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Bonding

Notes taken by Steve S from a lecture by Graham Fawcett.

We Are in the Process of Training Missionaries

Led by Loren and Darlene and others we have moved back from counselling to missions training. So we come to bonding to YWAM and to the missionary task. Bonding works even if we do nothing. We can however modify it and adapt it. People in Waco bond. People in YWAM bond. There is active and passive bonding. Hence we need to keep aware of the type of organisation we are and the bonding we are doing.

A point of warning at the beginning though. I just tore up my notes on how people fall in love with one another. Some people just fall in love with the most unlikely person. Sometimes it is accompanied by prayer and prophecy - that is kept quiet and not shared! "God, if this is you then you have to do something." God can do things differently to what Graham is going to say!

There is a very definite chemical process going on in bonding. We are made to seek out places in which we feel secure and at home.

First Impressions Count

We make up an image of a person within seconds of meeting them. What they look like, their sense of humour, their credibility... We compare them with people we've met before. And in ten years time the opinion we initially had will be remarkably unchanged. We make a first impression and it could take years if ever to change it.

What gives the students their bonding when they come to the school? It starts the minute they arrive and with the communication they've had before they came - the first knowledge of YWAM, or a letter, or advertising. These can be grouped as:

  • What impacts them when making the decision to join YWAM, and
  • What they experience as they arrive.

People will make their mind up about joining YWAM within that initial meeting. What impression are we giving the students? It has to do with 'fit'. Will I fit? Will I belong? Will this be home to me? A chaotic organisation will attract chaotic people, a well structured organisation... A very well-ordered person should probably join World Vision! The extent to which they will fit will depend on whether they find peers, or as a function of their own perceived competence. YWAM is seen as an amateur organisation; not unprofessional, but you don't need a degree in missiology to join - just a rucksack and the Holy Spirit. Hence the lack of people with serious management skills! And spiritually; in the [UK] we are in fact middle class, white, charismatic and evangelical. We need to make a greater effort to overcome these apparent values.

Making the Decision

In order to achieve the goals of relief and development that we have in YWAM, we will need highly skilled individuals. The Relief and Development DTS at Harpenden, England therefore advertised for professional workers. The skills we needed don't seem to fit a person's first impressions of YWAM!

We needed to ask ourselves; "What does YWAM look like and feel like?" rather than; "What are its values?" We used a student questionnaire to find out why people come to the DTS. "Did you find the application friendly or unfriendly?" Those that don't come think it is very unfriendly. "Was the process efficient or inefficient?" Those on the school think it is good and the others think it terrible. It has to do with their impressions. People bond in to different parts of the process; some like the phone call, some think a call is unprofessional. We are talking about image. Decide what sort of image you want to communicate and go for it.

We tried to attract men to the R&D school. The brochure had men on it and talked about men on the programme. The problem was with the title; "Demonstrate His Love". This isn't particularly manly. We must think of the photos we include, the colour and the text needed to attract a certain type of person. The advertising will select who we get. If you choose students who only please you, you will get people just like you.

We are not very good at doing it ourselves and may need to go to a consultant. We can pray these people in to YWAM and despite all else we do we can get the right people; or we can make it easier for ourselves and have more time to pray for other things.

When they Arrive

First impressions count! The first impressions of us in the first minutes, hours and days will determine their opinions. Are they met by people who are cool calm and collected or by someone utterly flustered. Some will be attracted to each type. Who do you want to see on the mission field? We do want some ultimate flexibles in the field. And what of the building? We're not looking for Hilton Hotel or sloppy either. Our training bases are usually in quiet, tranquil places. All these count. Decor is not as important as whether the lights work or whether they are fixed quickly.

Also the other students. We cream them off and each student will feel inferior to the other apparently supremely confident students.

What do you want your students to think, feel and believe?

Hot off the press in terms of team dynamics - bonding in teams. People will bond to your team and will go through hell for you if the following two are met - otherwise they won't go through a soggy paper bag for you.

Must have faith in the leadership - the leaders are willing to consult with their team members. People will follow leaders into the most difficult circumstances if the leader is willing to consult. People then feel ownership, having had a part in the decisions.

Group cohesion - if the group is able to share and receive affection and if there is fluidity in the organisation. The team is not a highly structured organisation; there is a fluidity in who does what.

This material is very new from military research. Leaders who don't do these two tend to get shot in the back - as happened a lot in Vietnam! If either or both are not present then the team will not bond into the notion you are trying to present. The first conclusion seems to map onto our words of openness, honesty and humility.

By and large we are good at consultation. We generally don't tell the student exactly what to do. The DTS includes a powerful bonding process that more than anything else bonds the students to YOU. The question is what are you? You can become a hero and be treated with awe; even years later when we are close friends. We have a collective problem because we are doing well. How do we get them off us and on to the mission and task? We tell them. Our attitude is to serve the students and help them to find their place.

The Active Process of Bonding People in

It is a two way process. I can't stick some glue onto someone and they are now stuck to YWAM. The biblical concept for 'standing' on the rock is an immensely complex word. We are standing, but the rock is also holding us.

How does it occur?

