About me

I'm just a believer that is recovering from my experience at Teen Mania's Honor Academy and I would like to share my journey of healing with you.

True Stories

A compilation of all the true stories submitted by former Honor Academy interns.

Recovery Resources

A list of helpful books and websites for your healing journey.

Allegations

A summary of abuses committed by senior Teen Mania leadership.

What Mental Health Professionals Are Saying

Internationally Recognized Cult Experts Doug and Wendy Duncan weigh in on the Teen Mania controversy.

Is Teen Mania a Cult?

Why this controversial description fits Teen Mania.

How Teen Mania Has Responded

Read a synopsis of all my interaction with Teen Mania leadership documenting the multiple lies they've told and two fake "investigations." (Photo Courtesy of Bloomberg)

April 18, 2014

World Magazine Reports on Teen Mania's Unethical use of Donations

World Magazine just published an in depth report on some of the circumstances that have led to Teen Mania's foreclosure. The entire article is fascinating and covers both things mentioned here as well as some new facts.

One item that was news to me: for the past two years, Ron Luce has used the Dallas marathon to raise money for Teen Mania - but instead of helping teens, he used much of the proceeds for vanity projects like a new coffee shop.

Saunier, Teen Mania’s development director in 2011 and 2012, says she would solicit donations for specific projects, but “was never comfortable that we were doing the right things with those funds.” She raised her concerns to superiors and nothing changed. Luce ran in a December 2012 marathon “to raise awareness and support for reaching America’s 26 million teens with the gospel of Christ.” The effort generated about $250,000 in donations, but within months Luce spent $68,000 on campus carpeting projects, $45,000 to install a coffee shop, and $25,000 to build the new conference room. At least one employee resigned in protest.

How could such financial mismanagement go on for so many years? Because Ron Luce rules Teen Mania with an iron grip and will not listen to outside counsel.

For example, on March 15, 2012, Ron and Katie Luce met with board members Daniel Williams and Paul Nelson, CFO Jonathan Hasz, and vice president of operations David Hasz, to discuss concerns and the organizational audit that Teen Mania received in January. Within six months, the Luces were the only ones standing: Williams, Nelson, Tom Muccio (another top board member), and the Hasz brothers all were gone.

According to the Teen Mania bylaws, also obtained by WORLD, Luce can only be removed by a unanimous vote—a virtual impossibility since Katie Luce sits on the eight-member board. The audit recommended removing or revising Ron Luce’s almost unlimited presidential powers and replacing Katie Luce as a voting board member, but neither happened.
 Read the whole thing here. (May require registration for a free trial in order to access.)

April 14, 2014

Ron Luce's Former Assistant: The Executive Office is a Toxic Environment because of Ron Luce's Verbal Abuse

It was the summer of 2007 and I was in Tijuana, Mexico building homes on a Teen Mania mission trip with nearly 600 teens from around the country. A young girl on my team was a current intern at Teen Mania and mentioned to me that the ministry had been hunting for Ron’s new assistant. They have spent several months collecting resumes and interviewing people from around the country. Teen Mania had gone so far as to hire Rebecca Contreras, a former White House aide to President Bush, as a consultant to interview prospective applicants.

That next morning I woke up early to reach the build site where we were constructing a 350 square foot house for a family that had been living in a glorified wooden shack for many years. The wood and building materials had been delivered the night before and lay in front of their dusty dirt plot that would soon become their home. As I arrived I noticed that the wood had a large blanket laying over it that hadn’t been there the night before. As I grew closer I saw the blanket moving and realized something incredible.

This poor family had slept on the wood that night to ensure that no one took their future home. The family showed incredible gratitude for our help, and hugged each and every one of us with tears in their eyes as we handed them the keys to their new home.
           
