Below is the second part of an article written by Daniel Norris. Click here to read the first part of this dynamic article.
So with the evolution of DTS’s and the myriad of focused DTS’s how do we go back to that?
I and Youth Street don’t claim to have the whole answer, but I do want to share a bit of how I have seen God use Youth Street to align our DTS’s with that original vision, a journey we are still very much participating in. To be totally honest I was mostly ignorant of the fact that Youth Street helped our DTS, which makes me believe even more that it was God. So, as I said earlier, our DTS has a weekly involvement in our Youth Street Teams program. The DTS schedule actually revolves around that and operates from Tuesday through Saturday. They have lectures, worship and intercession throughout the week including Thursday night evangelism at a local shopping centre, then on Saturday they all join our Youth Street ministry as Staff, not as students. DTS students are also given responsibilities during the week as Y.S. staff to help out the team they are on. This includes making phone calls to the kids and parents that they are building relationships with through Youth Street. As a DTS student, this allows them to weekly put into practice the things they are learning during lectures that week. For example, if they are learning about hearing God’s voice they have the opportunity to share the revelations they have been getting with the kids that are being discipled through Youth Street; as disciples they are discipling others.
So as DTS students are looking more to Jesus, Jesus then reflects off them to the youth around them. We work really hard to make this as easy for them as possible, which in turn helps build their confidence. We have seen students go from having never shared their faith with anyone to doing it every week within the first couple weeks of the DTS lecture phase. They are also put in a situation where, in a short period of time, they need to get a heart for a people group, or age group – to put it simply, a heart for the lost. I have spoken with student after student at the end of a lecture phase who has told me how much they disliked working with kids when they first arrived but how now they are in love with them. This doesn’t usually happen in the first two weeks, sometimes it actually takes till week ten. The important thing is that they get it before they go on outreach.
Finally, the last thing is that involvement in Youth Street puts the student in a situation where they need to become relevant to their audience. They quickly learn that sharing the gospel in the exact words that they grew up with or are even learning in DTS, tends to fly high over a 13 year old’s head, especially an Australian 13 year old’s head. So each week as they are sharing with their new friends at Youth Street about God and what He is doing in their lives, DTS students quickly learn to adapt and share it in ways they can understand. They receive training in how to do cross-cultural mission.
It is now time for outreach. I am writing this article while actually on a DTS outreach and have had the privilege of experiencing this dynamic first hand, which as an outreach leader has assisted me greatly. This specific outreach has been split into two parts. One month was spent pioneering a new Youth Street ministry at YWAM Island Breeze in Sydney, Australia and the second month, we have been in Northern Iraq, another totally pioneering experience. While in Sydney a lot of our time was spent out in the community reaching the specific age group that Youth Street reaches. So we hit up skate parks, schools, shopping centres and even a juvenile detention centre. The skate park was the big one for us. Now being a team with an average age of 19 who spent 3 months at a YWAM base with an emphasis on youth you could assume that this would be a comfortable and normal setting. But actually no one on my team, myself included, actually skate, and most of the team had never even been to a skate park. I watched with joy as they all ran out and found skate boards, bought the skate shoes and gave it a go. They saw their target audience and knew the only way these kids were going to listen to them is if they actually got out there on the ramps. So they did that and the kids loved them. They showed these kids love, showed them Jesus, and the kids responded, not only by coming to the Youth Street programs that we planned over the following weeks, but by ultimately giving their lives to Jesus. These are rough punk skater kids from one of the hardest parts of Sydney being reached by a girl from a small town in Maryland who never set foot on a skateboard before. She was able to do this because of the three months she spent in Newcastle becoming a disciple of Jesus and then learning how to disciple and love others. She did not need to wait till the outreach phase to do it, none of the team did, and they did it better than I could have ever hoped for.
Also as we planned and prepared a huge launch event for Youth Street in Sydney, the team engaged, not as students being told what to do, but as a team. This was natural for them because we had given them responsibility in our ministry during their lecture phase and treated them like part of the team. I shared with them the vision, we heard God, and the team split into smaller teams and went out to get the job done. This included going into schools and meeting with the principals, talking with local business owners, knocking on doors and meeting the families as well as talking to the actual youth. It basically had them engaging with nearly every sphere of society within the city we were reaching. The launch was a huge success and a large number of the community showed up and got involved which has now provided the long term YWAMers in Sydney with a platform to reach their community like never before.
Now we are in Northern Iraq. Could you go to a more contrasting location? A place where there is not a single skateboard to be found, where actually youth culture simply does not exist.
We are only here for a month so the team has needed to adapt. They need to get a heart for these people, become relevant and show them Jesus in a way they can understand. The outreach is not over but I have watched them go into a local University to teach English each week and they are falling in love with the people. They are building relationships with them and showing them love in a way that no other westerner has done before. The locals are blown away by this, that young Americans would fly half way round the world to serve them. Why would they do that they ask? Because they love them, because Jesus loves them.
So yes let’s evolve and change our DTS’s. Let’s mix up the schedule a bit, put an outreach in the middle of the lecture phase, or like Youth Street do it every single week. Let’s be disciples of Jesus. Let us do first, then teach. I believe if DTS and base leaders seek God on how to do that and how to stick to who God has called us as YWAM to be, then we will see success in our DTS like never before. We will see lasting fruit. We will see more students joining full time missions, both in YWAM and wherever else God may lead them. I am excited for the next 50 years of YWAM and love hearing about how DTS’s around the world are shaking things up. DTS in my opinion is the most exciting thing about YWAM. I may not personally staff or lead many more DTS’s in the future, but as a YWAMer, I am committed to serving DTS in its development and growth in any way I can. It has been and will be vital to the Youth Street ministry for many years to come. As well as on the other hand,Youth Street has been vitally important to our DTS’s!!
To find more about our DTS’s, click here. If you have done a DTS and you’re interested in learning even more about youth ministry, check out our School of Innovative Youth Ministry page here.