In recent years, many Christians, especially the young, have begun to understand that God’s purposes encompass all of creation and that includes all the spheres of social influence. Practically, that concept means God calls His people into government, education, business, the arts, entertainment and sports, media and communications etc. These Christians realize that all these vocations are equally as significant as a call to local church ministry or world missions.
Though this understanding of the all-encompassing nature of the Kingdom of God is spreading widely, many still feel isolated and unsupported in their vocation. They may have embarked upon a career in government or education or entertainment or the news media—but a large majority of these committed Christians feel under-supported in their vocation.
Many centuries ago committed disciples of Jesus banded together in supportive, worshipping communities and formed what became known as guilds. As illustrated by the following quotes, the initial purpose for the formation of guilds was that practicing Christians in the same craft or service could support one another in their faith.
“They were voluntary associations or fraternities and in the first instance their objects were religious and social. The craft element grew almost as an accidental feature, largely because people of` the same craft tended to live in the same neighbourhood in those days.”
“However, after the Dark Ages it is known that the early guilds in London evolved from a purely religious basis when craftsmen in specific trades tended to congregate in a common area for both practical and mutual convenience. To some extent this still appertains today – for example in Hatton Garden. It is natural therefore that the members of a particular craft who worshipped together at their local church should form a community of interests and it was from these religious congregations that voluntary associations (as opposed to the compulsory ‘frith guilds’ of Saxon times) were formed for the mutual aid and protection of their members. These fraternal bodies of Guild took their title from their patron saint, and the guild of bakers was known at least until mediaeval days as the ‘FRATERNITY or GUYLDE OF OUR LADY AND ST. CLEMENT’.
The spiritual connotation is perpetuated to this day in the title ’Worshipful’ and in the Company’s motto ‘PRAISE GOD FOR ALL’, which is also the traditional grace used before all meals.
The guilds, in the course of the following centuries, became instrumental in the transformation of London and served as the foundation stones upon which the prosperity and global leadership of the City of London were built. The guilds grew in influence and leadership until they became the structure by which the City of London was governed.
Because of this strong religious and ethical foundation, the City of London operated primarily on a basis of integrity and trust until as recently as the last quarter of the twentieth century.
Trust-worthy people are the greatest resource any economy can have. When high trust is deserved and given, overheads are reduced due to little need for self-protection; project completion times are shortened, stress is reduced and synergy between people and organisations grows hugely.
The emerging streams of committed Christians who are pursuing their calling to the various social jurisdictions could be well served by an adaptation of the guild concept. Communication and information technology could facilitate the emergence of Global Guilds in education, government, entertainment, sports, business, health services etc. Current and developing technology could help create a sense of global community, though web-communities can only serve to network and serve real, face-to-face communities of common interest.
This idea requires much prayer and some careful thought, assuming it has a chance of being successfully implemented in the 21st Century. For example, how would an individual or company attain membership? In the context of YWAM perhaps successful completion of a YWAM-DTS could be a starting point? Additional very specific training would probably be required, followed by a formal commitment to a code of practice.
The global guilds would not be simply a framework of agreement between individuals; membership would also constitute a covenant with God. With His blessing the guilds could become very influential—a transformational force among the nations.
The web-based dimension of the global guilds could provide documentation of the agreements and values, information about resources and events, up-to-date articles and testimonials, chat rooms and on-line conferencing facilities.
In addition to the web services, the guilds could be serviced by YWAM bases hosting events for members. The members could also form themselves together in cell groups for mutual support.
In addition to the primary benefits of the global guilds, YWAM could contribute by being able to provide resources for the members, facilitating conferences and other events, and having strategic access to a potentially very large web community. This concept would provide a most compelling reason for YWAM alumni to remain connected and could lead to the fulfillment of a vision given to Loren Cunningham several years ago for a massive, global, online community committed to the coming of the Kingdom of God.
YWAM Together 2016 was organized around the foundational idea behind the original guilds—that the Kingdom of God encompasses and shapes all aspects of human society. We are convinced that the Holy Spirit has guided us and will continue to guide us to serve people in their God-given vocations. The Sphere Tracks have been developed to enable members of the wider YWAM family to connect with others who have similar callings. In those Tracks networking and mutual learning will occur as an obvious outcome, but each track will also engage extensively with the Scriptures, seeking out understanding and revelation about what God has said, and is saying, about every dimension of society. The Sphere View App will be an enormous benefit as a tool to focus our engagement with God’s Word.
Each Track can also pray together and work through the essential questions of how to move forward with some up-to-date expression of guilds. Some of the most obvious questions are:
- Is there sufficient felt need for momentum to be created and sustained?
- Who is committed to start and take a lead in the formation of global guilds?
- Should local “cells” be at the heart of the movement?
- Periodic events are needed at local, national, regional and global levels. How can YWAM serve these?
- How can common practices and standards be developed?
- Can/Should the guilds have the authority to enforce their standards on those who choose to join? If yes, how would that look in practice?
Godly transformation of nations will not just happen. The entire world felt the effect of a prayer group that met in Clapham, London in the early 19th century. From that group, William Wilberforce led the global movement to abolish slavery. They also impacted education, Church life, the arts, media and business. They did not start with a grand strategy, but started with genuine Christian fellowship and commitment to prayer. From that, God unfolded a strategy that transformed a nation and that nation touched the entire world.
Transformation is still on God’s heart today. Are we available to be used, regardless of the cost?