2011 UofN Workshop Report
In the first week of September 2011, the University of the Nations held its 12th Workshop.
Three of these international workshops have been multi-site in nature, linked together via GENESIS video conferencing. The first of these was held in South Africa–Egypt–Kenya–Ghana (‘01), followed by one in South Korea–Taiwan–Thailand–India (‘07) and another in Switzerland–Ukraine–Egypt–South Africa (‘09).
The other 8 workshops were held in single venues. The first was hosted in Lausanne (‘89), followed by those situated in Budapest (‘91), Manaus (‘93), Restanas (‘95), Seoul (‘97), Colorado Springs (‘99), Singapore (‘03), and Belo Horizonte (‘05).
But this was the first ever UofN Workshop to be convened in Kona, Hawaii, birthplace of YWAM’s university vision. This was a fitting place, for YWAM had just celebrated fifty years of fruitful ministry and we were crossing over into the next half century with intensified faith. Appropriately, the theme of the workshop was “Shaping the Future: Equipping for Multiplication.”
Participants from almost 50 nations gathered to celebrate, pray, study and connect around our calling to disciple nations. The event began with the joyous sounds of a Polynesian welcome, and the opening word from the UofN’s new international president, Markus Steffen. He laid out the core themes of the workshop using Psalm 81 to layout what he called our “Roadmap 81.” Markus highlighted the need to celebrate, to remember, to listen, and to serve no other gods.
One of the main purposes of this event was to discover how to implement the university vision in this fresh season with its trends and amazing opportunities. For this reason innovation was an underlying element throughout the workshop and a cause for celebration as we explored what God is doing in many spheres of ministry. Together we looked at many new elements in the UofN which are keys for our future. Much prayer and discussion took place around our foundations and strategies for multiplication in these days of increased need, opportunity and fruitfulness. UofN Team 4 (Markus Steffen, and the three vice presidents: Tom Bloomer, Maureen Menard and David Hamilton) led the event with a wonderful blend of candor, inclusiveness, humility, authority and humor.
Every morning began with time in the Word as groups met using a new study guide created by David Hamilton and Maureen Menard on the book of Colossians. This became a focal point as we reflected on the Word, worshiped and shared insights with one another around tables every day. The focus was “Seeing Jesus Afresh.” The worship band from YWAM Kalispell, Montana, powerfully led in rich times of response to the Lord.
From unity around the Word in the morning, there was room for the diversity of our interests, experiences and needs. Afternoons included a wide variety of modules from academic advising to multiplying leadership and strategic innovation; GENESIS; science and technology; creating new courses and certificate programs; ministry through the arts and sports; and ministering to those caught up in homosexuality, modern-day slavery, and broken families. There was time given to meet around colleges and centres. Opportunities to gather around key topics of interest to many saw groups addressing the issues of ship-based ministries, international trafficking, compassion ministries, outreach to cities, etc.
Some very practical elements were worked on as the UofN launched a fresh season in which new certificate program courses are being introduced alongside our existing degree program courses. This new “product line” will be developed in light of our reflection on Jesus’ ministry. Although he spent a large part of his time discipling his intimate followers (the 12 and/or the 70) in an intentional, non-formal, live-learn style, he also spent a large time teaching the multitudes (the 5000) in a deliberate way. The leadership of the UofN shared that we will strengthen our current residential training while beginning a pilot phase of creating new certificate models of training. This innovation in our training format and focus provides a new means to multiply our training to serve the body of Christ who are not able to attend a DTS or a full time training opportunity. Those who participate in these focused, part time training opportunities will be able to earn a UofN certificate. These credits earned through a certificate course may have the potential to be transferred into a degree track should the student later complete a DTS.
Other breakthrough innovations were also discussed. The new core curriculum policy which has been worked on over the last several years allows a great release of diverse and creative courses to meet the core curriculum requirement. Already many new courses are being created and run, strengthening our foundational training in the lives of our students so that they will know God’s Word, know his world, and know how to communicate his Word to his world.
Another key announcement was the recent leadership decision to streamline our Associate’s and Master’s degree tracks. A student can now accomplish an AA with 84 credits (including DTS and outreach). An MA now requires 48 post-graduate credits (after completing a DTS and outreach). We were encouraged to strengthen our degree programs, as we learned that we have more than 4,000 students within 12 credits of graduating with an AA from the UofN.
The morning sessions had a wide range of scope. On the one hand, Steve Saint sharing stories of innovation from new kinds of dentistry to flying cars! On the other, Darlene Cunningham and Danny Lehman spoke about the “Foundations of our Faith”. Tom Bloomer strengthened our commitment to whole-hearted obedience to God alone as he spoke on the subject of no other gods.
Several evenings were spent celebrating what God has been doing around the world as innovation in many spheres was highlighted. Testimonies and messages highlighted the role of the media, the Bible, and breakthroughs in linguistics, education, food production, and new applications of internet technology for evangelism, discipleship and mobilization. As we explored these subjects, we prayed over and rejoiced about all that God is doing. The UofN graduation – as always – gave an impactful image of the transformation that is happening in and thorough our students. The final evening was concluded by – what else! – worship and intercession over the nations as we marched, sang, prayed, wept and danced over the giant 4K map that covered the floor! Dozens of participants came up to the microphone and declared out in faith what they were hoping for as an inheritance in the nations.
In conclusion: we were challenged and instructed, fed and inspired by the Word, and by the testimonies of what God is doing around the world. This is a time of tremendous fruitfulness and innovation, so let’s move forward together guided by our “Roadmap 81” with confidence, committed to a fresh season of creativity rooted in our intimacy with the Father and our family love towards one another.
For daily reports in print, messages, video and photos, and more information on many of the innovations highlighted during the workshop, visit www.uofnkona.edu or www.uofnworkshop.com. The next UofN workshop will be held September 2-7, 2013. Put those dates in your calendar and stay tuned for details on where we will next meet together!