During the final days of YWAM’s annual leadership meeting, which was held Sept 2-8 in England, YWAM’s founders elaborated on YWAM’s move toward eldership and circles of relationship.

Darlene Cunningham explained the history of this eldership emphasis, which goes back to a YWAM leadership meeting in Nanning, China in 2002. They realized they had begun to think of themselves more in corporate terms, and less in biblical terms. They felt led to repent of this. Loren Cunningham gave a key message on eldership at that time. The leaders created the Nanning Covenant to summarize the commitments they felt God was leading them to make (search this site for these documents).

Now, ten years later, Darlene admitted we’re still trying to understand the implications of this message. She said the eldership language doesn’t mean YWAM is doing away with all governmental bodies, policies and guidelines. We still need these, she said. The eldership role, though, emphasizes seeking God and hearing from Him. “We see God wants us to move to be these spiritual leaders He has called us to be,” Darlene said.

Darlene further admitted we are still trying to find the right words to explain this spiritual leadership. But she urged the Global Leadership Gathering to operate in the spirit of this emphasis, even if all the particulars haven’t been figured out. “Don’t have that spirit that says I direct this area, I am the gatekeeper, and you have to bow really low to get through this gate.”

She said the concept of circles, circuits and cycles was a further revelation that came to Loren in 2011. It’s a way of thinking about the who, the where and the when of our YWAM community. She asked, what kinds of circles of relationship can we put together that represent affinities in calling? She gave the example of four people who all pursue some kind of family-related ministry. Two of them might work at one ministry center. Two others might live in other places around a region. What could happen if they all start connecting with each other?

In discussion following Darlene’s presentation, she was asked how YWAM deals with conflict now. An earlier YWAM appeals process recommended a way of working up through YWAM’s leadership structure. Darlene said she had helped create this process, but eventually saw it didn’t work very well. She said now YWAM’s leaders still emphasize using the Matthew 18 principles, and encourage involving people gifted in peacemaking, who are close to the situation, who know the individuals involved. But she added, “We do still have leadership in place. You can say, ‘We’ve gone as far as we can go, can you help us.’” She said this help will often involve providing guidance about the principles and methods to seek a resolution.

Another person asked, “Who is an elder?” Lynn Green, a senior leader, explained, “It’s someone who is recognized as having mature leadership in the group in which he or she is placed.”

Loren Cunningham closed the discussion by giving advice on how to incorporate the circles of relationship concept. “We’re not pressing you to rush home and do something,” he stated. “This will unfold for you. If you have a base of 12 people, you have a circle already. Don’t make it complicated. As God gives revelation, it’s just something you obey and you walk into it.”

The Global Leadership Gathering’s final days covered many other topics as well. They received an invitation for YWAMers to attend the upcoming Call2All gathering, May 21-27 in Thailand (call2all.org) and to send teams to the World Cup outreach in Brazil in 2014 (www.ywamkickoff2014.com). They learned about a biblical view of debt from economist Paul Mills (www.jubilee-centre.org). They prayed for YWAM children’s ministries, for protection for YWAM’s workers in the Middle East, for revival in South Korea and for YWAM’s University and ships.

They learned that the Uniskript method of writing has been completed and has helped illiterate people learn to read after only six hours of instruction. They learned that YWAM is helping train teachers throughout Indonesia (www.trampil.org). They celebrated the fact that 20,000 people made commitments to Christ in a recent Impact World Tour in Jeju Island, South Korea. They learned about the prayer website onevoiceprayer.net. They heard about the 2020 vision of Bibles for every home, and received a report about the Bible distribution work of YWAM Costa Rica.

During their breakout meeting, the Global Leadership Forum subgroup also made several appointments. They gave their blessing to Kevin Sutter as YWAM’s new frontier mission leader, to Caleb Brownhill as Southeast Asia leader, to Carl Tinnion as Western Europe leader, and to the new North Africa leadership team. They also prayed for Jiggu Bogi, who is taking over the leadership of the South India region.

The Global Leadership Forum (GLF) also sought God’s leading about YWAM’s commitment to the annual Global Outreach Day, which will be held on June 1 in 2013. They felt led to commit to work toward the goal of doing evangelism in every one of the 4,000 4K Omega Zones all at the same time on a Global Outreach Day. They didn’t set a specific year for this, but pledged to see this happen as soon as possible during the next eight years.
“It will be thrilling,” said David Hamilton, Assistant Provost of the University of the Nations. “It will grow us. It will help us embrace the breadth of the world more intentionally.”

The GLF plans to meet next year in Tijuana Mexico in conjunction with the University of the Nations Workshop, planned for Sept 3-7, 2013.

In the final event of the gathering, the entire group stood together on an enormous vinyl map of the world, broken into the 4K Omega Zones. They prayed together about places of the world that each person had on their heart.

Just as the final worship song ended, John Dawson, one of YWAM’s senior leaders, had a sense of God speaking to the group. His words were for the 270 people in the room, but they apply to the whole YWAM family. John spoke out the words he felt God speaking: “Go out of this building with my hand in yours. I did not choose you because you were the strong one. This is what I do, and I chose you to come with me to be my companion in the harvest. I watch over you with fierce love. You are the apple of my eye. You are free to be a laughing people, to be a dancing child. The captain of the heavenly host goes before you.”

To watch recordings of many of the GLG sessions, please visit:

Bryan Bishop – GLG Communication

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