President Ron Luce Pushes Back Against Report Saying His Ministry, Teen Mania, Spent Over $130,000 on T. D. Jakes Among Other Financial Concerns

Ron Luce
Ron Luce

Teen Mania’s finances are on the rocks. The Acquire the Fire organizer, recently named one of the most influential ministries of the 21st century, is currently No. 5 on Charity Navigator’s list of 10 Charities in Deep Financial Trouble—and has been on the list since December 2012.

But why the ministry’s finances are so rocky has become a subject of public debate, after an in-depth investigation by World magazine of the foreclosure of Teen Mania’s sprawling campus headquarters—among the termination of its ECFA accreditation and other financial concerns—sparked a public rebuttal from cofounder and president Ron Luce.

Luce said World‘s article—which detailed expenses such as $100,000 for T.D. Jakes to speak at a 2008 New York City event, $21,000 for his private jet, and $10,000 for gifts for Jakes’s family—”included false statements, errors and misperceptions regarding the current state of our ministry.”

“Teen Mania never paid the stated amounts for guest speakers nor provided gifts as alleged,” Luce wrote in a public letter to alumni earlier this month.

He also responded to a charge from a former Teen Mania development director, who said Luce raised $250,000 to “raise awareness and support for reaching America’s 26 million teens with the gospel of Christ” but spent it instead on campus carpeting, a coffee shop, and a new conference room.

Teen Mania “always sought to utilize ministry donations for initiatives and headquarter improvements which would further allow us to fulfill our mission ‘to provoke a young generation to passionately pursue Jesus Christ and to take His life-giving message to the ends of the earth,'” Luce wrote.

Luce also gave his explanation of the investigation’s hook: the recent foreclosure on the minstry’s 472-acre Texas headquarters.

World reported that Luce’s announcement to move the headquarters to Dallas for ministry purposes obscured the real reason for the move: foreclosure on the Garden Valley property.

Luce allegedly fired communications director Cindy Mallette 10 days later when she prodded him to acknowledge the foreclosure, according to the article. Mallette told World that Teen Mania’s mortgage went into default after it stopped making payments in November in order to meet payroll.

But Luce said the foreclosure was a “friendly” one, done by the bank at the request of Teen Mania’s board when they decided to relocate to Dallas last December. (Teen Mania has yet to announce the exact location of its new headquarters, but the move is scheduled for August.)

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SOURCE: Christianity Today
Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra

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