)
These adaptations helped club meetings to grow from 11 to 170 during the spring of 1940. That summer Jim also led revival meetings throughout Texas to over 13,000 people, of which, one-third were in high school. All this lead to attendance, in the various Young Life clubs sprouting up all over Texas, to push 2,000 about 6 months later. Jim never stopped and neither did the organization. For example, during a 34 day stretch in 1941 he spoke 79 times - on the radio, in churches, to rotary meetings and high schools (Rayburn III, 2000, pp. 44-45). His constant promotion took a toll on many things including his marriage, but that was because he believed his steps were ordered by the Lord. This may be, as it seems that "incessant travel appears to be essential during the early days of a movement" (Senter, 1992, p.79). After graduating, the clubs began to multiply as Jim recruited leaders and passed on his vision through a class that he was teaching at the seminary. This growth finally led to a firm break from the Miracle Book Club and the incorporation of Young Life in October of 1941.
Although Jim Rayburn initially put a lot of effort into getting the word out en mass, this approach soon died out as Young Life built on the strengths of their leader. So they continued to do best what they did so simply, run clubs that brought students in contact with the gospel. This approach emphasized an incarnational theology, which proposed becoming one of the students in order to share the gospel more effectively with them. For the times, this unique style of evangelism saw many more conversions than were being experienced anywhere else. Along with a focus on evangelism, Young Life clubs were distinct in that they were leader-driven. This stood in contrast to most youth movements of the time that were influenced by the student-driven model perpetuated through the Christian Endeavor movement. Yet, Jim felt that:
The Leader is it! A Young Life Club does not begin and grow by [having] a group of young people sending for materials and methods. It gets results as the LEADER meets the qualifications and is HIMSELF effective in conducting the meeting and teaching the young people to do so. (Senter, 1992, p.126)
Along with his leadership design, Jim also built other strengths into the program by teaching the leaders how to use a conversational approach to present the gospel, as well as having plenty of fun and activity. These distinctives would come to characterize the Young Life Club meeting and would also serve as the model for many youth ministries to come. To aid Jim in all of this he first found five other committed guys that he soon had running various clubs all over the Texas area. These five produced five more and so on, so that by 1946 there was a staff of twenty full time Young Life leaders that were running clubs covering almost every state west of the Mississippi - and even a few on the other side. To keep up and keep connected; Young Life also branched out into print in March 1944. They sent out a yearly publication, Young Life Magazine , that "became a virtual bulletin board of ideas" (Senter, 1992, p. 78) that connected the organization until 1964. Although it seems that the work grew significantly due to many factors, none seems as simple and foundational as the fact that for Jim Rayburn, "he bathed his every move in prayer" (Rayburn III, 2000, p.47). This dependent connection between a man and his God would be necessary to sustain and direct all that was to come.
The Years of Expansion
For the next couple of years Young Life continued as normal - if normal could describe the tremendous growth clubs were experiencing. Then in 1945 Jim felt the Lord leading the organization to expand its ministry - so Young Life moved into camping. The concept behind the camps was that "it would be a Christian camp for non-Christian kids" (Meredith, 1978, p. 58). Jim felt that they needed to provide a time where the gospel message was presented clearly, forcefully and most importantly - in the most entertaining and caring environment possible. After all, Jim was well known to say, "It's a sin to bore a kid with the gospel." (Meredith, 1978, p. 53) Many on the board of directors did not agree, yet Jim would not back down and through the generous donation of Herb Taylor, Star Ranch, right outside of Colorado Springs, was purchased and leased to Young Life for one dollar a year.
Soon after the purchase of this facility Jim moved there with his wife and three young children in order to put his energies to direct the camp ministry. Their first summer of operation was in 1946 and it proved to be a great success. This was largely because Jim didn't buy into the philosophy of many other Christian camps that spiritual results came as a result of how austere the surroundings were (Rayburn III, 2000, p. 64). So he set out to create a camp experience for these teenagers that they would never forget. They didn't forget it. So many wanted to join in the excitement that Jim soon lobbied for other camps.
