Leadership Letter from Lynn Green about Personal Finances, February 2007:
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
For the past couple of years I have been hosting and speaking at Base Leaders’ Training Weeks. I think they are a lot of fun. I really enjoy meeting with base leaders from different nations and continents, learning about their joys and triumphs, struggles and disappointments and helping them find a way forward. As a result of listening to these leaders, I am beginning to identify some common and widespread issues we are facing.
Recently a base leader asked, “What do you do when one person from a staff couple takes a job to supplement their income and then the other member has to take responsibility for child care? We end up having just one person on a part -time basis and yet we are housing an entire family. How do we respond to this?”
I could readily understand the question because I see this issue cropping up all over the world and it can dramatically change the dynamics of a YWAM base. In practical terms, it can lead to less ministry happening in and from the base simply because you don’t have the same man-power available. It can actually be more damaging than that, but it will take me a bit to explain.
I joined YWAM when I signed up for a School of Evangelism in 1969. I loved that year in the SOE! The best part of it was living in an old hotel with a bunch of other young people (especially one particular young lady whom I married before the year was out) and with Loren and Dar. We saw them relate to one another as a married couple and then as parents. I still have warm memories of Karen and, later, David Cunningham bedded down in little sleeping bags in the lecture room in the evenings. There was no doubt at all that the entire family was called into missions! From the very beginning, they demonstrated that single people, couples and families are all welcome in YWAM and that God has put a special anointing onYWAM to welcome families in ministry.
A number of years after my first experience inYWAM, a young couple by the name of Dale and Carol Kaufman were at the newly established base in Kona. It was the summer of the Olympic outreach in Montreal and Dale was deeply disappointed because he had no freedom to go to the outreach. Their disappointment was turned to an adventure and the birth of a new ministry, King’s Kids. Over the years God would use it to mobilize thousands of children and then families into outreach together. I personally know many families who would say that their family came to deeper togetherness and spiritual maturity as a result of outreaches with KKI and, as far as they are concerned, their children are serving God today because of KKI.
YWAM may not be unique in this calling but we are certainly unusual. Traditionally, most mission organizations were not family oriented. From time to time we still meet missionary children who had very painful experiences in boarding schools or because their parents were not allowed to have more children due to the policy of their mission. Times have changed, thank God! When Darlene Cunningham and a team from the Global Leadership Team first started working on the values of YWAM, they noted how God had led Loren and Dar at the beginning and how much He had blessed families in YWAM and that is why we included the following value:
YWAM recognizes the value of the family. We affirm the importance of fathers, mothers, and children all sharing a call to missions and contributing in unique, complementary and vital ways. We support the necessity for each individual family to be a strong and healthy unit. (Deuteronomy 4:9-10, 40, 6:6-7, 32:46; Proverbs 31; 1 Timothy 3:4)
Being a YWAMer is not a job, it is not a part-time calling and it is not a calling for just one member of a couple. Now, before anyone reading this gets tempted to be defensive, I want to say clearly that we are also not a rule-based movement. There will always be exceptions to the norm and many of those exceptions will be wonderful! We will not start making rules that both members of a marriage or all members of a family must always be full-time staff with YWAM.
That is, however, the norm that God used to start YWAM, and we are most anointed by God when we stick closely to the values that He established at the beginning. So, I am saying that we are very likely to lose some of our power and distinctiveness when we allow another approach to become the norm.
The base leader I referred to earlier went on to ask, “What do you do when the person with the employed spouse is on your leadership team?” I suggested that, in this case, the example they set will multiply quickly and in a short time you will have only a few full-time staff available. He nodded his head sadly and said, “That’s exactly where we are now. How do we get back to where we started, with all full-time people living at the base?”.
There was no easy answer to that question. The road he described is a downhill road—easy one way but a battle the other. It’s much better to not go down it in the first place. If you and your base or team have not walked down that road – don’t start now! If you have, then start addressing the issue in prayer. If you went down that path without thoroughly seeking God first, then you will probably need to start with repentance. Don’t condemn anyone, but do ask God how to get back to the place of full anointing.
You might also need to ask God’s forgiveness for misusing his gifts. For example, if you live in a YWAM property that was purchased (or is being purchased) by gifts and income from staff, students and other donors then you are, in effect, living in subsidized housing. The money was given to the vision of YWAM—taking the gospel to the whole world—not to provide housing subsidies for Christians in paid employment. You may have inadvertently allowed an unethical situation to arise. That needs repentance and a commitment to make the hard choices to get back to the place of obedience.
A shortage of money is often the reason why someone who is in YWAM decides to find a job. I know there are occasions when God has led some of us to take a part-time job or to take a full-time job temporarily. But that is relatively rare. Very often, in the face of financial shortages, we are tempted to take matters into our own hands and provide for ourselves through a job. But another one of our values states:
YWAM is called to practise a life of dependence upon God and His people for financial provision, both corporately and individually. (Phil 4:6-7, 10-20; 3 John 5-8).
It is not unusual for God to use financial shortages as a way of getting our attention so He can say something very important to us. When we decide to go out and meet the need ourselves, we could miss God’s purposes.
Like any seasoned YWAMers, Marti and I have experienced long periods of very little financial support. We have also had some financial crises, both personally and in the various teams and bases we have led. Our experience is that God always used those times to produce breakthroughs in us or in our team/ community.
This life of dependence upon God and His people is a wonderful adventure. Sometimes it is very testing, but as we learn to wait on God, hear His voice and obey, we live a great life. If this is a hard area for you; if you have struggled with unbelief about money; if you think it is much easier for some people than for others; or if you think faith for finances doesn’t work where you live—do go back and study the scriptures. See what Jesus promised in Matthew 6 when we ‘seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness’. You might also find a copy of Loren Cunningham’s book, Daring to Live on the Edge ($5.99 at YWAM Publishing); it will certainly build your faith.
Remember, when we obey God and live by the values He has placed in our foundations, then His power is more active in our lives and our circumstances. That is how we can fulfill the promise Jesus made;
“anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12).
May God pour out His power on you and through you as you obey His word!
In His Peace,