Staying Mission True - 3

02 April 2015
  1. Where are we drifting, or in danger of drifting?

Through the years, KKI has changed. Let us think about the element that drew us to this ministry:? How and why did God call us? Are those elements still present?

I believe we are in danger of losing our anointing, and in some places it may already have happened. Let me suggest some dimensions where we may have drifted, or where we are in danger of drifting:

  • God first – our Levitical anointing. In many places, worship tends to become just the first part of the program. We need to remember that we have been set apart to worship Him and that whatever we do, He should be our focus. “Bringing joy to God’s heart” is KKI’s purpose. If we drift away from it, we forsake the very reason for our existence.
  • Continuing without the presence of God. In Exodus 33:15, Moses said, “If your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here.” KKI is all about seeking God’s presence, and ministry should flow from this place. If we carry a “program mentality”, we don’t need God’s presence any more. We just go through the motions! The presence of God is our motivation, our main thirst. This is what will touch people around us.
  • God-led – listening to the Lord with the participants. Our staff certainly continue to listen to the Lord when planning their activities. But a core value is the ownership of the participants. This is their ministry, they have an active role and what a child receives can orient a whole day’s activities. It’s not about planning some times where the participants listen to the Lord as part of the program. Everyone, from the youngest to the oldest, is invited to be sensitive to the Father’s voice - any time, anywhere. KKI needs to recover its prophetic edge and come out of a program mentality where everything is well organized, but where there is no risk-taking, no radical obedience, because there is no need of it – everything has already been planned!
  • Monogenerational. Many people find it too complicated to gather the generations. It’s easier and more efficient to target only one generation – the teens, the youth, the children. This pragmatic approach, rather than the value-based approach honoring the word of the Lord to us, is a real danger in some of our ministries. It doesn’t mean, though, that we can’t do activities only with teens or with kids. It’s not a choking legalistic approach of doing everything all the time together. Rather it’s about recognizing and honoring the other generations and seeking to partner with them whenever relevant and possible.
  • Non-involvement of parents. Our approach to discipleship, based on Deuteronomy 6, is lifestyle-based. It should happen in daily life. To be able to live it, we cannot bypass the role and responsibility of the family. How can we get more parents and grandparents involved?
  • Multiplication of expressions. KKI developed and became very diverse through the years. We began with mostly outreaches and then developed year-round teams where discipleship happens in partnership with families and local churches. Then child evangelism and mercy ministries were added. These new expressions may represent a danger of drift if we are not careful. As Phil Smith said, “One of the primary reasons for mission drift is that people join your organization who are very excited about portions of your vision, but are either opposed to or don’t care about the rest of it.”[1] This is a real danger in some of these expressions. I believe there is place for child evangelism and mercy ministries in KKI, but we need to work out models where our values are not compromised and where people believe in our global mission and don’t use KKI to do what they want without adopting the full DNA! Because of the strong emphasis on meeting the needs of children, whether physical or spiritual, the need can become the call, and this is definitely a drift factor if we are no longer led by what God speaks and does.
  • Decrease in outreaches. During these last few years, fewer and fewer outreaches are taking place. Some of our ministries geared towards mercy ministries and child evangelism indeed do outreach all-year round. But the kind of outreaches where KKI was taking new ground, making breakthroughs, and radically obeying God seem to be diminishing. Outreaches in the context where children, young people, teenagers, families experience God in powerful ways - this is the pool from which our future staff should come. Because KKI’s vision and values are “better caught than taught”, we need to re-emphasize this aspect.
  • Decrease in young leaders. Decrease in outreaches may trigger another problem – young people no longer exposed to real KKI DNA are no longer attracted to KKI long-term. This is a drift factor: as our leadership gets older, we tend to lose our prophetic edge. We have good teachings because of our experience, but we lack the capacity to multiply, try new things, take risks… and we are left with a diluted version of KKI, that lacks strength and attractiveness.
  • When I was twenty-three years old  I joined KKI after an outreach where I saw God move like never before. I told myself: “This is the kind of life I want to live! This is what I want to give my life for.” I am still here, twenty-five years later. Without this kind of life-changing experience, our young people will enjoy KKI for perhaps a few years, then move on to other things. This is what we see in many places. Our older leaders are now entering a stage of life where they can be tremendous elders. We have the fathers and mothers, but where are the ongoing sons and daughters?
  • Decrease in schools and training programs. I am not sure how to classify this one. On the one hand, we’ve seen in Loren Cunningham’s presentation in Singapore[2] and in the document David Hamilton gave us during our Executive Master in leadership in San Antonio del Mar[3] that the number of long term staff increases proportionally to the number of schools. But we have also seen a decrease in registration for our PCYM schools these last few years, leading to school cancellations hesitation for some of our leaders before organizing one again. Others try to find new ways of training.

So, are we drifting because we organize fewer schools and consequently have fewer long-term staff, or are we organizing fewer schools and consequently have fewer candidates because we are drifting? In other words, is the decrease in schools a cause or a result of the drift?

