Sunday, May 30, 2010

What would have made enough of a difference ?



I have a question that’s been nagging at me for quite some time in regards to people who resign from Salvation Army officership. It’s relatively simple: what would have made enough of a difference for you to remain as an active officer?


As a college student contemplating officership, I wrote a paper on the Adult Rehabilitation Center programming and realized that there was little research available regarding the people who took part in that program. Little did I know at that time, but that early observation was to be a common factor as I encountered Salvation Army programming in a variety of venues. We may track statistics, but at least as far as I’m aware of, we do little analysis outside of research papers for – guess what – college courses. We’ve got lots of anecdotal evidence but little solid research pretty much across the board.

If we as a movement are concerned about the retention of officers – which I believe we are – might we learn something by asking those who have left about their experience? And guess what? We now have a ready-made research base of 300+ former officers. Is it time to ask some questions?

Would a change of appointment have made a difference? Would longer appointments or more input into change have helped to avoid a resignation? Would mediation concerning divisive corps issues or disagreement with headquarters have impacted the decision? Would more money have helped – either in salary/allowance or in resources for ministry? What about single spouse officership options? A sabbatical? The possibility of secondment (assignment outside of the normal officer positions) for one or both spouses? Was professional counseling offered? Did it help to clarify the presenting problems? Was the major problem with the work you were doing, the structure of the Army, or doctrinal concerns? Did lack of affirmation play a role?

Was there adequate interaction with the supervising officer (DHQ, THQ) or the pastoral care officer prior to the termination/resignation being finalized? If asked to resign because of misconduct or ineffective service, was there a plan for restoration or improvement of service? What happened to the spouse in the case of misconduct? Was there information about resignation or early retirement options that might have helped?

And no, I don’t have the time to do the research – I’ve got my own Kroc fish to fry these days, and I’ve paid my dues with research papers over the years. Whether as a student paper or something that comes from the administration, it would seem that by asking the right questions of enough people, we could get a better sense as to whether we should give more time and effort to retention (as would appear to be the case based on the personal testimonies of those on the FSAOF blog), or if there really is little that can be done on that end, leaving us to concentrate on recruitment rather than retention. But beyond that, asking the right questions may provide a sense of hope to those on the brink of resignation as well as help those within the Army to be more sensitive to the needs of their peers and those they supervise.

Major JoAnn Shade ministers with her husband Larry as the corps officers and Directors of the Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center. She received a B.A. in sociology from S.U.N.Y. at Binghamton, a M.A. in Pastoral Counseling, and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Ashland Theological Seminary in June, 2006. She is a prolific writer, lecturer, and busy counselor and has been a valued contributor to this blog since its inception.

From the FSAOF blog Administrator
THE FSAOF RECENTLY POSTED OUR 3RD BLOG POLL IN A EFFORT TO CLARIFY CERTAIN ISSUES PERTAINING TO PROFILE OF OUR THOUSANDS OF VISITORS.

ON JUNE 5, 2010 WE WILL POST A FURTHER SURVEY FOCUSING DIRECTLY ON WHY SA OFFICERS RESIGN AND THE DURATION OF THEIR LENGTH OF ACTIVE SERVICE.

AND IN MID-JUNE WE'LL FOLLOW UP WITH: WHAT, IF ANY FACTORS, MIGHT HAVE CAUSED 'FORMERS' TO REMAIN IN OR RETURN TO ACTIVE SERVICE. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO FORWARD QUESTIONS YOU DEEM RELEVANT TO THE SURVEYS.

FOR THOSE 'FORMERS' WHO JOINED OUR FELLOWSHIP IN THE LAST 6 MONTHS OR SO, PLEASE TAKE TIME TO READ THROUGH SOME OF THE HUNDREDS OF COMMENTS IN OUR PRIVATE FSAOF FB SITE.

FINALLY, PLEASE READ DEB'S NOTE ON THE FB PAGE. IF YOU ARE NOT YET INCLUDED IN THE FORMERS' DISPO.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

THREE YEARS OF BLOGGING and CHRISTIAN SUPPORTIVE FELLOWSHIP

The first of the 481 blog articles posted to date signaled the formation of our fellowship three years ago next month.

This fellowship was formed seeking to provide positive Christian aftercare respecting and celebrating the SA officership service of more than 330+ members internationally, averaging 14 years of service by each of the FSAOF members .

