Sunday, February 28, 2010

WELCOME TO THIS CORPSE ! Part -1-

We’d driven 300 miles northwest from the Stockholm, Sweden airport to our 1st overseas appointment, and as we pulled into the parking lot behind the corps building we saw them. A small band of mostly white and gray haired soldiers, all in full uniform with one holding the corps’ standard, standing on unsteady and tired legs were lined up to welcome us. As we exited our car unsteady hands lifted the flag as they all chimed in, in a well rehearsed greeting in their very best English; Welcome to this corpse! Corpse ?! We were presented with flowers, and that, coupled with their genuine enthusiasm and earnestness stifled any temptation to laugh.

A few days later the DC came to install us in our official welcome meeting. I had moved from Sweden as a ten year old, and returned 30 years later. It was an exciting return, one we’d looked forward to. I had shared recollections from my youth with the family; SA divisional rallies with more than 1,000 in attendance, Sunday School with no empty seats, and to have a guaranteed bed at summer camp required booking a place months in advance. And there was the excitement of joining in the final Congress day march in central Stockholm; the march past the reviewing stand seemed to go on for hours!

The corps to which we were appointed was in a large northern division, a town on a crystal clear lake, snow clad mountains in the distance and reindeer and moose grazed just minutes from the ‘hall’. The visit of the DC was a highly anticipated and well-attended event and included members of the local media. I decided to use the welcome meeting as the perfect opportunity to interview the DC in order for him to share his vision with the gathered soldiers, army friends and the media. I asked him, “ What do you see as your short and long-term objectives; what is your vision for this division?

“My first and overriding concern, my vision for the next 12 months is to not close more than three or four corps!” I don’t know to this day whether his vision statements surprised anyone other than me or not. But I do know that he achieved his lowly prophetic ambition, Unfortunately his vision was one held by many throughout the territory. Corps and outposts were closed or consolidated in great numbers.

We’d come from an appointment in mid-town Manhattan where motivated participants immediately responded and rewarded programming. Our Sunday morning attendance had increased ten fold with 20 adult well-dressed resident GED students seated next to their homeless friends. Other ‘regulars’ included SA National Advisory Board members, THQ and DHQ officers, a regular stream of visiting officers from other divisions and HQ. One Sunday 3 Commissioners and 4 DCs arrived, all unexpectedly, with all remaining to observe our feeding (communion) service and to learn about the GED program, the first of its kind in the USA. A full band and songsters and a P&W band were on duty. Just three years earlier the congregation consisted of 5 retired officers and a handful of soldiers and friends, plus the newly arrived Supply Officers Ljungholm and our four children. We were in our late 30s, and had both given up professional careers and consequently treated with respect and given a wide berth by DHQ, and encouragement at every level.

Now we listened to, and witnessed a corporate vision where policy in my view signaled defeat. If the old adage is true, that vision and motivation filters from the top and are only as good as the abilities and attitudes of those who are charged with leading us, our Division and our corps needed an immediate fix and a re-write of our policy at once.

In the weeks following I had opportunity to speak with other officers and local leaders of other denominations to seek their collective wisdom. What struck me was that the words of our DC were being echoed in many corners. Free churches and meeting halls of every denomination stood empty and their contents sold at auction. Clearly, and sadly, none foresaw an eventual return to, or any future use for these places of worship, many with histories dating many generations.

As a tribute to early day SA pioneers in the province where we were stationed we conducted SA meetings in three ‘abandoned’ SA halls. On arrival at each, on different Saturday evenings, we found well groomed grounds, freshly planted flowers, the tri-colored banner stretched high in the breeze with doors thrown open and folks struggling to enter the hall. In all three instances we were met warmly, but it was clear, they’d come primarily to reminisce and enjoy the fellowship hour that so often follows many Swedish SA meetings. What was it that drew them to our outposts by the hundreds on a Saturday evening, but by less than a dozen the following morning?

In time I realized that SA leaders, along with those leading the diminishing numbers of Lutherans, Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals, and other free churches were all on a similar ship-wreck course. The culling and poaching of Christians through secularization, pluralization and privatization was far more widespread and damaging than I believe any one imagined. I realized then that what I deemed a DC translating ‘struggling for air’ a vision, was in fact the common battle facing all Swedish churches.

In a UK territorial conference General Larsson said,
"Christianity is growing more quickly today than at any time in history and this is one of the most exciting times to be a Christian. There will never be a time when God does not want people to be saved. It’s beautiful when our halls are open, when people come and are welcomed into The Salvation Army." Here is an overview of TSA history in Sweden and what has taken place in that territory since 1960. (the homeland of two elected SA Generals), the decade when many suggested the downturn began.



The temptation we are led to consider is;

1. To use a formula calculated from experience and forecast the year when TSA departs Swedish shores or is absorbed into the 'FREE CHURCH ALLIANCE'

2. A Move toward providing only social services supported financially by income from the sale of donated goods, government grants and gifts from the general public

3. Join with the ever smaller SA forces in neighboring Scandinavian countries

In the last decade TSA Sweden has:

Sold center city hotels

Closed all DHQs and consolidated forces to be led from THQ

Leased Out or Sold Training centers, camps, and college

Closed the Territorial Youth Department

Closed the Territorial Music Department

Ceased publication of a major Territorial publication


Sven Ljungholm
Former
Exeter Temple Corps

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Single Spouse Officership - CANADA

Has the time come for the Army to enable married couples to pursue separate callings?

“The Lord says ‘Do not cling to the past or dwell on what happened long ago. Watch for the new thing I am going to do. It is happening already you can see it now!’…”-Isaiah 43:18-19 GNB

Recently I had the privilege of being a member of a divisional focus group that looked at the important matter of single spouse officership. As most Salvationists are already aware, when a married individual wishes to be an Army officer, it is required the spouse be a part of that same calling as well.

The primary purpose of the focus group was to brainstorm and determine what ramifications could arise should the Army, as an organization, move toward a system that permits one married partner to be an officer while allowing the spouse to be a non-officer.

