Joining us this month as we take up “The Invitation” and join together with thousands of YWAMers from around the world as we pray and hear from God about YWAM Foundational Values 7 – 9.
- #7 – Be Broad-structured and Decentralized
- #8 – Be International and Interdenominational
- #9 – Have a Biblical Christian Worldview
During the month of July we invite you to join YWAM’s global prayer day, called The Invitation, as we focus on three of YWAM’s Foundational Values: Be Broad-structured and Decentralised (value 7), Be International and Interdenominational (value 8), and Have a Biblical Christian Worldview (value 9).
According to Lynn Green, one of YWAM’s leaders, “the (foundational) values are the word of the Lord to us. They are our best attempt at summarising what God has spoken to us over the years. These are foundational DNA words and they have shaped us.” (From video Leadership and Change, March 2018 that can be found here: https://lynngreen.blog/2018/03/28/lynn-green-i-leadership-and-eldership-session-3/.)
Lynn Green explains the foundation of being international and Interdenominational as “having a high regard for the whole Body of Christ and also for various Christian denominations and institutions.”
Listen to the Letter
Download the Audio here
One of the ways to explain value 9 – Have a biblical Christian worldview is to emphasise loving the Lord our God with all of our mind, as well as, our heart, soul and strength. YWAM’s Lynn Green notes this distinction: “I believe YWAM is unusual in our calling to marry deep spiritual experience with the emotional dimensions that accompany spiritual experience along with in-depth exploration of the truth with our God-given intellect, which is of course created in God’s image. We should always avoid the trap of exalting the intellect over the spirit, or the spirit over the intellect: both are in God’s image.”
Please join with YWAM’s global prayer day, called The Invitation, during the month of July to pray with us. You are particularly invited to pray during our prayer day, July 12. If you only have a few moments to pray we would ask you to reflect on these three values and pray for YWAMers to have a renewed sense of purpose within YWAM and to serve the Lord with all of their mind, heart, soul and strength. As you pray and contemplate these foundational values, we would love to receive stories from you regarding how these values have shaped your ministry or your life. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prepare to Pray:
As we prepare to pray, we want to take some time to appreciate the gifts we have received from those different from ourselves. You could have these conversations in small groups, taking time to hear from one another and to reflect together. A facilitator could keep an eye on the time and move people through the following three segments, giving adequate time for each short reflection.
First, bring to mind those YWAM locations you have visited other than the one to which you are currently connected. Consider the leadership style, the community norms, the style of the worship times, etc. What did they do differently from what you are used to? In what ways did you find this challenging? In what ways did you learn and grow as a result of being in this different environment? Take a moment to thank God for the gift you received from these other YWAM locations, for the ways they blessed and enlarged you.
Next, consider your own church background. With which stream of the Church would you consider yourself to be most familiar and comfortable? In his book, Streams of Living Water, Richard Foster describes six streams, or traditions. He labels those streams contemplation, holiness, charismatic, social justice, evangelical, and incarnational or sacramental. How would you describe your church tradition? Reflect on those times when you have connected with those from another tradition to the one in which you are most comfortable. What did you learn from your friend’s way of relating to God and to his or her community of faith? Consider the blessings the people of God globally might receive from this other stream. Take a moment to thank God for the diversity within his body, the Church, and for all that we might receive from these diverse expressions.
Finally, reflect on your experiences in nations other than your home nation. As you have travelled, what has taken you by surprise about the different ways people do things? What have you found challenging about those differences? Be specific. In what ways have you felt somehow enlarged by your international experiences, as you have learned other ways of doing and being? In an attitude of celebration, join with others in your group to express thanks to God for all that you have received from those from other nations and cultures, and all the ways you have grown as a result of your interactions with other nationalities.
Remain in this posture of openness and gratitude as you move into prayer.
Pray for YWAM Foundational Values 7 – 9:
- Pray for wisdom for YWAM leaders as they communicate key messages within a broad-structured and decentralised organisation.
