I'm a YWAMer. That isn't a confession like at an AA meeting. It's just a statement of the mission organization I serve with. It stands for Youth With A Mission.
YWAM has been around for more than 45 years. It started about the same time as a few other missionary/parachurch movements like OM, Teen Challenge, Agape Force, and lots more. It seemed to be an era when people were stretching boundaries—within the home, the church, and the nation. Hippies, anti-war demonstrations, love-ins, and anything else that seemed to go against the establishment. Many kids got turned on, tuned in, and dropped out of organized culture, including the church.
Part of the Christian response (completely a God-thing, I believe), was to establish Christian communes. Kids who were dealing with the repercussions of leaving authority behind, and were now quite lost, could find a loving community where they could be guided (sometimes quite dictatorially) into a solid relationship with God.
YWAM and others entered this milieu by offering strong, solid teaching on discipleship. The model that quickly developed included several months of living, working, playing, learning and practicing together in a communal setting. This paradigm has a lot of value. It provides an opportunity to leave stress, temptations and culture behind, and concentrate on God. The YWAM Discipleship Training School (DTS) still follows this pattern in most places. Many similar discipleship programs have been developed by other Christian groups.
So, where am I going with this? We YWAMites (OK, YWAMers sounds better) talk about the 'YWAM bubble'. There are pros and cons of being totally separated from the 'real world'. I think it is a matter that the church as a whole is recognizing. I heard a guy (Jon Petersen) talk about two approaches to evangelism: the familiar church model of working to bring people into the church, and the opposite techniqe of sending the church into the world. He told stories of having church services where the 'lay' people in the congregation were ordained to go out as ministers within their workplace. After all, who is most likely going to influence the guys at the shop, but one of the guys who works there?
For too long we have tried to escape the influence of 'evil' culture by hiding in our happy holy huddles (thanks to Gordon Franklin, one of my old Bible College profs for that turn of phrase). It's time to affect culture by getting out of the salt shaker. If the world is going to hell in a handbasket, we can either ignore it, or do something to change its direction.
Community is still a great concept. However, I think instead of forming our fortress Christian communities to keep the devil out, it's time to get out into the communities we live in, and be. Yes, be. Be a light. Be the church—the body of Christ. Be a politician/musician/actor/car salesman/lawyer/preacher who lives his faith. Loves people. Makes a difference. Be salt. Be yeast. Permeate.
What part of GO into all the world are we missing?
(Check out my buddy's blog entry that touches on this: Zon3