Since I came to Teen Mania as a staff member instead of an intern, my story
is a little different than most here. I graduated from Bible College in the
early 90’s and struggled with what I was supposed to do with my life. I always
had a desire to work in TV and the doors opened for me to do that. But I always felt conflicted by not working in “full time ministry.“
with should I be working at a regular job or should I be in the ministry, doing
a “God” job? Even though I had a great job in the television
industry, I never felt at ease because I thought I should be working in the
(this was prior to their in house production at the Center for Creative Media).
I thought I hit the jackpot because this would be a “God” job. I would finally be working full time in the ministry doing something
that I love doing. I flew down to TX for an interview. When I arrived, an
uneasiness nagged at me deep down but I didn’t take heed. At the time I was working in a very established job with people whom I
loved. It was a hard decision to leave but I thought this was Gods
will. When I arrived in TX, I had an incredibly overwhelming feeling of
what I had just done.
world, but on top of that, the culture of Teen Mania was a different world. Some
of the staff was nice at first but I often felt a superior attitude with those
who have been with Teen Mania for a while. I know this wasn’t the case for all
but I definitely got that sense from some. I really enjoyed meeting all of the
interns. If I needed anything set up in my apartment I always had a
Many things really struck me when I
started working there. I thought it was awesome that young people would
go to a place to really search their hearts to see what God wanted for
them. I did however think something was off by having young people
basically pay to work. I don’t know how anyone can justify this kind of
treatment. I have heard often that you should “treat it like ministry”
yet to the higher ups it’s treated as a business. I don’t think its
right to have young people work for free, especially when the work is more than
8 hours a day on top of other tasks they are expected to do. I remember talking
to a few interns who were in tears because they could not raise the money to
stay in Teen Mania. When I attended Bible College I did pay to attend.
The difference is I got a degree and didn’t have to work off being there.
Most places I know, because of labor laws, pay interns to work. From what
I understand it is somewhat illegal not to pay people who are putting in 8
hours with no health benefits. To me that was a MAJOR red flag, especially
having the experience of working for many years.
incredibly disorganized Teen Mania was. For a place where accountability is constantly
preached, I didn’t find that to be true from a business point of view. I
met several production houses who did work for Teen Mania and they all said the
same thing to me, “You left your good job to work there? “ The pit in my
stomach was continuing to grow every day. The more I would question
things the more I would get shunned from staff. (Apparently, women at Teen
Mania are not supposed to speak up or have differing opinions.) I got the
impression that business ran off the bare bones and yet still expected things
to run flawlessly. I remember the equipment that was purchased wasn’t
right. When I had questions about it, I had a person on a higher level say they
never saw someone complain so much and that other departments have a lot less
and they make it work. I told him he was naive to think someone could lay hands on production
gear and ask the Lord to make it do something else other than what it was
supposed to do. Needless to say, that comment didn’t win me any favor. If I
gave suggestions on bringing ideas for developing anything I was made to feel
like I walking against the grain. I was completely like a fish out of water. They
wanted a high quality TV show yet lacked the knowledge how to produce and edit
I also had another staff member tell me that
when I was working in the world, I was a bright light in a dim place.
With me working at Teen Mania, I was now a dim light working in a bright place.
I was so hurt, so offended that I quit shortly after that. When I left I
felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. For a long time I had questioned
myself and that experience. I actually had a few people from Teen Mania contact
me to see if I could connect them to anyone from MTV because they wanted their
TV shows to be creative like that. I was highly offended to say the least
and I did not assist them.
and very confused. I came home very withdrawn and feeling like the worst
person. Shortly after that, doors did open for me and I have been very blessed
with my current job. I work for a major network that reaches the world.
Once I started getting back into the swing of things I really looked at what
had happened at Teen Mania. I knew I had a choice to make. God didn’t turn His
back on me, He actually used a not so pleasant experience for the good. I work
with a lot of young people who literally come to work here from all over the
world. I remember how I was treated at Teen Mania and vowed never to do
that to anyone. I may not have gone all around the world doing a skit or
preaching, but I learned everything to do everything just as Christ would.
Sometimes it may not be the most glamorous thing but even if it’s a small thing
it matters to the person you are helping plus Christ. I read a lot of the
stories on this blog and my heart truly goes out to all those who had a bad
experience. I hope I can be an encouragement. I am not bitter at the Lord
nor am I at that ministry. I chose to take away a positive thing from a
bad experience. It didn’t happen overnight but I don’t look back with regrets.