So, you came to YWAM, attended a DTS and maybe one or two University of the Nations courses. You heard teaching about ‘discipling the nations’, and you took it seriously. You wanted to make a difference in society. Maybe you heard about John Wesley’s passion to ‘reform the whole nation’, which led to widespread social reform in England. Or you read about William Carey’s pioneering work in India – not only in evangelism and church planting, but in forestry, biology, education, social welfare, agriculture, science, astronomy, journalism, printing and publishing (and you wondered what he did in his spare time!)
After talking and praying with other students and staff, you decided to step out to put what you had learnt into practice. Perhaps with a small team of like-minded YWAMers, you ventured into business, or graphics, or IT, or agriculture, or music, or the arts, or films or even politics. You wanted to reflect YWAM values, vision and ethos in your work. You saw this all as your mission field – working towards the spread of God’s Kingdom in these lifespheres.
But … these activities didn’t fit within YWAM. While your whole vision had been conceived in YWAM, now you had to step out of that supportive environment to give birth to your vision. Besides, your DTS leader had no experience in your chosen field anyway. You now paid salaries to your small team of employees, some but not all of whom had attended a DTS. Your firm was totally independent with no accountability to YWAM, although you had a group of godly advisors counselling you in your bold experiment. Still, maybe you felt a little left on your own by the teachers and staff from whom you originally caught the vision.
Neither could you pursue these fields within the structures of the local church. Your pastor was not sure what you were trying to do. He would prefer you to work full-time in the church and help with all the church-based activities. After all, your time in YWAM was a preparation for a spiritual career, wasn’t it?
So where can you find support?
Literally hundreds of thousands have passed through YWAM, still consider themselves YWAMers at heart, and yet have been led to pursue God’s calling in so-called “secular” spheres of society. After all, calling is the original meaning of the word “vocation”.
In our Global Leadership Team (GLT), we have been wrestling with the dilemma sketched above. Some of us have watched our children trying to practise what we have been preaching, and not finding place within YWAM to do it. On the one hand, we have to accept that YWAM does not belong to the domain of politics, or business or entertainment. We are a missionary movement. Yet we do want to create a sense of kinship, belonging and support for those trained in YWAM and who are pursuing a specific vision of ‘discipling the nations’ in society.
We therefore are creating a new category called YWAM Affiliates to embrace such enterprises working in spheres of society outside of the organisational authority of church and missions. While not under the governmental authority of YWAM for their operations, Affiliates have relational links to YWAM, and embrace the YWAM values and vision, with the major exception of payment of salaries.
Special conditions for recognition as an Affiliate include:
* completion of a DTS by leadership, though not necessarily by staff;
* strong relational links with YWAM leaders, e.g. a YWAM leader as board member where appropriate;
* nomination by a GLT member to the GLT, or an authorised working group of the GLT;
* assent required from YWAM in the nation or nations where the Affiliate is operational;
* no obligation of service to YWAM, nor access to services, personnel and resources of YWAM institutions (e.g YWAM databases);
* primary privilege of Affiliation is the implied public affirmation by YWAM, and fellowship within a network of other Affiliates;
* recognition as a YWAM Affiliate to be for a period of three years, renewable;
* primary identity of an Affiliate not to contain the name YWAM or Youth With A Mission;
* Affiliates may run their own training programmes, but will not be automatically authorised to run DTS’s of their own.
We are beginning this network with a few prototype models on each continent. Eventually we hope to network such affiliates through the web and perhaps conferences to provide mutual support and encouragement. We’re excited by the prospects.
Want to talk more about this? Contact me at Jeff@YWAMEurope.org, or Lynn Green at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Till next week,