Our vision is to multiply worship to God among the nations. The more we know God, the more our hearts respond to Him with worship. 

Expressions of our worship to God are as diverse as the cultures and clans He created to give Him praise.  (Isa. 43:21)

The College of Arts and Sports includes worship ministries because of the multifaceted means with which we creatively express our love and worship for our Creator.   Worship courses and ministries are also included in the College of Christian Ministries because worship is an essential Christian discipline in the life of every disciple.  Each course is cross-listed in both colleges.

The worship courses and seminars that the UofN offers will give you the biblical foundations to equip you to multiply and release worship to God throughout the earth.Grounding our hearts and lives in worship to God will influence every area of society and equip us to serve and lead our people and our nations.  When God is worshipped by people of every culture, He will draw the nations to Himself.

After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count,

from every nation, tribe, people and language,

standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.

They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.

And they cried out in a loud voice:

"Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb."

All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders

and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne

and worshiped God, saying:

"Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength 
be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!"

(Rev 7:9-12  NIV)

How to Launch and Maintain a Worship or Arts Ministry at a YWAM Base


Since 1971 I have been part of the contemporary Christian music community. Through the last forty years I have been able to experience and observe the development of worship and concert ministries in the United States and around the world. I have been both a musician seeking to find my place in the church and in YWAM, as well as a YWAM leader seeking to work with the visions of various musicians and artists. 

Through my thirty plus years in YWAM I have heard many “words” that God was going to use the arts to “lead the way” in many situations. I’ve heard the term “The arts are the tip of the arrow that will lead us into nations.” If these were truly words from the Lord, we should seek ways to encourage development. 

There are many wonderful ways YWAM worship and arts have glorified the Lord and influenced thousands; and yet, I know some of the sad stories of musicians leaving YWAM because they did not feel there was a place for them to fulfill their calling. In some of these cases, YWAM may not have been the best place for them; however, I believe there are too many cases, where they left because the YWAM leader did not understand how to work with artists or how to point them to a base where their worship or arts calling could flourish. That is the main reason I feel the need to write this paper. 

If YWAM leaders can better understand some of the dynamics of working with artists or how to direct them to a part of YWAM who has that call, then worship and the arts can be an even more powerful force within our mission to further the Kingdom of God. 

YWAM and Worship

We, as YWAM, hold a very special place in our hearts for worship. It’s one of our foundational values. There are often a few people on a base who can lead worship with guitar or keyboards. Hopefully they will seek to do it with a sincere heart and musical excellence. Many of these worship leaders may do this often and enjoy playing their instruments a lot. This is great!! I pray every YWAM base has a few of these people around. The base may even decide to produce a worship recording with some of the main worship leaders and the base staff and students. This kind of project can be a great blessing to the participants and to those who listen to it. At this point the base has used music and graphic arts, to produce a ministry tool. However, this doesn’t’ necessarily mean that the base now has an “arts ministry” or even a developed worship ministry at the base. It simply means they have some great worship and they have done one project that is a blessing. There IS good merit in that. Establishing an on-going full-time music ministry involves being more intentional about it. 

Discovering Each Persons’ Ministry and Calling

The scenario above has happened many times in YWAM, and rightly so; but does producing one praise recording or being a worship leader mean that the base has an ongoing “worship ministry”? Should the musicians who put it all together consider making this the “focus” of their ministry? I think focus is an important word here. I have talked with hundreds of musicians over the years who are seeking to answer this question… “Is God calling me to focus on music ministry?” This question needs to be answered and this is where leaders are very important in the process. 

From my own life experience and from working with young people, I have observed that the late teens into the twenties are experimental and developmental years. We in YWAM give opportunity for young people to experience the adventure of a DTS and “try their wings” in a few areas. We offer short term and staff missionaries experiences that help them discover their gifts and callings. 

I remember when I was debriefing a team after a Musician’s Summer of Service in Amsterdam in the early 80s. There were varied responses to the outreach. It had been a good summer in which our band had toured Germany, Switzerland and Austria. There were good ministry times, but there were also some hard times of adjusting to the road, different food, different language, etc. Penny said, “this was a great experience and I’m glad I came… but I can’t wait to get back to Pennsylvania and be a school teacher.” Belinda, on the other hand, said, “Wow, am I tired after that trip… but… when can we do it again?” Today, Penny IS back in Pennsylvania teaching school and Belinda has been in YWAM involved with worship and leadership for almost 30 years. One outreach won’t always define our call, but it can sure help the process along. 