The focus group, made up of officers and lay people, was presented with different scenarios to stimulate our thinking. Without exception, everyone in the group agreed the time to permit single spouse officership had now arrived and that there is certainly no biblical injunction that should prevent such a calling.

This new system of one spouse officership is already up and running in the U.K. territory and has had no adverse impact. Now that the Canada and Bermuda Territory has accepted this policy for the ranks of lieutenants, I believe we need to go the next step and incorporate this to cover all ranks within the Army.

Although there are great advantages in having both husband and wife in ministry team leadership, this should not impede couples where only one wishes to become an officer. Single spouse officership would allow a former officer to be reaccepted without the spouse being required to follow suit. Where a married officer resigns or is terminated, the spouse might be given the option of retaining their officership. If an officer must retire due to age or poor health, the spouse may be permitted to continue to serve in their calling. It would also allow a single active officer to marry a non-officer.

Some concerns were raised in regard to what standard the non-officer spouse should be required to follow:

Must they be a soldier or member of the Army, or can they simply be a professing believer of the Christian faith?

Would they be willing/required to move to a new location when the officer spouse receives transfer orders?

Would they be prepared to live in an officer’s quarters if their combined income enabled the couple to afford a more expensive place to live?

How would our corps/community churches accept this new leadership arrangement?

What kind of expectations would be placed upon the non-officer spouse by the congregation at large?

Though these issues will continue to provoke debate, I believe these questions and others like them will be reasonably worked out on an individual basis with each couple as they consider this lifestyle choice.I commend our leadership for showing vision by adapting to changing circumstances in our culture while still maintaining the core values that will determine our effectiveness in the years to come. May we, as a Movement of God, be continually ready to embrace change and to allow it to bring renewed vitality and vigour to our desire to faithfully serve the Lord.

Frequently Asked Questions


What is Single Spouse Officership?

Single Spouse Officership (SSO) refers to an active officer of The Salvation Army who is married to a non officer,
Whether only one spouse was trained and commissioned,
Or whether through the reacceptance of one spouse only of a former officer couple,
Or whether through reacceptance of a former single officer who has married since leaving officership,
Or whether through voluntary resignation of one spouse of an officer couple,
Or whether an officer chooses to marry a non officer.

“Single Spouse Officership (retirement option)” refers to SSO-like scenarios which are produced by the retirement of one officer spouse. The difference is that the “retirement option” SSO is married to a retired officer (not a non officer spouse).”SSO (retirement option)” has two scenarios:

For those desiring to retain officership while the officer spouse retires at normal retirement age, and

For those desiring to retain officership while the officer spouse retires before normal retirement age.

Single Spouse Officership will be considered a full time position.Why is Single Spouse Officership being offered?

Throughout Salvation Army history our unique position on married officer ministry, i.e. both spouses equally called, trained, ordained and commissioned, has been a great strength. The model of service where an officer is married to an officer will continue to be encouraged and endorsed in this Territory.

The Salvation Army International Commission on Officership (2000) opened the door for Christian ministry and spiritual leadership for those called by God, but whose spouse does not share the same calling to ministry.*

SSO will broaden access to officership for those who are married to non officer spouses.* SSO celebrates individual calling to ministry as officers in The Salvation Army and requires that each candidate for SSO be evaluated on their own merit.
SSO (retirement option) facilitates continuance of service by the active officer when his/her officer spouse retires at normal age or retires early.
* In the case of SSO (retirement option) the single spouse officer is married to a retired officer spouse.
When will Single Spouse Officership be offered?
In July 2005 The Salvation Army International Headquarters approved Single Spouse Officership as policy for the Canada and Bermuda Territory. Extensive input and dialogue on this concept at every level of The Army has prepared this Territory to launch SSO in May 2006.

During the first four to five months of 2006 the preparation of policies and procedures to accommodate SSO will be completed. Sometime after April 30th Divisional Commanders and Department Heads will release information and establish interviews with interested Salvationists. Timing is important. All applicants for SSO must allow time for an extensive interview and evaluation process.

What is the application process?

The application process starts with a written request to the Divisional Commander or Department Head asking for consideration as a single spouse officer.

An interview with the applicant and the non applicant spouse (or spouse to be) will be arranged.

Divisional commanders and Department Heads will be able to detail the numerous steps in the SSO application process.
Officers who are currently in active service and former officers should not assume that application for SSO will be approved automatically. A significant review will be part of the application process. The Salvation Army wants to ensure the very best candidates for SSO in this Territory, so that our mission will be accomplished

How will Single Spouse Officership function in a corps/community church setting?
In some cases corps are already used to ’single officer’ leadership, so the adjustment to SSO will not be as significant.
In other corps settings where an officer couple usually provides leadership, SSO may be a significant change, requiring a reassignment of responsibilities which an officer spouse once performed.
Some corps are no longer able to sustain financially two full time officers (a married couple). In these corps SSO may provide financial relief.

A change of appointment for the spouse who becomes the remaining SSO officer may be necessary

What will be the role of the non officer spouse?
The non officer/retired officer spouse will possess a thorough understanding of The Salvation Army, its mission and values and its officer appointment system. The nature of officership as a spiritual covenant rather than a contract with The Salvation Army must be understood and affirmed. He/she must sign a ‘declaration’ of support for the officer spouse’s ministry and a willingness to relocate with the officer spouse as part of the Army’s appointment process.The non officer/retired officer spouse must be a senior soldier of The Salvation Army ‘in good standing’. This person will share the same commitment as his/her officer spouse to The Army’s mission, values, beliefs and lifestyle.

Divisional Commanders and Department Heads will provide a copy of the ‘Manual of Guidance for Single Spouse Applicants’ to interested persons when an interview date is established. This manual will address questions and detail the application process.

Major Victor J. Cyr,
‘The Horizons’
September/October 2005.SA CANADA

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ordination and the Art of War Part -2-

To this day, the Monarch of England is the Head of the Church of England, and defender of the faith. We still have the concept of military training and spiritual defence being intertwined.







Military strategists today around the world are, in the tradition of the ancient warriors, constantly redefining warfare, rewriting doctrine, re-evaluating the art of war. This is done by people who are specifically set apart to make it their life’s work, specifically trained for the task. Warfare today is very different to warfare in ancient times, yet the basic understanding and psychology still remains.