We believe there exist weaknesses in The SA resignation counseling process, exit procedure and after-care provisions. The fellowship serves several purposes which we believe to be the role of The SA and we urge them to explore and initiate procedures/programs to assist in the following areas:

1. Providing Christian supportive exit counseling to officers (and their families) contemplating resignation, or resigning their commission

2. When resigning, make absolutely clear what the SA regulations are, and don't attempt to enter into private agreements with one spouse to the detriment of the other.

3. Having access to ALL personnel files in order to correct misquotes, assertions, falsehoods, etc.

4. Establish counseling procedures (pre/post retirement) using outside agencies to include all members of the affected family.

5. Consider granting the Officer contemplating resignation a sabbatical

6. Providing practical counseling support in the areas of; separation allowances, unemployment benefits, loan assistance, tax advice, re-acceptance policy and The SA lay employment policy, etc.

7. Providing temporary housing, auto, office & equipment –computer, etc. for a fixed time while seeking employment

8. Establishing a communication system whereby officer colleagues are informed in a timely and dignified manner of an officer’s intent to move from and beyond officership.

9. Assisting officers in providing support documents/files needed in preparing a CV/dossier necessary in seeking employment

10. Determining a former officer’s choice in maintaining the status of their ordination; often required when seeking a ministerial role in other religious bodies.

11. Establishing a consistent policy in repaying student loans

12. Providing those officers desiring it, a public recognition in gratitude of their SA service

13. Establishing a policy of private restitution for those officers who wish to resign without negative consequences

14. Providing a Christian supportive welcome by the CO in SA corps visited subsequent to resignation

15. Providing address/contact info in the Dispo for those former officers wishing to be included


Dr. Sven Ljungholm
Blog Administrator
Former
Residing in the UKT

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Change of Appointment Part 2

With 32 years of Salvation Army officership under my belt, I somehow am still able to have a foot in both the idealist and the pragmatist camp. While ideally I would like to see a systemic overhaul of the appointment process, my practical reaction is that this is unlikely to happen in the near future. Most of the time the system works, and when it doesn’t we’ve been conditioned to accept the changes as God’s will for our lives. This is what we signed up to do, so how dare we complain when it happens?

Yet it would appear that there could be some possible “tweaking” of the system that could consider the process as to its effectiveness and support the officers during the time of decision-making and of transition. Here’s a radical possibility – what about a survey – anonymous, of course – set up on survey monkey to ask about how the transition is experienced. Does it work well in 95% of the situations? Or are 40% of the officers on The List distressed over their up-coming move? What helps? What doesn’t? All we have to go on to actually have informed dialogue at this point are our own experiences and the stories of others, often heard anecdotally. What if we took a cue from John Gowans and actually asked those impacted?

Oh, yes, the larger question remains – is there room for informed discussion that might make this process less painful for officers and corps? That, too, is an important question in more areas than appointments, but since all officers experience these transitions 6-8-10 or more times during their lifetimes, shouldn’t there be some room for input?

I have the utmost appreciation for those who have to make the changes – and who are also subject to changes from above themselves. They’ve inherited a system from generations of SA leadership, and do work to improve its functioning. So I simply want to toss out a few possibilities for consideration from the perspective of a long-term field officer who’s never had to make those calls (for which I am grateful), but also from one who has heard the pain of my own heart, as well as from my brothers and sisters who receive those calls.

We’ve heard bandied around the term “consultation,” where there could actually be specific conversations between the leadership and the individual officer as to the possibility of a change in appointment. A respectful conversation in January or February that says, “We’re thinking about a reassignment for you to another corps, a different kind of work, another division. Are there reasons this would be difficult? What are they? What would this look like for you?” We are adults – hopefully if we can be trusted to lead a corps, we can be trusted to understand when changes in plans have to be made or changes don’t happen, but at least with honest conversation at various points in the process, the officer feels included – and that makes a huge difference.

Why? Jim Wallis writes: “The recognition that each of us is created in the image of God means that what is at stake in how we treat one another is nothing less than how we regard the image of God in us.” Do we love and respect each other, reflecting the image of God in us, when officers are totally kept in the dark in regards to decisions that will change the course of their lives – and their children’s lives? I Cor. 13:5 tells us that “love does not dishonor” (TNIV).