  • Forgetting to prepare young people for the spheres of society. As far as I can remember, we haven’t put a strong emphasis on this aspect. We were always more focused on the geographical elements and the traditional evangelism/worship/prayer/ service approach to ministry. We weren’t very intentional that KKI as a ministry should primarily seek to influence the spheres of society. Rather, our goal was to equip young people to be able to influence those spheres in the future. This is reflected by our mission statement from the beginning. So when we included worldview (no sacred-secular dichotomy) teaching in our camps, teen leadership programs or pre-teen programmes, or when we held camps that equipped kids with computer skills, video-making skills or primary health care experience... or more recently the material produced by KKI Puerto Rico, we were/are equipping a generation to realize that serving God in education or politics or media is just as “spiritual” as being a pastor or a missionary. But I don’t see this dimension very strong in our midst today. It may not be so much a drift factor as an element we felt should be included from the start without having yet fully developed and modeled it yet.
  • Team leadership not applied everywhere. In expressions, the ministry is being led by just one person. This is not what we champion and promote. Most often, the person doesn´t necessarily want to lead by themselves. But due to their personality type, or as a result of other leaders having moved on, they are the only ones left to lead. In some cases, particularly when this is a single woman with a strong motherly tendency, it can even become controlling and protective, thus hindering the releasing and “pushing out of the nest” of young leaders who need to be trusted and challenged.
  • Lack of supporting community. Some of our KKI leaders have found themselves quite isolated, and this is not good in terms of accountability and protection. We need to reemphasize the importance of community life for each of us, whether in a YWAM base setting, a local Church, or a small group… We can’t make it alone!
  • Distancing ourselves from the rest of YWAM. This is a more challenging issue. The history of KKI within YWAM has not always been easy. Talking with our founder, Dale Kauffman, we recognize many situations in the past where conflicts, misunderstandings or differences of approach have been dealt with inadequately, resulting in the loss of some of our best leaders. I know forgiveness has been extended, but a certain protective distance has been established to prevent further disappointment and hurts. There is a real desire to see a restoration of trust. Our challenge is to communicate not only who we have been in the past, but also who we are now and where we are heading.

I have also sensed some responsibilities on the KKI side, although I haven’t been able to get official confirmation. Unequivocally, I always get the same answer from YWAM leaders: “We love KKI, it’s a great ministry.” They often speak about a certain image they have of KKI, and not necessarily of what KKI is meant to be. Speaking with Alejandro Rodriguez,[4] YWAM leader in Argentina, he confirmed a feeling of “polite distance” or even indifference from the YWAM community. Actually, a lot of people in the new generation of YWAMers don’t even know about KKI.

KKI is no longer championed by the rest of YWAM as it was back in the eighties, and there may be several factors for that: multiplication of trans-national ministries, tendency to highlight the new things - but there may also be a feeling that KKI is “a thing of the past”. We tell the stories of the glorious old days, but we need a new generation with fresh stories to fire the imagination of current leaders. Otherwise, it gives the impression we are just maintaining an old ministry that has lost its anointing, giving it some palliative care before its inevitable death.

This feeling is not worldwide. It mainly reflects some regions or nations in North America, Europe and Africa. Many of our leaders in South America, in Asia or in the Pacific don’t distinguish KKI from YWAM. But still, I think there is a breach that needs to be recognized and closed. At the same time, YWAM regional leaders in Africa have clearly expressed this last year their need of KKI and their desire to build together. If there is drift, perhaps we have not veered to far off yet. And in many places, it has started to be addressed and corrected.

  • Blurred identity. This comes from different angles. In some places, KKI has developed a strong partnership with local churches and other organizations, launching new initiatives together. These new partnered initiatives may monopolize time and visibility at the expense of KKI itself. Even though a ministry is a KKI expression, people are unsure due to different names and packaging, 

In other places, it’s the name, “King’s Kids,” that poses problems. In English-speaking regions King’s Kids denotes a children’s ministry, which turns off teenagers that otherwise may have been interested in joining. The question is regularly addressed during our leadership gatherings. Would a change of name contribute to drift? Would it affect our calling and anointing? Or would it correct some of the drift?

Joining global movements like 4/14 or others may also be tricky and have some dangers, especially if we become so involved that it becomes more important than our own ministry. To illustrate, it’s like a father neglecting his own children and family because he becomes so passionate about something of his own interest.

Are we proud of who we are (in the good sense of the term)? Is our way of doing ministry contributing to its health and growth?

As I was pondering on this last year, I got a picture from the Lord. It was a barrel made up of staves joined together. The problem was that the staves were not all the same length. The barrel could be filled only up to the level of the lowest stave. It represents KKI around the world. The staves represent the values. To get the full KKI anointing, we need to make sure we live out the values the Lord has given us and don’t neglect some of them because they are less appealing or seem less relevant to our vision. Are we in the second generation where it’s already a matter of preferences?


[1] Ibid., 107.

[2] Loren Cunningham, YWAM UofN Growth, pdf document of a Power Point Presentation brought during the YWAM Singapore Gathering, September 2014.

[3] How to start a missions movement (Short section), extract of a Power Point Presentation sent by David Hamilton during the Executive Master in Leadership third intensive in San Antonio del Mar, February 2015.

[4] Skype discussion with Dale Kauffman and the author in January 2015, following a personal discussion of the author with Alejandro in Buenos Aires in December 2014.