Five months of intensive discipleship training has just come to an end, with the graduation of our DTS class on Tuesday night. And after a day of teary-eyed farewells yesterday, there is now finally some space to sit down and reflect on all that has happened over the last five months. And the question I have been asking myself is this: What was the best thing about DTS?
I tried asking Kelsey at Pizza Express yesterday, as seven of us went out for a final celebratory goodbye lunch. But I think the pizza arrived before she could answer.
Anyway, I’ve been thinking about it. And I think the word that best sums up what I enjoyed about DTS is the community. Now, ‘community’ is a notoriously abused buzzword that is so commonly thrown in together among the trendy bits of contemporary jargon that I should probably mention a few specific things about the community that I enjoyed.
The Oval Café is the centre of the Harpenden community
It’s A Local Community
When filling in the application form for YWAM Harpenden, one of the questions that you have to answer is this: ‘What leads you to believe you could live in the conditions of a community setting?’ But having spent ten years of my life living in small Christian boarding schools, and then four years in the close quarters of a residential Cambridge college, it isn’t surprising that I actually find it much more difficult outside of the conditions of a close community. Much as I love Cambridge, it was a relief to no longer have to cycle back and forth across town to see the people I wanted to see.
So it was a great encouragement to find upon coming to Harpenden that the YWAM Base was just entering a new season of intensity in corporately seeking God, with the first 24:7 Prayer Week in the Boiler Room beneath the chapel taking place in our first week of lectures, and Mondays just having been instituted as a day of community prayer and fasting for the nations.
Perhaps most surprising was to find one community which practised the full range of styles of prayer: from the liturgical bowing as part of the Agpia at 9am each morning, through the groups of three with heads bowed that you see during the Monday lunch-time intercession, to the hands raised in Spirit-filled worship in the Tuesday night community meetings.
It’s A Cross-cultural Community
England, India, Rwanda, Germany, Canada, the USA — these were just the nations represented on our outreach team of eleven people!
And while I know that in this global village that we live in today it is not uncommon to be surrounded by people of different tribes and tongues, it was a pleasure to be part of a community that takes such joy in celebrating ‘the nations’ at every possible opportunity.
It’s An Active Community
Discipleship is not just about some nebulous ‘spiritual’ realm of life, but about bringing every part of everything you do on every single day under the Lordship of Christ. Which means that while godliness may be the main thing we are pursuing, physical training is still of some value!
And with a 7am morning workout three times a week, football on Sunday afternoons, and the chance to go running with my one-on-one, this was very much put into practice
It’s A Creative Community
From the Oscar-style awards night for the Documentary Film-making School and the advance screening of the Rotterdam Film Festival entry Ripples of the Passover, to the gigs of the rock band Evergreen and — of course 😉 — the beautiful Taryn, there is an impressive calibre of creative skill present on the Harpenden Oval.
And when you’ve not only got occasional rap battles, but also original compositions to cheer you up when you fall sick (which you can listen to below), that air of creativity definitely adds to the life of a community.
It’s A Loving Community
But if all these qualities were present, but not love–well, you know the rest.
And so here’s one last THANKYOU to all the people who have been part of the YWAM Harpenden over the last few months, for your welcome, your friendship and your love. Now over to you — what was your favourite thing about DTS?