Outreach - Best Practice

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Discipleship Training School

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Best Practice Document for DTS Outreach

Although this is called best practice for DTS outreach it will of course be relevant for all outreaches. However it looks a bit weak on the specific goals of the outreach/practical phase.steve

Also look at the Short Term Outreach Manual

See also Code of Best Practice in Short-Term Mission.

A DTS outreach can and should be:

  • Spirit-led
  • Evangelistic - sharing the gospel
  • Positive
  • Fruitful
  • Experiencing the power of God to make a difference
  • Challenging
  • Faith stretching
  • Full of passion
  • Partnering with and strengthening local evangelistic outreach where possible
  • Preparation for outreach as a lifestyle

Official Policies for the DTS Outreach

The DTS outreach must be designed in keeping with the official policies as outlined in the UofN Reference Guide. These elements are included in the following document and are marked with an asterisk (*). They are non negotiable.

Best Practice for the DTS Outreach

Added to these non-negotiable elements are other agreed upon "best practices". These additional best practice elements are ideals to work towards. Any individual outreach may have situations that prevent one or more of these added best practice particulars from being fulfilled. However, the goal is to run an outreach that incorporates most of these practices.

A. Outreach Location

  1. The outreach location should be identified through a process of hearing God's voice. (see scenarios in Appendix A)
  2. There should be a qualified leader with vision and faith to lead the team to this location.
  3. Both DTS and base leadership should be included in determining the outreach location.
  4. Contact should be made and input sought from appropriate YWAM leadership connected to the outreach location.
  5. The outreach location should provide an ongoing opportunity for every team member to meaningfully communicate the gospel and to move people towards a commitment to following Jesus.
  6. The outreach location should provide diverse opportunities for ministry such as mercy ministry, community development, etc.
  7. The outreach location should present a positive experience where team members engage in ministry with people from a culture different from their own.
  8. The outreach location should offer an experience in which students see fruit and are provided with a taste of missions that encourages future missions involvement.
  9. If an outreach location is identified as "high risk" (for example, location presents a health threat or is experiencing war or rebel activity), a lower risk option should be made available where possible.
  10. If a student is unable to go to a designated outreach location due to factors outside his or her control (e.g. visas, health issues, etc) a suitable outreach alternative must be provided. (refer to suitable document)


B. Outreach Leadership

The following is a description of the attitudes and abilities needed in an outreach leader or outreach leadership team. However, should the leadership lack ability in a certain area it is sufficient that they be able to draw out those abilities from other team members (students).

Outreach Leadership should

  • have a passion for God.
  • have vision and an expectation for God to work in and through the team.
  • have a passion for the lost, be able to share their faith with others and lead people to Jesus.
  • have faith that people will come to Jesus and be able to impart that to their team.
  • know what a DTS is - the vision, values and ethos.
  • be living the YWAM values.
  • be staff of the DTS, a student in the DTS or a YWAMer who has had significant interaction with the outreach team members in the context of the DTS lecture phase.
  • be able to hear God's voice.
  • have no major character flaw that is likely to damage people and/or the ministry.
  • be a learner and teachable.
  • be a good financial steward (e.g. trustworthy, demonstrates financial transparency, handles money appropriately and with wisdom, etc).
  • be able to inspire, motivate and challenge people in the context of the outreach.
  • be able to release every team member into ministry and team functions regardless of their gender, culture, language, nationality and church background.
  • have a passion for the Word and an ability to apply it personally as well as help others apply it.
  • have a lifestyle of intercession and worship with a commitment to see both expressed in the outreach.
  • be able to discern what the Holy Spirit is doing and be able to integrate it into team and ministry situations.
  • be able to continue the discipleship process, putting into practice the principles learned in the lecture phase.
  • be able to ask questions, listen and give appropriate input and feedback, in a one on one context.
  • be able to understand and put into practice principles of conflict resolution. (
  • be able to think and act quickly in a crisis.
  • demonstrate servant leadership.
  • be trained to fulfill their role.