Even at the time when the officer is being informed of the change of appointment, it is affirming to have a conversation with the leader making that call as to at least some of the reasoning behind the change. As in: “we know this is a challenging appointment for you, but here are some of the reasons why we believe this will be a good fit.” Or, “we know this isn’t a very good time for you to move, but we really need you in East Podunk because . . .” And if there are some concerns about performance that have led to a change, it is vital to know that as well – after all, we give our employees job evaluations and warning notices.

Now, will someone please explain to me why the DC calling cannot tell the officers what position they will have in the receiving division? The “you’ll have to call your new D.C.” are words that bring their own dose of anxiety. Is that still policy or has that changed?

Timing. How hard would it be to send an e-mail to all the officers in the territory to say: it is anticipated that phone calls will be made on Wednesday, May 10 and that the moves will be posted Friday, May 12 at noon. Certainly some people seem to know that – but why leave those less connected guessing as to whether the phone will ring? What about a twitter message that "all calls have now been made - you can rest well tonight if your phone didn't ring" (I'm kind of kidding, but the anxiety of not knowing can be really hard to deal with - especially like the one year when I was at a Cleveland Indians game and was hoping for the phone to ring - and it never did - and the Indians got clobbered as well). Or simply a LN message that the appointments have been posted to the bulletin board.

And speaking of timing, how much time is actually needed to prepare for a move? Does the timeframe used in the United Kingdom make more sense when moves are announced months in advance? From a practical standpoint, how much time is needed to do everything that has to be done and to be emotionally and spiritually healthy to provide a supportive environment for our children, congregation and staff – and to enter the new assignment without being utterly exhausted? It did seem as though the moves were announced a week earlier this year, and if that was deliberate, thank you, whoever did that. An extra week might actually give me enough time to go through my Lotus Notes.

What about something that could be extremely practical? What might be the possibility of a territorial database of information that could include pictures of the quarters, the corps building, and the local elementary and secondary schools. We have the technology to make that secure, and we have most of the information through the annual ACR – wouldn’t it be great to be able to show our children a picture of our new house and our new corps, as well as the school they will attend?

And let's not even talk about the farewell brief . . .

And, just like last night's NCIS, this is to be continued . . .


Major JoAnn Shade ministers with her husband Larry as the corps officers and Directors of the Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center. She received a B.A. in sociology from S.U.N.Y. at Binghamton, a M.A. in Pastoral Counseling, and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Ashland Theological Seminary in June, 2006. She is a prolific writer, lecturer, and busy counselor and has been a valued contributor to this blog since its inception.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Salute and Go???

So what have you done wrong? That question was raised four years ago when we were appointed as the Corps Officers in Ashland, Ohio, traditionally seen as a first appointment type of corps by most in the know. Our friend was unaware of the Kroc designation for the Ashland community, so thought that something was wrong that we now needed to go to such a small appointment after 28 years of officership. His comment wasn’t unusual, for as Salvation Army officers just experienced once again, the publication of the Change of Appointment list brings a number of comments regarding the various changes, ranging from “that’s a perfect fit” and, “that makes a lot of sense” to “oh, my.”

With the release of the most recent LIST, my thoughts turn to those who, with the stroke of a pen (or a few computer keys) and the answering of a phone, find their lives once more in transition to a new place of ministry. Some find it a welcome designation, needing to shake the dust off their feet in a placement where they weren’t accepted or that didn’t fit very well, or coming at a time when both the congregation/corps and the officer sense that it’s time for a leadership change. Others may face the change with ambivalence, happy and productive in their present assignment but open to what the next challenge may bring. However, a third group of officers may find themselves in a place of confusion and grief, as the farewell orders and the marching orders simply don’t make sense, come at a difficult time in their lives, or leave them asking: can I/we even do this?

Like much else in the Salvation Army, when you’re in the first two groups, the system seems to work relatively well. It fits with our initial commitment as officers to live in submission to the placements determined by those in leadership, accepting that God directs those who wrestle with deciding those placements. However, when the phone call from the divisional commander is devastating, what do we do?

