What churches should know about YWAM Part 2: Partnering with the New Apostolic Reformation.

Holly Pivec continues to provide strong evidence about the very dangerous New Apostolic Reformation – a movement that apparently doesn’t exist according to Dr. Michael Brown, despite his participation and ‘apostleship’ within its hallowed ranks as acknowledged by fellow NAR ‘apostles’.

Following up with Part 2 of a great resource on YWAM (Youth with a Mission) from Holly’s blog ‘Spirit Of Error’. Holly alerts her readers to the problem of YWAM coming under significant influence from a controversial movement known as the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). In this post, Holly shows us ‘that YWAM has allied itself with NAR leaders and has adopted many of their questionable teachings and practices’.

Holly Pivec, with a master’s degree in Christian apologetics from Biola, is an evangelical researcher of cults, sects, and new religious groups, such as the ‘New Apostolic Reformation’ movement. She was the former managing editor of Biola University’s magazine, Biola Magazine, and a former contributing writer to the Christian Research Journal.


Holly Pivec writes:

This post is the second in a series on the influential Christian missions organization Youth With a Mission (YWAM). YWAM was founded in 1960 by Loren Cunningham as a way to deploy young people as missionaries throughout the world. It’s now one of the largest Christian missionary organizations in the world, having more than 18,000 staff working in over 180 nations. Many churches financially support YWAM full-time missionaries and young adults who sign up to go on short-term mission trips with YWAM or to attend one of YWAM’s Discipleship Training Schools or other schools. Yet many of these churches would likely be surprised and concerned to learn about some of the unbiblical and spiritually harmful teachings promoted by this organization.

In the first post I outlined one significant part of YWAM’s theologically controversial history. The remaining posts in the series focus on YWAM as it currently stands.

Partnering with the New Apostolic Reformation

Many people are unaware that YWAM has come under significant influence from a controversial movement known as the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). In this post, I show that YWAM has allied itself with NAR leaders and has adopted many of their questionable teachings and practices.

For those who don’t know, NAR is a new religious movement led by men and women who claim to be prophets and apostles. They claim to have extraordinary authority, critical new revelations, and miraculous powers – akin to the Old Testament prophets and Christ’s apostles. To read more about this movement, including its dangers, see my co-authored books here.

YWAM’s display of unity with NAR leaders

Under the leadership of YWAM’s highest leaders, YWAM has forged relational and formal ties with influential NAR leaders and organizations. See, for example, this photo, taken at a NAR event in 2016, led by the NAR “prophet” Lou Engle. At the event, YWAM founder Loren Cunningham shared the stage with three of the most influential NAR leaders – the apostle Bill Johnson (Bethel Church in Redding, California), the prophet Lou Engle (TheCall), and NAR teacher Mike Bickle (International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri). Though some of these leaders deny that they’re NAR or distance themselves from NAR, nevertheless they hold to its core doctrine: that apostles and prophets have a governing role in the church today.

Highly orchestrated, this moment was designed to show these leaders’ intention to unite their influence and efforts. Their display of unity was viewed by those in NAR and YWAM as prophetically and historically significant, as can be seen in this comment posted to the Facebook page of a YWAM base in Tyler, Texas.

YWAM and IHOPKC: A ‘kingdom partnership’

YWAM leaders further solidified their desire to network with NAR leaders, in 2016, by forging an official partnership between YWAM and Mike Bickle’s International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri (IHOPKC). A formal, public announcement of the “kingdom partnership” was made at IHOPKC, following a weeklong gathering of thousands of IHOPKC and YWAM staff. During the announcement, IHOPKC and YWAM leaders summarized the history of unofficial partnership between the two organizations and how they believed God had orchestrated the partnership. Below is a picture of Bickle announcing the official partnership together with YWAM’s Darlene Cunningham (wife of YWAM founder Loren Cunningham) and John Dawson (YWAM International Director of Urban Missions).

YWAM Australia and ‘Awakening Australia’

YWAM Australia was a “supporting organization” for a large NAR conference held in Melbourne in September 2018, featuring some of the most well-known and controversial NAR leaders, including Bill Johnson, Todd White, and Ben Fitzgerald. An article published by the Gospel Coalition in Australia, titled “At What Price Awakening?”, warned about this event.

