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Letter from the Director on

Although we began YWAM Montreal (Canada) in 1986, it was only in 2000 that we began our first DTS. It ran annually and after a while became the largest DTS in the French world. But what we had presumed would happen 14 years earlier quickly became reality. We were a small team of three when we moved to Montreal and we had come to the city to be urban missionaries. Over the years, our team hovered between 5 and 10 staff who were engaged in ministry towards spiritual seekers, AIDS victims, the gay community, running a pregnancy counselling center, reaching out to university and college students as well as penetrating the arts community. In 2000, after several staff changes, we asked one of our staff couples to begin a DTS. They were Swiss, « efficient » being their middle name, and it quickly got off the ground! But our fear, 14 years earlier, was just as quickly confirmed. Running a DTS demands a lot of time and attention, as well as staff. Within a couple of years, there were only two of us left involved in regular urban ministry. All of the others had become DTS staff. They were fully engaged with the DTS for a full month before the school began. They were then involved for six months running the DTS, three months of which they were travelling outside of the country, and then they had another month of debrief and other administrative activities closing the school. Then they went on holidays. There was very little left over for actual ongoing ministry in Montreal. Montreal became simply a location where the school was run but the relationship of our students with the city was little. They could have run the school just as well in the suburbs or some other location. The heart and soul of ministry in and to Montreal had disappeared. The focus had become international. Montreal was the location where people were rallied, trained and then sent around the world. But students simply « passed through ». The DTS did recruit new staff, mostly to help run the following DTS. Staff also just « passed through » Montreal but no longer put down their roots in the soul of our city. We began the year 2006 by doing an evaluation of the DTS and our primary calling to ministry in Montreal. We also knew that key leaders were going to be moving back home later that year. Changes needed to take place. This is when the idea of creating the Urban Cultures DTS germinated. After having run six such DTS programs and now seeing other cities becoming interested in our school model, we were asked to write up a Facilitator Manual. This is what we offer you here. We don’t expect any center to copy exactly what we’ve done. This is our story. This is how we met our own challenge. Our hope is that you’ll find ideas in this handbook that will be useful for you and your own location. We invite you to take, to tweak, to add and adapt whatever you find useful for your own DTS and other school programs.

Pierre LeBel, Director


table of contents



Montreal: Our city, our context


Structure: How it works


Outcomes: Lessons we’ve learned


Student Stories: Real-world examples





The Urban Cultures DTS has sought to integrate the best of both the regular DTS program with the best of practical ongoing urban ministry, seeking to fill what we felt to be gaps in the traditional DTS structure and goals. Firstly, the traditional DTS was using up most of our staff, so those involved in city ministry diminished in number. Nor was the DTS producing new staff for work in the city. Any staff that was recruited through the DTS came to run the next school or two only, and 80-90% of the students attending the DTS did not stay in YWAM afterwards. This led to the realization that the DTS was our one chance to train leaders. Secondly, we found that the DTS did not teach or model incarnation, which we believed to be a necessary primary principle of ministry. We believe incarnation to be the only way to bring transformation to the city and to the world. Incarnation means putting down roots in the city and when you’re rooted, you can’t just up and go and move onto another location. Being rooted means that you’re engaged locally, you’ve got commitments and relationships that demand continuity. Incarnation means you stick to it. You’re looking to establish a degree of permanence and deeper influence in whatever it is you’re committed to. This translates to long-term engagement, which, in our view, the regular DTS doesn’t encourage very well. For this reason, the UCDTS is not only 8 months long but it is local. Putting down roots takes time and we coach our students on how to do this.


Why an Urban Cultures DTS?

Our aim to be local is also born out of a concern that the traditional DTS is run in isolation from the host culture and environment. Being committed to what is local means making context-based decisions on how and where to be active. It means respecting, observing, and responding to our immediate surroundings in a loving stance. Such a stance requires a balance of loyalty and flexibility, responding to the needs and tides of the city within which we operate. These aims and principles create a need for specific types of leaders. Our goal with the UCDTS, therefore, is to train our students to think and apply their faith simultaneously in whatever circumstances they find themselves, and learn to own their faith. These are students that, even after the DTS, will see their professional studies and careers as contexts for service to both God and their fellowman. Finally, this form of training creates Christians who are able to walk as disciples of Jesus even when the normal Christian religious props are absent, who will be able to speak about Christian faith and spirituality in their own words and not need to rely solely on ‘Christianese’, the lingo and terminologies which sometimes do not suffice or serve in translation and application. In the following pages, we’ll give you an overview of the Urban Cultures DTS and hopefully answer many questions regarding the why, what, where, when and how of this school. If you still have questions, contact us at For more information about our organisation, visit our website at



