Christ In Youth (CIY) is easily one the most widely recognized institutions operating within our ICC association today. Founded in 1968 by Ozark’s Professor Bob Stacy, it has been a faithful, doctrinally-sound enterprise serving generations of ICC churches and families nationwide. Bob’s visionary genius and tremendous faith certainly helped set things in motion, but above all, it was his heart for God and humanity which seeded CIY’s success for now over half a century. Much of that success, it should be noted, enjoyed under the steady, abiding influence of Andy Hansen.
Reaching over 77,000 students yearly, CIY has achieved a venerable reputation among parents and youth leaders alike, extending well beyond the boundaries of even our own brotherhood. And considering the fact that nearly half of all Americans who accept Jesus Christ as their savior do so before reaching the age of 13 (43%), and that two out of three born again Christians (64%) make that commitment to Christ before their 18th birthday, it’s no exaggeration to say that CIY is on the frontlines of church evangelism itself.
Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the current directors of CIY face some very challenging times ahead. Already, according to the Christian Standard, it has cancelled all of its fifty-six high school and middle school events for 2020. Additionally, the organization has cut 33 percent of its workforce with more austerity measures being considered. And in the wake of losing the North American Christian Convention, Cincinnati Christian University, and the pervading feeling of drift and disarray within many of our remaining institutions, the specter of losing CIY can only intensify the growing sense that our best days are behind us.
This very blog recently published an essay emphasizing the need for mediating institutions. CIY was among the first of these kinds of organizations to make the list – and with good reason. Take for example, their timely, bold, and consistent stand for complementarian views of gender when preaching to our nation’s youth, providing a much needed lilt to Bible-believing families and congregations everywhere – quietly puncturing extravagant theological indulgences found in other circles. It’s little wonder, then, that ICC churches continue to trust the directors of CIY to provide ladders upon which the next generation of aspiring young Christians can rise.
Put simply, this ministry has acquitted itself well within our fellowship. And now they deserve a certain amount of loyalty from the people and congregations they have served. And, apparently, I’m not the only one to think so. Many churches, grateful for CIY’s existence, are now forgoing refunds for this year’s prepaid deposits, opting instead to turn those deposits into donations. The congregation I serve (not wanting to be left out) has decided to double our pre-registration totals as we calculate the financial contribution we, ourselves, will make in coming days.
Parents and youth programs across the country need ministries like CIY now more than ever. If your church has not yet done so, consider this an opportunity to help extend this invaluable ministry’s evangelistic legacy. If you don’t have kids, view it as an act of solidarity to help reverse the recent trend bedeviling our beloved institutions. Indeed. given the national and personal challenges Bible-believing Christians continue to face, a contribution may never matter so deeply, nor, I suspect, be more profoundly appreciated.
Terry Sweany has served as senior minister of Playa Christian Church since 2006. His education includes a MA in Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling from Hope International University and a BA from Cincinnati Christian University. He is author of the book Life In Ministry and his greatest joy is helping people deepen their relationship with God. Terry lives in Westchester, California and is a member of the LAPD Pacific Division Clergy Council. He and his wife, Patty, have been married 34 years and have a daughter and grandaughter.