Recognize that you are not alone. While I have no statistics for the number of calls to the Secretary for Personnel the week of moves, it is likely that the reassignment phone call is unwelcome by at least 10-20% of officers (a good research project for someone). As one of my leaders once said, “I know that change is never easy. That's why, for most of us, it's one of the hardest things we face in this ministry.” Change is difficult enough when it is expected and/or welcomed – it is excruciating when our world is turned upside-down overnight. And while they may not shout it from the mountaintop or post it on Facebook, there are a good number of officers who are struggling to see the hand of God in their particular reassignments. Trust me – you are not alone. (Remember the roots of the Salvation Army - William and Catherine struggled to submit to the authority of their early church body).

Find a safe sounding board. When we’re in crisis or shock, our judgment may not be the best. Taking our concerns to a safe, relatively neutral sounding board can give perspective that we might miss in the initial hours following the phone call.

Request more information. While there are no EEOC regulations that apply to officers, and no union representatives that can speak up for those who need a voice, it is possible for the officers to request to talk with someone in leadership about the reasoning behind the placement. Years ago, one divisional leader told us that he had looked through the dispo and couldn’t see anyone else more qualified to fill an open position. I would have preferred a more realistic assessment: we had a commitment to inner city ministry, there had been an unexpected breakdown, and the Salvation Army needed officers who would be willing to walk into a difficult situation with at least some prior experience in a cross-cultural setting – and we were trusted enough to be able to do the job requested.

We can hope and pray that our leaders are willing to tell us the truth about ourselves, our performance, and the needs of the appointment awaiting us. Sometimes we feel like we’re a part of the kind of quiz that matches questions from one column with answers from the other column – and we were the left-over answer. Appointments are not made that lightly, but sometimes there are moves that may not make much sense to us. Jesus encourages us to ask, seek and knock. If we’re entrusting our lives and families to the direction of our leaders, it is not unreasonable to request a conversation that can address our questions.

Know that changes can be made. While not common, it is possible for adjustments to be made, either in the current round of assignments or at a later date. Even with as much care and prayer that goes into the process, sometimes mistakes are made. Pro tem appointments can happen. Other options can be explored.

Submission and Obedience. If I had a quarter for every time I’ve heard this, I’d be rich: “Man (or The Salvation Army) cannot place me where God cannot use me.” Of course that is true – it just doesn’t always make man’s - or woman’s –placement decision the best decision. God can use us anywhere – but I have to believe that He desires to use us in ways that maximize our gifts and abilities. However, officers serve in a system where we’ve committed to abide by the decisions of our leaders – and the move system is definitely one of those decisions. If our reluctance to move to a particular spot is mostly an issue of preference or bruised ego, we’re out of luck, as we have made a commitment to obedience and don’t really have the choice to refuse to go. However, if there are valid concerns regarding the appointment, we must find ways to articulate them, working with the leadership to determine if any other options are available.

Give it time. With the system as it stands, we still are facing many farewell orders that come as a surprise to the officers. While we have moved towards at least a bit of “consultation,” some have no clue that the phone will ring during the week of moves (another good research project to determine if prior consultation makes the process any easier). It may be that with some time for prayer, reflection, and conversation as noted above, the appointment will become more workable.

Redeeming the struggle. In the book of Ruth, Naomi returns to Bethlehem with a curious statement: “Don’t call me Naomi . . .call me Mara (bitter).” One thought on this narrative is that Naomi discovered she had to name her pain in order for it to be redeemed. While we want to protect the integrity of the Salvation Army as well as our own character, there may be opportunity to be vulnerable with those closest to us as we walk through the difficult days of struggling with the reassignment. We can model a grieving that is consistent with a spirit of holiness. We can walk with our people as they also mourn the loss they feel.

Major JoAnn Shade ministers with her husband Larry as the corps officers and Directors of the Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center. She received a B.A. in sociology from S.U.N.Y. at Binghamton, a M.A. in Pastoral Counseling, and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Ashland Theological Seminary in June, 2006. She is a prolific writer, lecturer, and busy counselor and has been a valued contributor to this blog since its inception.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

YOUR VOICE NEEDED...

These past few weeks we have had an average of 60-70 visitors to our blog on a daily basis. Some, as you would guess, found us quite accidentally, and others are regular visitors seeking SA updates and inspiration.

We'd love to hear from you ! Out of the 300 visitors this last week few have taken time to share a comment... it begs the questions;
- is the blog of interest?
- is the format friendly and compelling?
- are the articles relevant and of real interest?

