An Open Letter to Calvary Chapel Pastors of America Concerning YWAM
From Steven Mitchell, Power To Stand Ministries
Sent: Feb. 2002
Dear reader, this is a copy of an open letter sent to many Calvary Chapel pastors in the United States outlining some existing concerns about affiliating with Youth With A Mission. I am pleased to report that I got almost 30 responses from concerned Calvary Chapel pastors/youth pastors. All received were favorable in that they agreed with the concerns I raised. In addition, several even shared specific incidences that confirmed these things. All were thankful that a stand was being taken and felt that it was a good thing that they weren’t the only ones with these concerns.
The response was less than favorable from those in YWAM who were forwarded this message. But it was good in that several YWAMers contacted their leaders and asked about these things. Although this is no way a pleasant situation, it is good to see that God is working in the hearts of the discerning ones in YWAM, at least to the extent that they gave these issues thought enough to question their leaders.
At the end of this message, I have included the sole response received from a married couple who are leaders in YWAM, but they stress the fact that they can, in no way, be considered representative voices for the group. Strangely, it seems that no one is yet willing to step up to the plate who can authoritatively speak for YWAM policies. This, in itself is cause for concern but I was happy to see that at least one couple in YWAM was moved to respond. In actuality, they did not send this response to me but it was forwarded to me by a concerned individual.
Again, I am including their response and my subsequent address of their points. The reason these correspondences are included is so that you can get somewhat of an idea of the issues involved and the difficulty in dealing with an organization that seems less than willing to have an active dialogue about the concerns raised. By God’s grace, perhaps the future will see a change in the predicament. Enjoy…
My Open Letter Sent to Calvary Chapel Pastors (USA) in Feb. 2002:
Dear Pastors and Overseers of Calvary Chapel,
Greetings in the name of the Lord Jesus. I trust this letter finds
You seeking Him and shepherding the flock joyfully, skillfully and
By way of introduction, my name is Steven Mitchell. I live in
Mililani, HI and have been actively serving the Lord and ministering to the
People of God here in Calvary Chapels. I am currently involved in teaching
A home fellowship and I have a heart for the multitudes of high school
And college age folks here in HI. I'm also a missionary to Mumbai, India
working in association with some Calvary Chapel mission teams.
I'm writing because my heart is heavy concerning what I believe is
The advent of some serious danger into our fellowships. I pray that you
will read this letter through and I have tried to condense the contents
as much as possible. Calvary Chapels have always stood for the truth
and the authority of God's Word and, throughout the years, made bold
stands against the erroneous teachings of the Word-Faith movement and
the cults. Defending the Faith has been a key tenet in the ministries of Calvary Chapel.
My concern lies with the massive mission organization, YWAM (Youth
With A Mission). I don't know how widespread the associations are between
Calvary Chapels and this organization elsewhere in the U.S. but I can tell you that it is popular as a mission's option here in HI for Calvary youth. I am writing this letter to you to voice my concerns about some dangerous teachings that have consistently worsened among many of YWAM's adherents.
I believe there is a potential spiritual health hazard awaiting many of our young people if we send them to D.T.S.s (YWAMs Discipleship Training Schools) for mission training, who are then sent to various mission fields across the globe carrying with them some very questionable teachings. I am not saying all YWAM bases are corrupt but as a pastor
I only wish to alert fellow pastors to the potential danger that may befall some of our precious youth as we send them abroad with YWAM.
There are several reasons I have felt the need to share my concerns
about YWAM with you.
(1)Check out their web sites. You will find that there are articles concerning the ecumenical unions with the Roman Catholic church and the Charismatic Catholic renewal movement. This is cause for grave concern for any of us who have studied the teachings of Rome and have found many of them to be unbiblical. Union with these groups is only one facet of concern.
YWAM also endorses key teachers of the Third Wave hyper-charismatic movement (C. Peter Wagner, George Otis, Jr., John & Joy Dawson, and others). Adding to this point, I have been told by a YWAM regional leader that YWAM is so large and embraces so many groups that there is bound to be inherent error in the teachings at some bases. Sadly this has proven to be a true statement but is that a risk we should take with our youth?