C. Team Formation

  • A DTS outreach must be conducted in the context of a team (three or more people??).
  • Students should be provided with all known information about the outreach option or options (e.g. location, costs, ministry opportunities, leader, etc) as early as possible. Potential range of outreach costs should be communicated before the DTS begins.
  • In the case of multiple outreach locations, students should be given adequate information about how the decision will be made to determine which outreach team they will be on. Students should be included in this decision making process.
  • Once students have been provided with relevant outreach information (see point *2), adequate time and support to process should be given as they listen to God about which outreach team to join.
  • The student's first choice should be honoured when possible. If it is not possible, the reasons should be explained to the student in such a way that affirms his or her ability to hear God.
  • The DTS staff should make the final decision regarding placing students in teams.
  • The DTS leadership should confirm student choices as they build appropriate teams. Size, gender, complementary gifts, maturity levels and cultural makeup of the team should be considered.
  • Outreach teams should be formed with adequate time to prepare for the outreach (e.g. vision building, strategizing, evangelistic tool development, practical organization of vaccinations, visas, travel arrangements, etc) and to communicate home about the outreach and gather outreach fees.

D. Preparing Teams for Outreach

  • The outreach team should engage in ongoing prayer to gain God's heart for and perspective on the people and place.
  • The outreach team should research and familiarize themselves with the basic culture and worldview of the people as well as learn at least the basic greetings in the local language.
  • The outreach team should be prepared to be culturally respectful in areas such as matters of dress, food, relating to the opposite gender, etc.
  • The outreach team should develop a biblical understanding of evangelism and how to meaningfully communicate the gospel in the culture to which they will be ministering.
  • The outreach team should develop skills through training in evangelism and actively reaching out on the lecture phase (e.g. giving testimonies, sharing the gospel, leading someone to accept Jesus, etc).
  • The outreach team should be exposed to outreach stories (e.g. read a missionary biography, tell stories, etc) that inspire their faith levels. Especially recent stories -- the previous DTS could do a testimony evening.
  • The outreach leadership should discuss and delegate responsibilities to team members (e.g. worship leading, bookkeeping, transportation oversight, etc).
  • The outreach leadership should engage the team in intentional team building that includes discussion of strengths, gifts, response to stress, etc. (see also Legality of Booking Flights)
  • The outreach leadership should understand basic safety procedures such as what to do if a team member is separated from the team, have a basic evacuation plan where necessary, have a plan of action in areas where natural disasters are frequently experienced (e.g. hurricanes).
  • The outreach leadership should collect important information such as passport details, next of kin, insurance information, etc.

E. Designing a Full Learning Week

  • The outreach is to be a minimum of 8 full learning weeks (50 hours per week), preferably 12 weeks.
  • An outreach week should have a minimum of 30 hours of ministry activity that serves people outside the team. The majority of this time should involve connecting to people with the aim they become followers of Jesus (evangelism). Daily travel time to and from outreach sites may be included as ministry activity should this time be used intentionally. (We will have scenarios to illustrate what is and is not acceptable)
  • An outreach week should have a minimum of 15 hours per week for communication, team building, ministry debriefing, feedback, sharing of needs, prayer for individuals, ministry preparation and include at least 3 hours of intercession and multiple times of worship (God focused time).
  • Outreach ministry strategies should come out of prayer and include an appropriate balance of structured, preplanned ministry and emerging ministry initiatives.
  • An outreach week should have time set aside for regular one on ones, ideally once a week.
  • An outreach week should have regular times to facilitate the ongoing 'putting into practice' of principles learned in the lecture phase.
  • While outreach ministry is structured into the week, the goal is that the team sees outreach as a full time activity in which they share the gospel whenever they have the opportunity, be it on the bus or waiting in line at the market.
  • An outreach week should allow for one day off and some daily time for things such as rest, devotions and laundry.
  • An outreach week should include local church attendance where possible and appropriate.

