Thursday 29 October 2015

Circle 18: Communicating with Integrity

As I prepare to send out the latest edition of Djembe - a magazine to serve the YWAM staff in Africa, I am also looking to launch Circle 18 in my local area. This is not an initiative from me, but a vision cast a few months ago by people within the mission that want to see a maturing of our approach to communications. Circle 18 is, in fact, a simple way of re-thinking communication globally. I am not abandoning AfriCom, rather looking to mature it and push it into something that it needs to become. To understand why the move away from having an Africa Communications office towards a Circle 18 'gathering', I have to unpack a bit of history for you...

Youth With A Mission (YWAM) has always been broad structured and decentralised. In fact, it's a value that was set out from the beginning. It's in our DNA. The principle is that we are a global family of ministries held together by shared purpose, vision, values and relationship.  Yet at times we have formed into a grove that isn't ours. A grove that suggests we are a single organisation that is centrally co-ordinated. That grove took more shape during the past 20 years since we started adopting titles within our operating locations and global gatherings. These were business titles, which included chairman and director. But our foundations aren't based on such a structure. An international director within a decentralised movement has little power to direct and so (as was often the case) becomes frustrated and ends up facing burnout and exhaustion.

But this was never the heart of what makes YWAM what it is. The heart of YWAM is laid out in the book, Is that Really You, God, where the founder, Loren Cunningham explains the beginnings of this missions movement. Here's a summary that can be found on

It all began with a vision. In June of 1956, Loren Cunningham, a 20-year-old student from the United States, spent a part of his summer break in Nassau, Bahamas touring with a singing group. One night after a busy day, Loren had an unusual experience. “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?’”

The true director of YWAM is, and always will be, Jesus Christ. It was Jesus who gave Loren the vision and Jesus who laid out the Great Commission. Anything that takes us away from that will cause us difficulties. Therefore God has been speaking to us, as a mission, over the past few years to repent. That has been manifest in a step away from the corporate and into a missions mindset. He called all the directors to lay down their titles and positions and trust God for the next step. It was a bold move, but a necessary one.

Now that we have no field directors, no chairman, no president, we are starting to see God step in and take his place as our leader. Former directors are now becoming elders, and conveners. Rather than international meetings to lay out the way forward, we are having global gatherings that spend the majority of time in worship and prayer. Elders are not there to direct, but to advise, chastise and champion young people who are being encouraged to trust in the Lord as their guide, rather than look to a corporate for the directions. A releasing is happening on a major scale and many are rising up to do many new things to fulfil the gospel calling, as laid out in Matthew 28.

The development of Circle 18 is to hopefully fall into line with where YWAM is right now. The principle is to have conveners (I am looking to convene a group in Cape Town) who will gather staff to pray, worship and seek wisdom in specific areas. We will ask for Him to speak into the area of communication and ask Him where we are going wrong. In AfriCom, whenever we have simply gathered, sought the Lord and trusted Him for his word for that season, we have seen much fruit. Often times when we have developed our own strategies, we have not seen the same level of success.

Please pray with us, as we take this bold step away from the corporate and into a time of trust and obedience.

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