The expansion of Young Life camping in the Colorado Rockies continued so that by 1951 there were three camps. These camps worked together as the summer-time hub for the ever-expanding club ministry, that by then had gone nationwide. The last camp of the three was the pride and joy of Jim Rayburn, and is known as Frontier Ranch. Part of his love for this camp largely came about because of how it was acquired. It followed the same pattern, Jim felt God's leading to purchase the camp and the board didn't seem to agree. Yet this time the board began to see that God was at work when Jim would lead in faith and trust Him to provide. So the board decided to go along, and soon the famous Round Up Lodge was purchased for a steal - at $250,000. This camp facility would serve to make an impact in many ways, and for many years, as it would also become the longest lasting Young Life camp (as it has now faithfully served the organization for more than 50 years).
With the growth in camping and the natural increase in staff, Jim soon noticed that many of the leaders were not as excited about the ministry as he was. So in 1951 Jim determined if he could give them some theological training, like what he had received at Dallas, it would benefit both them and the organization. However, he was unwilling to lose them for several years, so they started the "station wagon grad school" by visiting professors all over the country. This eventually lead to the development of the Young Life Institute in 1954 as a way to give them the theological training they needed and still keep them as a vital part of the organization (Rayburn III, 2000, p. 128).
Yet as Young Life rode waves of success through the 50's and into the 60's, Jim began to personally sink beneath them. Overwhelmed and spent on the needs of his wife, his family, his organization and his staff; his body couldn't handle it anymore. He began to be plagued by such intense migraine headaches that he literally couldn't think. That was when he was offered the miracle drug, Dexamyl, a strong amphetamine, in order to help alleviate the pain. Alleviate the pain it did, but it soon began to consume him, as painkillers had his wife. Eventually he could control the headaches, but the insomnia, hyperactivity, sudden mood changes, dizziness and gastrointestinal problems would not go away.
Still Jim pushed on. He had seen his organization grow from humble beginnings in the center of Texas to become a primary force along with Youth For Christ (YFC) in the movement to bring the nation's youth to Christ in the 40's and 50's. In accomplishing this, Young Life had expanded into camping - a move that seemed potentially dangerous at first, but soon became the perfect complement to the weekly club ministry. This combination had set the organization apart in both its methods and it results. Yet as most of those in Young Life focused on the returns at home, their visionary leader was being drawn to reach an even larger audience - the world's youth. So in the last days of his short life he shared the gospel and the Young Life organization in Europe, Africa, Asia and South America. In so doing he planted the seeds that would eventually lead Young Life to become the multi-international organization that it is today.
The End is Near
By the early 60's, as Jim had pushed on, he had also slowly pushed away the organization that he had founded. For years those who had worked alongside Jim had trusted him because of the faith he had demonstrated in the Father. Yet after some very public embarrassments, due to his over the counter drug addiction and his now public frustration with the organized church, they feared that Jim was falling apart and taking the organization with him (Rayburn III, 2000, pp. 155-156). Combined with this concern was the gradual realization that the gifts of their founder were not the gifts needed to ensure the conservation of Young Life. This was because Jim did not run by a business plan, was always looking for a new adventure and through his style of living, constantly pushed the organization to live life on the ragged edge. So after some heated discussions, Jim Rayburn was asked to take an indefinite leave of absence in May of 1964. Although this move was devastating to Jim it may have had more to say about the life of the organization, then about the man at the helm. As Mark Senter observes, "this aspect [the move to conserve the organization] of the process of institutionalization is impossible to avoid if the mission is to survive" (Senter, 1992, p. 44)
Either way, at 55 and already in poor health, he began to decline. All of this was met with worse news when he was "diagnosed as having terminal cancer in early spring of 1969" (Miller, 1991, p.13). The only hope he had left was that somehow he might be given his position back. So he set out on an international crusade, using his freedom from the day to day workings of Young Life to continue to share his vision with the world.