F. Development of Ministry Strategies and Tools

  • Ministry needs and opportunities should be assessed prior to the start of the outreach and in consultation with long-term workers if present. (Where possible, a visit to the outreach location prior to the start of the DTS may be helpful.)
  • When partnering with long-term workers expectations of both parties should be clearly communicated both before and during the outreach.
  • The student should be given a chance to meet long-term workers and learn about ongoing ministry opportunities.
  • Both individual and corporate strategies and tools should be prayerfully identified and created in response to the needs of the outreach location. For example, developing relationships through language groups with the intention of sharing the gospel, holding weekly Bible studies for ongoing discipleship, creation of a drama to present the gospel publicly, etc.
  • During the outreach, ministry strategies should contribute to the goal of meaningfully communicating the gospel and helping people commit to following Jesus.
  • Students should be involved in the process of discovering needs and identifying and creating strategies as soon as possible. They should also be given opportunity to take responsibility for outreach tasks and to lead out in ministry situations.
  • Ministry strategies and tools should be culturally appropriate, while also considering the interest and gifts of the team members.
  • Ministry strategies must include required DTS activities.
  • The possibility of starting new ministries should be considered and encouraged.
  • Ministries strategies should be created with the intention of increasing the likelihood of leaving lasting fruit after the team has left.
  • Ministry strategies and tools should be evaluated and adjusted according to effectiveness. New strategies and tools should be developed as opportunities emerge and God directs.

G. Interaction With Sending Base

  • Regular contact (weekly if possible) should be maintained between the outreach team and the school and/or base leadership.
  • The use of a blog (for free blogs look at Wordpress, eBlogger for movies, photo's etc try Myspace, Flickr, YouTube). All that is needed is access to an internet café at the least. The more regularly a blog is updated the better. YWAM Centre staff back home, friends and families of the students find the immediacy of this tool and the insight to a dynamic outreach wonderful. Can't be rated highly enough at the moment.
  • The outreach team should receive a pastoral visit from the DTS leader and/or mature leadership from the sending base to support outreach leadership, encourage team members and contribute to the ongoing discipleship of students.
COMMENT I don't agree with the necessity of receiving a pastoral visit. If the outreach leaders are well trained and keep in touch during the outreach then they can manage without a visit. Futhermore, they NEED to carry the responsibility and not feel that their 'leader' will come and look after them. I think we should train well and then take the risk. We can always visit if something goes wrong. One of the worst things we can do in training leaders is to not let them go, to not let them make and fix their own mistakes. It can be very disempowering to know that you aren't entirely trusted -- your leader is going to come out to make sure you've done the proper job! Steve

H. Debriefing the Outreach

  • In the case of multiple outreach teams, opportunity should be given for the team to debrief individually and as a team before the outreach team returns to the sending base. This can be done in one to three days.
  • When debriefing the outreach, freedom should be given for team members to talk about their thoughts and feelings regarding any aspect of the outreach while others listen. (Can be done in a team or one on setting)
  • When debriefing the outreach, every effort should be made for team members to resolve remaining conflicts within the team. In cases of conflict with the team leadership, access to someone outside the outreach team should be available.
  • When debriefing the outreach, the team should create a summary of all that was accomplished during the outreach, including all known results.
  • When debriefing the outreach the team should take time to pray for the outreach location, the nation and individuals impacted during the outreach.
  • When debriefing the outreach, team members should be given time to process and share what they have learned and consider how best to continue putting these things into practice once the DTS is over.
  • When debriefing the outreach time should be given for encouraging one another, speaking out ways each other have contributed to the effectiveness of the outreach and praying for one another.
  • All team members are to evaluate the outreach program and its leadership. This feedback is given to the base leadership team. (Ideally evaluations should occur at the midpoint and end of the outreach)
  • The outreach leadership is to evaluate all team members. (Ideally evaluations should occur at the midpoint of the outreach, and again at the end.)

I. AppendIX: Outreach Scenarios

These scenarios demonstrate some of the different processes of how an outreach team can be formed, and some of the principles at work in each situation. You will note that common themes throughout all of the scenarios are:

  • Hearing God
  • Being intentional in your process with the Base, Staff and Students
  • Prayerfully responding to what God says

By no means are the scenarios below an exhaustive list. They are simply meant to help you identify different ways God may lead you.


