We are talking with Bishop Bill Atwood of the International Diocese of the Anglican Church in North America and “D” of the Discipleship Training School.
How did this vision come about to bring an ACNA Diocese and YWAM’s Discipleship Training School together?
“D”: I served at Church of the Resurrection in Wheaton, IL, and through the help of the clergy, determined that God was calling our family into missions. We joined YWAM because it gave us the longest experience abroad that we could find. After several years in YWAM, God created this opportunity through Bishop Atwood to bring the Discipleship Training School into the local church. I thought, “This is what God has been preparing me for.”
Bishop Atwood: Even before the International Diocese was formed, I was working with Fred Markert of YWAM. When we met about ten years ago, we bonded quickly because we had done mission work in some of the same – and sometimes utterly bizarre – places! When we formed the diocese, I asked Fred to serve as our Canon Missioner. We have been working on making the DTS available since then, and have finally worked it out.
What was it about the Discipleship Training School that made it stand out?
“D”: I graduated from a Christian college and then a Christian graduate school, but I did not meet God there like I would on my DTS. The DTS blends information with experience so that one comes away with both head knowledge and heart knowledge. As a student you are fully immersed in a Christian community where you get to immediately apply what you are learning in the classroom to the community you are living with. We live, work, study, play, worship, and minister together for six months.
Bishop Atwood: What stands out to me is that it works! I have not seen anything that is more effective in transforming people’s lives and giving them a vision for and a heart for world mission than the Discipleship Training School.
You’ve reached out beyond the diocese to invite young people to take part in the DTS? Why did you decide to that?
Bishop Atwood: We recognize that it could be challenging for every diocese to do a DTS, so we want to serve our province in this way and make it available to everyone who is interested in pursuing what I believe is the best short term discipleship vehicle.
“D”: One of YWAM’s core values is to be international and inter-denominational. Young people are longing for and flocking to authentic expressions of Christianity that are historical, incarnational, and contemplative. Our goal is for people to mature as disciples of Jesus Christ and for them to be equipped for mission. Many may well be drawn to the Anglican Way. We understand why they might.
What sort of things do the students do for training and mission while participating in DTS?
“D”: The school is divided into two parts: a twelve-week “Lecture Phase” that is completed domestically in a local church. Then a ten-week “Outreach Phase” that is completed abroad with a week of Debrief and Re-Entry at the end.
Where do they go and how do they live?
“D”: The lecture phase will be conducted in Flower Mound, TX (just north of Dallas) in partnership with Church of the Resurrection in Flower Mound. While they are abroad, the students will live in guest houses, hotels, family homes, or other dormitories that we can find, like YMCAs. A village experience is always
Right now we are planning to take the students to India or a safe location in Africa. Africa is a big continent and there are many safe places that would offer the students an amazing experience.
How does participating in short-term missions make a long-term difference? Why should young people in particular take time out to participate in short-term missions?
“D”: Short-term missions, when done correctly, can make a huge long-term difference abroad. National workers will always have more fruit than cross-cultural workers because they have grown up from within and can speak the heart-language of their people. But often times it’s the cross-cultural and short term workers that catalyze and galvanize the national workers into action.