What Makes the Best YWAM DTS Locations?
October 19, 2020 - January 1, 2030
1) Plenty of Testimonies of Transformation
When researching YWAM locations at which to do your DTS, one of the first things we suggest is to put your ear to the ground and listen for stories of what God is doing in that community. Don’t be distracted by flashy videos or high-resolution graphics; what’s the content of the stories they’re telling?
If, as you’re considering a location, it seems like there are incredible God stories of transformation oozing out of every corner, then there’s a pretty good chance that God is doing something very special in that community. God is likely on the move there (cf The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe), and the people there are likely well equipped to help facilitate the growth, transformation, and discipleship that you are looking for.
If, however, as you’re considering a location, it seems like there aren’t that many stories of transformation coming out of that location, take note. It could simply be that their social media presence and storytelling capacity are a bit lacking. But it could also be a sign that this community is not in the healthiest place at the moment. Ideally, all YWAM ministries around the world would be thriving, and it would be obvious that God is moving in love, power, and grace in all of them. Sadly, this is not quite the reality. Ministries go through various seasons; ebbs and flows; seasons of fruitfulness and seasons of pruning; seasons of building up and tearing down. This doesn’t necessarily mean that God won’t lead you to a YWAM location that isn’t bursting at the seams with miracles, or even that God isn’t leading that ministry. It’s just something to take note of when doing your research.
Most YWAM ministries are thriving, and God is doing incredible things in the lives of thousands of people around the world through the YWAM movement. Praise God! Whether or not a YWAM base’s social media feed is chock-full of miraculous testimonies is not the only test of whether this is a ‘good’ YWAM base, but it may be a good place to start. It’s also a good idea to ask the people at the base you’re considering to share some testimonies of what God has done in their lives!
2) Solid Leadership
This may come as a surprise to you, but there is not a single ministry on the planet with perfect leadership. Every ministry, whether local church, mission, or humanitarian, is led by humans, each with a past, current struggles, and various levels of shortcomings. You can only expect perfection from one leader: Jesus.
That being said, there are some ministries that are led by people who are in a healthier place than others. It’s not about finding perfect leadership; it’s about finding healthy leadership. YWAM ministries are meant to be operating by the 18 Foundational Values of Youth With A Mission, which are incredibly insightful, and will create a greenhouse of growth if implemented under the Lord’s guidance. When researching which YWAM ministry to join, find out who’s in leadership there, and what their track record is. Ask good questions and don’t be shy. If you’re going to join a 5-6 month YWAM DTS, you’re going to want to know whether the leaders there have set up a healthy culture or not. Here are some example questions you can ask the people at the YWAM base you’re considering:
- Who is in leadership at the base?
- How long have they been in leadership?
- Have they been in leadership at other (YWAM) ministries?
- Would you say those in leadership model the YWAM Values well?
- Do the leaders have families?
- Is there diversity on the leadership team? Age? Gender? Ethnicity? Denomination?
- Would you say the leaders are humble?
As we said earlier, there are no perfect leaders. But there are healthy ones – and that’s where you’re going to want to join.
3) Focused Outreach Strategy
This may not be an obvious thing to look for, but it really speaks to how seriously a YWAM base takes Jesus’ mandate to “make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:18-20). It can seem glamorous to have an exotic list of dozens of nations visited by past DTS outreach teams. But the real question to ask is this: How much impact did those outreach teams have for God’s kingdom? Was there any follow-up? Did those ministered to get connected to local churches for continued discipleship? Did future teams visit the same locations to support those ministered to by previous teams? Does the YWAM ministry have long-term staff on location? These are some good questions you can ask to find out how committed a YWAM ministry is to discipling a nation.
A DTS Outreach is an amazing opportunity to spread God’s love in practical and spiritual ways. It provides people with a real taste of what the mission field is like. But that’s all you can do in 7-11 weeks: get a taste. In a lot of cases, it takes multiple DTS outreaches before any real fruit is observed in an outreach location. A long-term investment is what it looks like if a ministry wants to impact a nation because discipleship and transformation is a long-term game. If a YWAM ministry is willing to commit to discipling a nation, with multiple return visits, even long-term staff and facilities on location, this is a sign of a ministry with a healthy view of outreach. If a YWAM ministry is throwing darts at a world map, they may not be as serious about discipleship as others.
When researching YWAM DTS locations, ask what the long-term outreach strategy is for that ministry, and take note of their answers.
4) Variety of Programs (Especially Bible Focused Ones)
If you’re looking for a pioneering YWAM ministry to join, then maybe this point doesn’t apply to you. However, if you’re looking for a well-established, thriving YWAM ministry, then keep an eye out for how many different programs (a.k.a. ‘Second Level Schools) they have on offer. Having more is not necessarily better, but it does say something if the ministry has different programs cropping up: It means people want to stick around there, and the leadership there has created a healthy environment for growth and diversity.
