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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.

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.)

14 comments:

This is a very well written article.

This is an excellent piece of journalism, and much of it was news to me too despite following TM's abuses for many years. It will be interesting to see what TM supporters will say, considering that it's obviously not from "bitter alumni" or "liberal secular media."

And we are here yet again. Truth keeps coming to the surface, whether some blinded alumni want to believe it or not. Unfortunately, I think its just the beginning of more to come......
I think this whole financial mess is just a reflection of poor leadership, lies and deception. Ok, I understand we've appologized - awesome! But you can't go around for decades acting like a holy leader judging and dismissing young adults based on their imperfections or differences (not to say all dismissals are fair). I do know this to be true what goes around comes around.......

It just boggles my noggin' that despite the evidence - people are still just goo-goo-ga-ga for Ron. If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and spends like a duck, its a broke duck. And I thought Alumni were supposed to be brainwashed, oh - I mean smart.

I am not surprised. As an intern I wrote grants for projects that never saw the day of light. A grant was awarded the same week I was to graduate and I was told to call the foundation and tell them that TM would like to put in in their general fund instead. I was not comfortable with that at all. I was only a 19 year old intern and felt should not be left to me, it also felt dishonest. I left that call up to the person getting paid to be an employee. That was over 10yrs ago.

So hard to know how to feel... I was there for several years but saw so many things wrong. Was even directly told to break state law at one point. Ron reminds me a lot of Saul. I believe he was called by God for a purpose... but it seems like it may have gone wrong at some point.

he should not be spending that money on carpeting...after all...every year at the graduation he has a special talk with parents and had them stand up to commit to carpeting at least one dorm room...more if they could...was told by students that this happens every year..sure enough we went to the parent's meeting and out it came....

Have you seen the response Ron emailed to alumni about this article?

Part 2 of this article has been released with even MORE information that needs to be shared. http://www.worldmag.com/2014/05/teen_mania_turmoil_continues/page1@Recovering_Alum

Here is the whole article in case someone can't access it all.

One of only six independent board members resigned this week from Teen Mania, one of the nation’s largest Christian youth ministries.
Nathan Moody, a scientist at the Department of Energy’s Los Alamos National Laboratory, would not comment on why he chose to step down, but his decision came in the wake of a foreclosure on the ministry’s property and a WORLD report detailing some of Teen Mania’s ongoing management and financial challenges. Following the story’s publication last month, Moody requested and received a copy of the comprehensive third-party audit, conducted before he joined the board, mentioned in WORLD’s report.
Moody, an Honor Academy alumnus, told me in an email that his resignation included a commitment to be “fully transparent” to Teen Mania founder Ron Luce and the remaining board members, and agreeing to an interview would be interpreted as “violating the commitment I just made.”
In a statement released to WORLD Friday afternoon, the Teen Mania board said, “Nathan Moody resigned the Teen Mania board on May 14, 2014, stating his current time constraints would not allow him to accommodate the increased level of board involvement that will be required going into this new season of ministry. Prior to his resignation, Nathan provided important guidance related to the change process ahead, and we appreciate his input as we move forward in this exciting time for Teen Mania.”
Moody’s departure leaves five independent members on Teen Mania’s board of directors: George Babbes, a professor at Azusa Pacific University; Chris Hill, senior pastor of The Potter’s House in Denver, Colo.; Jennifer Labit, founder and CEO of Cotton Babies; Steve Riggle, pastor of Grace Community Church in Houston; and Marcos Witt, a musician and former pastor at Lakewood Church in Houston.
Babbes has been on the board since 1995, but Labit didn’t join until 2012, and Hill, Riggle, and Witt all joined in 2013. Ron and Katie Luce also serve on the board.
The Teen Mania board was small even before Moody’s resignation. Following the completion of a strategic and operational audit, Calvin Edwards & Co., an Atlanta-based consulting firm that has scrutinized more than 600 organizations in 50 countries, in early 2012 recommended the board have between 7 and 15 independent members—which would have included replacing Luce’s wife Katie as a voting member. That never happened.
Teen Mania in February announced it would vacate its 472-acre property near Tyler, Texas, and move to Dallas. Luce cast the decision as the result of long-range planning and an effort to go global, but the ministry has yet to announce a new location. Teen Mania has continued to lease its land after the bank repossessed it in March.
WORLD’s previous story was the result of extensive interviews with current and former employees, and a review of internal documents and recent IRS Form 990s available on GuideStar. Luce blamed the article on former employees eager to bad-mouth the organization. He wrote to Teen Mania alumni a lengthy response to the article, saying it contained “false statements, errors and misperceptions regarding the current state of our ministry”—although he did publicly acknowledge for the first time the foreclosure on the ministry’s East Texas property. Luce has declined to identify any specific error in WORLD’s article. (end pt,1)

Hey Anon - I'll go ahead and post that 2nd article. Thanks for the reminder!

To throw further light on Teen Mania’s situation, WORLD is releasing one of the documents it obtained: A list of 32 specific recommendations from Calvin Edwards & Co. We originally had no intention of releasing this document, but since Ron Luce questioned WORLD’s credibility, we present it to allow our readers to decide for themselves.
Calvin Edwards, the organization’s founder and CEO, did not supply the document to WORLD—it came from a former Teen Mania employee—and a binding contract prohibited him from authorizing its release. But Edwards stands by the recommendations and told me publishing them “could help other ministry boards” examine issues similar to the ones Teen Mania is facing: “If you release it, I only hope that good comes from it and that it serves kingdom purposes.”
Edwards said the Teen Mania board sought to implement the report’s recommendations, but “it was met with strong opposition from Ron Luce, who sought to maintain the status quo.” He confirmed that several board members and at least two key executives subsequently left the organization.
The memo provides documentation for several facts cited in WORLD’s story (see Nos. 19, 22, and 31). Readers will also find key issues WORLD did not have space to address, including recommendations to review Katie Luce’s compensation—she works in the office one day per week, according to the report, and earns $50,000 annually (No. 9)—and the “appropriateness” of Ron Luce’s travel policy allowing him to take one family member on every trip. “A less generous benefit may be sufficient,” the document reads (No. 10). The memo also recommends Teen Mania post IRS 990s and audited financial statements online (No. 26) and require His Work Ministries (HWM), another of Luce’s operations, to provide financial statements and IRS Form 990s “in a timely manner” to judge HWM’s ability to repay its debt to Teen Mania (No. 25). You can read all 32 recommendations here.
(Editor’s note: This article was edited to include a statement from the Teen Mania board sent to WORLD Friday afternoon.) (end pt.2)

Here is the link to Calvin Edwards and Company Recomendation for Teen Mania http://www.worldmag.com/media/docs/teen_mania_ministries_advisory_memo.pdf

CS Lewis could have been describing the beauty and wisdom of giving issues both time and research when he said, "Everything becomes more itself."

Whatever TM and Ron Luce truly "are" will become clear and public with time. Time and research will "get the job done."

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