Ron Luce Letter To Alumni In Response To World Magazine Article
Dear Teen Mania Alumni,
Recently, the Christian magazine, WORLD, chose to print a story in its May 3 magazine exploring the financial and business leadership of Teen Mania, which included false statements, errors and misperceptions regarding the current state of our ministry. I am grieved that you may have been hurt by many of these statements and I want to take this opportunity to personally correct these mistakes and share information about the exciting future of Teen Mania.
Since our founding in 1986, through the support of generous donors and the faithfulness of alumni like you, Teen Mania has impacted millions of lives with the Gospel of Jesus Christ through events, mission trips and internships at the Honor Academy. We have experienced and thank God for His tremendous blessings in our 28-year history, which has allowed us to build a successful and large infrastructure used to impact thousands of teens that includes a 4,000-occupancy facility for interns, campers, youth leaders and missions at our headquarters in Garden Valley, Texas.
Throughout our ministry, we have sought to adhere to biblical standards and God’s calling. We have also strived to be transparent and honest in our mistakes and human failings. It grieves me to hear of individuals who may have experienced hurt as a result of Teen Mania, and we have tried to reach out in Christian love to offer care and ask forgiveness of them, whenever possible.
Under our board of trustee’s overview, the ministry has strived to achieve fiduciary responsibility and accountability. Teen Mania has always filed annual 990 forms with the IRS and chosen to take extra measures such as joining the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) for over 10 years. Contrary to the WORLD article, Teen Mania never paid the stated amounts for guest speakers nor provided gifts as alleged and always sought to utilize ministry donations for initiatives and headquarter improvements which would further allow us to fulfill our mission “to provoke a young generation to passionately pursue Jesus Christ and to take His life-giving message to the ends of the earth.”
Like a number of ministries, Teen Mania has faced many financial challenges over the last several years due to both 9/11 and the 2008 economic downturns. As financial restructuring occurred to accommodate budgetary changes, the day-to-day expenditures associated with the facilities and maintenance has become burdensome and costly for the ministry to maintain. Rather than pass along an increase in fees to those who are studying at the Academy, we chose to make additional changes to our organizational structure and operations in order to minimize our financial risk and vulnerabilities and to implement improved financial standards and best practices.
After prayerful and careful consideration, our board unanimously voted in December 2013 to begin preparations to relocate our headquarters to Dallas, Texas, in order to create a more stable and efficient organization and scale down on operating costs to build a solid foundation for the future security of Teen Mania Ministries. We are so excited about the possibilities this opens us to begin a new phase of our ministry.
As a part of this process, in December 2013, Teen Mania approached our bank with an offer to give the Garden Valley property back through what is known as a “Friendly Foreclosure” to which the bank agreed.
Through a mutual agreement between the bank and Teen Mania this process was finalized on March 4, and at that point Teen Mania was released from its monthly payments and the bank became owners of the property. Teen Mania is currently renting the Garden Valley property from the bank and making all necessary monthly payments. Teen Mania has never been in default at any time during this process.
As you all know, The Lord put on my heart years ago to “build an Army of young people to change the world.” This vision has burned a hole in my soul and pushed me forward to reach as many young people as possible for Christ.
And so, as announced in February, Teen Mania will officially relocate to Dallas in August 2014, at which time a class of new interns will join our second and third year interns at Teen Mania’s new location. In addition, we will assume the new name of Teen Mania International to fully reflect the worldwide scope of the ministry.
We continue to see God blessings through this process and are preparing to welcome 1,200 to 1,400 students for summer camp at Garden Valley prior to our move and send 1,000 teens to 25 countries for short-term missions work.
As we relocate to Dallas, our intention is to continue to build a highly efficient organization with highly effective ministry results. We intend to pursue multiple invitations from around the world, leveraging what we have learned about reaching teens in America. Our goal is to help and equip leaders around the world to reach “Americanized” teens.
Through God’s grace, we will conduct global Acquire the Fire events, take teens from other nations to mission sites and multiply Honor Academy programs all over the world. We will leverage new media and technology to disciple teens and equip them to reach their nations for Christ taking advantage of this global teen culture and using it as the common language to influence them.
In addition to preparing for this exciting time in the next phase of our ministry, Teen Mania is also taking measures to shore up our future financial stability and business model. This includes re-engaging a financial audit at the beginning of our fiscal year in September and re-affirming our accreditation with the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA).
I have filed appropriate forms for a personal ministry, His Works Ministry, following an IRS mandated change requiring non-profits making less than $50,000 annually to file a 990.
Since we started Teen Mania 28 years ago, every single month young people have come to Christ, and we have at times been challenged with the mandate to build an organization to keep up with all this. But we are so thankful for God’s provision for our ministry over the past 30 years and are expectant of what He will do through Teen Mania for many more years to come.
Please pray for Katie and I as we do all we know to do to be faithful to the vision God had placed in us and for the entire Teen Mania Ministries staff as we continue His work worldwide.
Still Consumed by the Call,