I believe that as young people try various types of ministry that the leaders need to be part of the debriefing process so that they can help them discover their call. Sometimes the leaders will just observe a staffer in some ministry and feel they are really gifted in a certain area. It’s good for the leader to challenge these people to pray about focusing on that area. 

Every YWAM base has many practical needs. To be part of the YWAM family we all must serve in many areas to enable things to run smoothly. At the same time, we must also have the goal of helping each person discover and function in their area of gifting. Their God given passion and motivation for certain area will fulfill them and ultimately make the base more stable. This process helps build long term, committed staff. 

What Is The YWAM Base Called To Do?

As mentioned before, all YWAM bases should seek to have good worship on their base, but if a base is called to facilitate a full-time worship or arts ministry then they need to know that from the Lord and state it in their mission statement and objectives. 

Like any ministry that is part of the vision of a base, the leaders must be committed to see it succeed. It’s like having a baby. It’s nice to think about having a cute little child around, but the responsibility, time and money it takes to raise up a child takes intentional commitment. A couple who has a baby (or a YWAM leader who launches ministries) must be ready and willing to take this on before they decide to have one. When parents take on the responsibility of parenting/maturing (not smothering), then the children will generally turn out fine. They’ll be secure and productive. In addition, just as a parent cannot leave the child in neglect, so a newly forming ministry must be attended to by proper leadership connections for it to thrive. 

Contrasting with neglect is the leader having a pride or sense of owning the ministry, i.e. “I birthed this baby (ministry)… it’s to look the way I want it to and needs to serve MY purposes..” Both extremes of neglect or prideful ownership can bring an environment of rejection, manipulation and the resulting creativity in the ministry can be warped. These senarios ca happen (and have already happened) to a worship or arts ministry at a YWAM base. 

Steps To Launching A Worship or Arts Ministry

1) Ways it happens….

A) Vision Of The YWAM Location

Some YWAM locations have known from their inception that a full-time worship or arts ministry was to be part of their vision. They intentionally reflect this in their Mission Statement. YWAM Lakeside, Montana is such a base. In this case, the leadership needs to have at least a general statement and idea of what type of ministry they want at the base so they can recruit the right people. Does they want a worship team? A dance or drama team? Without a specific leader for each ministry in place, the vision may at first have to pretty broad. Musicians and artists ARE looking for a community to belong to. If it is communicated that artists are welcome, I believe they will come.

B) A Vision Joins The YWAM Ministry 

Other worship and arts ministries have started because a person came along with a call in worship or arts. This is how I ended up with YWAM Holland. I had been in full-time music ministry already for nine years when I had an opportunity to do a concert tour of Europe. On that trip I saw how effective contemporary Christian music was in missions. I began to ask God how I could be more involved in this. I kept praying about it and wrote down the vision for ”Musicians for Missions”. How would I do this, though? 

I Was invited to visit a YWAM base in Holland to do a concert. At that time I shared my heart and vision with Floyd McClung who was the YWAM leader in Holland. Before I left the base, Floyd came to me and said, “ I’ve been praying about your vision and I believe it’s from God. If we can help you do it in any way, let us know.” Floyd knew that I already had years of experience in Christian music but that missions were new to me. Floyd made room for this new ministry and even let me recruit staff for it during my DTS. He and other leaders taught me what it meant to be part of YWAM. I did have to “carry the vision” myself, but I always knew I was supported and prayed for by my leaders. They also let the YWAM community know what I was doing and that the base leadership supported it. Announcing this before the community and praying for it’s success did two things. 1) Helped the artist feel accepted and supported by the leadership and the community. Acceptance almost always makes a person want to be part of a community. 2) Helped the community understand and accept the nature and value of having a full-time arts ministry as part of the YWAM vision. 

C) From Within The Staff

In some situations, a long-term staff member may feel the Lord wanting them to change their from their current base ministry to focus on an arts or worshp ministry. I have observed this scenario is sometimes the most difficult to put into place. I think it’s because there has already been a precedence set where the community is use to seeing the person do a certain function, i.e. DTS staff, office admin, maintenance, etc. They probably lead worship too, having used their spare time to prepare. 

I have had several frustrated musicians and artists come to me saying, “My base leader says I have to prepare my music on my own time and not use work hours for it.” If a staff person faces this for a long time, they will feel hurt, used and discouraged from moving into a ministry they feel strongly called to. If people are not helped or released to transfer into their calling they usually end up leaving YWAM. To me, this is a shame. This type of situation takes a lot of prayer and wisdom from the leader as we don’t want to release people prematurely, but we do ultimately want to get people into their long-term calling. 