- Praise God for how YWAM has been able to remain broad-structured and diverse, yet integrated! Praise God for how this value allows us to act on directions from the Holy Spirit.
- Pray for appropriate accountability and effective implementation of YWAM ministries at the local level.
- Pray for YWAM’s upcoming YWAM Together in Thailand. Pray for unity in purpose, vision and values. Pray for effective speakers, worship leaders and teachers so that participants can take back common messages to their local YWAM ministry.
- Pray that the way YWAM interprets and models our foundational values is pleasing and glorifying to God.
- Pray for good balance within YWAM between our global scope and our local ministries.
- Pray for wisdom in relationships at the local level with denominational ministries.
- Pray for Discipleship Training School (DTS) students and staff to sense the global nature of YWAM within the context of the local ministry where they have been placed.
Lisa Popping, YWAM Perth Staff says on YWAM foundational value eight: “. . . Living internationally has made my life so much more rich and exciting!”
- Pray for balance of YWAM staff regarding intellectual, as well as, spiritual matters. Pray for effective use of mind, heart, soul and strength when interpreting and teaching scripture.
- Praise God for the growth of our ministries and for the multitudes of people being reached across YWAM.
- Pray for respect of the local culture by YWAMers from different cultures.
- Pray that our DTS students would grow in their wisdom and understanding of a biblical Christian worldview.
- Pray for accurate and effective communication of the Bible in all YWAM teachings.
- Pray that the current generation of YWAM will pass along our values and biblical Christian worldview to successive generations of YWAMers.
- Ask God to open the hearts of unbelievers so that they can see and understand God’s truths.
- Pray for more students to engage with YWAM so that we have more workers in the future so that we can penetrate more deeply all the spheres of society.
- Lynn Green has recently interviewed YWAM’s founders Loren and Darlene Cunningham regarding laying foundations, and leadership in YWAM. These interviews can provide you with a greater understanding of YWAM and provide you with background to further understand our foundational values. (https://lynngreen.blog/category/video/)
- Review video “Leadership and Change”, March 2018 on Lynn Green’s blog page: https://lynngreen.blog/2018/03/28/lynn-green-i-leadership-and-eldership-session-3/.)
- For a list of all 18 YWAM Foundational Values: /about-us/values/
- Review The Belief Tree written by Darlene Cunningham, David Joel Hamilton and Dawn Gauslin which is included at the end of The Invitation letter for more information on YWAM foundational values, as well as a biblical Christian worldview. Evaluate your ministry on the basis of The Belief Tree and all 18 foundational values.
- Make plans now to attend YWAM Together in September in Thailand. This is a great way to hear a broader group of speakers, worship in other cultural styles and to meet other YWAMers, thus experiencing YWAM foundational values 7 and 8 quite literally. Sign up at ywamtogether.com. Encourage others to do the same.
- Talk to a leader at your location to further understand the relationship between your location, YWAM leadership and other YWAM ministries. Ask them to explain the local structure and accountability for your location.
- Review the scope of YWAM through YWAM.org and Facebook to understand the international aspect of YWAM. See what ministries other locations have and in what type of cultures they exist. Follow their Facebook pages to see on an ongoing basis what is being done throughout YWAM.
- Plan an evening or afternoon discussion with various members of your location regarding the interdenominational aspect of YWAM. Discuss challenges with this approach, as well as, how being interdenominational has glorified God and thus, grown our mission.
- Conduct an international celebration at your location. Encourage everyone to participate and to share cultural aspects of a community within which they have lived and/or ministered. Ideas include various worship styles, dress/clothing, food and others. Celebrate the international aspect of YWAM.
- Share stories on Facebook and send email to email@example.com regarding how YWAM foundational values have impacted your walk with Christ, your family, your ministry or other aspects of your life.
- Share on facebook.com/youthwithamission, post a picture and add a comment about how you prayed.