We invite you to share your comments in this thread, and know that your comments are appreciated!

Sven Ljungholm

ps You may share your opinion anonymously - clack on the button on the bottom once having clicked on the comment bar...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

At some point, to be a Christian, you've got to transition from "come and see" to "go and die" and that is, you just can't watch other people walk with Jesus; you have to go walk with him. You can't just allow other people to serve you; you need to serve as well. You can't just allow other people to fund ministry, you need to give generously. At some point, the come-and-see season needs to end and the go-and-die season has to begin,...

11 Leadership Lessons from 12 Disciples
So we're going to look at Jesus calling the twelve from a come-and-see experience to a go-and-die life. And so from this, we're going to pull out what I'll call "Eleven Leadership Lessons from Twelve Disciples."

We want to have a church that follows the leadership example of Jesus. How did he pick his men? How did he lead his men? How did he train his men? How did he deploy his men? How did Jesus organize his ministry? Because we want to follow in Jesus' example by Jesus' empowerment through the Holy Spirit, and we want to have a church that is patterned after Jesus' ministry. That's what we're all about. We want to see people meet Jesus. We want to see the church grow. We want to start other campuses. We want to start other churches. We want to continue to mature and grow in every way, but most importantly, we want to do that in a way that honors Jesus, obeys Jesus, imitates Jesus. So we'll pull eleven lessons from him selecting his twelve disciples.

CLICK HERE TO READ FURTHER...

Mark Driscoll

Friday, May 21, 2010



SIX RESOLUTIONS!
By William Booth (age 20)

1. That I will rise every morning sufficiently early to wash, dress, and have a few minutes, not less than five, in private prayer.

2. That I will, as much as possible, avoid all that babbling and idle talk in which I have lately so sinfully indulged.

3. That I will endeavor in my conduct and deportment before the world and my fellow servants especially to conduct myself as a humble, meek and zealous follower of Christ, and by serious conversation and warning endeavor to lead them to think of their immortal souls.

4. That I will read no less than four chapters in God’s Word every day.

5. That I will strive to live closer to God, and to seek after holiness of heart and leave providential events with God.

6. That I will read over this every day or at least twice a week.

“God help me, enable me to cultivate a spirit of self-denial and to yield myself a prisoner of love to the redeemer of the world.”

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Wiiliam Booth Left the Work (part three)


Conference

William Booth’s departure from the new Connexion met with conflicting responses among his fellows. One minister, who had been converted in William’s revival services, invited the evangelist to conduct services in Hayle, Cornwall, which later widened into a larger campaign. Before long, however, Methodist chapels were closed against him and he discovered that his resignation had stirred ill-will toward him.

Such mixed responses often greet officers who step out of officership. Some meet with Christian understanding and support from peers and superiors. One divisional commander, upon realising that an officer’s resignation was unavoidable, sincerely offered to help load crates and boxes when moving day arrived.

Too many, however, cannot witness to such experience. Many have echoed the sorrow if one officer-couple who, from the day of their resignation, received no card, call or other contact from any of their comrades for over a year. Another couple remarked, ‘It’s as if we fell off the face of the earth.’

We are frequently so disturbed by the loss of an officer that we find it difficult to comply with Orders and Regulations, which state that, ‘Comrades who withdraw from officership should be treated justly and kindly.’ Earlier editions dealt more specifically with comrades who have resigned honourably, adding that officers should ‘Go out of their way to show [the ex-officer] kindness, obtain for him the sympathy of comrades, and prevent him being, in any sense, regarded with suspicion.’ Even an officer who resigns amid shameful or worrying circumstances should be treated kindly and justly, for ‘you who are spiritual should restore him gently.’

It is difficult to know what to say or how to act toward recently-resigned comrades. When we react unkindly (or not at all) to an ex-officer, however, we not only disobey O&R, but we also increase whatever tension or difficulties may have led to resignation. More importantly, we also oppose the command of Scripture to ‘love one another’, to ‘carry each other’s burdens, and in this way…fulfil the law of Christ’.

The 1862 conference of the New Connexion voted to accept William Booth’s resignation, ‘and thus,’ writes Harold Begbie, ‘any hope he may have nourished of a return to the church of his adoption was effectually knocked on the head.’ It’s impossible to say what action, if any, on the organisation’s part might have led Booth to return, but it appears that little or no effort was made to bring that about.