Why this discussion on warfare? Since its’ inception, The Salvation Army has understood the corollary between the mission of the church and warfare. It has understood the metaphor that we are in a spiritual war. Its’ structure reflects this understanding. But this is just the latest incarnation of church/military relationship. All of the church’s hierarchy, structure, etc, throughout history reflects this relationship – the realisation that we are in a war.

However, the one thing the church has not done as a whole, which those practiced in warfare know is integral to their very survival, is constantly re-examine and redefine warfare and doctrine. The very discussion nowadays around ‘the priesthood of all believers’ – suggesting we ‘flatten the playing field and make everyone the same rank’ etc reflects this. If the analogy between our spiritual battle and warfare is correct, then we need to learn from those practiced in the art of war. There is a requirement for a select group of individuals to be specifically ordained and set apart to study the art of our warfare, to redefine our war, to rewrite and redefine doctrine on a continual basis, otherwise our war is lost, just as it was in ancient times. The war changes. The fight changes. Our understanding of warfare changes. Our doctrine needs to change to reflect the changing war. Without a group of specialists set aside to do this, our war is lost.

If we want to see our churches full again, if we want to see the tide of our battle change again, if we want to see a revival again, we need to re-engage with the art of war, and rediscover our military heritage that goes right back almost to the dawn of time. We need to re-evaluate our faith – which is the battleground for our warfare, we need to re-evaluate our beliefs – which are the tools of our warfare. There is still a place for the faithful soldier who fights the good fight, however they are called to do so. But the core of the fight must be those who are specifically ordained to engage in the art of war. Such people, like the Draculs, will be doing a work no other can do. Changing centuries of belief and doctrine is not easy. But if we want to win the war – we must do it.


Graeme Randall
Former
Australia

Ordination and the Art of War Part -1-

Has anyone ever wondered why in the game of chess, there are two very important pieces called ‘bishop’? And why does a ‘bishop’ have the ability in the game to take (kill) many pieces in powerful sweeping moves across the board? As a chess player, I’ve always wondered that from the time I was taught how to play the game when I was about 8 years old. The purpose of this article is to take a brief look at the relationship between church and military metaphor. Specifically, it will look at the language of Ordination and Clericalism in a military context, and ponder whether or not it is still applicable today. Is the ‘clericalisation’ of the church to blame for the apparent lack of ‘lay’ involvement, or is there some other reason?

To answer my initial question about chess, the reason for the Bishop having such power in the game, is that originally, the term ‘Bishop’ was a military term. The word ‘Bishop’ (or overseer) as found in Philippians 1:1 is better understood as ‘overlord’ – a military rank. As far back as Ancient Rome and further, these people were on the battle field. The characteristic ‘Bishop’s Mitre’ was part of their uniform, and still worn in more recent battles as late as a couple hundred years ago. As priests, they were trained specifically with a weapon that looked like a club or a mace, and was quite deadly and powerful. Bishops, in later times, were usually sword wielding Knights who were well versed in the art of war. They were an integral part of the battle.

Throughout history, there has been a strong link between the military and the church – regardless what religion one is talking about. In ancient times, the state/military/church was more or less synonymous with each other. The state represented God’s rule on earth, the church God’s intermediary, and the military was the means to enforce Godly rule. A couple of examples might prove useful here.

When we look at the ancient Israelites (as revealed in the Old Testament), we find a people engaged in a holy war to take the promised land – and keep/maintain it. They were led first by a ‘high priest’ (in the form of Moses, and then Joshua), and later by Kings, who were chosen and ordained by God to do so. In times of war, all men of fighting age were recruited to fight as the ordinary soldiers, but the core of the army were men who were chosen, ordained and set apart as professional soldiers. They often encamped some distance away from the main camp – apart from the community. As well as being trained for battle, they were trained in the Art of War. When not fighting, they would often be debating/studying the Philosophers, the Religious teachers, past battles, the psychology of warfare. They were constantly re-contextualising why they were fighting and how to fight. They were educated men. To remain stagnant and maintain one particular style of fighting or philosophy of war meant to lose the war with disastrous consequences. We can see this in many of the battles and Judges recorded in the Old Testament – The battle of Jericho, Giddeon, Deborah – the list goes on.

In 1408, in Eastern Europe, the Order of the Dracul was formed by the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismond to defend against the invading Ottoman army. These were highly trained and highly feared fighting men who were once again, specifically trained, called, and ordained to do a work no one else could do – fight war. They were spiritual men above anything else. They saw their gruesome work as a holy work – ordained by God – that no one else could do.

Part One





Graeme Randall
Former
Australia

Monday, February 22, 2010

Spending time with Him...

I don’t know whether this Office has a prayer room, but wanting to spend some time with the Lord one lunchtime, I didn’t find out, as we’re not allowed any religious symbols in our multi-faith prayer-rooms, they’re just rooms. Then I thought it shouldn’t make any difference, as we don’t worship symbols – but as someone remarked the other day, we in the SA have symbols, the same as any other Church. But I do feel it easier to draw near to God where there are religious symbols to concentrate the mind, and in a place which is dedicated specifically to God, rather than just a room set aside. God seems to be in the atmosphere of worship and prayer in such a place.

It brought to mind those persecuted Christians throughout the world, who can’t have any symbols of religion because they have to worship in secret. I find local Churches quite distracting to pray in during the day, as even the Chapels reserved for quiet prayer often aren’t respected as such by visitors. In this particular Chapel, non-Catholics have to ignore the Marys etc., but there’s a lifesized Jesus which concentrates the mind and spirit.

When I asked the lady in the shop downstairs if the Chapel was open, she said it was, and – “Do you want to say a prayer?” She said she’s an Atheist, but she “really must go up there and say a prayer sometime.” I missed the opportunity to say I didn’t want to “say a prayer”, but to pray – to spend time with God. It reminded me of the opportunities there are for witnessing in everyday life, and of how many we miss. (She did come and “say a prayer”, then decided to rearrange the candles and statues of the Saints – so it wasn’t entirely quiet after all!) I was also reminded of the song that says “I often say my prayers, but do I really pray? And do the wishes of my heart go with the words I say? I might as well kneel down and worship gods of stone, as offer to the living Lord a prayer of words alone.”