That was why I made the decision to submit my resume to Teen Mania to become the next assistant for Ron Luce. I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to change lives. I wanted to do things that mattered to the least of these, and most of all I wanted my life to count for more than just myself. I gave up my very successful career working for JP Morgan Chase Bank. I sold my home and virtually all of my possessions because I believed I was answering the call. Please understand, I don’t say any of that as credit to myself, but to illustrate that I meant my commitment when I chose to enter full time ministry.

It didn’t take long before I realized that I had made a terrible mistake. The first day I arrived I had a meeting with my staff of interns. Within the first thirty minutes of that meeting I noticed that several of the interns were crying. I began to probe and try to ascertain what was happening and almost immediately was told a statement that sounded like a rehearsed PR speech, “The Executive Office is a very challenging ministry placement and requires great faith and perseverance to endure.” I had heard “Christianese” lingo like that before, but this seemed like something that had been said thousands of time before my arrival. I knew something was very wrong, but I just didn’t yet know what or who was the source of the problem. Little did I know I was about to discover the truth behind the tears.

Ron’s son was turning thirteen and Ron had planned a ceremony for him to celebrate his “becoming a man.” As part of this event Ron had instructed us to purchase his son a Braveheart-like sword that would be presented to him at the ceremony. Ron told us to have the blade inscribed with a Biblical phrase in Latin. After it had been inscribed by the engraver I asked a few of the interns to have the sword picked up to be presented to Ron. When they arrived they walked into the office and stood at my doorway looking completely distraught. Apparently the engraver had made a mistake on one single letter. I honestly couldn’t understand why they were so upset. It seemed like such a small mistake and more importantly one that could be fixed. But they knew something I didn’t…

Ron Luce detests mistakes of any kind.

Ron had overheard the commotion and walked into my office. He took the sword and noticed the mistake immediately. It was the first time I had ever seen him angry, and it was jarring to say the least. He didn’t speak for what seemed like an eternity, but you could visually see that he was seething. Finally he broke the silence, “I am so deeply and completely grieved at this complete lack of excellence. I am completely disgusted.”

He walked away without saying another word and then slammed the door to his office.

The interns were crushed and the ones responsible for the mistake were completely destroyed by his words. This was a man they loved and revered in every sense of the word, and they had let him down by a simple mistake that wasn’t even their fault. Never mind the fact that this was a personal task that he himself should have been doing on his own time. I wish I could say that this was the last time this type of behavior occurred, but even in the short time I spent at Teen Mania I witnessed this type of verbal mistreatment on countless occasions. My job eventually became spending large portions of my week trying to convince many of the interns not to quit and leave the ministry entirely. Crying in my office became a regular occurrence and no matter how hard I tried to shield them from his emotional outbursts, they continued on a regular basis.

I know this behavior continued long after my departure because a while back I called the Executive Office at random and spoke to one of the interns who happened to answer the phone. Without even knowing her name I told her that I was praying for her and that I understood the hardship that she was facing by working in that department. Not even two minutes into the conversation had passed and she was crying quietly telling me how much she couldn’t stand the hardship of the Executive Office and how much she missed home.

It is very easy to focus on the financial failures of this ministry. It is easy to poke holes through the mistakes that were made by allowing Mr. Luce to maintain his white knuckled grip on a multi-million dollar empire that it became, but the biggest tragedy are the lives that he has damaged by his words, his actions and his inability to accept fault or failure.

For me this was best illustrated at the end of my tenure with Teen Mania Ministries. Towards the end of my time at Teen Mania I had discovered that my wife had been unfaithful to our marriage and I believed I needed to take time to try and recover what remained of our relationship. I sought a private one-on-one meeting with Mr. Luce to discuss my need for time away from the office. Despite the fact that I already had one foot out the door and my ongoing reservations with his behavior I decided to bear my heart to Mr. Luce. He remained quiet as I relayed the somber and devastating news to him. When I had finished he very confidently sat up in his chair and said something that to this day completely and utterly blew me away.

He explained to me that I was responsible for her behavior. He said that my absence from my home was likely to blame and that spiritually I was responsible for the mistake that she had made. He put the blame of my wife’s affair completely and totally on my shoulders.