It is Important to note, if the leadership does not feel the base has a calling to have a full-time arts or worship Ministry, that is okay. Many people will find satisfaction in remaining in their YWAM jobs and doing their art or leading worship as a sideline. But for the ones who are truly feeling called to focus on worship or art, the leader should encourage them to finish their current commitment at the base and seek to find another base where they can flourish in their calling. 

2) Make A Plan

If the Lord directs the base to launch a worship or arts ministry, then it’s time to make a plan. 

Possible plan….

A) Share the Vision - The YWAMer who will “Champion” this new ministry should write up a simple communication to share the vision. Someone in base leadership should be there to coach and help develop the wording of this. Once written and approved, it should then be presented to the current staff and those outside. 

Here’s an example:

The base leadership has sought the Lord and feel that we are to establish a full-time worship ministry at the base. This team will not only serve our base in worship, but also travel to churches locally and around the world, leading and teaching others about worship. John Wesley Doe will be heading up this team. We are currently praying for other musicians to join this team who have a sincere heart and call to worship. 

As people respond to this call, have a plan as to how candidates will be processed and accepted. Share your expectations and hear theirs. AND pray together, of course. If the Lord confirms them to the base leadership, remember this is just the beginning of your communication and relationship. 

B) Plan together 

There will be a relationship building time to get to know each other. The artist need to 

understand the full vision of the base and what the requirements for staff are. The 

base leaders need to understand the vision and talk through how it will affect the 

base. This will take time to work through it all, but stating as many expectations as 

possible from the beginning will help. I find when this is done in a friendly “we’re 

excited you are here” kind of attitude on both sides, instead of a “here are our rules”, 

then it naturally builds strong relationships.

C) When a new ministry comes from within your staff

This time of transition is crucial for getting things started on the right foot. After the decision is made by the leadership to launch a new ministry, then the person(s) and leadership need to begin defining the parameters for the ministry to give a starting point. There is still a lot of communication needed to get things established. 

3) Launching and maintaining the ministry – 

The following points for launching and maintaining the ministry will help the ministry develop at a healthy pace and get it established. At times I have observed some of the steps were left out when the ministry came from within the staff of a base. This usually brought misunderstanding and confusion. It takes time for it to develop just like it takes time for a child to mature. 

A) Write down the vision – Developing a Mission Statement and goals and objectives with the base leadership will do much for relationship with the artists and the base. It also gives the base more “ownership” of the new vision. Having this written down also gives a more tangible way to share the vision and with recruiting.

B) Introduce the vision to the YWAM Base – There will probably already be a “buzz” around the base that something new is coming. Having a particular time to explain the vision, introduce the staff and the praying for them by the base leaders and other staff will eliminate most misunderstandings that can come from something new coming into the community. It is very important that the artists have a humble/servant attitude and a true feeling of family with others on the base. This will encourage the community to cheer on the ministry, not be critical or jealous of it. 

C) Introduce the vision to the Christian Community - There should also be communications through newsletters and public meetings to let the Christian Community know about this new ministry. 

D) Set regular meeting times with leadership and new ministry – Depending on the leadership ability within the team, it may not be necessary to meet a lot with the team. It may be impractical for the base leader to meet with the team, but someone in leadership should be assigned to meet regularly with the group in the beginning. I would suggest weekly meetings for the first month or two. The frequency of meetings may be lessened as the leaders see the team established. However, there should always be some accountability to know the well being of the group in the areas of finance, artistic development, personal relationships, and spiritual growth. I cannot emphasize this point too much… the leaders need to meet regularly with the team until they are really established. 

Oversight from the base will vary, but the mutual understanding that we ARE on the same team with different functions is essential. A spirit of exclusiveness and independence will eventually kill a ministry. 

E) Funding and equipping the arts ministry – It is good for the team to take personal responsibility to believe the Lord for funds to equip the ministry; however, if the base is owning this too, then there should be some commitment from the base as well. i.e. Dancers need a room big enough and with the right kind of surface to practice. Musicians need a place and sound system for rehearsals and concerts.

F) Plan special events with art groups in mind – Include the new ministry on the planning and prayer for events in which they can be involved. Find ways the YWAM community and the art ministry team can do things jointly. This will give everyone ownership and an excitement about the ministry. 