Similarly, the manner in which we sometimes handle the resignation of our comrade-officers effectually locks the door of re-entry behind them. Due to some circumstances beyond our control (and others within our control), resignation is often so traumatic, seeming to leave the officer ‘without a friend and without a farthing’, that any possibility of return is quashed. Very often, in making it overwhelmingly difficult for an officer to leave, we make it insurmountably difficult for him to return.

Comrade

When all attempts to retain our officers and encourage them to persevere prove fruitless, we can derive no benefit from withholding help or ‘teaching a lesson’ to the resigning officer. We must not only try to make the transition as painless as possible for the Army, but it will be to our benefit in the long run to be a helpful and supportive as possible to our comrade, like the divisional commander who was willing to carry boxes for his officer-friend.

Neither should we (consciously or not) impose exile upon our friends and family who step out of officership. Staying in touch with former officers will not only encourage them and exhibit a Christlike spirit of interest and concern in us, but it may prove a boon to the Army as well. Some who have undertaken to contact former officers have been surprised that many ex-officers might have considered taking an appointment-even after years- if only someone had shown interest.

Too often the back door of officership swings only one way; perhaps, to borrow an American president’s phrase, ‘a kinder, gentler’ approach would keep the door open for those who still have gifts and talents and energy to offer to the Army.

William and Catherine Booth’s departure from the Methodist New Connexion was significant, not only in paving the way for The Salvation Army, but also in the lessons to be gained from their experience. If we heed those lessons, we will more often obey our orders to treat comrades who withdraw from officership ‘kindly and justly’. In this way we will fulfill the law of Christ.

(Part three)

Bob Hostetler; THE OFFICER1991

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

William Booth Left the Work (part two)


Co-dependency

According to Lieut-Colonel Damon Rader, the assistant field secretary for pastoral care in the USA Eastern Territory, we must pay attention to the need for balance and wholeness among our personnel in order to prevent resignations. ‘We don’t have enough people holding our trampoline,’ he says, pointing to inadequate personal support. Equipping our officers to cope with stress, marital difficulties, co-dependency and similar struggles will not be accomplished with an annual spiritual retreat. The demands are great and our response must meet the demands.

Also because we are no longer the upstart child of a whirlwind evangelist but an organisation like the New Connexion, there will be times when our officers will find themselves up against a bureaucracy that cannot see things from their perspective. There will likewise be times when officers react foolishly or hastily with threats or ultimatums. At such times, mutual flexibility and respect is crucial. Most importantly, officers must learn to communicate - particularly face-to-face or over the phone- and superiors must be careful to listen before the situation reaches a crisis.

The witness of history is that William and Catherine Booth ‘left the work’ of the New Connexion for the right reasons. After prayerful consideration and every attempt to ‘follow peace’, they left the New Connexion in the belief that they were obeying God. ‘I don’t believe in any religion,’ wrote Catherine, ‘apart from doing the will of God.’

For many years Order and Regulations for Officers stated that,

Although the inclination to resign is usually a temptation of the devil, it is possible that an officer can come into such a condition of heart and mind, or of health, or into such circumstances that would make resignation not only allowable but commendable.

Contemplating

The current edition of O & R admits ‘such circumstances as would make resignation correct.’ Some leaders, however, have come to express the feeling that under no circumstances can an officer resign honourably, let alone by God’s leading. One highly respected officer, at a gathering of cadets, said he could not envision an instance when an officer could resign according to the will of God. We point proudly to ex-officers who belong to the past, like George Bennard and Gipsy Smith, but seem far less patient with our contemporaries who were once officers.

Don’t misunderstand. It is important, when an officer is contemplating resignation, to attempt to prevent it by correcting the causes or working through acceptable alternatives. It is important, too, to guard the Army’s interests. An equal priority, however, for ‘shepherd of God’s flock’, must be the condition of that officer’s soul: is he spiritually sound? Is she acting in obedience to God according to the light she possesses? Are they seeking to please God in this decision? According to the Army historians, the answers to those questions in the case of William and Catherine Booth were all ‘yes’.