Former
UKT

Sunday, February 21, 2010

BLAME IT ON ANYONE BUT ME !!!

It appears that throughout these blogs we, as formers, seem to always be looking at a list of what we want the army to do to stem the tide. Did I read somewhere the other day that talked about the ‘constant laundry list of things to do?’ We want better treatment when we leave, we want people to counsel us before we leave, a Sabbatical would be good, and even three months every 5 years or so, fully funded, of course, and cut down in the pressure Officers are under. Everyone should have a Spiritual Director, and we should train our leaders better so that they understand the problems that we have and our leaders need to be kinder to us than they have in the past.

I am constantly troubled by this, what I would call a simplistic answer to the problem and the way in which ‘If only this would have happened then I would not be in the position that I am now in’!

It seems to reflect to me the culture of the age that there is always someone else to blame. I was at a friend’s birthday party yesterday at a well known Chinese Restaurant. We were keen to be there early so that we could put the ‘Birthday Boy’ sprinkles around the table. It was Valentine’s Day and so there were the compulsory red heart sprinkles without which the day just would not happen. Driving into the car park I was first in line to park next to a raised garden bed with heavy sleepers keeping all the plants in order. Now I am of course the world’s best driver and was sure that I could get very close, and there was an almighty bang. When exploring what had gone awry, there was a metal spike sticking out of one of the sleepers, not very far but enough to puncture and ruin the tyre. When relating this to the other people at the party whom were all approaching if not surpassing what some would call old age. There seemed to me that almost all the people there focussed on the fact that it was the restaurants fault and that I should take a picture of it and claim it on my insurance. They were the negligent party in all this and I should immediately claim it against their insurance.

No one focussed on the fact that I drove the car, and in wanting to be smarter than everyone else and get closer to the edge of the car park space that I did not take into account the issues of safety for my vehicle.

You are all smart people and I do not need to highlight the message but somewhere in all of life, so many people have forgotten what Personal Responsibility is all about. In coaching we often use the “Be Do Have” Model. You have to ‘be’ authentic, who are you and when you look in the mirror in the morning do you see a genuine person looking back at you or is it someone else. ‘Do’ all the things that are required of you to the best of your ability for yourself your family and your wider community, and then you will ‘have’ the rewards that you are looking for. It’s not rocket science but if you read it carefully it is all about the individual taking responsibility for themselves.

It was said so well by ‘GenEva’ recently and reported in a response to JoAnn’s “Where is the celebration and Affirmation” Blog of the 12th Feb... It’s worth quoting again and actually printing off and using as a poster.


General Eva Burrows preached to the Cadets last week a day before they were commissioned. Her main points were:

“5 Effective Habits of Highly Effective Officers”.

Habit 1 - Keep studying:
Always remain a student of the world around us and a student of the Bible. That way we will understand the context of mission and be able to offer the Word in a relevant way.

Habit 2 - Nurture yourself:
With devotions, with good coaches or mentors or spiritual directors. Defects in spiritual life, affects our leadership more than anything else. So have a plan for our personal spiritual development and follow it.

Habit 3 - Use your uniqueness in your ministry:
God wants us to be who he made us to be. Be who you are and do what you do best. This way you will do wonders for God’s kingdom.

Habit 4 - Exercise competence beyond your gifting:
Don’t use gifting as an excuse for not doing what is our responsibility. Learn about what we don’t know and talk with others and utilise others who can help. Don’t monopolise your ministry, but multiply it.

Habit 5 - Be a spiritual leader:
Cast vision. Have a clear and passionate focus for mission. Be ready to adjust strategies. Above all, like Jesus be a Servant Leader.

Thank you ‘Australia’ (the respondent) GenEva’s words needed to reach a wider audience and have reminded me again of the need for far more than a list of ‘Do’s’ for the Army to put in place so that some of the issues that we all face can be addressed effectively.

Today; my car is getting a gift from me of a new tyre because it really was me who drove into the spike.






FLETCH
Peter Fletcher
Former
Australia

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Taking Responsibility by Session

The best thing about joining Facebook has been reconnecting with sessionmates. The Proclaimers of Salvation are observing our 30th anniversary this year. But like many sessions, only half of those commissioned will be be in uniform for the Congress. The rest of us will be in civvies.

That’s actually a difficulty that we have not yet found a way to surmount; we will clearly be divided into those who are “in” and those who are “out.” Another problem is cost – non-officers will have to pay their own travel costs, the price of the motel and meals. And speaking of travel, our session is really scattered. It takes a real commitment to spend money for airfare for a single meal with old friends.

I’ve been away from the Army for around 25 years.

It was with some trepidation that I began contacting sessionmates on Facebook. It turns out that the majority could care less where I’ve been, but they’re very glad to have reconnected now. It’s been a blessing to me and I’m slowly making my way back into the fold. I’m renewied my soldiership covenant in a Sunday worship service two weeks ago.

I have an email list for the Proclaimers on Facebook and one on Yahoo for those not on FB. As soon as I have info re: the reunion, I’ll be emailing everyone. Which led to wonder if there wasn’t a better way to do it. I figure we should have a way to keep track of those planning on attending, a place to collect current photos, and store videos from those who can’t make it. So I took a look at a session reunion page on FB.

And that’s when it occurred to me that if we had had a page of our own back in 1980 – a page just for our session – closed to DCs, TCs, closed to anybody but Proclaimers – that we just might not have lost contact with each other. For the 25th reunion they found everyone except five singles and a married couple, with one sessionmate presumed deceased. The irony, a circumstance I find somewhat bitter, is that I was one of the “lost” and I live in the shadow of THQ and have for the last 20 years. The web was fully active five years ago and a search for my name would have turned up all sorts of information.

