First DTS in Europe

From YWAMKnowledgeBase

Discipleship Training School

Home of Europe's First DTS -- Holmsted Manor

By Barry Austin

Holmsted in West Sussex, England, was the location of the first DTS in Europe in 1976. I don't have a photo of that first DTS, but this is a photo of the Holmsted community with the DTS in 1978. I was the base leader and the DTS leader.

(Lynn and Marti Green launched the work at Holmsted Manor in 1975; Kay and I joined them in February 1976. I became the base leader in 1977 and continued until 1983.)

Launching the DTS

By 1976 Schools of Evangelism were operating each year in Britain. But we began to realise we were teaching principles of evangelism to students who, in the main, lacked understanding of the basics of discipleship. As a result we launched the Discipleship Training School in September 1976; it was the first DTS to operate in Europe.

As we prepared for this DTS, God strongly emphasised the truth of James 1:22 "be doers of the word, not hearers only". So we knew He wanted us to set up the school with an emphasis on people applying the truth, not just listening to lectures. He emphasised that true application of truth took place not only by individual response, but also within community relationships. The importance of community was to come up again and again as the work at Holmsted developed.

The Jesus Model

During this time of thinking and praying the Lord showed us that Jesus used teaching and a small group of twelve men as his basic model for training. As a result, we structured the school around both lectures and small groups. The lectures would bring the truth of God's word and the small groups would bring the application.

The small groups proved to be a great success, especially after further DTS's and we improved in our skills of leading the groups. The students really appreciated opportunity to discuss the teaching given in the lectures. They also had great ministry times as they prayed for one another for God to work the truth of the teaching into their lives. The lectures brought the truth; the discussions brought understanding, and the prayer brought application.

Holy Spirit Power

An emphasis on the power of the Holy Spirit also brought a lot of blessing into people's lives. During worship times and after teaching the Holy Spirit would often intervene with revelation gifts and healings. This made the meetings very dynamic.

The DTS / BLS Model

As we had further DTS's following this model emphasising small groups it became obvious that an important part of the role of the DTS leader would be training the group leaders; it was to be on-the-job training.

Again, the model we followed for training the leaders was Jesus with his twelve disciples: a small group with Jesus at the centre.

The job of the leader was to facilitate the headship of Jesus in the group. It was a participatory style of leadership.

After a year or two of leading this model of DTS, we felt God leading us to form the group leaders' training into a specific training programme. We called it the Basic Leadership School (BLS), but it remained an integral part of the DTS. Both programmes benefited from operating together. The students benefited by being mentored by the group leaders and through the group process, and the leaders benefited from having a leadership training that was on-the-job and very practical.

This DTS model at Holmsted Manor of discipleship teaching with an emphasis on application in small groups was unique in YWAM at the time.

Fruitfulness

The fruitfulness of the model in YWAM Britain became obvious.

At the time of our first DTS we had a total of about thirty YWAM staff in the country. After three years the work had escalated to over three hundred staff scattered in outreach teams throughout the country. Eighty per cent of the leaders of these teams had been trained through the DTS / BLS programme at Holmsted. When operated on a relational mentoring basis the BLS has continued to be an effective means of producing leaders.

The BLS was also a great way of launching Bible teachers. When our trainee leaders showed potential in teaching we began mentoring them in these skills. We began by giving opportunity to teach one lecture in the DTS on a discipleship topic and give constructive feedback afterwards. The result of doing this for four or five years was that we had over 40 people who could lecture for a week in a DTS. Some of them developed very effective ministries of teaching around the DTS's in Europe. The ministry coming out of Holmsted Manor was having a wide influence.

These principles of relationship-based discipleship were not only effective in training our own people, but we also shared them in Discipleship Training Weeks (DTW) and Leadership Training Weeks (LTW) and in Summer Camps. Hundreds of people came to these programmes; many were blessed and took the training back to their churches. The good discipleship teaching was important, but in every programme we always made sure meetings in small groups followed the teaching where it could be applied through discussion and prayer with others.

The moving of the Holy Spirit was a dynamic part of these meetings, especially the summer camps. The times of ministry with the gifts of the Holy Spirit were very powerful and the camps were a highlight of the year for many people.

Holmsted Manor became known as a place of effective discipleship training in the power of the Spirit. A pastor said to Lynn Green a few years later, "The effect of YWAM DTS's on the churches of Britain is inestimable".