(2) YWAM has ties with the false prophets and pseudo-apostles of C. Peter Wagner's "New Apostolic Reformation". False prophets such as Mike Bickle, Bill Hamon, Jack Deere, Rick Joyner, and Cindy Jacobs (to name a few) are endorsed and some of their books sold in YWAM online bookstores. C. Peter Wagner and George Otis, Jr. materials are even published by YWAM Publishing. These books will be recommended
reading for our young people as they enter the mission field with YWAM.
Concerning mission training and practices offered to new YWAMers, chief
"apostle" C. Peter Wagner, John Dawson and Cindy Jacobs have been front
people for the horrendously unbiblical spiritual warfare practices that YWAM has utilized on the mission field. Even a quick look at John Dawson's book "Taking Your Cities For God" (still recommended YWAM reading) should cause the red flags of discernment to go flying. We need not send our young people away to learn these unbiblical practices let alone "train them" to bring these teachings to other countries.
(3) YWAM has and is currently endorsing authors and false teachers who are now in alliance with one of our nation's most fallacious televangelists and proven false prophet, Benny Hinn. Calvary Chapel has always taken strong stands against the ministries of Hinn and others of the Word-Faith movement and has always taught not to tolerate false
prophets in the church.
Benny Hinn has had Joy Dawson of YWAM, Cindy Jacobs and Dutch Sheets (of the "apostolic movement") on his program numerous times in the past few months, and they all applauded and supported the "anointing" of Hinn as well as plugged their own
ministries. My heart broke on the night of 1/10/02 when I saw Joy Dawson take the stage with Benny Hinn at his crusade in Honolulu and they shared of their joint plan of reaching Hawaii's youth. The testimony they gave that night concerning a previous youth gathering in Anaheim featured all the aberrant and heretical behaviors that
Calvary has always refused to let in our churches. Benny himself announced Joy
as being affiliated with YWAM.
To be in any way connected with this bizarre phenomenon is shameful. Joy Dawson on the night of the Hinn crusade, as a representative of YWAM, made no distinction between the agendas of YWAM and Hinn regarding our youth. This fact should move us to take a stand to preserve the spiritual health of our young people. In my opinion, YWAM must change its policies or we must withdraw our participation.
I am unable, within the confines of this letter, to share with you numerous personal testimonies of my youth friends who have been in some way negatively affected by the teachings or mission experiences with YWAM. I can provide you with specific documentation concerning the individuals above, YWAM's teachings and the presence of their books in YWAM bookstores upon request. Another source of info on some of the
unbiblical practices of YWAM can be found at the following link:
If you are unfamiliar with C. Peter Wagner, his ties to YWAM, and the agenda of the "New Apostolic Reformation", you may want to read about Wagner's affiliations here:
My heartfelt thanks to all of you who have read this far and it is my desire to hear from you fellow ministers of the Gospel on these matters. For documentation or questions concerning anything I've written, please contact me at:
Please allow a few days for a response as I will be writing from India.
Above all, may we continue steadfastly in our faith and never grow
Weary in our ministries for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and to our
precious flocks that He has entrusted to us.
Thanks again, brothers. I look forward to hearing from you.
In Christ Jesus, to serve and to protect,
Gateway Ministries/Answers For India/ Power To Stand Ministries
On Tuesday March 19, 2002, I was given a letter of response to this open letter I had written to Calvary pastors in America. In my letter (that you just read above) I outlined three major areas of concern about some of the false teachings in YWAM that were harming our young people. My three points were basically:
1) YWAM’s support of Third Wave teachers and the New Apostolic Reformation, as well as lots of doctrinal error in their printed materials and websites.
2) YWAM’s ecumenical union with the Roman Catholic Church in many of their ministries and the general disregard for discerning alliances.