As an example of why the NAR leaders speaking at this event are so controversial, check out this Youtube video. It shows one of the event’s leaders and speakers – Ben Fitzgerald, a former pastor at Bethel Church in Redding, California – promoting a disturbing practice known as “grave sucking.” During this practice, also known as “grave soaking,” individuals have lain on (or leaned against) the graves of well-known miracle-workers – such as the British faith healer Smith Wigglesworth – in an effort to “suck” up their anointings.

YWAM’s promotion of ‘Treasure Hunting’ evangelism and ‘strategic-level spiritual warfare’

Another example of YWAM, at the institutional level, promoting NAR is its endorsement of distinctive NAR practices, including “Treasure Hunting” evangelism and “strategic-level spiritual warfare.” Both are promoted by YWAM today. This can be seen in current articles featured on the website of YWAM Frontier Missions, one of YWAM’s largest global organizations encompassing 2,000 workers.

One article on the YWAM Frontier Missions website, titled “Simple Clues Lead to Treasure,” describes, in positive terms, how YWAM missionaries working among Muslims are employing the problematic practice of Treasure Hunting. To learn more about Treasure Hunting, see my post, “What are the dangers of Treasure Hunting evangelism?”

This article promoting Treasure Hunting is currently featured on the YWAM Frontiers website.

Another article written by Joy Dawson, one of YWAM’s top leaders, is titled “Pray for the Unreached.” Dawson’s article promotes strategic-level spiritual warfare, which is the act of confronting powerful evil spirits that are believed to rule specific geographical regions. Those engaging in this practice believe these spirits must be identified by name and be neutralized, or cast out, before the gospel can go forth with effectiveness in a region. Strategic-level spiritual warfare first entered YWAM, in large part, through the teachings of YWAM leader John Dawson, who later became the international president of YWAM. Dawson popularized strategic-level warfare strategies in YWAM, including “spiritual mapping” and “identificational repentance,” through his 1989 bestselling book Taking Our Cities for God, which he dedicated to YWAM missionaries around the world.

In his book, Dawson recounts stories of YWAM teams engaging in strategic-level spiritual warfare. By 2006, it had become so ingrained in YWAM that one researcher, René Holvast, noted in his dissertation that “It is part of their fabric.” For a more detailed explanation of strategic-level spiritual warfare, along with a biblical response, see chapters 15 and 16 of my co-authored book A New Apostolic Reformation?: A Biblical Response to a Worldwide Movement.

NAR teachings and practices promoted at YWAM bases around the world

Given the fact that YWAM’s top leaders have forged ties with NAR leaders and their organizations, it may come as no surprise that NAR teachings and practices can be found at YWAM bases throughout the world. Below is sampling of some key NAR teachings and practices and YWAM bases that promote them. Due to the large number of YWAM bases, it would be impossible to catalog all the NAR teachings in such a brief post. My intent is merely to quickly show that there is a cornucopia of NAR teachings and practices distributed broadly throughout YWAM bases around the world.

Strategic-level spiritual warfare being promoted by YWAM Los Angeles

As noted above, John Dawson’s book Taking Our Cities for God popularized strategic-level warfare practices in YWAM (and beyond). The following Facebook comment, posted by YWAM Los Angeles in August 2018, promotes this book and refers to it as a “classic YWAM book.”

“Normal Christianity,” “Greater Works,” and “Miraculous Lifestyle” teachings being promoted by YWAM Marine Reach (New Zealand)

Normal Christianity is the belief that the normal Christian life should be characterized by the working of miracles, such as multiplying food, healing blindness, and raising the dead.  The miracles Christians perform should be even “greater works” – or more amazing miracles – than those performed by Jesus. Individuals who aren’t pursuing a miraculous lifestyle – and churches that aren’t seeing miracles occur regularly in their midst — are described by NAR leaders promoted by YWAM, such as Bill Johnson, as “powerless.” References to these teachings about miracles can be seen in the description of the curriculum at YWAM Marine Reach in New Zealand. (Click the “Curriculum” tab.)

Healing on demand teachings being promoted by YWAM Sunshine Coast (Australia)

A Youtube video, published in 2014 and titled “Lifestyle Evangelism,” shows an outreach that was conducted by students at YWAM Sunshine Coast in Australia. In the video, students go to a public place where they find individuals with physical conditions, such as a young man walking with the help of crutches. The students go up to those people and tell them that God will heal them instantaneously.