In YWAM, DTS is the doorway, and Second Level Schools (as the name suggests) are done afterward. To run a variety of programs in YWAM other than DTS, the leadership has to be willing, and there have to be people who want to come back and provide further specialized training at that location for others who’ve graduated their DTSs. And you can’t run programs without students. If the YWAM ministry is running a variety of Second-Level Schools, it also means that people have had such good experiences on their DTS that they want to stick around and get more training.
Furthermore, if a YWAM ministry is running Bible-focused programs, it means they take the Bible seriously. You can bet that if a ministry is consistently running programs that spend significant time teaching and studying the Bible, it’s going to have a natural flow-on effect on the health of the rest of the base, bringing correction and stability in a variety of areas.
5) Timely and Personal Communication
Many of the 18 YWAM Foundational Values are closely linked to this idea of good communication and you can tell a lot about the health of a ministry simply by how quickly they get back to you. This is not a hard test to give to a YWAM ministry, but it can tell a lot. Don’t pass over a YWAM base if they don’t get back to you within 30 seconds of inquiring. But if you haven’t heard from them after a week, or even two, maybe it’s time to keep looking.
When they get back to you, does it seem like there’s a real person on the other side of the line? We can all smell a pre-written marketing email a mile away. Have they taken the time to reach out to you personally? Have they called you on the phone? Communication isn’t everything when it comes to the health of a YWAM ministry, but it can be a quick litmus test for how well they embrace the YWAM Foundational Values.
All in all, these are just helpful points to consider. The real gold standard for choosing the best YWAM DTS location is prayer. If in prayer, God leads you to a YWAM DTS location, then it trumps all of these things we’ve discussed in this article. These things may confirm what God is speaking to you, but don’t let them pull you away from the direct leading of the Good Shepherd. He knows the condition of your heart and which ministry is best equipped to further your walk with Him.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
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“At the beginning of the DTS I did not believe in the power of prayer neither did I believe that God even heard my prayers. By the end of it I had no doubt in my mind at all that we have a Father in heaven who always bends His ear to us when we speak and that when we pray in the name of Jesus miracles will be birthed by our words and God’s power.”
“The GoPac Stream challenged me to broaden my view for the people around me, to step out of my comfort zone, and to expand the love that God has put inside of my heart, to love Him and others more.”
“SPHC is such an incredible gateway to seeing the world with God’s eyes. To see how His heart breaks at the brokenness of this world, and to see how the lack of education about little things such as germs and washing hands causes so much illness and suffering in the world, to then be equipped and sent to BRING THAT CHANGE! It is such a life changing/ perspective shifting program that has really changed my life!”
“Upon first coming to DTS, I had settled for a mundane and ordinary life. But over time, He has captured my heart and instilled in me a new passion for His purpose. This has given me confident hope that I am worthy of intentionally being part of the greater good.”
“Throughout my time on the Pilgrimage DTS, God has worked in me in countless ways. Whether it was learning to see His beauty and love for us in creation, or learning to trust when I was soaking wet, and knowing it’s all for a purpose, a part of the adventure! But also a great part was having lectures about how to walk in the authority of Christ, and learning how to hear the voice of God and grow in relationship with Him! I must say, it’s been the adventure of a lifetime, which won’t end because God isn’t just staying with us for a season, He’s in it with us for eternity!”
“Last year I decided to seek after God wholeheartedly and applied for the Pilgrimage DTS. Going on this journey (physically and spiritually) has been life-changing! Instead of wandering on my own, I am now following the Almighty God. I have rediscovered a personal and intimate relationship with my Creator!”
“Wild at Heart? Yes, of course! But whatever adventure I went for, I wanted to be the one in control. During my DTS, God changed my heart to go wild with Him. I learned to trust in God and that I don’t have to be in charge, as long as I know the One who is!”
“Through prayer and passion stream, I was able to see how prayer could be a place of so much intimacy with God. Finding my secret place with Him allowed me to fall in love again with His beauty and goodness. At the same time, God revealed to me the secrets of His heart- how He saw me and how He saw the world. It’s such a privilege to know that there’s a big God up there who trust us and partners with us to bring the kingdom of heaven down on to earth through our prayers!!! And never once did He let me down.”
“My life used to be run by my fears, my struggles, and my failures. I had no way of fighting them because I didn’t know the truth. Over my time with YWAM and beyond, I have encountered so much freedom as God has shown me the truth of who He is in His Word. Dive into the Bible on Cover to Cover and watch God transform you as He begins to show you who He really is and who you were really made to be.”
“The Medical Compassion DTS gave me a glimpse into the medical side or missions. The compassion part was what caught me. I saw that when we see with Jesus’ eyes of genuine compassion, we must get our hands dirty.”