3) YWAM’s current affiliation with Word/Faith teachers like Benny Hinn. This fact is outrageous!
What follows is a response from “Alex” and “Constance” (not their real names). This couple felt the need to respond to my letter but stressed that their opinions were not “official” responses representing YWAM. Although they are leaders or long-time workers in the group, it seems that they and so many others are reluctant to actually speak for YWAM in any way. This fact is made sadder by the fact that those who are in indisputably recognizable leadership positions in YWAM also refuse to comment to any of our open letters to them. It would help clarify so much but, oh well. (Cunningham, Dawson, and others are actually putting many YWAMers and lower level leaders in a pickle when they get asked a question about some of the things their leaders have been doing and promoting as of late.)
Also we must mention that, in the case of Loren Cunningham and Joy Dawson, they have both asserted that they have levels of intimacy and the ability to hear God’s voice that seem to be almost beyond normal human capacity. I know a lot of great men and women of God who have never heard the Lord tell them the exact location of their lost writing pen(as Joy alleges in her book Forever Ruined for the Ordinary) or have ever been contacted with the “words of knowledge’ that her son gets about people’s secret sins (see John Dawson’s Taking Our Cities For God) or have ever been contacted so routinely as Cunningham via strange guidance principles learned in New Zealand (see Is That Really You, God?).
When high-profile leaders make claims that they can hear the Lord so well, in ways above and beyond most Christians, and then endorse the ministry of a false prophet like Benny Hinn or the prophets of the New Apostolic Reformation, then we have a problem. Many in YWAM are forced to choose as to whether or not their leaders are really hearing the voice of God and sadly, many give in to the faulty notion that these people have real discernment and are thereby really hearing from God like they claim.
You’ll see what I’m talking about when you read this letter. If this is discernment then something is really wrong or we must redefine that word altogether. “Alex and Constance” wrote to a Calvary Chapel friend of theirs and gave him a response to forward to me which he graciously did and here is that response in their own words. My rebuttal letter follows:
Tuesday Mar. 19, 2002: “Unofficial YWAM response” to my Open letter:
Thanks for sending us the letter from Steven Mitchell. I enclose my personal response (not an official YWAM one!)
All three of his points are fundamentally that YWAM is guilty by association with certain teachers, C. Peter Wagner, George Otis, John and Joy Dawson, Benny Hinn. My response to this is that Jesus was pronounced guilty by association with all manner of people. The real issue I believe is does YWAM have a unified doctrine of its own and if so what is it and is it erroneous? YWAM is an international interderdenominational organization that does not seek unity on the basis of doctrine but on communicating Jesus to people. There is unity in the essentials, namely, the cross, the resurrection and the deity of Jesus and diversity in the non-essentials. Doctrine on spiritual warfare would be from our perspective a non-essential. C.Peter Wagner's approach to spiritual warfare would be held by some in YWAM and not by others. Just as it is a controversial subject in the body of Christ it is also a controversial subject in YWAM.
Concerning Benny Hinn and Joy Dawson. I must admit that I am almost always offended whenever I happen to see Benny Hinn on TV when I am back in the States. But the Lord often offends my mind to reveal my heart. I believe that Benny Hinn loves the Lord Jesus Christ but he definitely says some very strange things, and I believe erroneous things! I have also seen Joy Dawson on Benny Hinn's program a couple of years ago, and I remember seeing her confront him on his program telling him that when he says at the start of every broadcast that' There is nothing better than seeing the power of God' that he is wrong, and telling him that there is something better and that thing that is better, is a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. I believe that Joy Dawson is associating with Benny Hinn because she sees that he loves the Lord Jesus Christ, and that through associating with him she is able to directly confront some of the serious errors that he has been propagating. When I first saw Joy Dawson on TV with Benny Hinn I was amazed because they seem so opposite characters and personalities in so many ways, but the Lord seems to be bringing together some opposites on this side of the Atlantic as well. I was similarly amazed to hear that the Archbishop of Canterbury ( the head of the Church of England) has approached Gerald Coates ( who unashamedly repeatedly pronounced the Church of England as ' dead ' a few years ago) to hold a large gathering in June 2002 in Hyde Park in London, ( no stadium is big enough for the event that is anticipated).