That’s where I think that 'Facebook and sessions' just might be the combination we need to keep track of each other – in or out. It would be a virtual continuation of that two years of camaraderie, a cyber prayer room and confessional, a place of celebration when children are born, graduate, marry. Do you see? Those people that were on their knees with me in chapel, the ones who wrapped their arms around me when I cried, even those who shouted hallelujah and or quoted scripture at me, those people would remain just a click away.

We could have commiserated with changes of appointment or held our breath as someone left the work and began again – praying as hard as ever for them. We could be the ones to assume responsibility for their remaining or their exit because we were family and that would never change.

As I’ve read (their) Facebook comments like “Love you, Sis!”, or wept through their private emails about fires and illness, divorce and other losses, I realize that we are still very much family.

Cheryl Hagedorn
Former
USA Central

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

feeding the Hog PART -3-

Possible Solutions

Foundational to any solution is the need to establish credible and open lines of communication. It will be necessary to educate those in leadership of the benefits of open dialogue. A greater confidence must be placed in the integrity and ability to receive information by officers. The organization should work with the assumption that its officers are prepared and able to engage in dialogue that currently does not include them. The topics of discussion can range from future appointments to inclusion in organizational direction and implementation of programs and services.

The following suggestions are offered as more specific solutions.

1. Provide tiered sabbaticals allowing officers adequate time to remain healthy, continue education, and provide a way of rewarding and honoring faithfulness. This idea was introduced by General John Gowans, and given to the territories for implementation. Unfortunately no visible progress has been seen causing most to assume that it will not happen. A comprehensive approach beginning with small achievable goals can make this idea a reality. The Salvation Army has resources that can be invested as well as conference centers strategically located around the country that may be able to accommodate this.

2. Leadership work to restructure the rank system and give tangible importance and authority to the Corps Officer. General Gowans attempted to make these changes but the changes that were made did not seem to accomplish the stated goals. There must be deeper change than an officer’s rank to make the kind of impact necessary. The change must address organizational culture, affecting the relationship between Corps and Headquarters. Much is said of how the Corps is the most important ministry in the Army. This can become reality when there is seamless transition from the highest level of administration into the field offices. It will further be realized as resources now used for administrivia are again released to the local operations for ministry. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find local resources to maintain the most basic services to the community while staff and employees continue to grow at headquarters. This adds to the vicious cycle of why many officers prefer headquarters to the Corps.

3. Be intentional and deliberate about improving every officer’s sense of ownership within the organization. This can be accomplished by simple but effective planning including but not limited to:

1. Open, honest and frank discussion about future appointments
2. Involvement in long range planning
3. Involvement in corporate vision planning
4. International missions trips for all officers

Conclusion

It should be noted of the organization’s attempt to deal with this problem throughout the years. This exercise was helpful to see, as well as be reminded of the Army’s basic desire and commitment to care for its officers. There have been many steps taken to provide officers with the tools needed to keep healthy and motivated. Perhaps the greatest need is to properly train the leadership to identify those who are struggling and have the information of where to get the needed help.

The Salvation Army is not perfect, and many of the issues outlined continue to be real unmet needs of its officers. There are many resources available for those who are struggling. Many of the solutions attempted by past progressive leaders have great validity. The Army should revisit the ideas presented by those considered “radical” and allow for a proper vetting process with all interested officers invited to participate.



Jeffery T. Bassett
Former
USA East
Jeffery Bassett Jeffery is the Founding Pastor of Living Water Church Ministries. He has a BS in Bible and MS in Organizational Leadership from Philadelphia Biblical University where he teaches as an adjunct professor. Jeffery is employed full time by the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association where he serves as the Director of Development.
Living Water Church Ministries
Wall, NJ
pastor@livingwaterchurchministries.org

Feeding the Hog PART -2-

Organizational ImpactOfficers diverting energy and passion: The Salvation Army (in the USA) has an excellent tuition reimbursement plan. It has challenged, stretched, and positioned many to be more effective in their ministry responsibilities. Unfortunately this has not been the case for every officer. There are some who have abandoned or replaced ministry responsibilities with an ongoing pursuit of education. This has been recognized by current administration as seen in the new stipulations and restrictions in the application process. There is a fear that officers will receive additional degrees and move on to other work or ministries. This fear alone should make administration want to understand why formally educated officers would want to leave an organization that has financially invested in their education.

Extreme community involvement: This is very difficult to measure because officers are rewarded when programs are enhanced, budgets are increased, and community relations are healthy. There is no doubt that much of an officer’s time and energy can be consumed by community involvement. There are basic expectations and at times mixed messages about the level of priority this activity must be given. Many officers are involved in service clubs, city activities, outside chaplaincies, community boards, United Way functions, clergy councils, etc., etc., etc. All of this can be good and contribute to the overall effectiveness of the local Salvation Army operation. It becomes a negative when all of the above mentioned items become the focus or escape for an officer.

Moral failure: This can be seen in many areas including but not limited to; adultery, theft, substance abuse, spousal abuse, child abuse, pornography, divorce. Obviously many of these areas are conducted in the privacy of one’s home, and can be difficult to detect. The reality is most of these areas of moral failure do not remain a secret. When left unaddressed moral failure will break down the integral fabric and foundation of a person and ultimately the organization.

Officer recruitment: It is understood that Salvation Army Officership is considered a calling from God. Notwithstanding this belief, there is still considerable time and effort given to recruitment. Ignoring the issues that cause apathy in officers will create trouble identifying, training and ordaining qualified officers. Denominational reputation is an important factor when considering the church or Christian organization one elects to serve in.



Officer retention: While this has not been a serious issue in the past I believe it will become a major struggle in the future. Because of the uniqueness of an officer’s compensation, as well as many other factors, this is complex and requires a more in depth study to address specific issues. Dr. Ken Kovach ranks the following 10 reward factors that motivate employees.

1. Interesting work
2. Full appreciation of work done
3. Feeling of being “in” on things
4. Job security
5. Good wages
6. Promotion and growth
7. Good working conditions
8. Personal loyalty to employees
9. Tactful disciplining
10. Help with personal problems

These 10 motivators are applicable to Salvation Army Officers and any person engaged in ministry. This list promotes the idea that an organization whose constituents feel undervalued will not be attractive to potential members.