To put that into perspective you need to understand the context of why that statement was so completely unfounded. Prior to my tenure at Teen Mania I was working a normal 9 to 5 job and had a very normal and healthy family life. It wasn’t until my arrival at Teen Mania that I was forced to work upwards of 90 hours per week and spend countless nights at the office. In January of 2008, my wife and I had decided to take time to go to Dallas to celebrate our anniversary. Our anniversary fell on a Saturday, but Ron was up against a book deadline and insisted that I come into the office to help finish his book, “Re-Create.” I told him that I would come into the office and work on the book until 2pm that day and that I would leave so that I could spend time with my wife. When 2pm rolled around I called him to let him know that I would be leaving. Well I am sure you can guess what happened next…

I was at the office until nearly 10pm that night before I was able to go back home and spend a few fleeting moments with my wife and kids before they went to sleep.

I do not blame Ron Luce for the failure of my marriage. I do not blame Ron Luce for the choices I have made or more importantly didn’t make. I blame him for the fact that he had continued to make slaves or people in the name of “God” and “ministry.” If you have ever spent any time serving in any capacity at Teen Mania you know this to be true.

Like so many of you I took the leap of faith to partner with Teen Mania Ministries to make a difference in the lives of people who were in need. I wanted to serve, give, and dedicate my life to the cause of Christ and show people His love. It never occurred to me that I would be spending my life running personal errands for Mr. Luce or making sure he was bumped up to first class on every flight or we weren’t “excellent.” What started as a noble decision ended up as an incredible disappointment because the focus went from people to person. It has taken me nearly seven years to get the courage to say all of these things because I truly wanted to just forget this part of my life and move on. But I owe it to each and every one of you to remind you that we serve Christ and Him alone, and when anyone or anything stands in the way of that service…

Well I cannot speak for anyone else, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

           

April 8, 2014

Teen Mania No Longer Accredited by ECFA

Last month, Teen Mania lost their accreditation with the ECFA.

The ECFA  (Evangelical Center for Financial Accountability)  "provides accreditation to leading Christian nonprofit organizations that faithfully demonstrate compliance with established standards for financial accountability, transparency, fundraising and board governance."   

Accreditation by the ECFA is supposed to ensure ministries adhere to the Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship  so that donors can trust that their monies will be used in honest and appropriate ways. It is basically the Christian world's stamp of approval saying: this ministry is legit.

Given recent events, it would appear that this accreditation is worthless.

Teen Mania has been losing over a million dollars a year, since 2011, according to the ECFA.
It has also been confirmed by former communications director, Cindy Mallette, that Teen Mania failed to pay 3 mortgage payments which precipitated the foreclosure proceedings (contrary to Ron Luce's testimony that a payment was never missed).

And we now have testimony from Ron Luce's former assistant about absurdly lavish spending. 

But the ECFA is not the only one to fall down on the job. Their former president, Paul Nelson also has much to answer for.

Mr. Nelson was the president of the ECFA for over 10 years. After leaving the ECFA, he became a member of Teen Mania's Board of Directors for several years (since at least 2009, if not earlier).

Teen Mania still touts its relationship with the ECFA and oversight by the Board of Directors as two crucial reasons why they can be trusted with your money. According to Teen Mania International's Finances webpage:

Given Teen Mania's current financial shape, how can anyone take ECFA accreditation or Paul Nelson seriously? For his incredibly poor performance in shaping Teen Mania's finances, Paul Nelson has joined the "The President's Council." It's unclear how this council is different from the Board of Directors or even what its purpose is but Paul Nelson is still a part of Teen Mania's leadership. And that should be very worrisome.

The only two things that I can conclude from this set of facts is that the ECFA and Paul Nelson are completely incompetent OR they both serve as yes men to Ron Luce. Either way, they have been abject failures at safeguarding Teen Mania's finances - and thereby the donations of thousands of people. Perhaps even your donation.




