Youth With A Mission is a global movement of Christians from many cultures, age groups, and Christian traditions, dedicated to serving Jesus throughout the world. Also known as YWAM (pronounced “WHY-wham”), we unite in a common purpose to know God and to make Him known.
Back when we began in 1960, our main focus was to get youth involved in missions. Today, we still focus on youth, and we also involve people aged 8 to 80. We currently work in more than 1,100 locations in over 180 countries, with a staff of over 18,000.
After 30 years of ministry, we have more stories than we can possibly ever tell about God's faithfulness to His call on this mission. In this documentary we share just a few of those stories, and expound upon what exactly makes YWAM Montana | Lakeside tick.
The story of Youth With A Mission is the story of a young couple that, in many ways like Abraham in the Bible, obediently responded to what they understood to be God’s voice inviting them to walk with Him into an unseen future. With little more than a promise that He would bless their efforts, in 1963 Loren and Darlene Cunningham followed the only One they had found worthy of absolute loyalty and unswerving love. In their case, it was a call to partner with Him in a global effort to mobilize the youth of the their generation to take their place in fulfilling the Great Commission. Though it would be years before Loren’s vision of ocean waves becoming waves of young people crashing onto the shores of every continent, that grand vision eventually became a reality.
In its 50 plus years of existence, YWAM ministries around the world have literally seen tens of thousands of young people mature into faithful ambassadors of Jesus Christ confidently taking the good news of the Kingdom by way of evangelism, training and mercy ministries all over the globe.
No one, including the Cunninghams, could have ever anticipated the far-reaching implications their decision to say “Yes” to Jesus would one day have. In the years that followed, young people by the hundreds from all around the world began to say, “yes” to the missions call that resonated in their own hearts and minds. Today, YWAM is a missionary force that now enlists more than 18,000 full time workers in 1100 operating locations in 180 nations. Interestingly, though significantly larger in numbers, the DNA of YWAM has remained much the same throughout its 50-year history. Though every age group is now well represented, we remain YOUTH with a Mission, still deeply committed to reaching the world for Jesus through the training and mobilization of young men and women.
Our story shares a clear family resemblance with the thousands of other YWAM stories, large and small, that you will hear from the lips of YWAMers all over the world. We began our journey with a handful of people in 1985 that felt called by God to join hearts and lives together in an effort to launch a new ministry in a little known corner of Western Montana. Today, whether a remnant of the few who pioneered the ministry in 1985 or a recent new-comer to the now 160 missionary members, together we still are doing our heartfelt best to love and follow Jesus while playing our respective parts. Whether running a school, leading a team, swinging a hammer, cooking a meal or running an office, our ongoing call is to complete the assignment God gave us so many years ago to see the next generation equipped and ready to receive and respond to their Kingdom assignment with the same joy and confidence with which our founders started out so may years ago, still trusting that the One who loves and calls us is still well able to empower us to complete the race he has called us to run.
Youth With A Mission (YWAM) affirms the Bible as the authoritative word of God and, with the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, the absolute reference point for every aspect of life & ministry. Based upon God’s Word, who He is, & His initiative of salvation, through the atoning work of Jesus (His death, burial & resurrection), the following responses are strongly emphasized in YWAM:
The eighteen Foundational Values of Youth With A Mission are the expression of our basic beliefs. These shared beliefs and values are the guiding principles for both the past and future growth of our mission. Some are common to all Christians everywhere; others are distinctive to Youth With A Mission. The combination of these beliefs and our values make up the unique family characteristics of YWAM—our “DNA.” They are values we hold in high regard which determine who we are, how we live and how we make decisions.
1. Know God
YWAM is committed to know God, His nature, His character and His ways. We seek to reflect who He is in every aspect of our lives and ministry. The automatic overflow of knowing and enjoying fellowship with God is a desire to share Him with others.
2. Make God known
YWAM is called to make God known throughout the whole world, and into every arena of society through evangelism, training and mercy ministries. We believe that salvation of souls should result in transformation of societies, thus obeying Jesus’ command to make disciples of all nations.
3. Hear God’s voice
YWAM is committed to creating with God through listening to Him, praying His prayers and obeying His commands in matters great and small. We are dependent upon hearing His voice as individuals, together in team contexts and in larger corporate gatherings. This is an integral part of our process for decision making.
