by Bryan Bishop
We are focusing this issue of the International YWAMer on the Global Leadership Forum (GLF) meeting which just happened in Mexico in December, and I’m writing this guest editorial because I had the privilege of being there for the whole thing. I had the chance to build houses with the staff of YWAM Tijuana and the GLF members. In the photo, below, that’s me on the right, along with Steve Goode, YWAM’s ambassador for mercy ministry, and Alma, the young mother who received the house we built.
Lynn Green, the global elder who oversees communications, asked me to attend the GLF to provide communications support. I work as part of YWAM’s international communications team who serve YWAM by providing and maintaining resources such as www.ywam.org, www.ywamlife.com and the IY. I used to edit the IY when it was a paper edition, so some of our readers may remember me from then! You can read the reports that were sent from the GLF by clicking the link in the last article.
In this issue of the IY, we want to give you a bit more information on that important meeting. As you may know, since at least 2002, YWAM’s senior leaders have been moving toward more of an eldership model and less of an administrative one. What does that look like? What does that mean for all of us in YWAM? The 2011 GLF provided some fascinating glimpses of this new direction.
John Dawson, who helped to facilitate the meeting, has written personal observations of what took place. He walks us all through the meeting in his letter below.
One of the key elements of the GLF was a presentation given by Loren Cunningham, YWAM’s co-founder. As John Dawson explains, Loren has had a sense that God is showing him a new way to steward the future growth of YWAM. It happened one morning right after the YWAM 50th anniversary celebrations of 2010 ended. Loren and his wife, Darlene, had traveled to over 40 YWAM locations all over the world to rejoice with many YWAMers about all God has done in these five decades of YWAM’s existence. The year culminated in a huge gathering at Kona, Hawaii, where Loren and Darlene reside. Shortly after these December meetings, the Cunninghams began a well-deserved vacation. The very first morning, Loren awoke and became aware that God was giving him a picture of how to envision the ministry of YWAM Kona. As he wrote down these thoughts and then shared them with others in Kona, he began to wonder if this picture wasn’t for the whole of the mission.
At the GLF, Loren shared these thoughts not as finished ideas, but as a glimpse of God’s direction that he wanted to submit to other YWAM leaders.
After hearing from Loren over several days, and after receiving additional insights from Darlene and from David Hamilton of the University of the Nations, the GLF members had a chance to discuss and deliberate about what Loren had presented. At the end, they admitted they still had many questions, but they sensed this direction was of God. They gave to Loren the confirmation he asked for, and they entrusted to him the task of further unpacking the ideas. They looked forward to their next time together, in Sept 2012 in London, to take these concepts further.
John Dawson’s report contains a brief summary of Loren’s message, in which Loren introduced the terms “circles,” “circuits” and “cycles.” Loren spoke about circles of purposeful relationship, which could include existing groupings within YWAM, such as mercy ministry or frontier missions, but could also include YWAMers working within the spheres, such as in the area of education. He also talked briefly about circuits of geography, and cycles of time. He said this three-fold model could allow for tremendous expansion of YWAM’s ministry.
Kevin Sutter, head of YWAM’s Church Planting Coaches, said this faith aspect of Loren’s message excited him. “The circles and circuits and cycles, they’re going to enable us to multiply greatly,” Kevin commented, “and that’s what I’m praying for.”
In a prayer time about Loren’s message, Ricardo Rodriguez, YWAM’s regional leader for the Southern Cone of South America, mentioned the expansion of YWAM into the spheres. He said, “Thank you, God. We have the opportunity to expand for your glory and your Kingdom, to put our mission together with spheres of society, to be salt and light in the world.”
As the GLF members did, you will undoubtedly have many questions about what all this means for YWAM. Please pray for Loren, Darlene, John Dawson, Lynn Green, and all the GLF members as they continue to seek God’s wisdom on these matters. Stay tuned for more reports as YWAM’s leaders continue to develop these ideas further.