Over 60 Years of Youth Evangelism
Since 1944, Youth for Christ has had a distinctive history of youth evangelism. YFC was born in the United States through an impulse from the heart of God that simultaneously touched dozens of leaders in different places with a concern to reach out to the young people that normal church channels were missing. This led dynamic young evangelists, using revolutionary methods, to conduct lively mass rallies in more than a dozen cities under the name of Youth for Christ. It soon became an organization and Chicago pastor Torrey Johnson was elected its first president, with Billy Graham as YFC's first full-time worker.
Starting with Saturday night youth rallies in the late 1940s and early 1950s, YFC's ministry methodology turned to Bible Clubs in the late 50s and 60s. It was in this period of ministry that the concept of teen-to-teen evangelism was born. In the middle 60s and early 70s, Campus Life and Campus Life/JV ministries to senior and junior high youth became the primary thrust of YFC ministry. Since that time several additional ministry models have been created. Youth Guidance became an avenue in reaching at-risk and institutionalized young people. Teen Moms developed to mentor and equip young mothers with parenting skills as well as the love of Jesus Christ. Urban Ministries reach the millions of young people in our major urban communities, partnering with the church and other organizations. Today, YFC ministries are tailored to reach youth in urban, suburban, and rural settings.
The excitement generated by the early Saturday night youth rallies could not be contained within the U.S. borders, and soon young G.I.s were exporting it to Europe as they were deployed there during the last days of WWII. With the idea of youth-to-youth evangelism, Teen Teams were formed in the U.S. and sent overseas to share the gospel. By the 1950s, YFC had become an international movement. In 1968, delegates from 16 nations formed what we now call Youth for Christ International. Today, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit in its over 4,500 full and part-time staff and over 26,000 volunteers, using contemporary methods, YFC is aggressively extending the frontiers of the gospel into the 21st century youth cultures of over 99 countries. Throughout these 60 plus years, YFC's earliest and most enduring motto has been "Geared to the times, but anchored to the Rock." Under the leadership of its newest president, David Wraight, Youth for Christ has remained "anchored to the Rock," by staying rooted in a strong, Biblical faith, while very much "geared to the times." The message of the gospel will never change, and YFC continues to creatively communicate this message of hope, grace and love in the context of different cultural settings in order to remain on the cutting edge of youth evangelism.