I use to be part of YWAM and I still love them but if you are thinking of doing a mission trip with them, you might want to know some things. While they do some amazing things around the world, they have become very dailed down in some core expression of the Kingdom. Depending what tradition of the faith you come from, this could become an issue.
Loren Cunningham, the founder of Youth With A Mission, is the son of an Assemblies of God pastor. In fact, many believe that YWAM was designed to be part of the AG movement from the start but it couldn’t work for political reasons inside the movement. This is important to know because people use this to think that YWAM is Pentecostal friendly.
This is not the case anymore.
In a quest to open the doors to other traditions, Methodist, Baptists and even Catholics; the emphasis on the Holy Spirit has been dailed way down so people will not get scared from casting out devils or healing the sick. Really a sad reality but it is what I saw in many of the bases that I visited when I was part of YWAM.
Mission trips with YWAM are not miracle crusades
This is important because in the Pentecostal tradition, when we go to a nation; we plan to see the blind see and the deaf hear. Miracles, signs and wonders are what we are in faith for and it is the only thing that we will be happy seeing. We want to see people come out of wheelchairs and having someone popup out of the casket would be amazing.
The problem with that is most people in YWAM are not even sure if they believe that miracles happen today. Many tend to align themselves closer to the Southern Baptist Convention and the United Methodist Church than they do the General Council of the Assemblies of God and the General Assembly of the Church of God.
In my experience, the number of Pentecostals and Spirit-Filled Charismatics in the ranks of the mission group is now a minority. If anything, we are struggling for a voice than being the main expression that started Youth With A Mission.
I remember being on a mission trip in Los Angeles and there was a man that was having alot of problems. The YWAM trip was praying for him to have “peace.” The problem is you can’t have peace when you are tormented with a devil. I pushed my way to the front and told him, “You have a devil on you. Do you want me to cast him off you or do you enjoy your devil?” Twenty minutes later, he was delivered and the whole YWAM group was offended. They didn’t really believe in casting out demons.
Am I telling you that you shouldn’t go on a mission trip with YWAM? Not at all. I am just telling you that if you come from a Pentecostal tradition, you might be surprised how little of Pentecost is left in the movement these days.
YWAM is a tribe
What I mean by that is there will be major pressure put on you to do a Discipleship Training School if you have not done one yet. There will be pressure for some school as that is how Youth With A Mission pays the bills. Personally, I only did a DTS as I was taking classes at Oral Roberts online. I found that to be a much smarter choice for me at the time.
You will find the pressure to join YWAM as a missionary, do schools and if not, support the mission base financially to be pretty intense. I am not saying you shouldn’t do any of them; I am just saying the tension with be very much real.
Even though I was part of the YWAM movement, I can’t say I ever really believed in it wholeheartly. I was always a classic Pentecostal with some faith movement leaning and was in the middle of the prophetic movement. It was me and I know it. I was a square in a round hole when I was working with YWAM. I didn’t buy into the vision completely. I believe that was for good reason as I look back.
While they might not be a denomination in the purist sense but have many of the same thinking patterns as those who are in one. I find that YWAMers can easily get an elitist spirit and I do not think it is productive.
Do your mission trip with your eyes open
I am not telling you that you should not do a trip with them. Far from it. I am saying that you should do it with your eyes wide open and your ear open to only the Holy Spirit. Knowing the facts is more important than anything. If you know the political spirit and the controlling spirit is there beforehand, you are better prepared when you see it. That’s all I am saying.
I am very thankful for the time that I spend with YWAM and I still work with them. However, I know what is happening in the ranks and I am not smiling about it at all.
I hope I did not make you think they are bad people or a “cult.” I do not believe that. I just believe there is some serious problems inside the movement that need to be dealt with but won’t. These same issues were there back in the 1970’s and have always grew from then. I do not expect them to be fixed in my lifetime.