I believe that the Lord is bringing the body of Christ together here in the UK in an unprecedented away, but it is going to require more grace to continue to unite on the essentials and to agree to differ on the non-essentials. That is something that we seek to do in YWAM and I hope that pastors across the world who are considering sending their young people to YWAM DTS's will know us by our love for one another ( as we all come from widely differing backgrounds) and by our fruit ,( because biblically that is the criteria by which we will be known as the Lord's disciples) not by our unified doctrine because we don't have one . I also trust that we will not be judged as guilty by association to various speakers/teachers as noted by Steven Mitchell, because there sure is a lot of evidence for that, and I am sure we would be found well and truly guilty !.
I hope that this is helpful. If you have any further questions about YWAM let us know,
With love and best wishes to you, ____ and the children,
Alex and Constance
Here’s my response to that letter sent to this Calvary Chapel pastor and, I assume, was forwarded to “Alex” and “Constance”. I need to emphasize that many of the points that this couple raised went unaddressed in my response letter largely because of the fact that I wasn’t actually sending it to them but to our mutual contact who asked me specifically what I thought about their response. I only scratched the surface of my concerns but I am grateful that “Alex and Constance” were moved to write this other man. It shows a stirring of sorts but as you can read above, there is a lack of discernment present that permeates deeply. Here be my response:
Sent: 21 March, 2002 10:47 AM
Subject: Hey ___, Steve Mitchell from India
Dear Pastor ____,
Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, from baking Mumbai India. It is hot, brother. Thank you for sending me the response of Alex and Constance affiliated with YWAM (although not actually representing them). It seems almost an impossible thing to receive a response from anyone who seems authorized to speak on behalf of YWAM and I think I'm beginning to understand. At any rate, this response was the first negative one I've read, but I am grateful all the same that this couple took time to read my letter.
You asked me what I thought and, forgive me, I went for it. I hope this is not too long or burdensome for you to read. this is not , by any means, a point-by-point refutation but I wanted you to hear my heart on several issues Alex and Constance raised. Perhaps this will clarify my viewpoint as well.
There are several things stated in the response that fortify my concerns about YWAM:
The fact that Jesus was "pronounced guilty by association" with prostitutes, tax collectors, or sinners in no way justifies or excuses the promotion and endorsement of false teaching present in the literature made available to people through YWAM. Christ was clearly not guilty of ANY sin, but He also never "associated" or allied Himself with the false philosophies or ungodly lifestyles of those He ministered to. Although perceived to be one of them by mistaken onlookers, He clearly differentiated Himself from anything to do with their worldliness.
What I am saying is that Jesus declared truth and right doctrine and did not consort or unite with those who preached false doctrine or prophesied falsely. In fact, Jesus' view towards these things was quite confrontational.
Guilt by association DOES apply if a person or group is involved in actually promoting the ministries of known false teachers or their teachings. This is clearly what is happening when Dawson and Cunningham appears on Benny Hinn's program. They make no distinction or differentiation between his erroneous views on the Spirit and the anointing. They in fact give him accolades. I've seen this televised and live and it is active endorsement and declaration of partnership between YWAM and Hinn's ministry.
If Dawson and Cunningham aren't authoritative representatives for YWAM, then who are?
If Joy Dawson and Loren Cunningham have no authority to be spokespersons for the organization they clearly represent by being prominent leaders, then they should cease to name themselves as affiliates of YWAM.
The truth is that their behavior leads any normal person to make the connection between them and YWAM, indeed they advertise on Hinn's program. Then when someone equates YWAM with Hinn, they are criticized for making the association. Don’t get me wrong, I am more than willing to receive criticism for that stance because I believe it is an obvious observation. I’m sure you would agree.