Our city, our context


on highly recommend the Urban Cultures DTS in Montreal “I Canada. This is a DTS with a difference and will allow you as a student to really experience what it means to engage a city and a neighborhood. The Urban Cultures DTS is designed to go beyond traditional methods of learning and allows you to learn from the richness of the city.�


Dr. Tim Svoboda Director, YWAM International Urban Missions

Artistic on

Montreal is an important arts venue, and regularly hosts a myriad of both local and international film and music festivals, including the world’s largest annual Jazz Festival. Cosmopolitan Montreal’s population is exceedingly international, a fact immediately evident as one passes through the many boroughs of the city, each with its own unique demographic. From the Mile End’s Hassidic Jewish community to Parc Extension’s South Asian milieu, the Latin Quarter to Little Italy, the significant Haitian population and the First Nation’s inhabitants along the South shore, the mélange of languages and faces is a Montreal staple. Bilingual Montreal is a primarily French-speaking city although the English-speaking community is large. The UCDTS is, therefore, a bilingual school. The whole 8 months are translated from one language into the other and by the time the school ends, most of our students will have learned either French or English. 2 schools for the price of one! Scholarly Montreal is the city in North America with the highest percentage of college, university and higher education students. It attracts students from around the world.




Secular The province of Quebec is arguably the most secular and postchristian region of North America. Following a Roman Catholic history of almost 400 years, the people of Quebec experienced what is called The Quiet Revolution during the 1960s. Within ten years, the large majority of Québécois people simply left the Catholic Church, not just out of indifference, but with a latent anger towards the Church for it’s control and moralism. Although evangelicals have been in Quebec since the early 19th century and that these churches experienced some growth in the late twentieth century, evangelicals today number less than 1% of the total population of Quebec. A concern of ours has been that most of our students are European or North American and that most will be going back to study, work, raise families and be involved in Western world communities that, for the most part, have said goodbye to the Church and to the Christian faith. A regular DTS often takes students for outreach in 10/40 Window countries, the ‘unreached world’. The trips and experiences are great but the question remains : are we training and equipping our students to go back into their home communities and to understand mission in their own backyard? Most will never go back to a developing world country. Training them to work in the type of context within which they are likely to live for the majority of their lives seems, then, well worth the investment.



“ The Montreal Urban Cultures DTS is a great new initiative of YWAM. It's a holistic approach of community living, teaching, serving, and learning about God's heart for cities through many different experiences. It offers the opportunity to meet and grow with people from around the world, get involved with practical city work as well as be involved with urban ministry- among many other great opportunities. The bilingual and cross cultural nature of the program will also leave students well equipped for global urban ministry elsewhere. � Daria Tomiuk 24-7 Prayer Canada



How it works

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The UCDTS lasts for 8 months, alternating between Teaching weeks and Regular weeks.


Teaching weeks: Morning The teaching week starts off with a student-hosted breakfast for the speaker of the given week. For the duration of the week, the mornings will comprise 20 minutes of either staff– or student-led prayer followed by 3 hours of class led by the speaker.

Regular weeks: Morning On regular weeks, mornings are a time for meeting and prayer. The week usually starts with a meeting to debrief the previous week and to address students’ questions and concerns. Another morning is devoted to Bible study and intercessory prayer, and yet another morning is devoted to worship. Occasionally, brunches will take the place of these morning meetings.


The Outreach takes place throughout the school, intertwined with both types of weeks.


Outreach: Evenings Each student chooses their own orientation in three domains of outreach: research projects, volunteer work, and a personal internship. Each domain of outreach requires students to immerse themselves into different parts of the city and interact with individuals relevant to each domain. Four research projects are required throughout the school. These include a neighbourhood exegesis, a report on an ethnic community within the city, a report on another religion, and a final report on a city sub-culture. For their volunteer work, students are given the liberty to choose a local, often secular, organisation to serve with several hours each week. The emphasis is on loving your neighbour. Students are asked to report on their experience at two points during the school. Internships are what we consider a student’s personal faith project, within which they are able to explore an area of personal interest. These internships can be pursued with another local organization, or independently. A final project and report allows them to express this experience and their findings to the other students.