A.) Predetermined Target Nations

A base has 2 target peoples or places to which they regularly send their outreach teams. Those on the base who carry the vision of these "targets" spend time in prayer with the DTS staff and students to bring them into the vision that God has given the base for those nations. The outreach teams go to these nations as they are convinced that God is sending them, not purely because this is the place outreach teams from this base go.

Scenario Principles:

  • Base leadership imparts vision for target nations to DTS staff and students
  • Students given time to pray and process about outreach locations

Note: It is ok to have targets, but those targets must be kept alive in the Spirit and passed on in way so that staff and students catch it.


B.) Outreach Location different from "Targets"

A member of the DTS staff believes that God has spoken to them about taking a team to a certain nation that is different from any nation focus the base has. They bring it before the DTS and base leadership and through prayerful process this location is agreed together with base leadership.

Scenario Principles:

  • Location comes from the word of the Lord through prayer
  • Location confirmed through prayerful process with leadership


C.) Outreach Destination decided upon with Students

1 month prior to the DTS starting the staff team does not have a clear sense of where God is sending them for this particular outreach. As they pray they begin to sense that God is saying to wait until the students arrive to decide upon outreach locations. As they continue to pray this feeling is confirmed through others and so very quickly at the beginning of the lecture phase the whole school starts to pray about outreach locations. Clear boundaries are expressed to the students on how the decision will be made (e.g. the final decision rests with the leadership.)

Scenario Principles:

  • Leadership is waiting to pray with students about outreach locations because God has said to wait
  • Communication is clear and defined regarding final decision making process for outreach locations

Note: It is ok to wait until students come before praying about outreach locations as long as God has specifically led you to do that.


D.) Outreach team ministers to multiple locations

One member of the staff team senses that their outreach is to go to multiple locations. Through prayer, this word is confirmed by DTS and base leadership. A team is formed through a prayerful process with the DTS students. As the outreach is planned, careful attention is placed on how to use the additional travel time effectively. Additional travel time is used for intercession and debriefing the previous outreach location so that the criteria for a full learning week is fulfilled. Ministry at each location is carefully thought through and processed so that the team can jump straight into outreach upon arrival

Scenario Principles:

  • Significant time, preparation and thought for approaching ministry in each location has been given prior to outreach (i.e. connecting with established ministry or initiating new ministry)
  • Travel time is not wasted time. Travel time is to be approached with intentionality (i.e. students sit separately in vehicle to share the Gospel) and effort needs to be given throughout travel time for process, debrief, and prayer (i.e. debriefing about people met, prayer for those people).

Note: This could be one of the more difficult and complicated types of outreach to lead. This particular kind of outreach will take a lot more intention, foresight and skill on behalf of the leader. Be aware that this type of outreach is challenging physically, emotionally and mentally because of the constant change.


E.) God surprises school with additional outreach

Three outreach locations prayerfully determined before start of school. Early on in lecture phase, God surprises the school with faith and vision for one additional nation. Prayerful consideration is given to whether or not this location should be pursued. Base and school leadership either approaches someone to lead or someone comes forward with conviction to lead. Base and school leadership take new leader back to God in prayer.

Scenario Principles:

  • After obeying what God had already spoken, an openness remained within the leadership and students to hear more of what God wanted to reveal
  • Leadership giftings are present in either staff or students, and are ready to respond to new vision


F.) Base/School leader has vision, and seeks out leadership for outreach

Base/School leader has vision for nation and/or ministry. Approaches staff in general or a specific staff member to pray about taking a team. Staff member hears from God and responds.

Scenario Principle:

  • Base/School leader has heard from the Lord regarding outreach location and challenges someone to respond


G.) Outreach team responds to current world events

In the midst or prior to school, a world event occurs (i.e. earthquake, tsunami, Communism falls, China opens, etc.) that presents huge possible outreach opportunities. Someone within the base or school feels that a team should respond. The school prays about what their response should be. Someone is prayerfully called to lead it.

Scenario Principle:

  • There is recognition of a critical time and need in the world, and God calls a team to respond.