As YWAM has grown over the years, it has developed as a family of ministries. Although we have global networks of leaders and elders, we do not have a headquarters. Our decentralized structure gives room for leaders to emerge from many different cultures.
Although oversight and support is exercised by our circles of eldership (called Area Circle Teams), each YWAM location has its own characteristics and ministry focus. They are all bound together by our common vision of waves of young people taking the good news to the whole world. In addition, YWAM is cohesive through our shared purpose, beliefs and values. Wherever possible YWAM ministry centers are legally incorporated according to the laws of the land in which they live.
There are scores of Area Circle Teams providing wise counsel and support. They also lead by teaching to strengthen the beliefs, purpose and values of YWAM. YWAM’s original founders, Loren and Darlene Cunningham, drew a team of leaders around them from the earliest days. In recent years they invited an international and multicultural group around them for the purpose of guarding YWAM’s vision, purpose, beliefs and values.
Some ministries within YWAM have an international leadership structure for serving a specialized vision such as church planting among unreached peoples or King’s Kids ministry, or Oral Bible Translation. In addition, the University of the Nations requires a structure of educational oversight assuring high quality training. But the overall structure of YWAM aims to encourage the “priesthood of all believers” and the mobilization of young people to go into all the world with the gospel.