Student Living Our students live as a group in rented apartments, separate from the staff members, each of which have their own accommodations throughout the city. Students must make decisions related to group-living on their own, though we guide them through this process and its inherent difficulties. There are no curfew rules or strict guidelines in terms of student life. To mobilize around the city, students are given a monthly bus and Metro pass, and travel on their own to classes and their other outreach activities. Our students are highly independent, and quickly become street-savvy and very familiar with the city.

Outreach Trips Students stay in Montreal for the duration of the school with the exception of three trips, each one week long, which are spaced out throughout the eight months. On these trips, students venture to nearby cities—Toronto, Quebec City, and New York City—in order to learn through the example of other individuals and ministries operating in similar urban contexts. Though the first two trips are coordinated and led by staff members, the final trip is entirely in the hands of the students.


Vis à Vis From the onset of the school, each student is assigned a mentor, or vis a vis, from the staff members. They meet with this mentor on a regular basis, talking through their experiences, lessons, questions and conflicts. Due to the highly independent aspect of the school, this form of individual guidance is as important as it is fruitful. It is with this vis a vis that two additional aspects of the school will be mediated—the journal that students are asked to keep and write in on a weekly basis, as well as the incorporation of two spiritual disciplines into their daily lives.

Building Relationships The structure of the Outreach aspect of the school requires students to immerse themselves into many different niches of the city. For each report they do, they must interview at least three individuals from each community they are learning about or contributing to. This creates opportunities to build relationships that can be sustained throughout the school. Similarly, the individuals that the students come into contact with during their volunteer and internship work can become close connections that are built and sustained over time.



Lessons we’ve learned




After eight months as a UCDTS student, you will have …

Learned to know yourself—your gifts, strengths, and weaknesses—and developed the necessary disciplines to grow in maturity, both in your relationship with God and your relationships with others.

Learned the value of other people—their person, their humanity.

Learned how to work as a team for the good of all, equipped with a strong sense of what it is to serve and belong to a community.

Developed your leadership skills in taking initiative to serve.

Explored and understood the influence and functions of the city in the arts, the media, business, politics, education, religion, and family.

Familiarised yourself with the communities that live in and make up the city—the numerous immigrant and ethnic cultures, religious groups, and diverse subcultures–and their importance, as well as the means for their reconciliation. Formulated an understanding of redemption and the mission of the Church, as is relevant to the city. Become able to discern both hope and despair in the city, seeing God’s presence in areas where most people would see his absence.


20 “The Urban Cultures DTS is an innovative program that gives participants the opportunity to live, observe and analyze the numerous facets of postmodern urban reality. The Urban Cultures DTS also permits participants to put into place the foundations for an adult spirituality. This means that participants, while keeping their evangelical fervour, develop their capacity to taste and to celebrate God’s presence in a secular context where this presence is often so astonishingly discreet that someone less experienced might not see it ! If you want to learn how to be a witness to Christ in the urban cultures of the XXIst century, Urban Cultures is for you.” Éric Wingender, M.Div. (1956-2011) Dean, École de théologie évangélique de Montréal, UdM (Montreal School of Evangelical Theology, University of Montreal)


What we’ve gained We have evidenced significant benefits resulting from this structure.


The alternating weeks structure and the extended duration of the school allow students to more deeply integrate the DTS teachings, having more time to process it individually and together in regular debrief sessions. Having such a diversity of avenues for engagement and implication means that on top of the academic-style teaching the students receive, they are also learning much through experience and by example. These forms of integrated teaching enable students to think of principles of ministry in a way that ensures sustainability for when they return to their ‘regular’ lives. The highly independent nature of the school requires students to be more responsible, and we have witnessed the ways in which they learn to take ownership for their decisions, both in community life and in their outreach commitments. We regard, and treat, our students as associate staff; this fact is what leads us to consider them not merely students but ‘student-interns’. The imitation of regular life in the city that students live out further encourages a sustainable incorporation of a spiritual rhythm that keeps pace with that of their context. (Continued on p.26)