Increased legal fees: This typically relates to the area of moral failure but will also be impacted as employee/employer relations deteriorate when officers begin to feed the hog. Currently there is no information being made available to substantiate the real dollar amount of this problem.

Lost revenue: This may be seen by passive resistance and or unwillingness to raise much needed financial resources to accomplish the mission of the Army. When an officer’s motivation is lost it leads to poor service and performance, causing decreased donations, ending with a loss of trust from the community, impacting future endeavors.

Increased healthcare costs: It is much less expensive to prevent most problems then attempt to cure them. It is important to give credit to the administration of The Salvation Army for initiating an Officer Wellness Program. This is an excellent step in the right direction to begin to address the many complex issues related to this problem.

PART -2-

Jeffery T. Bassett
Former
USA East
Jeffery BassettJeffery is the Founding Pastor of Living Water Church Ministries. He has a BS in Bible and MS in Organizational Leadership from Philadelphia Biblical University where he teaches as an adjunct professor. Jeffery is employed full time by the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association where he serves as the Director of Development.
Living Water Church Ministries
Wall, NJ
pastor@livingwaterchurchministries.org

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Feeding the Hog PART -1-

The following is an excerpt from a paper written by Jeffery T. Bassett while serving as a Salvation Army Officer. The intention was an honest concerned appraisal and possible solution for administration to consider. It may be interesting to note many of the issues addressed are still relevant to today’s officer.
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There is an expression taken from the lumber industry when undervalued employees intentionally create an unacceptable manufactured product in order to hurt their employer. Upset with working conditions workers would send good lumber into the reject bin, called a hog, which is intended to shred substandard or otherwise rejected product into sawdust. This hurts the company's production, wastes raw materials, and ultimately impacts organizational competitiveness. This aggressive tactic of getting revenge against one's company for perceived wrongs is fairly widespread because it makes the employees feel like they have some power to strike back. Although not every company has a literal shredder hog, the term has been extended to apply to any deliberate action taken by employees that artificially increases the number of rejects, cull, waste, or otherwise unacceptable product. The technique is also popular because it is so hard to catch. It is nearly impossible to prove that the employees are deliberately feeding the hog, which would require constant supervision. The other employees working in the area are likely to share the same gripes as the one feeding the hog and won't turn him in for it.

This is a challenge that must be addressed within The Salvation Army. As with any international organization there are many potential personnel issues that can damage or even destroy productivity and reputation. While on the surface the practice of “feeding the hog” seems to be victimless, we will see how this practice affects every aspect of the organization’s health.

Sadly we have all known Salvation Army Officers who “check out” from their ministry responsibilities. It is important to note that not every officer experiences this problem. Many continue to be productive and rise above any issues that might cause a drop in commitment. There also continues to be many God blessed and ordained ministries impacting communities and individuals around the world…The Army’s work in Haiti following the recent earthquake is an excellent example of this.

Following more than 20 years as an officer I have made the following observations which may impact an officer’s effectiveness and morale.

1. A number of Officers suffer from poor mental, physical, and spiritual health. Much of this can be traced to unaddressed baggage incurred prior to their acceptance of Christ. Unless one is intentional about scheduled times of rest, reflection, and spiritual renewal, the hurried pace and constant demands on the officer will further erode and deteriorate one’s well being. For some, ongoing counseling may be necessary to realize true recovery and restoration. While this is not unique to The Salvation Army it is an issue which must be addressed.
2. Many Field Officers (Pastoral Ministry) believe they are not treated with the appropriate dignity, respect and inclusion from those in leadership. Because of the hierarchical structure there is a sense that officers assigned to headquarters (Corporate Executive Offices) have “arrived” and as such are more qualified to establish and determine organizational mission and direction; while not the sentiment of all officers, culturally the accepted form of recognition and appreciation comes from a headquarters appointment.
3. There appears to be little thought given by many who administer the annual officer evaluation; insufficient significance is given to this process. When the officer being evaluated recognizes this indifference a sense of apathy often develops leading further to the practice of ‘feeding the hog’.

Impact on the Organization

The Salvation Army has been blessed to maintain a nearly impeccable reputation throughout its 142 years of service. This then becomes the first of three potential areas of impact on the Army if this problem is left unaddressed.

Next is the mission’s inability to fulfill the Great Commission which is foundational to the Army’s mission, “The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.” There can be little doubt that mission will be impacted when those called to fulfill the mission are not giving their best to that end.

The third and final organizational impact may take many generations before the results can be fully seen; the issue of slow death. In his book Deep Change Robert E. Quinn (1996) says the following about slow death. “These worn-down, disillusioned executives have made a conscious choice to let an unaddressed organizational problem fester and grow. The problem will eventually become a crisis, and many people will suffer.”

PART -1-

Jeffery T. Bassett
Former
USA East
Jeffery BassettJeffery is the Founding Pastor of Living Water Church Ministries. He has a BS in Bible and MS in Organizational Leadership from Philadelphia Biblical University where he teaches as an adjunct professor. Jeffery is employed full time by the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association where he serves as the Director of Development.
Living Water Church Ministries
Wall, NJ
pastor@livingwaterchurchministries.org

Thursday, February 11, 2010

YOU EXPECTED A LIFE TIME OF SERVICE ?

for about 10 years-and the cost to TSA...


THE COST TO TRAIN A CADET FOR TWO YEARS IN THE UKT RANGES FROM GBP 50,000 - 60,000. (USD78,000-94,800)



CURRENTLY APPROXIMATELY 50% OF OFFICERS RESIGN WITHIN THEIR FIRST TEN YEARS OF OFFICERSHIP - THE ANNUAL COST/LOSS



TO PONDER...