March 29, 2014

Breaking News: Ron Luce Fires Teen Mania's Communications Director for Refusing to Lie about Foreclosure

Yesterday, Teen Mania's Communication Director officially retracted her statements regarding Teen Mania's foreclosure. She originally stated the following in a comment on the Charisma News article:


...What has happened to Teen Mania financially is the same as what is happening with untold other ministries, organizations, etc. in these tighter economic times.

...We are being as open as possible with the public about what's happening. Sure, it's a sad situation to leave behind a place where we've built 17 years' worth of memories and life-changing ministry. But the decision to move to Dallas is a financially responsible one and frees us up to do even greater ministry than before. 
In addition, throughout her tenure as Teen Mania's Communication Director, Mrs. Mallette has been quite adversarial and rude in her dealings with anyone from the Recovering Alumni community so this 180 degree turnaround is quite surprising.

Just yesterday, she gave an update via her Disquis account on this same comment thread:


I OFFICIALLY RETRACT MY ABOVE STATEMENT. It was made in ignorance of the true nature of Teen Mania's move to Dallas. I learned the truth in the days after I left the comment. The move was precipitated by a default on the campus's mortgage. When I learned the truth and confronted Ron Luce about it, he specifically directed me to tell the public, "what I told you to say," which is basically the statement above.

I still love Teen Mania and support its mission, but I could not support misleading the public. I stayed on for one week more as an attempt to convince Ron to be transparent with the public and, in doing so, tell the truth about the nature of the move and present a practical plan for how the ministry could move forward in a financially responsible way. I was removed from my position as Communications Director on Feb. 12 and fired on Feb. 14.

While this is not the first time a former staff member has exposed Ron Luce's lies,  it is certainly the most recent and I commend Mrs. Mallette for refusing to spread his lies even at the risk of her job. That demonstrates a very high level of integrity. She joins a long line of recently departed staff members including the former COO, CFO, Director of Honor Academy operations, Director of Global Expeditions Operations, and several long time members of the Board of Directors. In light of this, I think its worth revisiting the words of another former senior staff member:

My issue is with Ron (Luce) specifically. Everyone is a tool, a pawn in his militant attempt to get his vision accomplished. He is militant about the vision, Dave (Hasz) is militant about the vision, and so is anyone who sticks around for any length of time. And, when you fail to dance “good enough” for the king, he just decides you are “not a good fit.” My issue with Ron is that he seems to discard people like toilet paper when they don't please him—his arrogance knows no bounds (he is right no matter what, and you better fall in line) and he had the compassion of a European dictator. But he's sociopathic, so he can win anyone over to his side of things... and those that don't aren't a “good fit.” I mean, people give up so much to come serve Ron's vision—lives, careers, friends, income, houses, etc., etc., etc... and when Ron is done with you, you're out on your butt. I can name multiple people whom this is happened to.


I applaud Mrs. Mallette for her integrity, for retracting her incorrect statements and for apologizing for her tone in her dealings with our community. If only all Teen Mania staff were so bold in embracing the truth, there would be no need for this blog! Make sure to follow the link to read her comments in their entirety. 

And of course, this begs the question - What is the truth about Teen Mania's foreclosure situation and why is Ron lying about it?

February 18, 2014

Teen Mania College Credits Are Nearly Worthless

Teen Mania has been seeking legitimate college credit for quite some time. If interns could receive actual college credit during their year it would be easier to recruit more of them. Now, in their brand new partnership with The King's University (founded by Jack Hayford), Teen Mania interns may receive college credit for their classes. Or so it seems.

On Teen Mania's website, you can see the following statements which assure teens that they will be able to spend the beginning of their college career at Teen Mania.

 "Interns can spend their beginning college education fully engaged in changing their generation ..." 

"The Associates degree prepares the student for the four-year baccalaureate degree." 

