GlobalView from Bishop Bill Atwood
For decades, the “gold standard” of mission discipleship has been Youth With A Mission’s (YWAM) Discipleship Training School (DTS). The original curriculum was designed by Dave Gustaveson, pretty much universally referred to as Dave G. Now, years later, though there has been wisdom and evolution, the basic pattern continues. Three months of classroom and community building is followed by three months of deployment on overseas mission in what is called the “10-40 Window.” That is the band around the globe from 10˚North to 40˚North in which most of the world’s unreached people groups live. To my knowledge it was first coined by Louis Bush in 1990. Bush, a Christian mission strategist saw the need to target the area because of the religious makeup of the people who lived in that region and the lack of penetration of Christian faith.
The YWAM vision to reach the nations of the world goes back to 1956 when a 20 year old Loren Cunningham was traveling in the Bahamas over Spring Break with a Christian singing group. Here are his words on what happened:
“I lay down on the bed,” he recalled, “doubled the pillow under my head and opened my Bible, routinely asking God to speak into my mind. What happened next was far from routine. Suddenly, I was looking up at a map of the world. Only the map was alive, moving! I sat up. I shook my head, rubbed my eyes. It was a mental movie. I could see all the continents. Waves were crashing onto the shores. Each went onto a continent, then receded, then came up further until it covered the continent completely. I caught my breath. Then, as I watched, the scene changed. The waves became young people–kids my age and even younger–covering the continents. They were talking to people on the street corners and outside bars. They were going house to house. They were preaching. ‘Was that really you, Lord?’ I wondered, still staring at the wall, amazed. Young people–kids really–going out as missionaries! What an idea! And I thought ‘Why did God give me this vision?’”
YWAM has worked for years to reach people with the Good News of Jesus Christ. Now, almost fifty years later, with more than a thousand bases launching teams, waves of young people have literally flooded the world with emissaries of the Gospel.
For the last eight years, I have been working with senior leaders in YWAM to partner together YWAM and the Anglican Church. Over the years, many Anglicans have gone through DTS and overseas deployment. Now, in Flower Mound, TX, we have the first DTS class that is being done in partnership with the International Diocese of the Anglican Church in North America. It looks and runs like a “regular” DTS, but the students and staff are learning and worshipping at the Anglican Church of the Resurrection. In addition to the full DTS curriculum, the students, who come from a variety of backgrounds, have the opportunity to experience Anglican worship and see that our ways and priorities resonate with other groups that share a commitment to the Bible and to Gospel mission.
Last week, I taught our first DTS group of students on “The Father Heart of God,” sharing about how God loves us and how each person of the Trinity blesses us by giving us gifts that mirror their role in the economy of the Trinity and help us experience more of the fullness of His love for us. We also spent time on how the principle of Incarnation permeates the Kingdom of God and is celebrated in Anglicanism. Of course the ultimate example of the principle of Incarnation is in Jesus Christ, where there are two Persons with one Nature, namely God, but the principle of Incarnation is found in many other places as well. For example, it is the principle of Incarnation that motivates God to create. He is able to fully appreciate the intricacies of creation and its implications without actually creating, but the motivating heart of Incarnation causes Him to create so that we lesser beings can appreciate it.
At its heart, Incarnation is a missionary principle. It manifests things so those who do not know can come to know. Incarnation is found in redemption through Christ, the creation of people (Christ in you the hope of glory), and in the Church (the gathered body fleshing out the life of Christ—we are His body). It is also active in what we are supposed to be doing in the world by bringing the Kingdom of God to life in the world.
The same heartbeat can be found in many groups, but it is one that deeply permeates Anglican theology. You can also find it in the way that we see the Life of Christ fleshed out in Sacraments, and in the way we view Scripture. Much more than a book, the Bible is alive for us and brings life and change.
Classes cover things like:
- God’s Nature and Character-“The Father Heart of God”
- God’s Intention for Individuals-People and Creation
- God’s Redemption-Sin and the Cross
- God’s Family-His Children and His Church
- God’s World-His Call and His Commission Doing the Works of Jesus
- YWAM- A Response to God
The team then deploys overseas for about three months, working to share the Good News and serve to extend the Kingdom of God touching lives. Often, people who see the fruit of God touching lives (especially in areas where the Gospel and Jesus Christ has not been known at all!) are motivated to pursue mission for a significant season of their life or even as a lifelong vocation. At the same time, we see young people (and others) touched by God’s hand, healed, and encouraged. It is an amazing process.
We are truly excited about the DTS class starting in our Anglican sphere. I have been particularly encouraged with the enthusiasm for the project and the people who are already looking to sign up for the next class next year. Introducing young people, or anyone, actually, to world mission is a great and noble cause. It should be woven into the heart of what it means to be a Christian. By sponsoring this DTS, more Anglican Christians, as well as others, are catching fire for the cause of mission. That makes my heart glad. God’s, too!
The Rt. Rev. Bill Atwood is Bishop of the Anglican Church in North America’s International Diocese and an American Anglican Council contributing author.