Despite his efforts, Jim Rayburn was never again to be given a position within the Young Life organization. And so in physical pain and exiled from the organization he had founded nearly 30 years earlier, Jim Rayburn died on December 11, 1970 at the age of 61. In the end, he had served well as the visionary leader for this international organization by responding to a weakness in the church's approach to the Christian education of youth. This was not done by changing existing structures, but by becoming one of the pioneers in the parachurch movement and by creatively using camps to bring Christ to students. Although his life and the organization he founded has had a profound impact; in his own words, he never saw it coming. "I always feel a tinge of embarrassment when I'm introduced as the founder of this outfit [Young Life], 'cause I never had any idea I was founding anything. It seems to me that the founder of something ought to at least know he was founding something', and I never did" (Rayburn III, 2000, p. 65). Yet because he was spiritual, he never stopped following God's leading, and as a result millions of students have been introduced to the Savior and many have been changed forever.
- Cailliet, E. (1963). Young life. New York: Harper & Row.
- Cannister, M. (2003). Youth ministry pioneers of the 20th century, Part II. Christian Education Journal, 1 (1), 176-188.
- Meredith, C. (1978). It's a sin to bore a kid. Waco, TX: Word Books.
- Miller, J. (1991). Back to the basics of young life. John Miller.
- Rayburn, J., III. (2000). Dance, children, dance. Colorado Springs, CO: Morningstar Press.
- Senter, M. III (1992). The coming revolution in youth ministry. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
Contributions to Christian Education
The impact of Jim Rayburn and his Young Life organization on the Christian education of youth has been enormous. By the 1930's most youth organizations, like the Sunday School and Christian Endeavor movements, were operating under a "theology of nurture" that was first proposed by Horace Bushnell in 1861 (Cannister, 2001, p. 83). Because of this they were primarily focused on developing Christian youth into future church members by helping them develop a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. They also focused on holding students accountable to the expectations and requirements of the church body. Because of this, the standard youth ministry in Jim Rayburn's day was highly content-centered in its teaching, student-centered in its leadership and church-centered in its ministry. Jim, on the other hand, saw youth ministry in a very different light. His philosophy was that teaching should be relationally centered, leadership should be given by adults and the ministry should be focused on those outside the church. This unique viewpoint would set Young Life apart and would also provide several key contributions to the future field of youth ministry.
Because Jim Rayburn cared deeply about youth, he saw scores of students that had not yet been reached by the gospel. In order to reach these students Jim developed several steps to help support his philosophy of youth evangelism. His most well known were: 1) go where the kids congregate, 2) accept them as they are, 3) learn how to walk in wisdom to those outside the faith, 4) see the dignity of each person, 5) find a neutral setting for the club meeting, 6) create a climate that is informal, 7) speak naturally in terms familiar to the vocabulary of the kids, 8) communicate your certainties rather than flaunt your doubts, 9) consider it a sin bore kids, especially with the gospel, 10) build on their instinct of adventure and 11) capitalize on the elements of good humor and music to establish an openness to the gospel (Meredith, 1978, p. 53). Not included in this list, but of great significance in Young Life was the well known concept that leaders needed to "win the right to be heard." This meant that leaders "needed to gain the friendship and respect of students before expecting them to listen to the claims of Christ" (Senter, 1992, p.126). This was primarily done by getting into the student's world and being one of them - by going to games, attending school functions, chaperoning dances, etc. Through this process, leaders were not just trying to simply make contact with students, but trying to develop trusting relationships from which they could more effectively present the gospel. This approach eventually became known as "incarnational ministry" and became the bedrock of the Young Life method of sharing the faith. As most youth movements focused only on building up their Christian youth, and others would have evangelistic meetings in order to add more youth to their Christian program; Jim constantly and unwaveringly focused on the unreached student. This single-mindedness of purpose, in turn, helped Young Life to achieve incredible results as well as having a significant impact on many of the current youth ministries. In fact, one of youth ministries authorites, Doug Fields, clearly points to this influence when he says, "Our [Saddleback] leadership style has been greatly influenced by the relational philosophy of Young Life" (Fields, 1998, p. 236).
