Meet Young Life's Next Leader

​Last fall, Denny Rydberg announced his plans to retire as Young Life’s president after 23 years in his role. "Marilyn and I have known from the time we responded to God’s call in 1993 there would be a time when we would leave this position and someone else would become responsible," he explained in his letter to the Young Life community. "We knew we would need to one day 'pass the baton' to someone else. For us that time is now."

Over the last year, a search committee comprised of members of the Young Life Board of Trustees has sought the Lord’s leading in choosing a new president. After a thorough, prayerful process, the committee unanimously recommended Crenshaw, and on April 15, 2016 during its spring meeting in Chicago, Illinois, the board named him Young Life’s next president.

In a letter announcing the board’s selection, Board Chair John Brandon wrote: "Newt has served as a volunteer, donor, committee chair and member of the Board of Trustees. His parents were involved with the mission at many levels, and Newt and his wife, Susan, continue to carry on that passion and support. Professionally, he has built an impressive career as a senior executive with Eli Lilly, based in Indianapolis, Indiana. Newt is a person with intelligence, drive, compassion and, most importantly, a profound love for our Lord. Having lived and worked for Lilly in Kobe, Japan (where he helped establish Young Life), he brings significant international knowledge and experience to his new role."

Following the board’s decision, the Rydbergs hosted a gathering of senior mission leaders to begin introducing Newt and Susan to the mission, and vice versa. In reflecting on this first meeting, John Vicary, executive vice president over U.S. field ministry, wrote:

"I left our time with Newt and Susan so encouraged about how God has answered our collective prayers over the search for a new president. Hearing their heart for Christ and kids, seeing the blend of humility and leadership strength, his commitment to diversity in leadership, and his high value for trust and transparency among those he leads only increased my confidence in God’s provision for us. He is an impressive and proven leader. I’m looking forward to getting to know him better and learning from him as we work closely together in the months and years ahead."

Vicary's counterpart over international field ministry, Marty Caldwell, agreed:

"I met Newt and Susan while they were living in Japan 10 years ago. Seeing them again confirmed what I sensed 10 years ago — genuine, authentic, servant leaders with humility and confidence, who have a demonstrated heart for Christ and kids in this mission. I am hopeful about this season and anticipate more of God’s fruit in our mission community."

As the mission prepares for the transition, we’re reminded of how greatly indebted we are to Denny and Marilyn for their contributions over the past two-plus decades of service. Rydberg will “pass the baton” to Crenshaw on July 15 and make himself available to Crenshaw as needed beyond that point.

Crenshaw will become the mission’s sixth president, following in the footsteps of Rydberg (1993-2016), Doug Burleigh (1987-1992), Bob Mitchell (1977-1986), Bill Starr (1964-1977) and Jim Rayburn (1941-1964). He is passionate about carrying on the rich tradition of his predecessors while guiding the mission through future growth.

"Young Life has exhibited a constancy of purpose like no other organization with which I have been associated,” Crenshaw wrote in his Letter of Interest to the Young Life board. “The collective commitment that Young Life leadership, staff and volunteers have demonstrated in introducing Jesus Christ to young people is inspiring. I would be honored to lead this organization to remain unswervingly focused on that single goal and to stand firm for the mission’s purpose and purity in the midst of a fallen and uncertain world."

Read more from Newt and Susan Crenshaw at www.younglife.org/newt-crenshaw​.​​​
​​​