First of all I would like to say that if most pastors knew what is really going on in YWAM they would never send their people to this organization.
My ten year experience with YWAM was both good and bad, but mostly bad. The pressure tactics they use and their manipulation is very negative.
Please understand that I have traveled to every continent on the globe, with the exception of South America, through YWAM. I have also personally been to more than 30 individual YWAM bases and have seen what goes on first hand.
There are four primary teachings that YWAM uses at every base, which everyone must learn, that concern me. They are as follows:
Unity at all costs
Giving up your rights
"Touch not God's Anointed"
"Deniers, Quitters and Betrayers"
These four teachings ultimately achieve total control for YWAM and its leaders.
Everyone who attends YWAM also goes through what they call a time of "ministry." During this time you confess and renounce old sins. If you don't confess something, then you are looked upon as unable to allow "God to go deep." You are also encouraged to imagine that Jesus is in the room with you through a type of guided imagery.
YWAM leaders have said for many years that they want to recruit young people fresh out of high school. These youth are often quite vulnerable and obviously can be easily influenced. They also frequently have little if any meaningful bible training. The four teachings previously cited may then be taken to an extreme to train these youth. And YWAM can do a great job manipulating almost any situation.
When negative things happen within YWAM a typical response is, "That's an isolated situation." And when I was in YWAM they told me always to "cover the mission at all costs." They try to make any problem appear as if it is only the first time such a problem has occurred. Remember that their funding often comes from the local church.
If you confront a YWAM leader about any problem they will often say, "How can I serve you?" This is a response they are routinely taught to use, but it really isn't an answer. Instead, it is more like a rehearsed tactic of evasion.
I recall once serving leaders snacks at a meeting and feeling embarrassed when one said what a good job I was doing. I suppose it was embarrassing to realize just how submissive my service had become.
Many times we ate badly at YWAM bases. But I observed leaders eating steak or some other special food. They apparently felt that this was their privilege. And many times women were picked over men to lead teams. Such practices seemed to me to ignore scripture. But if you speak out against their unbiblical teaching or behavior, they will use the teaching "Unity at all costs" and ask you to leave or shut up.
And don't expect to have a special friendship with someone of the opposite sex at YWAM, unless you get permission.
If you are attempting to get information from former YWAM members remember to ask them twice, "What really happened?" Perhaps the second time around they will tell you more about their experience.
When I took YWAM courses at the "University of the Nations" I found out that none of the teachers there had accredited degrees in biblical studies. This was not good, since I was hoping to receive an accredited degree myself. Though they call it the "University of Nations" apparently it is unaccredited. Many of the teachers listed in their admissions book, I later found out, did not really teach at their school or extension schools. Interestingly, they don't allow people to attend the school if they are not "spiritual" enough at discipleship training school (DTS).
YWAM also believes you should pay for other students that come in broke. This is part of their teaching "Giving up your rights." They will get any money a new member brings--you can rely upon that. In my opinion life at YWAM is ultimately "bad news."
Anyone reading this should consider going somewhere else. There are other places to serve God. I have heard at least one pastor say this.
But If you have read all this and still decide to attend YWAM. I suggest you do three things:
First, leave some money back home with a family member or trusted friend with instructions to save it for you.
Second, tell them no matter what you say, not to give it back, unless you are almost dead.
And finally, please pray before you go.
Once you are there if you speak out about a leader or speaker at your YWAM base and say they did something wrong, such as unbiblical teachings, expect them to use "touch not my anointed" to discredit your comments and excuse their own conduct. You then may be asked to leave. Such tactics seem to keep everyone quiet. The leaders then can say or do almost anything they want. Remember, control is the goal. YWAM often takes discipling to extremes, which is very unhealthy.
If you decide later that you want to expose them, or simply want to leave, they will then use the teaching, "Deniers, Quitters and Betrayers," to make you feel that you have actually left the "Will of God" and will be "lost forever." The result of this teaching is often years of false guilt.
After leaving YWAM I attended an accredited school and eventually completed two undergraduate degrees and later a Masters degree in counseling. I am now working on my Ph.D. and serving a church congregation as an associate pastor.
Looking back on my years at YWAM I can see now how twisted it was and would never recommend YWAM to anyone. It has been years since I left, but I still have nightmares about my time there.