YWAMer Bill Hutchison has produced YWAM’s current podcast since early this year. He does a tremendous job of mixing news from the field, needs, and opportunities while keeping things upbeat. It’s really great to listen to– mmmmkif you want to know more about YWAM. I’d love to see more general evangelism training included (if only YWAM knew where to find material on that…) and some fun stuff, like how missionaries are using iPads to show the Jesus Film and surf the internet for a proper substitute for imitation maple syrup.
In addition to featuring different YWAM bases and staff, why not feature different websites or Twitter feeds each week? Again, the more you can broaden your subject matter (not just all YWAM, all the time), the more you’ll broaden your audience.
The only other advice I’d have for Bill would be to include a bit more commentary; (I never thought I’d say this, but) a little less NPR and a little more Fox News. Telling stories of heart-wrenching need in a calm, Canadian voice can make it difficult for the listener to connect. Remember, you’re not a news source, you’re a mobilizer. People don’t connect with news, they connect with people. As we get to know you, we will start to care about the things you care about.
I say, let Bill become more the face and voice of the organizations many ministries. His personal Twitter feed is accessible and interesting. Despite the decentralized approach to YWAM’s structure, having a few select personalities speak on behalf of the organization would only help make the group more personal to outsiders. These should not be YWAM’s formal leadership, the public will almost certainly find “regular” missionaries more accessible.
YWAM won’t likely follow this advice because of trust (actually, a lack thereof). I’m not sure who makes the final decisions regarding what passes through YWAM’s formal lines of communication, but I imagine they wouldn’t be comfortable allowing others to use those lines of communication. The irony is that releasing that sort of control is exactly what allows an audience to connect. Nobody wants to follow a cleaned-up, focus-group-tested, leadership-approved stream of propaganda. They want to identify with the struggles of real people doing real ministry.
Why not select a rotating roster of “regular” YWAMers to be the sanctioned (yet “unofficial” voices of the organization? These would be charismatic personalities, gifted thinkers, or capable communicators from various stages of the process (DTS attendee, someone who’s just arrived on the field, a veteran) who receive a bit of training and direction regarding YWAM’s expectations and desires for what they say. Give these “everyYWAMers” a platform for their podcasts, blogs, or speaking engagements, and watch as outsiders connect and relate in new ways.
Next up, my final YWAM post: If I were Mr. YWAM…