- Go to twitter.com; search for #praywithywam and tweet about your prayer time/post a picture. You can also post a photo on Instagram and use the same hashtag, #praywithywam.
- Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org letting us know how you prayed and what God revealed to you.
How We Prayed
June 28 – Contemplative
- YWAM Madrid, Spain enthusiastically joined The Invitation and noted that they would invite the Holy Spirit to speak to them through contemplative practices.
- Multiple people requested more information on contemplative prayer by contacting email@example.com.
- One person on Facebook compared contemplative practices of today with the Psalms, noting also that Jesus himself would have memorized and sung from the Psalms.
- Another person on Facebook noted that contemplative prayer has brought deeper union with Jesus for them, along with a deeper compassion for the world.
- August 9, 2018 YWAM Together
- September 13, 2018 Kolkata
- October 11, 2018 YWAM Foundational Values (10 – 12)
#10 – Function in teams
#11 – Exhibit servant leadership
#12 – Do first, then teach
Don’t Miss The Invitation:
- Sign up for prayer updates. Go to ywam.org, find the “Stay Connected” box on the home page, put in your email address and click “Sign Up.”
- Download prayer updates in a specific language. Go to ywam.org/theinvitation. (Currently available in Spanish, Portuguese, French, Indonesian, Korean or request other languages.)
- Join the conversation about how God is leading in these prayer times. Comment on the Facebook page on the second Thursday at facebook.com/youthwithamission or on Twitter @ywam, hashtag #praywithywam. You can also post a photo on Instagram and use the same hashtag, #praywithywam.
- You can now listen to The Invitation as a podcast. To sign up or listen to past episodes, go to: ywampodcast.net/prayer.
- If you sense God giving you a word or a direction for YWAM’s prayer, please contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Belief Tree
by Darlene Cunningham with David Joel Hamilton and Dawn Gauslin
Jesus’ strategy to evangelize the world was to multiply Himself into His disciples, who would reproduce men and women of like vision and values, who would multiply disciples, and so on (2 Tim 2:2). The goal was and is to preach the Gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15), to disciple all the nations (Matthew 28:19) and to produce fruit that will remain (John 15:16). This is the call of Youth With A Mission and University of the Nations, and should be the goal of every disciple.
How is good and lasting fruit produced? How do we reproduce in others the vision and values God has given to YWAM? It is not enough to be well organized and pass on information: we need to have ingested the foundational beliefs of the faith and the values of the Mission in order to pass them on to successive waves of learners. If this is not done, we will only copy a model and we will never be able to answer the “why” questions.
We need to know what we do believe and why, and we need to know what we do not believe and why.
The Bible uses many illustrations of trees, soil, vines, pruning, fruit, leaves and seeds to speak to us about our lives, ministry and fruitfulness. I first heard the analogy of the “Belief Tree” from Darrow Miller, of Disciple Nations Alliance, who speaks on biblical Christian worldview. He teaches that “ideas have consequences,” that there is a direct link between roots and fruit, what we believe and how we behave. I have since developed the illustration and use it as a foundation for nearly everything I teach. This simple illustration can provide a reference point, a measuring rod, for making decisions and evaluating the fruit of your ministry both individually and corporately. I trust that God will use it to bring insight and impart life to you in such a deep way that it becomes a part of your “toolbox” as well.
As you consider a tree, the soil represents our worldview. The roots represent our foundational beliefs; the trunk represents our values. The branches represent our principle-based decisions and policies. The fruit represents our actions/programs. The seeds represent the genetic code for reproducing life. And of course, the DNA of that First Seed was/is Jesus Himself, living in us! In order for there to be cycles of healthy life, the DNA must flow from the roots, through the trunk, along the branches and into the fruit. The seeds in the fruit start the process all over again.
