Is YWAM a Cult? Misconceptions of YWAM

Posted on May 13, 2021.

If you’re reading this article, then you must have some questions about Youth With A Mission, like are we a cult? Let’s talk about 3 common misconceptions, give you some insight, and share my personal experience being a part of YWAM.

Misconception #1: YWAM IS A CULT

We hear the question all the time- Is YWAM a cult? Well, let’s first look at a few definitions of a cult (according to google):

  1. A relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or sinister
  2. A misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing.

Although we might be a group of people who have religious beliefs that others might think are strange, I can tell you right now that nothing we do here would be considered sinister, or that our admiration is misplaced. I’ve only been a part of one YWAM base and my experience here has not been cultish whatsoever. We love Jesus and we just want to love Him, love people, and be obedient to the voice of God! I have a question for you now: What do you think of or picture when you hear the word cult?? Maybe it’s a group of people wearing hoods, weirdly chanting in a dark room, with a weird and specific set of rules that everyone follows.

If I were to go off of your idea of a cult, then the answer to this misconception would definitely be no. Most cults often isolate you from family members and familiarity. I have never seen or heard of under the umbrella of YWAM. I mean, sure, we are not perfect. We are just a group of human beings doing our best to know God and to make Him known in the world. This hurts people inevitably. This happens anywhere you go, even just a church on a Sunday. Accusations of YWAM being a cult are from people who have been hurt in YWAM. But we always try our best to bring reconciliation.


Misconception #2: I’M TOO OLD

You are NEVER too old to chase after more of God! We are called ‘Youth with a Mission’, but there is not an age limit for our schools or our staff. A few years ago, a former staff member’s grandma came to do the 5-month Discipleship Training School (DTS). It was SUCH a blessing to have her here!

My sister went to YWAM when she was 19 years old at the time, I was 23 years old. Working at my big kid job for almost 2 years, I had already graduated from college with a degree. I remember thinking how much I wanted to go and do a DTS. But I thought to myself, ‘That’s for people who are just out of high school. I could never do anything like that’. But the Lord showed me that you’re never too old to learn more about Him and that I had not missed my chance.


Misconception #3 YWAM IS GOING TO FIX ME

Sometimes people come to DTS, or their parents send them because they believe that doing a DTS is going to ‘fix’ them and all their problems. While so many of our students get a lot of breakthroughs and healing during their time, it doesn’t mean that after your 5 months you will be 100% better, and have no more problems. My DTS was 3 years ago now. While I found so much healing and breakthrough during that time, I am still working through deeply rooted issues in my life. I do feel that being in YWAM has helped me in the way I process and work through issues. It’s helped me learn what healthy conversation and confrontation look like. In YWAM, you will learn a lot about yourself, God, and how to invite people into your problems.

I hope that this helped you and answered any questions you might have! We all have different experiences when it comes to being a part of YWAM. Just remember what the ultimate heart of the organization is: To know God and to make God known.

Are you interested in a DTS? Click here!
To read more about YWAM click HERE!