Back to the Basics with Youth Street (Part 1)

By YWAM Newcastle on June 16, 2011 in Training, Youth Street

Below is part 1 of an article written by one of our staff here in YWAM Newcastle, Daniel Norris. Daniel wrote this article in May 2009 after being asked to give input for an upcoming International YWAMer publication that focuses on DTS and how it evolved. His specific emphasis with this article is our unique youth ministry program, Youth Street.

With YWAM coming up on it’s 50th Anniversary next year, it is interesting to look back at how the mission has grown and how Discipleship Training Schools have played a vital role in that, not only in the multiplication of full time missionaries but also of the ministries they pioneer. This has been no different as YWAM Newcastle has pioneered its own ministry to reach out to youth all around the world. This ministry called Youth Street has grown and multiplied with a large support from the DTS program. It would definitely not be where it is without it. The real question though is where would our DTS’s be without Youth Street? And why do we believe Youth Street can actually help in the success of a DTS? These are two questions that I will look at in this article and share with you what God has taught me through this evolution process over the years. I will also cover how it has helped us align with YWAM’s foundational values and the three pillars of Training, Evangelism and Mercy Ministry.

As a bit of background, I am a YWAM kid that grew up in Kona, Hawaii. I have now been on staff in Newcastle, Australia for nearly 6 years. Because of this, I have had the privilege of seeing many DTS’s come and go though, to be totally honest, it was not until around two years ago that I put too much thought into the subject of DTS. (Besides of course my own DTS back in 2003.)

So where am I currently and why is DTS something I would now consider myself passionate about? And what have I been doing these past 6 years? Well for starters, I am currently in Northern Iraq leading a DTS team of seven. This is not only the first DTS team I have lead but it is also the first DTS I have staffed, not exactly a seasoned DTS staff or leader! So what have I been doing on staff? I have been part of pioneering Youth Street which now operates in 4 cities in Australia and will be in 6 by the end of the year. I won’t go too much into the details of what Youth Street is except to say that it targets those between the ages of 12-17, not only in seeing them come to know Jesus but also in seeing them released into the calling God has for their lives. A major program that we run as part of Youth Street is called Youth Street Teams which happens every single Saturday. The story I am hoping to share with you started back when we as a base started this program. As we prayed about starting it, God spoke to us clearly about having the entire base involved each Saturday. This included all staff, the DTS and its students. For the first couple of years we experienced some not so fun growing pains with that level of involvement. Most of our staff viewed the DTS’s involvement as more of a service to the ministry in its pioneering stages. Basically we could not operate Youth Street Teams without the man power provided by the influx of DTS students each quarter. As a Youth Street leader at the time, I was personally very dependent on the DTS and its students.

Fast forward about 3 years and YWAM in Townsville had launched the Youth Street ministry and the Youth Street Teams program on Saturday. They also discovered very quickly that they needed the DTS to be more involved. God was also speaking to us and Townsville about forming a tighter partnership as we sought to multiply Youth Street to other cities. Through this partnership we started to see DTS teams taking what we did every Saturday in our local communities on outreach with them. Basically they started running the Youth Street Teams program for around 5 weeks straight in the city they were in. This happened in both local Australian cities and over in Indonesia with great success, the biggest success story being an outback Australia city called Mt. Isa. Townsville has since planted a YWAM centre in Mt. Isa that focuses on the Youth Street ministry and what was started with the short term outreach teams.

As Youth Street leaders we were overjoyed at the spread of Youth Street and how it was being used, but still did not see the impact it was actually having on our DTS’s. This did not start happening until God started speaking to me about seeing Youth Street in my home town of Kona, Hawaii. When this happened I found myself rooming with a DTS leader from Kona for a week up in Townsville. As I shared this new vision with him, he began to share his heart for both Kona and their DTS’s. Though he did want to see Youth Street impacting the youth in Kona, he more saw it impacting their DTS program; this was what got him excited. Four months later I ended up in Kona for a leadership meeting and this kept coming up with everyone I met with – DTS’s actually need something like Youth Street not only for the outreach phase but also for their lecture phase.

So how has the evolution of our DTS program through Youth Street helped us align with YWAM’s foundational values and the three pillars of Training, Evangelism and Mercy Ministry. I have watched over recent years as DTS’s have moved closer to traditional education. The lecture phase and outreach phase is a good example of this. Our DTS’s can often spend three months sitting at a desk receiving information and are then thrown out into the world for another 2 to 3 months, expected to implement that knowledge. This can tend to lack the live-learn philosophy that Darlene Cunningham teaches so passionately. I also see a lack of our foundational value ‘Do first then teach’. My dad did his DTS in South Africa back in 1978 after spending a couple months doing YWAM outreach in Australia. He did his DTS because he wanted to know God more and to make Him known more effectively. From my knowledge of DTS history, the aptly named lecture phase came out of outreach. The other major thing I have noticed God doing around YWAM International lately is bringing us back to the three pillars of Evangelism, Training and Mercy Ministry, emphasizing that we as YWAM Centres were to be all three, not just one or the other. From what I have heard from our international leaders lately, I believe that applies to our programs as well, especially DTS, our foundational program that all of YWAM is built on. If a DTS doesn’t taste, smell and feel like YWAM the most, then nothing else YWAM does will come close.

So with the evolution of DTS’s and the myriad of focused DTS’s how do we go back to that?

Stay tuned for the answer and the rest of Daniel’s article! For more info on upcoming DTS’s, check out our Training page here.