G) Defining Time – All ministries need specific time to develop their vision. It’s good to plan out a regular work week for the team to meet together for artistic development, organization, prayer and worship; while also scheduling in time for base activities (i.e. work duties, serving in other areas the same way other staff members do). Because many worship and arts ministries require travel, policies need to be negotiated between the team and the base leaders. 

H) Defining ownership of products and finances – As the group develops, they may write songs, make recordings or produce some other tangible product that can be sold. They may also receive money from places they perform. It is important that financial policies be defined BEFORE these things start happening. Otherwise there could be misunderstandings and hard feelings. (I am available to consult about details of these issues if you want to contact me – This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


1) The Nature of Creativity – Pursuing creativity often means change. YWAM in general has been a wonderful place of ministry that encourages new things and new ministries. Sometimes, however, as the artist suggests change, this can be interpreted as rebellion. This is another important reason for strong relationships with the artists to understand the things they are developing. The leader needs to pray with them concerning the appropriateness and spiritual foundation of their creations. Not ALL things created are from God nor edifying. There are principles to follow. Our authority for this is always the Bible first. There are other resources listed at the end of this document. 

2) The Artist Temperament - Many creative people can be known for their “Artists Temperament”…. Usually meaning they are moody, very divergent and/or “kind of out there”. Not all are like this at all. If we want the arts to be an active part of YWAM, leaders must make efforts to understand the creative mind. It’s not really that hard. It’s all about relationship.

3) Insecurities – Artists can often be interpreted and very confident and know exactly where they are going, but many artists struggle with insecurity. Here are a few reasons why they are insecure. 

A) Identity - Many artists are sensitive and on a quest to know their own identy. These were some issues I personally had to work through. Growing in our understanding of how God looks at us, which we get in DTS, helps with this process. Truths like “being accepted for who you are, not what you do” are very important for artistic people to learn. Finding value in being affirmed for the art they do, is often an issue they must deal with. We all want to produce things that are acceptable to God and others, but we must keep it in a right perspective. Again, this is where a good relationship with leaders can help. Good mentoring helps produce powerful ministers. 

B) Misunderstood – Many people who have wanted to follow the path of an artist have not always been encouraged. To some parents, and even some YWAM leaders, it seems like just an “extra” activity that does not really have a lot of value. Something that can be done in their spare time. As leaders observe, listen and pray through these issues with aspiring artists, we can help them hear from God to find their place. God DOES call some of us to have a life career in the arts. 

4) Independence - Even though artists want to be accepted and belong somewhere, there is an “individualness” about them that can make them very independent. Depending on how they learn to adjust to the team dynamic of YWAM plus how much freedom they are given to create, will determine whether YWAM is really a good “fit” for them. 

The Artist Understanding YWAM

1) Being part of the YWAM family – Not every artist should belong to organizations like YWAM. Being part of the YWAM family means embracing our foundational values of servanthood, being a team player, buying into the vision of the local base, multiplying our ministries, etc. If a person cannot support these ideals, they probably don’t belong in YWAM. It’s a great privilege to be part of the YWAM tribe but not unspiritual to chose another approach. Some artists may chose to just work along side of YWAM on certain projects. We should welcome their input and seek to minister to them when there is opportunity. 

2) Artists, like everybody, need somewhere to belong. – The artist themselves don’t always recognize this. They need to learn how to be part of a YWAM base family as well as be accepted for who they are, not just as an artist. Leaders like to use artistic people when they need something special done, but are sometimes not willing to help them develop into mature communicators. Artists need something/somebody to be attached to…. Somebody who will encourage them in their art and who will hold them accountable personally. When a leader can recognize this need and potential in artistic people, then powerful things can happen for God’s Kingdom. 

In Short…..

There are many ways YWAM leaders have encouraged worship and arts ministries both in and out of YWAM. I have written these things because there are too many stories of YWAM leaders not recognizing or understanding artists. I believe YWAM is one of the best organizations for artists both spiritually and personally. I am available to any leader who would like to discuss these issues further. Please pray if you are to be one of those bases that releases full-time worship and arts ministries in YWAM. The ministry I lead, Musicians for Missions International, is here to be a resource…. to come along side and encourage these ministries

Conctact info

Karen Lafferty – This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , cell 505-690-5730, base/home 505-471-5872


Websites - www.YWAMCAS.org www.YWAMMusic.net 

www.stoneworks-arts.org Colin Harbinson (former dean of the U of N College of the Arts)

www.artisticchristians.blogspot.com http://www.viaaffirmativa.org/

Books - 

Heart of the Artist” by Rory Noland , Various books by Francis Schaeffer.