SOIL = WORLDVIEW
One of the first things it is important to identify about ourselves and/or others is, “What is the environmental worldview that I was raised in, and what is the worldview of those I’m relating to?” Even though you may have come to Christ through the work of the cross, what is the background that has influenced your family, your culture and your thinking, even in subtle ways? This is the soil in which your “tree” grows. Is it Animistic? Hindu? Muslim? Secular humanism? This will affect the glasses through which you see everything. Much of the western world has a Judeo-Christian background, but it has declined into a worldview of secular humanism: “It’s all about me. If it feels good, do it. Truth is relative–it’s whatever I think is right for me.” Even in the way we present the gospel, it is important that we do not feed this lie. We value the individual, but we don’t worship the individual! It’s all about Jesus!
Often the errors in the worldview in which we have been raised need to be transformed to align with a biblical Christian worldview, which then forms the tap root of our beliefs. Four foundational truths of Christianity, identified by Dr. Francis Schaeffer, which must be included in our beliefs are:
1) God is infinite and personal. He is absolutely limitless and cannot be measured; He is uncreated and has no beginning or ending. And He is a personal/relational being with an intellect, will and emotions. Only the God of the Bible is both infinite and personal.
2) Men and women are finite and personal. We are made in God’s image as personal beings (with intellect, will and emotions), created for relationship with Him and others. But we are finite. We have a beginning point and definable limits.
3) Truth is constant and knowable. Truth doesn’t change; it is absolute. And we can know truth (“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” John 8:32).
4) We are responsible for our choices. The consequences of our good/right/wise decisions lead to rewards and life; the consequences of our bad/wrong/sinful decisions lead to punishment and death.
ROOTS = BELIEFS
The roots of the tree are our basic beliefs, which must grow out of the truth of God’s Word or our tree can’t bear good fruit. All of our beliefs must be rooted in the Scripture.
Other elements of our basic root system include things like believing the truth about God’s nature (the essence of who He is: all powerful, all knowing, all present, etc.) and His character (how He chooses to express His nature: He is loving, kind, just, holy, merciful, etc.). Of course, we could spend volumes and eternity describing these foundational roots, because there is no end to the vastness and wonderfulness of our great God! But these are some of the most basic things we must learn from the Word and teach to those we disciple, in order to develop deep roots that can nourish their lives and influence every decision.
All of our YWAM Discipleship Training Schools should spend a major amount of time teaching and wrestling with the root system of our basic beliefs. The curriculum defined by the International DTS Centre and approved by the YWAM Global Leadership Forum gives excellent guidelines to follow in building strong roots (www.ywamdtscentre.com).
When we truly know God, when we learn how to hear His voice through time spent in relationship with Him, when we understand that because He loves us, His will is always the highest and best for us, for others, for Himself and for the universe, we will spend far less time in the syndrome of “I should have, could have, would have.” We are more settled in knowing that His will is always good and His grace is always sufficient.
TRUNK = VALUES
In Youth With A Mission, we place a strong emphasis on our Foundational Values. I am the one who began the process of identifying and writing down these values so that we could pass them on to successive generations of YWAMers for continued fruitfulness. I have come to realize that the values on their own presuppose that everyone has the same worldview and foundational belief system, which they do not. That is why, in recent years, I’ve begun teaching the “Belief Tree,” because our values grow out of and clarify our underlying beliefs. Just as a tree doesn’t begin with the trunk at ground level, our values are not the starting point. The starting point for producing fruit that remains is first the seed of Jesus planted in our lives, aligning our worldview with a biblical Christian worldview, and then the root system revealed throughout the Bible: who is God?…who is man?…what is truth? etc. For example, Foundational Value #14 states: “YWAM is called to value each individual.” Why? Because God is a personal God, who created mankind in His image, as personal beings, so that we could live together with Him in a relationship of love. We are to value what God values.
BRANCHES = PRINCIPLE-BASED DECISIONS/POLICIES
The limbs of the tree represent the principles by why we make decisions, whether personal or corporate. Again, our decisions must grow out of and reflect our values or they lack strength. Jill Garrett, who introduced the Strengthsfinder assessment tool to YWAM, uses the architectural definition of the word “integrity” to illustrate the need for consistency between our purpose, vision, beliefs, values, principles and practices. All must be in line with each other and with the Word of the Lord in order for the structure to be sound and have integrity.