Unfortunately, this college credit is nearly worthless. The King's University is accredited by the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS) - the same body that accredits Bob Jones University and Pensacola Christian College. I made phone calls to several colleges and universities to see who would accept these transfer credits.



 Of the 3 state schools I called at random, none of them would accept the credits.

 - University of Texas
 - University of Florida
 - Indiana University

But what about community colleges? In the past, many interns have stayed a 3rd or 4th year and gone to a local Junior college in their spare time. Perhaps future interns could go to a community college in Dallas?

Nope.

 The two biggest local systems are Dallas County Community College District and Tarrant County College. Between them they have 10+ campuses in the area but they do not recognize the accreditation of The King's University.

Perhaps this problem is limited to secular schools. Surely Christian schools would accept these classes as transfer credits? Actually, no. In fact, many Christian Schools do not recognize this accreditation body. Perhaps most surprisingly, even the alma mater of Ron Luce, Oral Roberts University would not accept transfer credits from The King's University (though they have their own direct partnership with Teen Mania). Even Sterling University which previously partnered with Teen Mania to provide college credits would not accept these as transfers. Other Christian schools that would not recognize the credit include Belmont University and Union University.

Outside of the schools accredited by TRACS, the only others I found that would recognize these credit hours were Liberty University and Trinity International University.

 If you or your child plans to attend Teen Mania, please be sure your college credits will transfer to the university of your choice. It would be a shame to end up with thousands of dollars of student loans with no college credits to show for it.

February 11, 2014

Ron Luce's Former Assistant Says Reckless Spending is Cause for Teen Mania's Financial Failures


The Great & Powerful Oz: Behind the Curtain of Teen Mania Ministries

It was February 2008 and I was standing in an expansive crowd at the New York City BattleCry. I was surrounded by thousands upon thousands of young people lifting up the name of God in worship. It should have been the very pinnacle of all my ministry experience, but it wasn’t. I felt disappointed, I felt disgusted with the information I knew, and worst of all I felt like I had let God down. I had just been told by Ron Luce himself that I had committed a fatal mistake that had the potential to ruin his entire vision for this event, and he was clearly disappointed with me. 

In late 2007 I had been hired to be Ron Luce’s assistant, director of his Executive Office, and the 2008 New York BattleCry had been my baby. I was responsible for literally every minute of the event with regard to the VIP’s and had been given the directive to spare “no expense” to ensure that we handled our ultimate VIP with “world class” attention to detail. I was tasked with being the liaison for Bishop T.D. Jakes and to do absolutely anything (and everything) possible to ensure that he experienced world class VIP treatment. 

While the ministry was sending out donor letters explaining the dire conditions of the ministries need for more money to stay solvent I was executing a plan that seemed quite contrary to the need. The following can and should be verified by the reader in a demand for a public viewing of Teen Mania’s financial statements. I can assure you that not a single bit of this information is exaggerated or misstated in any way. 

However before I continue I want to be clear about a few points. I am not angry with Teen Mania Ministries or Ron Luce. I do not harbor ill will towards him or this ministry. On the contrary, my experiences absolutely and completely broke my heart because of the incredible lack of accountability, and how Mr. Luce’s power remains unchecked. I was so passionate about fixing this problem prior to my resignation that in a last ditch effort to help turn the ministry around, I wrote and presented to Mr. Luce an exhaustive report about the “real problem” with Teen Mania Ministries. The problem could be summed up in two words:

Ron Luce. It obviously fell on deaf ears…

            Like so many of you I grew up with Teen Mania. I have gone around the world on mission trips with Teen Mania. I loved Ron’s heart for ministry and felt compelled to join the ministry full time to make a difference. What I found when I got there was something that I                abhorred and absolutely broke my heart for the ministry and those who have been scarred by it. I am publically calling for Teen Mania to show their accounting records in full disclosure to the public. This is the only way that this problem can be fixed and for others to avoid being hurt by this recklessness. The following is simply my retelling of the facts that occurred during my experience as Ron Luce’s assistant and Director of the Executive office:

Courting the Bishop

The premier speaker for the New York City BattleCry had been decided in 2007 (possibly even before that time). This event was designed to be the biggest and most extravagant display that Teen Mania had ever performed, but in order to do that we needed the “big dogs” of the Christian world to attend to attract a large enough audience for the event. Early on Ron fixed his eyes on Bishop T.D. Jakes. I still remember when I received the “engagement dossier” from Mr. Jake’s offices in Dallas. I opened it and began muddling through the contract, green room requirements, hotel requirements, and ultimately the “Honorarium.” 

If you are not familiar with the term “Honorarium” then I will explain how that works in ministry as it exists in the church today. Notable and well known speakers in the Christian world are not much different than celebrities in the secular world in terms of their speaking engagement requirements. An “Honorarium” is synonymous with an “Appearance Fee.” This is the cost of what the speaker charges simply to come and speak in your church, event, or in this case the New York BattleCry. While the ministry was cutting back on salaries, expenses, costs, and was sending thousands of letters of year explaining the need for more money, I was hiring Bishop Jakes to speak at the NYC BattleCry.

His Honorarium was $100,000.00. Teen Mania Ministries paid every penny of that cost from the Executive Departments budget. But it didn’t end there…

Bishop Jakes also required a round trip chartered private Learjet from Texas to New York City. This would end up cost Teen Mania approximately $22,000.00. Additionally Bishop Jakes would need to stay in the Presidential suite of the Manhattan Ritz Carlton at approximately $2,200.00 a night. This too was paid by Teen Mania Ministries. 

If that weren’t enough, Bishop Jakes required TWO stretch Escalade limousines to take him to and from his hotel and the event. I do not immediately recall the cost for this expense, but I am sure the reader can use their imagination for what two stretch Escalades might cost. I truly wish it had ended there. Ron was not satisfied with merely meeting the requirements listed in Bishop Jake’s speaking contract; he wanted to far exceed his expectations. So I was tasked with transforming his experience into something that exuded “world class excellence.” 

At the instruction and approval of Mr. Luce we spared no expense and paid many thousands of dollars to have a local florist in New York City make rare and exotic imported flower bouquets for the Presidential suite at the Ritz Carlton. I know this because I delivered those flowers to the suite myself. We spent thousands of dollars buying rare chocolates, desserts, pastries and various imported gifts from around the world for the Bishop, his wife and his children. This included several hundred dollars of i-Tunes gift cards, i-Pods, and various expensive trinkets. 

Mr. Luce had me draft a complete “minute by minute” of what Bishop Jakes would experience from the moment he stepped off his $22,000.00 private Learjet to the moment he entered the stadium for the NYC BattleCry. This included a green room that was fit for a monarch. We completely transformed the nicest available space in the arena into a virtual oasis of luxury for Bishop Jakes. We rented couches, furniture, lamps and brought the most luxurious items we could find in the city to his green room. The cost for this was astronomical. 

 When it was all said and done we had easily spent well over $125,000.00 (this is a very conservative number, it likely exceeded $140,000.00+, but in the interest of details I want to remain as factual as possible in my recollection) in courting Bishop Jakes, because Ron believed that if we could entice the Bishop to partner with Teen Mania then we would be headed to the Promised Land. Despite my best preparations it seemed we had an Achilles heel that none of us were aware of at the time. Bishop Jakes had arrived at the arena and within a matter of 20 minutes his handler had forwarded a complaint from the Bishop to Ron himself. It seems my office had told the Bishop that he should wear a full suit and tie to the event, and when he arrived seeing dressed down teenagers he was not happy. 