4. Practice Worship and Intercessory Prayer
YWAM is dedicated to worship Jesus and engage in intercessory prayer as integral aspects of daily life. We also recognize the intent of Satan to destroy the work of God and we call upon God’s power and the Holy Spirit to overcome his strategies in the lives of individuals and in the affairs of nations.
5. Be Visionary
YWAM is called to be visionary, continually receiving, nurturing and releasing fresh vision from God. We support the pioneering of new ministries and methods, always willing to be radical in order to be relevant to every generation, people group, and sphere of society. We believe that the apostolic call of YWAM requires the integration of spiritual eldership, freedom in the Spirit and relationship, centered on the Word of God.
6. Champion Young People
YWAM is called to champion youth. We believe God has gifted and called young people to spearhead vision and ministry. We are committed to value them, trust them, train them, support them, make space for them and release them. They are not only the Church of the future; they are the Church of today. We commit to follow where they lead, in the will of God.
7. Be Broad-Structured and Decentralized
YWAM is broad-structured and diverse, yet integrated. We are a global family of ministries held together by shared purpose, vision, values and relationship. We believe that structures should serve the people and the purposes of God. Every ministry at every level has the privilege and responsibility of accountability to a circle of elders, with overall international accountability to the YWAM Global Leadership Forum.
8. Be International and Interdenominational
YWAM is international and interdenominational in its global scope as well as its local constituency. We believe that ethnic, linguistic and denominational diversity, along with redeemed aspects of culture, are positive factors that contribute to the health and growth of the mission.
9. Have a Biblical Worldview
YWAM is called to a biblical worldview. We believe that the Bible makes a clear division between good and evil; right and wrong. The practical dimensions of life are no less spiritual than the ministry expressions. Everything done in obedience to God is spiritual. We seek to honor God with all that we do, equipping and mobilizing men and women of God to take roles of service and influence in every arena of society.
10. Function In Teams
YWAM is called to function in teams in all aspects of ministry and leadership. We believe that a combination of complementary gifts, callings, perspectives, ministries and generations working together in unity at all levels of our mission provides wisdom and safety. Seeking God’s will and making decisions in a team context allows accountability and contributes to greater relationship, motivation, responsibility and ownership of the vision.
11. Exhibit Servant Leadership
YWAM is called to servant leadership as a lifestyle, rather than a leadership hierarchy. A servant leader is one who honors the gifts and callings of those under his/her care and guards their rights and privileges. Just as Jesus served His disciples, we stress the importance of those with leadership responsibilities serving those whom they lead.
12. Do First, Then Teach
YWAM is committed to doing first, then teaching. We believe that firsthand experience gives authority to our words. Godly character and a call from God are more important than an individual’s gifts, abilities and expertise.
13. Be Relationship-Oriented
YWAM is dedicated to being relationship-oriented in our living and working together. We desire to be united through lives of holiness, mutual support, transparency, humility, and open communication, rather than a dependence on structures or rules.
14. Value the Individual
YWAM is called to value each individual. We believe in equal opportunity and justice for all. Created in the image of God, people of all nationalities, ages and functions have distinctive contributions and callings. We are committed to honoring God-given leadership and ministry gifts in both men and women.
15. Value Families
YWAM affirms the importance of families serving God together in missions, not just the father and/or mother. We also embrace the inclusion of single-parent families. We encourage the development of strong and healthy family units, with each member sharing the call to missions and contributing their gifts in unique and complementary ways. We uphold and celebrate the Biblical view that God’s intent for holy matrimony is between one man and one woman.
Practice Dependence on God for Finances
YWAM is called to practice a life of dependence upon God for financial provision. For individuals and YWAM corporately, this comes primarily through His people. As God and others have been generous towards us, so we desire to be generous. YWAMers give themselves, their time and talents to God through the mission with no expectations of remuneration.
17. Practice Hospitality
YWAM affirms the ministry of hospitality as an expression of God’s character and the value of people. We believe it is important to open our hearts, homes and campuses to serve and honor one another, our guests and the poor and needy, not as acts of social protocol, but as expressions of generosity.
18. Communicate With Integrity
YWAM affirms that everything exists because God communicates. Therefore, YWAM is committed to truthful, accurate, timely and relevant communication. We believe good communication is essential for strong relationships, healthy families and communities, and effective ministry.