Teaching students to prophesy at YWAM Chico (California) and YWAM Finland

Many YWAM bases, including YWAM Chico and YWAM Finland, claim that anyone can learn to prophesy (or develop other miraculous powers). To help people develop miraculous powers, they offer special training at workshops and classes.

Engaging in NAR-Style prayer practices, including the making of “prophetic declarations,” at YWAM Salem (Oregon) and YWAM Harbour City (Hong Kong)

Prophetic declarations are statements declaring that God will do such-and-such a thing. Simply saying the words in faith is believed to release God’s power. This practice is undergirded by the Word of Faith teaching that God’s power can be released through spoken words. Declarations are seen as a type of “warfare prayer,” in contrast to the more traditional view of prayer in which believers don’t declare that God will do something. Rather, they humbly ask Him to do something with the understanding that he might say no. Examples of bases engaging in NAR-style prayer practices can be seen on the websites of YWAM Salem and YWAM Harbour City.

Promoting 24/7 prayer with end-time teachings from Mike Bickle at YWAM Kona (Hawaii)

Many 24/7 prayer rooms at YWAM bases are directly related to NAR. They’re modeled after the 24/7 prayer room run by the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri (IHOPKC). Mike Bickle, the founder of IHOPKCclaims he received revelation from the “prophet” Bob Jones to start a 24/7 prayer room. And Bickle’s teachings indicate that the establishment of other 24/7 prayer rooms throughout the world is an essential new practice for the church. He claims that they’ll play a crucial role in the unfolding of God’s end-time plans for the earth. Shockingly, he teaches that, through the practice of 24/7 prayer, the last generation of Christians will actually cause the tribulation, described in the book of Revelation. In prayer rooms throughout the world, people will “release,” in unison, judgments of God that will kill millions of people and wipe out entire cities. See those teachings here and here and here. Wording on the YWAM Kona Prayer Room website mirrors Bickle’s distinctive teachings about 24/7 prayer and the role it will play in the end time.

Treasure Hunting with teams from YWAM Madison (Wisconsin) and YWAM East London

Treasure Hunting, a novel form of evangelism promoted in NAR, is practiced by numerous YWAM bases, including YWAM Madison and YWAM East London. Earlier in this post, I showed how Treasure Hunting is promoted by YWAM’s top leaders.

Viewing films promoting NAR teachings and practices at YWAM Denver (Colorado)

A series of films made by Darren Wilson — featuring NAR leaders — has been shown to students at many YWAM bases, including YWAM Denver. (A former student there describes how viewing the films impacted her and the other students.) The first film, Finger of God, claims to document hundreds of people raised from the dead, manna appearing in the Pentagon, gemstones falling from the sky, and the miraculous appearance of gold teeth fillings in people’s mouths, among other miracles.

Promoting the Passion Translation at YWAM Southlands Tasmania (Australia)

The Passion Translation, produced by NAR apostle Brian Simmons, is a controversial NAR“translation” of the Bible. It has been discredited by multiple Bible scholars. Learn more about it here. Yet it’s promoted by YWAM bases, including YWAM Southlands Tasmania, who even invited the translator, Brian Simmons, to speak at the base in 2017. (See the Facebook advertisement for the event below.) Simmons claims that, in 2009, Jesus Christ literally visited him and personally commissioned him to make this new translation of the Bible. He also claims Jesus promised to reveal to him secrets of the Hebrew language that would help him make his translation.

Take note that the list of bases above is not exhaustive. If a specific base is not listed that does not mean it is free of NAR influence. It is true that YWAM bases are semi-autonomous and, thus, teachings can vary from base to base. But given YWAM’s promotion of NAR at the institutional level, I imagine it would be difficult to find a base where some degree of NAR influence is not seen. This makes sense: as the organization’s leaders embrace and promote NAR, the bases inevitably follow.

Source: Holly Pivec, ‘Spirit Of Error’ blog, http://www.spiritoferror.org/2019/06/what-churches-should-know-about-ywam-part-2-partnering-with-the-new-apostolic-reformation/8331 Published June 7, 2019. (Accessed June 24, 2019.)


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