Teen Mania announced today that they can no longer afford
their compound in East Texas and are entering a “friendly foreclosure” with the
bank, which allows them to take less of a hit on their credit than full blown
foreclosure proceedings. (Which would have likely been inevitable.)
few years has seen this coming. In 2006-2007, they had around 700+ interns
paying a monthly fee to work full time for them on their campus. In the past
2-3 years, each intern class has only been around 200-250. That is a
significant drop off in both revenue and the free labor that they depend upon
to run the ministry.
financial position according to their publicly available tax filings. This is
what he said:
The latest filing is for the fiscal year ending 8/31/2012. Teen
Mania lost $1,149,000 that year and $1,369,000 the year before.
To finance that deficit, they went further into debt. Their debt exceeded
the value of their assets by $4,166,000 that year and $3,017,000 the year
before, accruing over another million dollars in debt that year, which means
that they either borrowed money from somewhere, or simply didn’t pay vendors or
others who should have been paid (possibly both).
Their donations have gone down significantly in the past several years. Going
back through the earlier 990’s it appears that they’ve been insolvent since at
In addition, at least one of Teen Mania’s vendors is suing them for breach of contract (non-payment?). They are currently in the midst of that legal
So how is Teen Mania spinning this epic disaster?
They are changing their name to Teen Mania International (an attempt to
distance themselves from all the negative press they have received, I’m sure)
and claiming a new strategy for conducting ATF events in foreign countries
(where people are less likely to know of their bad reputation?)
Ron Luce says, “Leaders from so many nations have invited Teen Mania to
conduct Acquire the Fire events in their nations saying, “Our teens are more
like American teens than even our own culture. Can you come and help us reach
The last time (only time?) Teen Mania conducted an ATF style event on foreign soil was in Uganda, 2009. They partnered with local pastor, Martin Ssempa – outspoken advocate for the “kill the gays” bill being debated in the Ugandan government.
So that’s great.
Teen Mania will also partner with The King’s University based in Southlake,
Texas (suburb of Dallas). “The King’s University is coming alongside Teen Mania
and offering those who choose to pursue their education and ministry training
through the Honor Academy a fully-accredited degree program with academic
Accredited by the same body that accredits Bob Jones University and Pensacola Christian College, it is important to note that the entire degree program at The King’s University
consists of ministry, Bible and theology classes. The degree program omits most all general education requirements (math, science, literature, world history) and as such, the
courses taken at King’s University will likely only transfer to another
Christian university, or perhaps as an elective to a state school. Personally,
I graduated from a Christian university but I’m not sure even they would accept
transfer credits from a class entitled, “Spiritual Warfare” or “Our Pentecostal
For some people, this kind of education might be a perfect fit but it is
important to note exactly what that education will be and what you can legitimately
expect to do with it if you plan to transfer to another school.
So will Teen Mania International be able to survive with this new-ish model?
I doubt it. None of Teen Mania’s fundamental problems have gone away. They
still hold the same philosophies and techniques that they always have so there is no reason
to think that future interns (or whatever they decide to call them) will be treated much better than past interns. The main difference in the program is one of isolation. The interns will no longer be dragged out of their
beds in the middle of the night and taken into the woods to play torture games.
They will also be in close proximity to people living outside the Teen Mania
bubble. While those are both improvements to the program, at its heart is still
a dangerous, spiritually abusive place to be.
If you’d like to read the full press release, click here.