Another important issue in the response was that YWAM "does not seek unity based on doctrine". I cannot think of a more dangerous statement than that because it is so patently unbiblical. If this is indeed the case, then we find ourselves diving headlong into serious muddy waters.
Sadly this open-arms ecumenism that is not so concerned about doctrine (something that Jesus, Paul, and the apostles held crucial to right worship and true faith), leaves open floodgates for the error that we currently see in their publications, and which inevitably makes its way to the DTS's.
This statement explains alot and I find myself wishing that it was made by someone who could officially represent YWAM. It, at this point anyway, seals the concerns I have had. It flies in the face of the "watchman" mentality that the writers of Scripture had and mandated for us to have. We cannot entrust our kids to such lack of discernment. We are to "shepherd the flock"(1 Pet. 5:2).
"Diversity in non-essentials" never opens a permissible door to excuse false teaching or ally with aberrant ministries. If you need documentation for this stuff, I'll give you some websites to visit. "Diversity in non-essentials" means an allowance for disagreement on some issues as long as each side can produce some sort of BIBLICAL substantiation for its position.
This does not include the controversy between "biblical" and "non-biblical".(Ex. True prophecy vs. false prophecy: this is not a case of diversity. We are commanded clearly to divide from false teachings and not listen to/promote false teachers/prophets. There is no fellowship between the two. God does not sanction the "bringing together" of these two "opposites". I'm quoting your friends.
So, to have unity in essentials does not excuse being non-biblical or aberrant, even concerning "non-essential" issues. We are called to a high standard and to take stands against falsehood wherever it is found.
Finally (and I use that in the Pauline sense, which simply means I am half done ;)), Thanks ___ for giving me this letter. I originally wrote my letter to Calvary Chapels because I believe that they don’t play the same ecumenical game. I believe there is unity on doctrine among Calvarys.
As we can attest, not everyone who claims some level of faith in Jesus, the cross, the resurrection, or the authority of scripture are orthodox or even, in some cases, truly saved. We must test all things and hold fast to what is good (1 Thess. 5:21-22). False prophecy, strange unbiblical doctrines, alliance between ministries where the truth is compromised is not good.
Calvary Chapels have always seen doctrine as a crux issue to unite on (e.g. the authority of Scripture). That’s all I am trying to uphold when I voice my concerns. I will continue to hold this position until the leadership of YWAM can present a biblically-based credible apologetic for the areas of doctrinal danger they are harboring.
The issue is complicated because some in YWAM insist that it can’t be pinned down or labeled on hardly ANY level. All I am saying is that there is inherent danger in such a construct, and therefore, in my judgment, it is rendered at least partially untrustworthy for participation for Calvary youth. Check out thoroughly the YWAM near you before releasing your kids is what I advocate.
I will go a step further and say without apology, withdraw participation until these issues are actively dealt with by those in power to do so. How will we know what will be taught to them if there are no, unspecified, or loose safeguards towards aberrancy?
I have actually been told by the Hawaii rep for YWAM, Danny Lehmann that there is "some danger" within YWAM even now, but that I wouldn't stop the movement. He even told me that, in light of the presence of falsehood that I was free, as a Calvary pastor, to tell kids to go somewhere else. If that isn’t an admission without accompanying action, I don’t know what is! We wouldn’t trust an insurance company or baby-sitter with that margin of error!
A grim reality also exists. If non-essentials are held in a consistently erroneous manner, then in time the essential beliefs will be undermined and overrun as well. That's how the leavening process works, and I fear that it is insidiously progressing in areas of the church and missions today, precisely because good men are not rising up in defense of the faith.
Contend, saints! Because today's lost ground in the battle for Biblical truth, becomes the enemy's orchard tomorrow.
I think that YWAM should take responsibility and be held accountable for the offerings it gives the public via YWAM publishing. Truly there is someone who will step up to the plate and discuss this issue. Perhaps Alex and Constance won’t be judged guilty by association because they remain at a "safe" distance from being spokespersons for YWAM, but that can’t be said for some in YWAM who bring "guilt" to the organization by their associations with the guilty.