Have you ever been in a situation where a policy (i.e., a corporate decision) was implemented that just didn’t set right? Usually, it is because it is not consistent with what we say we value. Our principles and practices should be born out of our beliefs and values. They should be the seamless extension of them. When a practice is established, there should be a response in our spirits that says, “Well, of course! If we believe and value this, then the automatic fruit of our decisions should be that!”
Let me give you a really practical example. There was a situation once at a campus where I was the operations director. While I was away on a trip one time, an experienced older person was put in charge of the transportation department. When I returned home from my trip, I discovered that a new policy had been established regarding drivers of YWAM vehicles: no one under 25 years of age was allowed to drive the YWAM vans. I thought “Oh, we must have changed insurance companies, and they have set this rigid requirement.” So I set out to find the reason for this new rule, because it seemed very restrictive. When I asked, “Why do we have this new restriction? Has the government made a new rule? Or have we changed insurance companies?” I discovered that it was neither. The transportation manager was of the opinion that young people tended to be more careless and irresponsible than older drivers and decided to set the age limit higher!
God called us to be YOUTH With A Mission! Our sixth Foundational Values states: “YWAM is called to champion young people.” We can’t challenge young men and women to go into difficult and dangerous places, and possibly even lay down their lives for the Gospel, and then tell them we don’t trust them to drive the vans! It would be okay to have a requirement for all potential drivers to pass a driver’s test based on skills, but it is not okay to have an automatic judgment that “youth are irresponsible.”
Think about it: if decisions have been enacted at your campus or in your school that do not reflect who God is, or what He has called us to value, then guess which things needs to change! I am constantly in this evaluation process myself, and have faithful friends who challenge me with questions like: “Darlene, how does this or that decision reflect the justice of God and our call to be international?” God has called us as a Mission to a season of realignment. We need to be diligent to see that there is consistency between our beliefs, values, principles/decisions and actions/programs. This needs to be continuously evaluated.
We have made a policy, a corporate leadership decision, in the University of the Nations that we are required to have at least three hours of intercessory prayer per week in all of our courses. Why? If this is just a “rule” which is disconnected from our values and beliefs, then prayer can become a totally lifeless dead work. Buddhists pray. Hindus pray. Muslims pray five times a day! But they are not praying to the true God. Because of our root belief that God is both personal and infinite, we value prayer as the avenue of two-way communication with this God who hears and cares and has the power to act. Not only that, but He designed us to be co-creators with Him through prayer. He chooses to involve us in releasing His will “on earth as it is in heaven” through praying the things on His heart. It will transform our prayer lives when we really grasp this and make ourselves available to hear from God like we believe He wants to create with us in prayer!
FRUIT = ACTIONS/PROGRAMS
The fruit is the outward expression of the life of the tree. On an individual basis, it is our actions and behavior. On a corporate level, it is our programs and practices. In a healthy tree, the roots draw in life, giving nourishment that flows through the trunk and the branches resulting in the production of good fruit. That’s what we want for our lives and our ministries: good fruit that remains.
The amazing thing about fruit is, it has seeds inside! The seeds carry the DNA—the essential genetic data that will reproduce future generations of healthy, fruitful trees. Every successive season, there is new fruit, and though each fruit is unique, it carries the same DNA and will reproduce the same kind of tree as the one that it came from. You’ve probably heard it asked, “You can count the number of seeds in an apple, but can you count the number of apples in a seed?”
Programs like the Discipleship Training School are “fruits” of our ministry tree that should reflect our beliefs, values and principles. Every DTS around the world can and should look different from the others–just as every apple is an apple but each one is unique–because the people God brings will be different and the needs will be different. We must continuously evaluate our methods and models as well to be sure that they support the new life and growth. God wants to give a fresh infusion of His Spirit and creativity into each school, but they should all carry the DNA, the genetic code, of a DTS and of YWAM.