  • By doing things together. Often in groups. Doing anything at random will generate a feeling of togetherness; even if we don't speak together. The technique is neutral; it is whether we are using it positively or negatively.
  • By doing, we believe. How do we rank locusts as a thing to eat? Pretty low. Unless we sneak them in chocolate in which case they get a six. By doing something we change our minds and believe. How many of you on the DTS really love evangelism? Only one nutter! At the end of the outreach they have done, and changed their mind.

These processes may bond people into YWAM, missions, or another agency. What are you doing? Are you bonding them to the school? In which case you recruit staff members easily. Or to YWAM ministries and you'll struggle for staff. Or to YWAM as a whole and they'll stay for life.

My plea is not that you will bond people; it is that you would not do it accidentally.

How do you know when they have bonded?

When they say 'we' and not 'you' when referring to YWAM.

Looking at DTS application forms will show that about 90% of the students are doing a DTS because they sense God has a calling on their lives for full-time service. Within YWAM we claim to have enough vision to keep everyone busy for the rest of their lives and enough opportunities to enable every DTS student to stay in the mission. Since 90% are not staying in full-time service we must ask the question; "Are we doing a good enough job in helping students to discover their place within YWAM?"

The DTS is part of a process. With most of the students seeing the DTS as a first step into full-time service, our responsibility must lie in helping them find the next step.

Looking through DTS curricula I notice that a day or two is given over to the subjects of 'hearing God's voice' and 'discovering your gifts'. Surely with all these students desiring to know God's will for their lives we should put a bit more effort into helping them through that process. I think the following three reasons explain why we're not seeing more students staying on in the mission.

  • Lack of informed guidance.
  • Lack of specific information.
  • Giving counsel that is not challenging enough.

Within the business world a small percentage of people are what we would call visionaries; what business would call entrepreneurs. I think the same is true within our mission. A small percentage are able to get a vision for themselves and to develop that vision into a legitimate ministry. However as in business the vast majority of people are looking for a vision to follow and want to be given a job that both motivates them and gives them purpose.

Most people joining a company are not asked what vision they have for the company and what gifts they wish to use. They are interviewed. At an interview they will be judged on qualifications, past experience, desires and chemistry. Within YWAM we tend to look at the desires of the student and then make decisions based on chemistry - how we feel about them. We must start to look at qualifications both in character and ability. We also need to consider past experience and see how this can best be utilised.

I would suggest that we spend more time giving practical teaching on; "How to know God's will for your life." As well as the obvious material on 'hearing God's voice', this should include the following:

Clear and positive orientation towards the ministries of YWAM locally, nationally and internationally. This should be done at the beginning of the school and should include, the history of YWAM, the values of YWAM and an overview of the ministries of YWAM.

Guided assessment of individual gifts, previous experience, and educational abilities with a view to seeing how they could best be used to fulfil his or her calling. This is best done through personal interviews given by informed YWAM leaders who have the ability to see the potential of the students for ministry.

We need to develop careers information centres that should include information and opportunities from YWAM world-wide and application forms where necessary.

One of our greatest failings is that we are often unable to see the needs outside our own base or district. We therefore end up recruiting people to help us by doing cooking, gardening, maintenance, administration or further training. If we cannot put these opportunities to the students as part of a clear career-track then we are doing the students a disservice and not really helping them find God's will for their life. Our goal must not be to meet the immediate needs of our base, but to meet the long term needs of the mission by giving the students unbiased advice.

If we are going to help the students stay on in YWAM we must teach them the practical steps needed to stay in the mission. We must be able to offer them means and ways of establishing long-term support that will enable them to consider YWAM as a career rather than a short-term experience. We must also be able to give them practical information on tax and legal responsibilities etc. A lecture on fund-raising is not enough to help them get established. This area is probably one of the most lacking areas of the DTS curriculum. The teaching will relate mostly to those staying in YWAM but will also challenge those going home as to the real needs of YWAMers, Those going home may then see how they could play a part in supporting those that stay!

Of course some students will need to go home, but should this mean them leaving YWAM or should we try and build on the relationship we have had with them? There are opportunities for 'ex-YWAMers' to remain part of our mission. We can serve them by maintaining our relationship with them and seeking to serve them in their local church. With this we are more likely to see them releasing others into YWAM in the future. We can also help them by keeping in regular contact through the local YWAM newsletters and the Advance. [In the UK and Ireland newsletters are sent out by each nation and by each district within the nation. Editor.] We are also continuing to develop our Church Reps and Action Reps. These reps are people in local churches and universities who we keep informed about the work of YWAM and opportunities in YWAM. In return, they support us by raising the profile of YWAM in the local church and by praying for us, giving to us, and going with us. We can also be more fully involved with offering church-based training programmes to students who wish to work with their local church.

If we're not seizing the opportunity to recruit people into YWAM during their DTS and not keeping in regular contact with them after their DTS, then I believe that we're not fulfilling our responsibility to the students, to our mission or to the unreached.

I would be very interested to see what you are doing in your bases to see more people stay in the mission.

  • How are you orienting the students towards the ministry of YWAM?
  • How are you interviewing and assessing them?
  • How are you maintaining relationship with them after the DTS?

We need to hear about what is working from around the work; learn from each other; and put it into practice.

Let's make the DTS's a real stepping stone into a life-long commitment to missions!

17 December 1993