Along with putting a decided emphasis on evangelism Jim also chose to use two forums in a new way. The first was his club meetings, which had carried over from his days as a Miracle Book Club leader. His Young Life clubs continued to be a non-denominational, parachurch ministry focused on high school students, yet he progressively changed them to fit his own unique philosophy. One of the first significant changes was that club meetings were not Bible studies. This concept was foundational to the Miracle Book Club and other movements of the time, like Youth for Christ. What Jim envisioned though was a different approach that would come to be known as program-centered. He wanted to put together an evening that would wow the students and leave them wanting to come back for more (Meredith, 1978, pp. 34-35). Thus the Young Life club meetings were usually filled with skits, singing, games and a short, conversational talk. All of these were done very well and at such a high level of intensity that students wanted to be at these youth events to see what they were missing. So when most churches were lucky to have 20 students at a student meeting, Young Life was bringing students in by the hundreds. The well-oiled, program format worked and it continued to work in countless other youth groups through the rest of the century.
The other forum that Jim Rayburn led Young Life into was camping. Jim didn't move in this direction because he was looking for something to complement the work of his weekly club ministry (although it effectively accomplished this), he simply did it because of God's leading (Rayburn III, 2000, p. 60). What is important to note is that using camps in ministry to youth was not a unique contribution in itself. The difference was that Young Life used this ministry because it removed students from their everyday lives so that they would be able to present the gospel more fully. As they did, students "came from across the nation for a week at a time and found the Gospel not only spoken but lived out 24 hours a day" (Senter, 1992, p.127). Aiding in this endeavor was the fact that Jim decided that he was not going to run his camps like the normal Christian organization made up of "tattered, canvas tabernacles." (Todd & Todd, 1971, p. 11). Consequently, Jim created a camp atmosphere where kids could experience the best of everything from sunup to sundown. Because of this, the camping ministry soon became the epitome of the incarnational approach. Young Life also found that this approach was an even more effective delivery system than the club ministry. As such, this ministry has been an essential part of the organization's work for the past 60 years and has lead to the formation of 24 camps today ministering to nearly 100,000 students a summer. It has also served as an example to youth ministries throughout the country that their youth could be reached more effectively in a week at camp than with a month's worth of messages.
With a thriving outreach to students through a high quality weekly program and strong camping ministry, Young Life needed something to hold it all together. This they found in adult leaders. At a time when most youth movements were putting a lot of effort into developing their students through competition and commitment to become student leaders, Young Life took a completely different tack. They gave the responsibility of running the program and reaching out to students primarily into the hands of adult leaders. By doing this, the organization had a more mature and long-term workforce that could continue to get better and better and not just graduate on. It also gave any student the freedom to just show up, enjoy the evening and hear the message of Christ. Along with its leader-centered structure, Young Life also pioneered a strong conversational approach to public speaking. Most groups merely preached at students, expecting them to rise to the level of teaching. Jim Rayburn, on the other hand, took a distinct educational step toward being more learner-centered. So he demonstrated and taught his leaders to use lots of humor and stories, and especially to "speak naturally in terms familiar to the vocabulary of the kids" (Meredith, p. 53). This approach worked, and not only did students respond, but also soon most youth programs and many churches, began using this approach.
Although some of the approaches, programs or steps may seem basic now, most were radically different from the style of ministry being done at the time. Yet as the success of Young Life and its model continued, it began to have a large effect on the way youth ministry began to be done. This is seen in the fact that much of what was pioneered by Young Life and others like them, "youth ministers employed by local churches have adapted…and used within local church youth groups. (Senter, 1992, pp. 52-53). Thus in many youth ministries today the youth pastor is still promoted as the key performer. Their job is to bring students to Christ through the highest quality program possible. They use a highly conversational and incarnational style to "win the right to be heard." Finally they do all this, as well as, use camps and other special events to present the gospel as effectively as possible. All of these job descriptions have direct links back to Young Life and the founder behind the methods.