Oftentimes people look at a program such as the DTS and want to replicate it. But it doesn’t work when it is disconnected from the YWAM “tree” from which it grew. Another ministry or a church may draw elements from a YWAM DTS, or run a similar discipleship program which may be very effective. Though the basic Bible beliefs are be similar, the values for every organization are different, and their programs should grow out of and reflect the unique characteristics of the things God has called them to embrace.
As mentioned earlier, integrity is when our worldview, beliefs, values, decisions and actions flow seamlessly, with no disconnect. Our actions and behavior should clearly align with what we say we believe. When this isn’t happening, there a break in the flow.
Here is another personal story that illustrates this point so clearly. As is our custom, one night Loren and I were hosting a large group of YWAMers for a meal at our home. Afterward, a number of people offered to help me clean up. One young leader, holding an armload of aluminum soda cans, asked “Darlene, do you recycle?” I replied, “I believe in it, but I don’t do it.” When I heard the words come out of my mouth, I was so shocked that I gasped out loud. I had been teaching on the Belief Tree to that very group of people! I asked the helper, “Did you hear what I just said? I said that I BELIEVE it, but I don’t DO it!” It’s true that in Hawaii, recycling is not required by law, and they don’t make it easy to accomplish, as recycle systems are not in place. But I went out the next day and bought recycle bins for aluminum cans, plastic bottles and glass and I have recycled from that day to this.
My friend and co-worker, David Hamilton, has added another dimension to this Belief Tree teaching which will help you in using this as a very practical tool in your life:
WORLDVIEW = what is REAL
This is our un-thought-through presuppositions about reality. It’s what we generally accept or believe from our environment or the way we were raised, without questioning.
BELIEFS = what is TRUE
You may ask, “But aren’t what is real and what is true the same?” Yes, if there is integrity; but if there is not integrity, what seems real to us and what is actually true may be very different. (Remember the foundational truths of Christianity outlined above: there is absolute truth, and it is constant and knowable.)
For example, in Africa some tribal people are animistic, so what is REAL for them is that they believe spirits exist in different forms of nature – rocks, the sea, lions, etc. According to their worldview, if you get sick it’s because someone has put a curse on you. When an animist becomes a Christian and believes that Jesus is the Son of God, they believe this is TRUE. When they become sick, they know Jesus can heal them because He is powerful. But if they pray to Jesus and don’t get well, they often quickly revert to the reality that they have known, which is that sickness is caused by evil spirits. So they may go back to the witch doctor to remove the curse.
This syncretism (mixture of opposing belief systems) works against integrity. Every culture and every individual has issues of syncretism. Identifying and ridding ourselves of it occurs as we mature in integrity.
VALUES = what is GOOD
Isn’t truth good? Yes, it should also be considered good. Why is this different? When you embrace something as good, it’s something you do because you like it. You find it desirable or beneficial. There is some internal delight.
When you read through the 18 YWAM values, you might read one and think “I’ve got to achieve this” or “I need to work on this one.” This is an indicator that you see this as a principle or truth that is right, but you have not yet learned to really love it. As long as it’s something external that you have to live up to, rather than something internal that you delight in, then it has not yet become a personal value.
PRINCIPLE-BASED DECISIONS/POLICIES = what we think is RIGHT
Once you have embraced something true and attributed value to it, it will lead to right decisions and policies. Just living by the rules and doing what is right is not discipleship! What we want to see as a result of true discipleship is internal government. This is one of the most important things in the world, to be self-governed, have self-morality, and lead ourselves based on God’s principles, not on external boundaries.
ACTIONS/PROGRAMS = what is WISE
If all these others things are aligned, our behavior/actions will be wise.
We need to learn to make decisions that bring harmony between what is real and true and right and good and wise. Only then are we are walking in integrity! How do we discover whether there is seamless integrity or disconnections? By asking questions.