If you didn’t know that during the time the Bishop spoke on stage (for approx. 50 minutes) you may not have noticed that the Bishop seemed bothered and uncomfortable during his short sermon, but Ron noticed and he was not pleased. Probably the most disappointing part of that experience was the fact that a young man had spoken a few hours before the bishop, someone that the ministry had not paid an “Honorarium.” He brought down the house and had the crowd on their feet at the end of his testimony. The Bishop did not have that affect, not even close. 

Despite Ron’s best efforts the extravagant luxuries did not appear to have the desired effect. Our small mistake of telling the Bishop to wear the wrong clothes seemed to be far more important than any of the money we had blown courting him. I know this because I followed Teen Mania for years after my departure, and never saw the Bishop again as a reoccurring guest speaker for the ministry in any remarkable capacity. 

A struggling ministry barely able to pay its staff, the bills, the ongoing operating costs of the campus, that was begging donors for money to stay afloat had literally blown over $125,000.00 on a man who spoke for about 50 minutes, and wasn’t even the best speaker of the event let alone that night. That is, in a nutshell, why Teen Mania has allowed the bank to foreclose. Reckless spending coupled with a leader who answers to no one is a recipe for disaster. 

It also should be noted that Teen Mania also paid Kirk Franklin $25,000.00 to come and perform at the NYC BattleCry for his “Honorarium.” This also did not include his green room requirements and travel expenses. Maybe this is simply the norm in the business that has become Christianity today, but I for one am disgusted by these examples from our so called “leaders”. What happened to the example that Paul gave us in the New Testament? Not only did he refuse to be paid to come and speak, but he insisted on working and serving everywhere he went. I believe it is time for change, and it has to be demanded from those of us that he given so much to these men and women who we have trusted with our resources and lives. 

Don’t Look Behind The Curtain

I really wish it all ended there. Once I started to delve into the financials of the ministry I was absolutely shocked and disturbed by what I found. The Executive Office (“EO”) had ZERO accountability to anyone, including the board. No one ever (or could ever) challenged Ron’s expenditures. I know this because one day I brought our department’s expenses to the Accounting department. The managing Accountant simply rolled her eyes and said, “I have stopped trying to figure out the EO’s finances, I just pay whatever I’m told to pay and keep quiet.”

Very few people stood up to Ron, but those that did were often shut down. This included Dave and Jon Hasz. My office that shared a wall with Ron’s and I was able to hear countless arguments that included disputes over expenses and costs with the main leaders of the ministry and Ron. But what shocked me the most is when I discovered what I still believe to be deeply disturbing. 

In 2008 I was made responsible for preparing the Board of Trustees meeting that happened once a year. Ron made it clear that it was during this meeting that he put his best foot forward. He wanted to impress the board with the ministry and would have the marketing department make special brochures and marketing pieces to show them. Then I came across salary information. I will only direct what I know as it relates to Ron and his family, because that is where my concern remains. In 2008 Ron Luce’s salary (as awarded by the board) was nearly $100,000. That seemed very high considering the fact that senior staff members were being paid so poorly (in many cases less than $20,000.00 annually) and even laid off because of the ministries issues with funding. But the most shocking thing to me of all was that Katie Luce, Ron’s wife, was also paid nearly $50,000.00 annually as the “secretary” of board of the ministry. This didn’t make sense to me because I had literally never seen Katie on campus doing ministry work of any kind in the entirety of my tenure at Teen Mania. If she did work for the ministry that was certainly news to me because I knew the whereabouts of the family most of the time and my understanding was that she operated as the stay-at-home mom of the family. If the ministry was struggling then this simply didn’t make any sense to me whatsoever.

Looking Toward the Future

Sadly this is merely a few of the dozens of stories that I have to tell. For the past many years this has eaten at me and I would have gone to my grave keeping these secrets for a ministry that I once loved so dearly, but I cannot in good faith sit back and allow this financial mismanagement to continue without speaking up. It may not appear this way, but I truly approach this matter with the deepest love for Ron, his family, and this ministry, and it is in love that I believe change must occur. In the weeks to come I will share others stories that I hope compel those who would hear me to stand up and demand change. 