I hope you could hear my heart in this lengthy letter, Jeff. I am grieved to see the extent to which the church has opened her doors and thrown up her skirts to wolves here in India as well as home in the states.
May the Lord continue to ignite passion in our hearts for His truth.
In Christ Jesus,
Steven Mitchell Gate Way Ministries India
Well, there you have it. Just a sampling of the sparse correspondence I’ve been able to have with folks in YWAM (actually this was not even one-to-one correspondence but I thank “Alex and Constance” for their comments anyway. They sound like sincere folks that I’d like to meet and have a spot of tea with sometime).
Again I say; if you are a YWAMer or YWAM leader, DTS teacher, or even in the upper echelons of the high order of YWAM, please write with your comments or corrections. I’m looking for some concerned, discerning individuals who will begin to dialogue with us on these issues. Until something is done, I must remain a staunch opponent of where YWAM is taking our young people. Not in all, but at least in part. Unfortunately, leaven grows, oh so slowly but eventually total permeation is the resultant state. If the speed at which the Third Wave has arisen and become rooted in the last few years is any indication, then its time to slash and burn these doctrines to the ground now before further damage is done.
I’m afraid that the above letter demonstrates some of my foremost concerns about the discernment level operating in YWAM. To allege that Benny Hinn even “loves Jesus” (as Alex and Constance did) must make us pause to assess the ever relevant question: “Who do you say that I am?”(Matt. 16:15) When Jesus asked this, He was probing the hearts and minds of His disciples. The answer to that question (answered correctly by Simon Peter (vs.16)) makes all the difference between a true believer and a false one.
Applicable to this situation: “Who does Benny Hinn say that Christ is?” If we take his own words over the years and the words of his peers whom he endorses, then his “Christ” is a rich, miracle man who had to be “born again” in Hell because He took on the nature of Satan on the cross! He’s also not that unique as Messiah and the “Anointed One” because, according to Hinn, we are all little Messiahs just like He was.
I’m not judging Benny Hinn’s salvation because I don’t know his eternal destiny, but by the fruits of his teaching and ministry (complete with false healings and unbiblical manifestations accompanied by false prophecies) then I can say he does not appear to love the biblical Jesus. If Hinn is right in who the Son of God is then most of the Church from Acts onward, including the foundational NT apostles were dead wrong in their assessment of His true identity.
For YWAM to be in any way involved with Hinn’s ministry is a gross sanction of this man as a true prophet of God; a designation he has failed to qualify for based on the Bible’s requirements (Deut. 18 for one) and judgments not mine or anyone else’s.
Alex and Constance mentioned Gerald Coates and the Archbishop of Canterbury united as a testimony to God working in the Church. But Gerald Coates has predicted things in New Zealand that failed to happen in the name of Jesus. (See Jacob Prasch’s book The Final Words of Jesus and the Benny Hinn expose video Spirit Of Truth or Spirit of Error, available from www.deceptioninthechurch.com ).
One would be hard pressed to find a Biblical example of God orchestrating, applauding or asking us to applaud any unity with false prophets involved. He most certainly disapproves of YWAM’s ecumenical compromises if we take His Word as an authority.
By the way , we’re coming up on the October 2003 date where C. Peter Wagner and his group of seers has determined that the deadline lies for entry level implementation of these new “gifts” to the church (the “restored” offices of the apostles and prophets). These gifts are ticking, though and will soon end in a fiery blast. We don’t need these new apostles and prophets, their unbiblical doctrines and delusions of grandeur. We don’t need YWAM and other organizations (who ally themselves with these men and promote or entertain their teachings) to take any more of our young people under their wings. These types of mentors we don’t need.
Join me in fervent prayer concerning these things and test even my concerns with the word of God. Keep me in check of you feel God leading you to get a hold of me. firstname.lastname@example.org
In Christ Jesus, Steven Mitchell Power To Stand Ministries Gate Way Ministries India