Would the introduction of, or change to current practices in the following areas help stem the loss of officers and the cost to TSA, and of eternal significance, the number of souls lost to the Kingdom through the loss of 50% of our Pastors and Teachers…

• A change in the current Sabbatical regulations (allow more often and with fewer restrictions)
• Allow leave-of-absence (up to 3 months) without pay after 5 years of service
• Allow officers greater say in the appointment process
• Appoint spouses to different appointments/commands
• Allow and support married Female officers to assume leadership roles even if deemed more responsible than the appointment held by the spouse
• Examine single spouse policy effect before abandoning it
• Introduce a sophisticated Mentorship program
• Encourage face-to-face encounters between those contemplating resignation and select ‘former’ officers
• Include a discussion session in officer councils focusing on the ‘cost of resignation’
• Include a session in officer councils focusing on single officer spouse with non-officer spouse as guest speaker
• Include non-officer spouses in officer councils; private sessions where they become familiar with what’s demanded of of officers and how they can ‘share in ministry’
• Re-establish an 'early resignation' policy to honor officers who have given a minimum of 30 years of service

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Your Battle is Our Battle -Part Six - Sabbatical (introduction)

Rationale for Sabbatical Leave

Someone has compared the life of a minister with that of a taxi leaving an airport. It is so loaded down with passengers and suitcases and the other items that the car has a hard time even moving and is strained to the point of breaking, yet the taxi may be only a few years old. So it is with clergy. They bear the burdens, the anguish, the pain, and hurt of their parishioners 24-7. That is 24 hours, seven days a week. As a result, many, if not all, experience to one degree or another symptoms of emotional collapse, stress related illnesses, and “burnout” adversely affecting the minister’s personal, family, and parish life, and greatly diminishing his or her effectiveness and well-being. For too long, this situation has been accepted, even tolerated as an inevitable part of the job.

A viable solution to the peculiar stresses and strains the clergy encounter is the Sabbath Leave, sometimes referred to as a Sabbatical. This solution has its roots in Scripture and in church tradition.

Definitions
Planning for Sabbath Leave
Funding
Re-Entry
New Sample Sabbatical Leave Policy —
Presbytery Sabbatical Leave Policies (See "Leave of Absence" section)

Definitions:
Sabbatical Leave for pastors and church educators is a planned time of intensive enhancement for ministry and mission. Sabbatical Leave follows precedents in the academic community and among a growing number of private sector groups. This “extended time” is qualitatively different from “vacation’ or “days off.” It is an opportunity for the individual to strategically disengage from regular and normal tasks so that ministry and mission may be viewed from a new perspective because of a planned time of focus.

Sabbatical Leave is an extension of the Biblical concept of a Sabbath day and a Sabbath year for renewal. It is both an act of faith that God will sustain us through a period of reflection and changed activity and an occasion for recovery and renewal of vital energies.
Sabbatical Leave is recommended for all full-time pastors and educators serving churches, who have served in their present position for six (6) continuous years. The recommended length of the Sabbatical Leave is three (3) months. Accrued vacation time and study leave may be attached to the Sabbatical Leave. It is further recommended that this Sabbatical Leave be built into the Call Process. Upon completion of the Sabbatical Leave, the incumbent pastor/educator would normally continue serving the same congregation for a period of at least four times the length of the Sabbatical Leave plus accrued vacation time. In addition, Congregations may limit Sabbatical Leave to one staff person per year, in multiple staff situations.

Planning for Sabbath Leave:
To be eligible for a Sabbatical Leave, the pastor/educator shall present, in writing, to the Church session for their approval, a program (“The Plan”) of activity for the Sabbatical Leave at least six (6) months prior to the proposed beginning of the Sabbatical Leave. This program of activity and meditation shall include a detailed description of the plan, the goals to be achieved and the expected end-product(s), together with a personal statement as to why this Sabbatical Leave would be valuable for both the pastor/educator and the church.

Upon approval by the Session in the year prior to the Sabbatical Leave, the Plan shall be forwarded to the churches Committee on Ministry for their review and recommendation. Included in this Plan will be the church’s plan for pastoral/educator services during the period of the Sabbatical Leave.

At the completion of the Sabbatical Leave, the pastor/educator should present to the next regular meeting of the church Session, a written report of activities and findings. This report also will be sent to the Committee on Ministry immediately following up the Session meeting when it is presented.

Funding:
The employing church will continue the pastor/educator salaries, pension/major’ medical benefits, book allowance, and, at the direction of the Session, auto and continuing education allowances at the same level as those in effect at the time of the Sabbatical Leave.

The employing church will also contract for substitute pastor/educator services during the period of the Sabbatical Leave. Although on the face of it, the Sabbatical Leave may seem like yet another financial burden for the local congregation to bear, it is crucial for Session and congregation to recognize the long-term benefits they as a church will reap from granting Sabbaticals. For example, ministers/educators who have the opportunity to examine issues of professional growth and development as ministers within an existing pastorate are more likely to stay more years in a particular call. The sabbatical provision conveys a sense of support and caring on the part of the calling church. It also offers an incentive to both ministers and educators to commit to and think in terms of longer years of service in a particular church.

Clergy, churches, and presbytery are encouraged to set aside funds each year so that resources will be available during the time of Sabbatical Leave. Those churches that would have financial problems in providing for the Sabbatical Leave could consult with their Presbytery. In addition, those churches that could not secure lay leadership within their own congregations might consider using elders trained as Lay Pastors or Associate Pastors who might be willing to preach one Sunday without honorarium, etc.

NOTE: The Louisville Institute, a Lilly Endowment Program housed at Louisville Seminary, provides study grants for pastoral leaders. Contact Dr. Sheldon W. Sorge at 1044 Alta Vista Rd., Louisville, KY 40205-1798. Their email address is info@louisville-institute.org.

Re-Entry:
Upon re-entry, it is strongly suggested that the clergy share with the entire congregation the details of the leave as well as reflections on its value and benefit. The re-entry process provides a great opportunity to reflect upon the benefits that resulted from the Sabbath Leave. Such expected benefits as:

Discovering the strength of lay leadership heretofore under-utilized
New understandings of the concepts of mission between clergy and congregation
Reaffirmation of calling to ministry on part of clergy and congregation with both being reinvigorated and rededicated to the work of God’s people.

The ideal result would be for the congregation to see this period of time not just as the clergy’s Sabbath Leave but as the congregation’s Sabbath Leave.

Your Battle is Our Battle -Part Five MENTORING-

Ought we to reassess the SA officer Selection-Retention process?