Covenant

If the Founders’ experience is any indication, it is possible for someone who previously has been committed to service in one organisation to be called of God to a new field of service. When one admits that point, it is no longer necessary to view every officer resignation as a spiritual catastrophe. Lieut-Colonel Rader, who has become one of the Army’s experts on personnel problems and solutions, admits, ‘Life does get our of balance for officers, that’s true, but not every crisis is a spiritual problem.’

Provided that it is possible to resign honourably, it is possible also to fulfill all the particulars of an officer’s covenant and yet follow God as a non-officer. ‘To love and serve [Christ] supremely all my days; to live to win souls and make their salvation the first purpose of my life; to maintain the doctrines and principles of The Salvation Army, and, by God’s grace, to prove myself a worthy officer’ is a solemn covenant that resignation does not negate. One may prove a worthy officer, as were Sidney Cox and Eric Ball, for example, even if one later feels God’s leading elsewhere,

We may find it necessary, therefore, though we may disagree with or mourn the officer’s decision (and after all attempts at preventing resignation have failed), to trust the judgment of the officer and the wisdom of God. The Founder himself, having resigned from the New Connexion, wrote: ‘Knowing that the future will most convincingly and emphatically either vindicate or condemn my present action, I am content to await its verdict.’ (part two)

Bob Hostetler; THE OFFICER 1991

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

William Booth Left the Work

The young man and his wife disagreed with the organisation. When their appointment was announced, they decided to leave the work they had chosen seven years earlier and in which they had ministered effectively. The two felt strongly God’s call to evangelistic work; the leaders of the organisation saw things differently.

So William Booth left the work. ‘It was a heartbreaking business,’ William admitted:

"Here was a great crowd of people all over the land who loved me and my dear wife. I felt a deep regard for them, and to leave them was a sorrow beyond description. But I felt I must follow what appeared to be the beckoning finger of my Lord. So, with my wife and four little children, I left my quarters and went out into the world once more, trusting God, literally not knowing who would give me a shilling, or what to do or where to go."

Of course, when Booth left the ministry of the Methodist New Connexion, many of his superiors were convinced he was making a tragic mistake. Some even visited the couple in their lodgings to persuade them to reconsider their decision. Others felt that Booth’s resignation was simple disobedience.

Ironically such a scenario could easily be applied to our day, simply by substituting the name of a Salvation Army officer for that of William Booth in the account above.

Connexion

It is, of course, a startling realisation. William Booth left the work- not the Army of course, but to his superiors and fellow ministers in the Methodist New Connexion, the step he took that day in 1861 was regarded in much the same way that officers in Booth’s Army today regard a colleague who resigns his commission.
‘Oh,’ someone protests, ‘it is not at all the same thing. The founders were following God’s call, his leading.’
‘Yes,’ another might add, ‘and they were embarking on a venture of faith.’
‘And they were up against a rigid bureaucracy that wouldn’t allow Booth to fully exercise his call to evangelism.’

It may be true that William and Catherine’s experience is exceptional and that no inferences can be drawn or applications made from their case. On the other hand, it may be helpful to recall that, as a Methodist minister, the Founder made some difficult choices early in his career, and it may be possible to apply those recollections to some of our own attitudes and conduct toward comrade officers who ‘leave the work’.

Though it can be seen in retrospect that ‘God meant it for good’ , the loss of William Booth to the Methodist ministry might have been prevented. Booth had addressed a reasoned letter to the President of the New Connexion, detailing his call to evangelistic work. Though it took two months for a reply to come (and even then it was noncommittal at best), William was permitted to read his lengthy letter at the annual conference which would decide his fate. Unfortunately for the New Connexion the conference issued a hasty decree, and the matter was settled: William and Catherine left. Similarly, though it sounds like stating the obvious, many officer resignations occur because they are not prevented. (part one)
Bob Hostetler THE OFFICER1991

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Let's Do Church, My Way

Over the past decade, there has been growing controversy about “a new way of doing church.”

Many of our sons and daughters are forming or joining congregations that don’t look or sound like our kind of church. Yet, they are likely to tell us they are just trying to be authentic followers of Jesus, and that many of us have been unfair in our criticism of them.