There are two questions that will lead you to insights at every level of the Belief Tree:
- “WHY?” This is a discovery question that leads us to foundations/presuppositions.
Let’s look again at the example about young people not being allowed to drive YWAM vehicles, and use the question “Why?” to lead us from the action back down to the presuppositional worldview.
ACTION: young people can’t drive YWAM vans.
Why? Because of a faulty POLICY.
Why was the policy wrong? Because it did not reflect that we VALUE young people.
Why should we value young people?
Because our BELIEF about God, based on His Word, tells us that He values young people: Jeremiah, Mary, Timothy, David, Samuel, Daniel, Joseph…all of the disciples. Our Biblical Christian worldview tells us that we are made in the image of God from birth, not just from the age of 25!
When you get down to the “belief” part, you should always have a “God said in His word” upon which to base your belief.
It is so important to ask the WHY question. You cannot get understanding and make wise decisions without this. When people don’t understand beliefs and values, they just copy a model, and the life soon goes out of it. It becomes dead works.
You can also do the opposite, move from the roots to the fruit, by asking the question:
- “SO WHAT?” This question leads us to understand implications/applications.
WORLDVIEW – we are made in image of creator God.
So what? We BELIEVE we can co-create with Him.
So what? We VALUE prayer as a good thing; it changes things!
So what? We make PRINCIPLE-BASED DECISIONS: I will give up whatever it takes to have time for prayer: sleep, food, social activities.
So what? My ACTIONS/BEHAVIOR line up: I establish a lifestyle of prayer.
The reason a lot of Christians fail is because they go straight from understanding something to be TRUE to doing something because it is RIGHT. They skip the step of VALUE and it becoming GOOD/delightful. It’s not hard for me to do what I embrace as good and delightful. But if I only try to do something because I know it is RIGHT, I will fail much more easily.
As you keep asking the Holy Spirit to examine your life and reveal any place where there is a lack of integrity, you can invite God to transform your mind and thinking so that you will grow in maturity and greater likeness to Christ!
We must know WHY we believe WHAT we believe. Our practices and programs should be a reflection of our beliefs, values and principle-based decisions. We should be able to give an answer when asked, “Why do you do what you do, the way you do it?” It is an opportunity to share our beliefs, values and principles. And if we don’t have an answer or we don’t know why, it is an opportunity to seek answers and make sure that our actions and the fruit of our lives and ministries are a true reflection of Jesus.
I love the story of one family—a husband, wife and two teenage kids—who came to do a DTS at YWAM/UofN Kona and heard me teach on the Belief Tree. They were fairly new Christians and the husband was a successful businessman. I’m sure he had sat through many courses on decision-making, but the Spirit of God had a profound impact on him and the whole family through understanding the Belief Tree. It gave them a simple yet practical framework for making decisions and evaluating whether their lives were in alignment with their beliefs. When they returned home after DTS, the family spent most of a two-week vacation to Ireland working on their family Belief Tree, defining their beliefs, values, principles and actions. They drew it on a large piece of poster board, and upon returning home, they hung it on the kitchen wall. It is there, in the busiest room of the house, that they gather to make family decisions, evaluate where they have come from and where they’re going. It is there that they also have that occasional discussion regarding outward behavior that may or may not match what they say they believe–not only the children’s behavior, but the parents have invited the children to hold them accountable to live what they say they believe. What a wonderful and simple yet profound tool for checking the integrity of our lives and ministries!
* * *
Scriptures for additional meditation/study:
Psalm 1:1-3, Colossians 2:6-7, Matthew 7:15-23, Matthew 13:1-9, Jeremiah 17:7-8, Isaiah 61:3,11, John 15:1-17, Colossians 2 & 3, Romans 11:16.
© 2005, 2007, 2011, 2012 & 2014 Darlene J. Cunningham and Dawn E. Gauslin, Youth With A Mission. All rights reserved