The following is a sampling of comments from former and active officers in the UK, USA and Canada Territories

“…there seems to be a willingness to open the door for anyone to come to training these days. While serving as a DYS we saw hundreds of thousands of Army (public) dollars being spent on bad debt, remedial education, psychological counseling, etc. in order to get people into training…”

“ How about investing in retention programs once we have the Officers onboard? Too many are jumping ship!”

“The Army loves you and you have worth!”

“ In the UKT the officer counseling program is seen by most to be of little value; a THQ project.. Mentorship, a serious attempt introduced 5-6 years ago has failed with officers refusing to participate. It was initially mandatory with mentors assigned from DHQ- It failed miserably due officer mentors being untrained and 'unable to keep info confidential and stop asking questions'!

"Mentorship-discipleship is based mostly on listening… I didn’t realize I (the mentee) had to do all the listening".

“I want to see changes to the current regulations pertaining to sabbaticals…UKT…”creation/construction of a SA retreat centre for officers… a type rehab centre for spirit and body while contemplating my next step…”

“…a visit to historic Sunbury Court will bring an immediate ooh and aah… there’s a building there erected around the millennium, and many claim it was specifically built for use by the High Council- fondly nicknamed ‘Sunbury's folly’. Why wasn’t the same amount spent on constructing and establishing a retreat centre for active officers and their families?"

“We need a more professional and productive mentor program”.

“You can’t simply assign a mentor without first determining if there is a ‘fit’ and checking if the two have a history”

“Not all officers have mentorship/discipleship qualities- they need to be properly trained…”

“If the Army says that it loves a person at the beginning of their officership, that love if genuine must follow them out of officership, or one must question its authenticity.

The Army’s espoused values speak of the redemptive work of the Church, and as such must make a genuine commitment to this ideal, beginning with every Officer. This has nothing to do with benefits, appointments or position, rather the true worth of those who are charged with the privilege to further the redemptive work of the Church.

The final goal must be genuine love for the individual. This true love will indeed begin the healing, help stem the tide of those leaving, and bring blessing from God. It may not change the course for those leaving but it will ultimately bring God’s blessing upon the Army! This is what we all want, and this is what God wants to give.”


MENTORING

Mentoring is an aspect of discipleship program based mostly on listening.

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:6-7

Why a Mentoring Program? God calls us to disciple our officers.

Matthew 28:16-20, Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Galatians 6:1-10, Mark 1:35 – 2:12. These passages tell us discipleship and mentoring are not an option, but a command. It’s a process of establishing relationships of (older) mature officers interacting with and discipling the younger (John 1:36-52, Acts 10:10).

Seasoned active and formers serve as the Mentor.
”We cannot lead where we have not been, or go without knowing the direction.”

The Goal of Mentoring
From the character of Christ will come the conduct of Christ—If we choose to follow Him. Then, those values of our daily walk, which drive our spiritual life and behaviors. A mentor does not give advice, rather helps the mentee to weigh up situations, through a process of reflection, questions, challenge and feedback allowing the mentee to come to a decision themselves. It is crucial to remember that in any mentoring relationship it is the mentee who drives the agenda, not the mentor.

Benefits of mentoring
In a study, by researchers Garvey and Garrett-Harris 2005, it was found that a key benefit of mentoring to mentees was:
Greater confidence and well being


WE BECOME WHAT WE THINK ABOUT MOST OF THE TIME Ralph Waldo Emerson

Officer Mentor Groups focus on 3 Cs

Character - the people we need to become.
Content - the paradigms we need to understand.
Competencies - the skills we need to master.

Mentoring is both value and calling-oriented. Value-oriented in that a mentee’s character and values are developed, and career-oriented because the mentee is taught the skills and given information that is relevant to his/hercalling.

They should inspire the mentee to take action by saying, doing, or demonstrating something that can ignite the mentee’s initiative for a deeper faith and re-analysis of their officer commitment.

Correct matching of mentors and mentees

There must be a high probability that the mentor and mentee will work well together and that the relationship will be productive to ensure the success of the program. Encourage voluntary participation and self-initiated pairing between mentor-mentee.

Train all role-players

All people responsible for mentoring, e.g., management, mentoring co-ordinators, human resource managers, the mentors themselves, and indeed the mentees must be trained to make the mentoring process work effectively.

(Megginson et al Mentoring in Action - a practical guide 2006)
What skills do the mentee and mentor need?

1: Basic competencies for mentors and mentees
Communication skills to articulate problems and ideas
To listen and to challenge constructively
The ability to be honest with oneself and the other partner and to reflect
upon what is being said, both at the time and subsequently
Capacity for empathy

2: Ten core competencies of Mentors
Knows what I am talking about
Not intimidating, easy to approach at any time
Interested in me (the mentee) personally, genuine concern
Provides subtle guidance, but ensures I make decisions
Actually questions me
Willing to debate / challenge me
Will give honest answers
Does not blame, stays neutral
Is enabling, caring, open and facilitative
Gives constructive and positive feedback


(Adapted from The effective mentoring section of the Edgehill University core reference material Original data from Brigden 2000)
Ground rules for mentors
Each mentoring session should last 60-90 minutes, and takes place about 4 times a year, or as necessary in a 'neutral' meeting place away from the hassles of the workplace. As mentoring sessions are considered a professional activity, social venues are usually avoided.

All mentees and mentors will be bound by an ethical code of practice

Competence
The coach/mentor will:
Ensure that their level of experience and knowledge is sufficient to meet the needs of the client.

Ensure that their capability is sufficient to enable them to operate according to this Code of Ethics and any standards that may subsequently be produced.

Develop and then enhance their level of competence by participating in relevant training and appropriate Continuing Professional Development activities.

Maintain a relationship with a suitably-qualified supervisor, who will regularly assess their competence and support their development.

The coach/mentor will:
Understand and ensure that the coach/mentoring relationship reflects the context within which the coach/mentoring is taking place.

Ensure that the expectations of the client and the sponsor are understood and that they themselves understand how those expectations are to be met.

Seek to create an environment in which client, coach/mentor and sponsor are focused on and have the opportunity for learning.


Sven Ljungholm
Former USA