YWAM Communication Teams: How To Get Started
Below is a list of suggested steps to get you started in developing a communications team in your region/field. Note that these steps are not listed in any order of priority but we recommend that you prayerfully consider moving forward by implementing all of the steps in whatever order appropriate for your situation.
Seek the Blessing of Your Leaders
If you haven't already done so, seek to meet with your leaders and ask them to commission you. As Com Team members, we are not imposing ourselves on the work of YWAM in a region. We are serving that work. We come in a posture of humility, as learners and servants. In this introductory meeting, make sure you:
- Include every leader you relate to. If you are starting a Field Communication Team, try to meet first with the Field Director and then with the whole leadership team for the field.
- Listen to the leaders (see next item below)
- Ask for the leaders to give you direction
- If the leaders mention specific, urgent needs, take note of these things as possible top priorities for your early months
- Make commitments carefully, not hastily. You don't have to make commitments during this meeting. Take all of your leader's suggestions seriously and commit them to prayer. You can tell the leaders you will prayerfully consider everything and that you will get back to them with a suggested plan of action.
- Then once you have a chance to pray and consider your commitments, make commitments you will stick to and fulfill.
- As time goes on, let all the leaders know what you're doing and encourage them to continue to give you feedback and advice.
- Maintain regular communication with your geographic leader. You may have to work hard at this. You may need to suggest a regular time to meet, and you may need to travel in order to facilitate this meeting. You may not get much feedback from your leader. Your leader may not initiate much communication. Don't let this discourage you. Your leader is probably busy and overwhelmed and may not in the beginning see the importance of communication due to the urgent needs he or she is dealing with. In time, though, you will discover ways to bring tangible, practical help to your leader, and your leader will begin to see more and more of the importance of your role.
- Think about what it will cost and where to get the money (Communication Team Finances)
- Cast vision to your leader for Communication Teams.
Find out all you can about the region you're trying to serve. Study it. Read Operation World's description of each country, learn about the geography and history, find out about the people groups and culture, learn about YWAM's history in the region, find out about other ministries and churches there. Research and gather as many resources as you can. Also, listen to the burdens of the YWAM leaders of this region. Draw out from them their inner longings and communications related frustrations. If they will allow you, ask the following questions within a communications context:
- What are your two most common communication related frustrations as you try to serve your region?
- What are your two main unfulfilled dreams for the region?
- Who are the people who experience the biggest lack of communication in the region (by category of people as well as by location of people)?
- Communication Teams - Brainstorming of Needs
Continue this gathering of information and this listening to leaders as a foundational part of your ministry. In order to be a good communicator, you must be a listener and learner.
Gather People Together
Start building a team. Talk to others interested in seeing a communication team develop. Look for information about starting up a team on www.ywamkb.net (YWAM's developing Knowledge Base site).
- Pray & Brainstorm individually, and together with a group of people who want to serve in a Com Team. Spend time in informed listening, reviewing the information you've gathered in steps one and two. Then bring this to the Lord. Ask Him for revelation. Spend time in silence. Write down what He says. Share impressions together. Ask God to show you:
- guiding values
- underlying principles
- initial priorities
Brainstorming can help you in the beginning. Once you've gathered some initial information while spending some concerted time in prayer, is to have some combined brainstorming & prayer sessions. Here are some ways to do that:
- Invite key people to attend. In addition to your Com Team staff and volunteers, it can be good to invite people outside your Com Team who care about what you're doing. You could invite an interested location leader, a seasoned YWAMer who knows a lot about the region, a brand-new young DTS graduate who has some communication vision, a communication expert from another ministry, etc.
- Start out by generating ideas -- any ideas. Write down everything you could do. No idea is too big or too small or too crazy. For a list of categories that can help your brainstorming, see the document called "Com Teams Brainstorm."
- Then categorize some of what you've written down. You'll notice that some of the ideas are similar or connected. It can be helpful to identify these groupings or categories.
- Then bring this all into alignment with the sense of priority you're getting from the Lord. One way to do this is to report what you've sensed from God, and have everyone who attends the brainstorming session make a mark by what they see as your three top priorities.
- Try to come up with 6-month and 1-year plans & write them down
- Review these plans after 6 months and 1 year
Spend time in intercession, praying through everything that has come up. Continue this practice of prayer and brainstorming as a foundational part of your ministry. Your success depends on it.
- Build relationships locally and throughout your region or field. When you have the opportunity to travel, try not to go just for one meeting with one person, but make the most of your trip by building relationships with as many people as possible. Arrange to meet a few leaders of YWAM locations in the area. Have/host a meal with local YWAMers. Offer to come and coach anyone who wants to learn more about some of the skills you have as a communicator. One good first step for a Com Team would be to plan to visit each part (or maybe at least a few key parts) of the Field or Region over time. Keep listening and learning. When you return, try to stay in contact with people, even if only by group e-mails or by adding them to your personal newsletter list.
As you build relationships, here are some things to proactively do:
- Be inclusive: Do not leave communication people out. Please include as many current or potential communications people in your region as possible in your Com Team. Continually invite people to join you. You'll have to work at this. No matter how hard you try to be inclusive, someone will inevitably feel excluded. All you can do when you hear of this is to apologize to the person and ask him or her how to partner together. You can distinguish between those people who are willing to commit time and energy to work with you (to form part of the Com Team) and those who just want to stay informed about what the Com Team is doing.
- Build/maintain Local Relationships: Do not ignore local relationships. It's wise to maintain close ties to a local YWAM ministry. Even if you choose not to join the ministry, make sure to meet with the leader, attend meetings regularly, and find ways to serve. You don't need to commit to everything they ask of you, but you do need to show yourself to be a humble friend and servant.
- Mind the Gap: We try to "mind the gap" in YWAM communication between those who have money, technology, knowledge of English, higher education, and those who don't. We can unintentionally widen the gaps in the area of communication, which often emphasizes the latest technology, or which often requires English or money for printing or software. Find ways to proactively help everyone communicate with available resources.
This process of building relationships should occupy a significant part of your time in the first two or three years as a Com Team. But it should never end. Communication starts with healthy relationships.
Remember That You Can do Small Things
as well as big things. It can be overwhelming to think of a whole region or field, especially when you're beginning with only a few people and hardly any resources. You might want to help one location get a web site. Or you might want to coach one person through the process of creating a newsletter for their ministry. These small things can often bring an immediate impact, and this builds faith for yourself and credibility for your team.
Ask for Help
The International Communications Network (ICN) people want to help you succeed. They can't answer every question or give you all the money you need, but they will do everything they can to help. They will seek out resources you need. They will connect you to people who can assist you. They will try to find answers. Please don't feel embarrassed by your questions or your frustrations. Chances are, the ICN people have faced those questions themselves and have heard them from others. They want to pray with you and encourage you.
Also, ask other Com Teams for help. If you see that another Com Team has some experience or expertise that could help you, please ask them for advice or assistance. All of us in Com Teams want each other to succeed. We like to be asked for help and we like to help each other.
on what you do. Ask how your communication project helped the ministry or the person that you've served. You'll have to make a point of doing this kind of evaluation, and it will mean scheduling an e-mail or phone call several months or even a year down the road. But you'll be glad you did. You'll learn from what didn't work and you'll be inspired by what did work. Report the results to your personal supporters, your Com Team members, your leaders, and to ICN. Everyone will be encouraged.
- Lead by Example. You can be a better communicator if you preach what you live!