Dear YWAM Leaders,

In my last email, I took time to talk about the small cities of the world. (You can also access a previous series of articles titled The Urban Challenge here.) In this email, I would like to talk about the cities that are large enough to create opportunities for more than just one YWAM base. They may be cities over 100,000, 500,000 and most definitely over 1 million in size. But for an example let me just take those cities over 1 million.

Multiplication through Simplicity.


There are 500 cities in the world with a population exceeding 1 million people. YWAM has oplocs in about 134 of them. We know that God is calling us to greatly expand our presence throughout the world to hundreds of thousands of workers, but we have to ask ourselves how can we go about doing that. This brings up two thoughts that I have been praying about.

  1. Let’s expand to cities where we are not located. That's a no brainer and that is what 4k is all about. Let's go where we are not.
  2. Let’s expand our present bases in some of these cities over 1 million to more than just one location. We can multiply our presence in a city region through KISS. Keep it simple and small.

In a statistical study I did some years ago I found that the 2007 Go Manual listed 854 YWAM locations in the world, of which to the best of my knowledge 623 were single oploc locations. Just because we have one base in a city does not mean we are reaching that city. Especially, when the city has more than 1 million people. We should have multiple YWAM bases/teams in cities over 1 million and not just one base as we mainly do now. We have room to multiply within the cities over 1 million where YWAM is already located. Let’s not just think decentralization above the base level but let's think about multiplying our YWAM presence by decentralizing and multiplying into other parts of the city where we are already located. Let me tell you why and how we can do that.


Let's think about multiplying our YWAM presence by decentralizing and multiplying into other parts of the city where we are already located.


In the New Testament the Apostle Paul addresses the church at Corinth and the church at Ephesus not as a single location, but as house churches spread across the city. When we think of cities like Tokyo, can we really limit this Super Giant city of 37 million to one or even 10 YWAM locations? A city like Tokyo, London, Moscow or any city over 1 million people is going to take a multi-sited YWAM presence that is not independent from one another but is interdependent. It will be focused in the various neighborhoods, people groups, sectors and opportunities that the city provides for ministry.

One of the ways that I am praying and working towards multiplication of YWAM to the hundreds of thousands is to create spaces within my city domain to see a multiplication of YWAM oplocs take place.

I live in the San Francisco Bay area, which is 7.2 million people, 9 counties and 101 urban locations. At present we have 8 YWAM locations operating in the San Francisco Bay area. We don’t call anyone of them “the base” as the Metroplex of the San Francisco Bay area is our Base. We are not disconnected from one another. We are interdependent, apostolic, missionaly focused teams in 8 different locations who form a circle of ministries that relate to one another. One location is focusing on the unreached people group of the Afghans. While another team is focusing on mentoring Asian Christians in Apple, Google, Cisco and other software giants on how to do personal evangelism to their non-Christian Asian colleagues, without violating their company policies and with the aim to start small house churches. Each location is its own focus. Some are running training programs such as the DTS and will be bringing in other YWAM courses. We are just 8 locations now but wanting to expand to 16, then 32 and then 64. 64 YWAM locations in the San Francisco Bay area is a drop in the bucket. But those 64 locations could easily comprise a staff of more than 600 and beyond. With us being in so many locations in one area we have had to learn how to build community, accountability and eldership that the ONE base location does so naturally. When we begin to multiply in one city location we do not want to see autonomy and independence but interdependence and eldership that makes us the YWAM body in one location.

YWAM in the San Francisco Bay Area is operating from 8 locations, with the vision to multiply to 16, 32, 64 and so on.

YWAM in the San Francisco Bay Area is operating from 8 locations, with the vision to multiply to 16, 32, 64 and so on.

KISS — Keep it simple and small is a principle that can help us to multiply. Leading a base of 30 to 50 YWAM staff is a huge administrative undertaking that requires lots of management skills. But leading a team that is focused on a particular area of the city, whether a neighborhood, a people group, a sector of society or a training program, is much easier. When we see the city as “our base” and our teams as decentralized departments throughout the length and breadth of the city, we can easily multiply and release leaders who have greater ownership without being disconnected to the bigger picture.

Darlene Cunningham brought us a word out of 2 Kings 4:3 at one of our North American gatherings. In this passage Elisha the prophet asks the widow, “How can I help you? What do you have in your house?” All she had was a little oil and Elisha asked her to go around to her neighbors for empty jars. He told her, “Don’t ask for just a few.”

First of all, we have over 40,000 urban locations in the world and YWAM is in just over 800 of them. We can start asking God to multiply us to where we are not. Secondly, we have large YWAM bases in some of the major cities of the world that may be on the outside of the city or in its borders and we can multiply our presence from one location in one city to many locations within that city. How much larger can your base become? If you just limit yourselves to adding more buildings to your present location you will eventually run out of land. If you start thinking about multiplying from one site to multiple sites in one city the possibilities are much larger. Let's bring to God the empty jars that are around us. Those empty places within our cities that need a multiplication of YWAM ministries as well as cities that we are yet to pioneer where YWAM is presently not located.

Do you want to talk about reaching cities … meet me in Townsville at the YWAM Together conference and let's talk YWAM and the city…

Tim Svoboda