All told, Jim Rayburn could best be described as a visionary practitioner. He never wrote a book on youth ministry or Young Life and has only a few notes and journals remaining. Yet he instinctively saw and addressed some of the flaws in the Christian education of youth in the early part of the 20th century. Thus because of Jim Rayburn's insight and willingness to follow God's leading, he and his organization has touched the lives of countless youth as well as greatly affecting the course of modern youth ministry by reminding us to consider the needs of all youth, not just Christians.
- Cannister, M. (2003). Youth ministry pioneers of the 20th century, Part I. Christian Education Journal, 1 (1), 176-188.
- Dean, K., Clark, C., & Rahn, D. (Eds.) (2001). Starting right. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
- Fields, D. (1998). Purpose-driven youth ministry. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
- Senter, M. III (1992). The coming revolution in youth ministry. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
- Todd, F., & Todd, P. (1971). Camping for Christian youth. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker.
- Rayburn. J. (1940). An investigation of the dispensational method of Biblical interpretation. Unpublished theological master's thesis, Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, TX.
- Rayburn, J. (1944-1964). Young Life Magazine, 1-21. (Jim Rayburn regularly submitted an article called "Say, Gang!")
Cailliet, E. (1963). Young Life. New York: Harper & Row.
Jim Rayburn's personal friend lays out the scope of Young Life. Insightful analysis of the organization is engaged, providing significant points of relevance and critique.
Meredith, C. (1978). It's a sin to bore a kid. Waco, TX: Word Books.
Outsiders robust account of Young Life, from its genesis in the actual life of Jim Rayburn to its daily workings at the time of publication.
Rayburn, J., III. (2000). Dance, children, dance. Colorado Springs, CO: Morningstar Press.
First published by his son in 1984, this version has minor revisions. The work presents a largely sequential narrative of Jim's life giving great insight about what went on behind closed doors. This is done through extensive interviewing of his wife and liberal quoting from his journal.
Senter, M., III (1992). The coming revolution in youth ministry. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
Outlines the major youth movements that have effected youth ministry in the past century. Provides valuable information regarding Jim Rayburn's beginnings with the Miracle Book Club as well as an insightful analysis of Young Life's unique impacts.
Young Life Campaign (Boxes 69-71) The Herbert Taylor Collection in Wheaton's Billy Graham Center Archives (630) 752-5910; www2.wheaton.edu/bgc/archives/guides/020.htm#413
Herbert Taylor was involved in Young Life from its beginnings with evangelistic outdoor meetings to being a Chairman of its Board of Trustees for a number of years. Through his Christian Workers Foundation, which also funded Child Evangelism and InterVarsity Fellowship, Taylor purchased Star Ranch - the first of Young Life's many camps.
Rayburn, J. (1944-1964). Young Life Magazine, 1-21. Holdings at Dallas Theological Seminary.
The Young Life records are arranged alphabetically according to subject matter. There are annual reports, correspondence, brochures, board meeting minutes, financial records, and staff manuals. Correspondence spans from the early years of Young Life (1940) to the early 1970's. Much of the early correspondence between Jim Rayburn and Herbert Taylor gives a good perspective on the development of the organization. Correspondence from Bill Starr, Executive Director of Young life, also details some of the financial problems faced by the organization in the early 1970's - including the sale of Star Ranch. There are also three Young Life staff manuals on file. They offer information about the organization, policies, procedures, camps, promotion and leadership. A publications folder includes tear sheets of a PAGEANT magazine story on Star Ranch; copies of Young Life magazine and articles from newspapers, magazines, and Sunday School papers.
Jason Lanker (Ph.D., Talbot School of Theology, Biola University) is currently Assistant Professor and Director of the Youth Ministry program at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, AR.