Why the DTS Requirement?
Here are some reasons why we still make every YWAM recruit do a DTS
By Tom Bloomer
Over my 28 years of involvement with YWAM training, I have come up with a few answers to some of the questions about DTS that I am asked, such as: „Why not make it optional?”
For one of my doctoral courses, we studied spiritual maturity. We looked at about 60 books and articles to find out the theories and traditions the Church has come up with over 2,000 years. We learned there are essentially three theories about where spiritual growth comes from, each with its champions:
- from learning, the mind studying the Word
- from a spiritual relationship, connecting with Jesus through prayer
- from serving the poor and the oppressed
As different traditions take these tendencies to extremes, we end up with Christians who have a spirituality that is essentially intellectual, or mystical, or oriented to social action. But does the Lord expect us to choose one of these alternatives, and to downgrade the other two? Of course not! All three are important.
As I wrestled with these concepts and tried to put them together for the course assignments, a conviction began to grow in my heart: our DTS, when done according to the ways God has showed us, is a structure that combines most or even all of the components of spiritual growth!
Since Jesus commanded us to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves, it is logical to think that ministry must be expressed through the will, emotions, spirit, mind, body and relationships. These areas of our being are also portals for learning. The YWAM DTS, when well-run, not only teaches intellectually, but through these other doors as well. The student is impacted not only through the formal teaching of the classroom; but also through work, prayer, worship and input at the meal table or dorm room.
Some have argued that we can accomplish these goals in less time than the five-or-six-month DTS. I disagree. It takes three months minimum to form a good habit. Many people do not join YWAM with disciplined habits of reading the Word, worship, intercession, prayer, right relationships, etc. Three months of lecture phase and two months of outreach are really the minimum time needed to start to turn a life around.
Finally, two last points in favor of the centrality of DTS for YWAM:
- Unity: Since YWAMers come from over one hundred nations and many more denominations, and since the structure of our organization tends to promote diversity, we very much need some strategies for unity as well. The Lord has given several, but one of the most important is DTS. The fact that every YWAMer receives three months of unified teaching is crucial to our unity. Without it, the centrifugal force of our great diversity would one day tear us apart. As both Loren and Darlene emphasize, the DTS „imparts the DNA of YWAM” in a deep way that nothing else can replace.
- Humility: Much of the resistance to the DTS requirement comes from those who contend that since their applicants are already mature Christians, they shouldn’t be forced to spend six months and lots of money just to fulfill some requirement. But isn’t this really saying: „They have no more to learn in their walk with the Lord, or at least nothing that YWAM can teach”?
To consent to attend DTS requires admitting, „I have much to learn. Even though it costs me, I want to leave my job, my church and my cultural nest for a time and sit at the feet of God. I want to learn of Him, directly but also through my brothers and sisters in YWAM.”
There is something in this leaving all to follow the way of Jesus that since the beginning of the Church has proved crucial in breaking the ties to the old life and comforts and preparing the servant of the Lord to hear from Him in a clearer way, to better discern His purposes, to better love His people and His world.
As believers, one of our goals is to learn how to love the Lord with our minds; and learning from Jesus requires a humility of heart and of thought. DTS can be a big step in the right direction.
Tom Bloomer is the University of the Nations’ Provost.