I hope and pray that God restores this ministry to what God initially intended it to be, but sometimes the Prophet Nathan brings bad news people don’t want to hear and it’s up to them to make the right choices once faced with the truth. I truly and sincerely hope Ron makes that choice…

February 10, 2014

Reaction to Teen Mania International Alumni Conference Call

Teen Mania International setup a conference call for Ron Luce to explain why the ministry is in foreclosure and what their future plans are. The call lasted about an hour and can be heard here:





I will share a couple of the important moments below. Exact quotes in italics.

Ron Luce starts by explaining the causes for Teen Mania’s financial troubles. He takes zero responsibility for these problems accept in the vague "I'm a leader so the buck stops here" kind of way. Instead he lays the blame on external factors he could not control. He begins by blaming Teen Mania’s financial problems on the following:
  1. Economy since 2008
  2.  Fewer teenagers in this generation
  3.  Local electric co-op rates are too high 
  4. Campus is too expensive, costing $1 million per year to run. He said that the more they built up the campus, the more it costs to run. (One thinks they might have thought of that before and he never states he should have done things differently.)

10:50 – I’m amused when I see the words out there of people think that finances are being used in unscrupulous ways or whatever. I don’t know any ministry that runs any tighter budget than what we do.

18:35 – No, we are not in bankruptcy.

36:00 – Land advisers told us to give the property back to the bank. Appraised value is higher than the note. $15 million
39:07 – The note was 9.5 million.

At one point, Ron said that even if someone paid off the campus, it would still be too expensive to stay (over $1 million per year in operating costs).

The gist of the spin was that Teen Mania doesn’t need a campus and that renting is actually better than owning. I was surprised that Ron actually seemed to talk badly about the campus – like it was a pointless expense. He chalks it up to a "new season" of ministry. I guess God doesn't have a lot of forethought leading them into debt like that? Or maybe God doesn't mind leaving the bank with the bill. Ron also tried to justify going into foreclosure because the bank has made a lot of money off them in interest.

In addition to renting property in the future, they also plan to rent the equipment for ATFs from now on. Is that because the ATF equipment was part of the collateral for their note? Quite possibly. Ron made a lot of vague promises with very little to back them up. He said that the ministry would do even more ATFs with less resources, but gave no plan outlining how that’s possible. Could that be because there is no actual plan?


In fact, no actual concrete plans were given throughout the call for anything - the move to Dallas, the "new" ministry focus, etc. This shows that Teen Mania  move isn’t motivated by actual vision and forethought, but as a reaction to their foreclosure. Otherwise, they would be able to tell us what they are doing in Dallas. 

To finish the call, Ron took the last few minutes to share that he called me in August of 2012. I was upset that Ron misrepresented that phone call. Listeners were left with the impression that things between us were rosy and that I quit blogging because of his phone call. Neither of those are true. 

Things that Ron said that were true about the phone call:

Things that Ron said that were NOT true about our phone call:
  •  I did not “tell him how I became bitter.” The fact that he would even use that language shows that doesn’t even understand ANYTHING about my position or what the recovering alumni community is all about. It is a complete disregard of the essence of the issue, again pinning the blame on the victims. If I did mention anything about my emotional state, I’m sure it was that I was absolutely heartbroken, devastated and confused.
  • I did not tell him that I was permanently quitting the blog. In fact, I remember telling him that I would keep my eye on him and he chuckled at that. By that time, I was already blogging less frequently and considering if it was time to finish.

Things that Ron left out about our phone call:


Unfortunately, this is the only phone call I’ve had with Teen Mania that was not recorded (as I was caught quite off guard, as you can imagine.) However, I’ve referenced my notes of the phone call to refresh my memory. There was nothing about the phone call that was truly genuine in any way and it did nothing to change my views of Ron Luce or Teen Mania, especially considering that he put the blame on everyone else but himself (Dave Hasz, Board of Directors).


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