What is DTS?

12 Mar What is DTS?

Are you interested in applying for DTS and wondering exactly what that means? Have you already applied and would like to know what you are about to get yourself into? If you have told friends or family about your interest in this program, it is safe to assume many questions have been asked of you and, no doubt, you came to the realization that you have little to no idea what will happen in the five months abroad you just signed up for. Do not worry! I have been in your situation before and I know how unnerving the ambiguity of it all can be, which is why I am going to explain what a Discipleship Training School is and some of the basics of participating in one. 

What is the purpose of DTS? If your pre-DTS experience is anything like my own, you will be asked this question repeatedly. When I was posed this question before my DTS, I had absolutely no idea how to answer and usually ended up spitting out something along the lines of: “Oh, you know…to learn about God and stuff”. Trust me when I tell you that responding this way does not answer your friend’s question, nor does it make you feel confident in what you are about to do. Therefore, in hopes of saving you from many awkward conversations, I will explain why we have Discipleship Training Schools. The purpose of DTS is rooted in YWAM’s first two foundational values: 1) Know God and 2) Make God Known. The primary focus of DTS is to create an atmosphere which encourages accelerated spiritual growth with the goal of discipling students into deeper relationship with God, thereby further equipping them to make God known. 

How will DTS help me to know God? The first twelve weeks of DTS are spent in lectures which delve into the character and nature of God; each week will have its own topic examining and explaining different aspects of God, the church, and our roles as individuals in the body of Christ. Apart from lectures, staff and students devote copious amounts of time to prayer and worship, creating further opportunities to grow closer to the Lord. For me, these twelve weeks proved to be the foundation on which I built a more intimate relationship with God.

How does DTS make God known? Once lecture phase is complete, outreach begins! After spending the previous twelve weeks building a foundation of understanding the character and nature of God, you have the opportunity to share what the Lord revealed to you with others. During my DTS, I was surprised by how frequently certain things which God had emphasized to me in lecture phase ended up being the exact thing another person needed to hear on outreach. There will be plenty of opportunities for you to demonstrate the love of God to others by reaching out to, serving, and building relationships with individuals and communities in a variety of ways during this time. 

What to expect? Overall, my advice to you would be to enter into this season with as few preconceived ideas as possible. I will, however, share a few things that are safe to expect:

  1. If you have never been to Japan before, you may experience a bit of culture shock. There is no need to stress about this, though. You will have plenty of people looking out for you and as long as you keep an open mind and a teachable attitude you will be just fine. 
  2. You will be living in closer quarters with your DTS mates than you are probably used to. Be sure you come prepared to cooperate with and be respectful of the people around you. For my fellow introverts out there: do not freak out! You will have time to recharge alone. 
  3. You can expect to form lasting friendships with the people on your DTS. Bonds formed during this season of your life will not be easily broken and you will be able to count on these friends for support even when you are in different time zones, on opposite sides of the world. 
  4. Expect and be prepared to step outside of your comfort zone. It will definitely speed up your spiritual growth if you come to DTS already willing to be uncomfortable for the Lord. This looks different for everyone, but I can promise you that stepping out when God tells you to is always a good thing and it is always worth it. 
  5. Last but not least: expect God to do great things in and through you! I do not say this lightly. The Lord wants to use this season to show you amazing things about not only Himself, but you and the people around you!


I hope this has cleared up some of your questions and apprehensions concerning DTS. If you still feel like you are entering into this without enough foreknowledge, just know that you know much more now about what a Discipleship Training School is than I did when I boarded the Japan-bound plane that took me to my DTS. As you can tell, everything turned out well for me and it will for you too. That being said, please feel free to get in contact and ask questions if you still have remaining concerns.

Hannah Sherwood

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