“ For a complete experience both urban and spiritual, involving heart, soul, and body, the Urban Cultures Discipleship Training School is an environment of choice. Participants cross cultural boundaries in order to explore the city with a Christian sensitivity developed over the course of quality teaching, interaction with peers, and educational outings. Practical projects encourage students to contextualise their learning. I highly recommend the Urban Cultures DTS for those who wish to amplify their vision of God and of the city. � Murielle Swift Public Service Commission, Federal Government of Canada






“ The world continues to urbanise at astonishing rates. Unon derstanding urban growth, urbanisation, and globalization are indispensable skills for every follower of Jesus who desires to practice their vocation – whatever avenue it may be. This school makes a special contribution to Christian urban theological education because of the approach to integral mission including an emphasis on urban theology, the arts, volunteering and spiritual transformation. This will be a unique place for a denomination or a mission society to send their urban practitioners to learn about the city and to develop their skills and love for the city. � Dr. Glenn Smith Executive Director, Christian Direction


While these are considerable benefits for the students, the staff members have also benefited from this alteration of the regular DTS structure. Despite a longer duration of the school, the UCDTS is in fact less demanding time-wise for the staff, as the students are independently engaged in other parts of the city. The school schedule also closely follows that of a regular academic schoolyear, freeing up the staff’s summer. With greater amounts of time on their hands, the staff are able to continue their own city ministry commitments and pursue other engagements, as well as enjoy a quieter summer and holidays. These staff gains translate in turn to an additional benefit for the students—that of learning through the example of staff members that are actively engaged throughout the city. The staff are able to share their own passions and activities in real time. This relationship becomes not only one of staff and student, but of missionary and missionary, sharing and learning from reciprocal sharing of experiences. These are the results we have seen thus far. With the continuation of this school, we are certain to glean more about the lessons and benefits our students gain throughout the eight months of UCDTS.




Real-world examples



Pierre loved outdoor sports and also wanted to work with the handicapped. He found an organization that helped blind people do sports. After some training and research, he accompanied them hiking, cross-country skiing and cycling. He learned about security issues and how to enhance, as much as possible, the blind person’s pleasure in doing sports. He often accompanied a man who was Buddhist and during breaks they often had deep conversations about God. Pierre hopes one day to find or to create a similar organization in France.

Josua initially wanted to work in a prison, but this was unfortunately not feasible. Instead, he worked with a Catholic agency working with ex-prisoners in reparative justice. He participated at various meetings between exprisoners and victims of crime, worked closely with the director, and redid their website. Josua is now the director of an organization in Strasbourg that oversees the reintegration into the workplace of people from the street, coming out of prison, and of other similarly difficult situations.

Adje was a young gifted singer. He joined an excellent gospel choir who also performed in secular venues. He'd not only go to practices and perform with them, but he also learned how to organize events. At his last concert with them at the end of the school, he sang two solos.


Lysanne was a graduate from a

Montreal university, having studied visual arts. During her UCDTS, she pursued her internship with a community organization in an impoverished neighbourhood as well as with a school board in another after-school program. In both contexts, art was a means to help give school kids an opportunity to grow. She now is the director of an arts therapy program with a community organization working downtown with street people.

Debora was interested in teaching, as well as in working with inmates. She taught French as a second language in a community organization, three afternnoons a week. She also worked one evening a week in a halfway house for people coming out of prison and reintegrating into society.

Denny was interested in interreligious dialogue. He contacted the chaplaincy office at McGill University and met with a Muslim imam, a Buddhist priest and others to understand how they understood their role and ministries amongst the student population. He stayed on for another two years on staff with us and helped as a prayer leader in the school.

That’s not all! To hear former students’ testimonials, please visit our Facebook page



Š Photography by Alyce Hardee Johnson (


Interested in the Urban Cultures Discipleship Training School? These pages have simply exposed the basic foundations of the UCDTS. If your YWAM community is interested in running a UCDTS, there is plenty of expertise and materials we would love to share with you. If you are interested in attending a UCDTS, or simply learning more about it, we would love to hear from you! Contact us at

Content and editing by Esther ten Zijthoff (


Urban Cultures Discipleship Training School  

For those familiar with Youth With a Mission's Discipleship Training Schools, these pages - brought to you by YWAM Montreal - offer informat...

Urban Cultures Discipleship Training School  

For those familiar with Youth With a Mission's Discipleship Training Schools, these pages - brought to you by YWAM Montreal - offer informat...