The emergent movement, however, has met with conflict. Some members of the traditional evangelical church have characterized these communities as critical, culturally obsessed, biblically illiterate, and more interested in taking the church apart than in building it up. Let’s take a closer look:

Many of these emerging churches affirm:

1. The triunity of God as a basis for valuing community rather than self-centered individualism.

2. Church as a mission, a conversation, and a movement of Jesus’ people rather than just an organization.

3. Spiritual leaders who listen as well as teach, and who influence through example rather than authority and control.

4. A willingness to think through together the stories and mysteries of the Bible rather than just taking for granted inherited doctrinal statements.

5. Living and enjoying the Bible rather than just studying and defending it.

It’s important to understand, however, that these values often are expressed as a reaction to, and disillusionment with, the churches of a parent generation.

Emerging communities often take issue with traditional evangelical churches, which they see as:

1. Regarding ideas that are possible implications of the Bible as if they were necessary implications, absolutes, and tests of orthodoxy.

2. Emphasizing theology, favorite doctrines, and the letters of Paul rather than telling the stories of the Bible and of lives changed by Christ.

3. Giving the church a hypocritical reputation by politicizing homosexuality and abortion while ignoring sins of pride, racial prejudice, greed, and the abuse of women.

4. Interpreting and applying the Bible as if it were written to our generation rather than first trying to understand what it meant to the people living when it was written.

5. Seeing church authority as a matter of hierarchy and control rather than the example and servant attitudes of Jesus.

But the pendulum of change often swings from one extreme to another, and reactions can result in overcorrection.

For that reason, and because we’ve already acknowledged some of the issues that traditional evangelical churches struggle with, there are also problems that can show up in emerging church communities.

In reacting to the oversights or excesses of a parent church, emerging congregations can fall into opposite extremes:

1. In an effort to honor the mystery of God and not go beyond what has been revealed, they may say less than the Bible makes clear.

2. In an attempt to live out Jesus’ story of the good Samaritan, some emphasize social action at the expense of eternal considerations.

3. While talking about a lifelong journey of faith, some are neglecting the decision that begins the journey.

4. In an effort to experience personally the way God can speak to us, some may forget that all of the New and Old Testament teaching is inspired by God for our spiritual growth.

5. While trying to avoid judgmental and condemning attitudes, some neglect what Jesus said about a coming judgment.

On the basis of such overreactions, some of us have been inclined to write off emerging churches just as we feel they have dismissed us. In the process, we have sometimes acted like enemies rather than as family with honest concerns for one another.

All of this reminds me of another group of “emerging churches.” Just before the end of the first century, the apostle John described the resurrected Christ returning with personal words of encouragement and warning.

In Revelation 2–3, Christ indicated that the seven churches had serious issues.

Ephesus had sound teaching and a lot of activity, but they had lost their “first love” (probably their first love for Jesus) and were in danger of being shut down. Smyrna was enduring persecution and needed courage in the face of real fear and loss. Pergamos was infected by sexual behavior that was as dangerous to the church as it was common to the culture. Thyatira seems to have had false teaching combined with the sexual scandal of a teacher. Sardis was a traditional church with a good reputation that was now just going through the motions. The church in Philadelphia was a weak church in a difficult environment. And the church in Laodicea apparently was as spiritually poor as it was materially rich.

In each case, the Lord encouraged them to look at Him, as a way of seeing themselves, and then work to come to terms with the problems that were threatening their ability to represent Him.

But what if the seven churches had been doing the equivalent of writing books, posting Internet articles, and adding to the rumor mill about the problems of the other “six.” What if they had been calling attention to the failures of one another as if there were not serious issues with themselves?

So it is today. Whether in emerging or traditional evangelical churches, all of us have our blind spots. Only when we are willing to listen to one another, and to come to terms with the downside of our own way of “doing church,” will we have the humility and spiritual sobriety we need to work for, rather than against, the body of Christ we share.

Father in heaven, once again we need Your help to treat one another the way we’d want to be treated. Please give us the grace to relate to others with the realization that You deserve far more, and far better, than any of us have given You.

Mart De Haan
Mart is heard regularly on the Discover the Word radio program and is seen on Day of Discovery television. Mart is also an author of many booklets for the Discovery Series, and he writes a monthly column on timely issues called "Been Thinking About." He and his wife, Diane, have two children. Mart enjoys spending time outdoors, especially with fishing pole in hand

Friday, May 14, 2010

I MET JESUS...

"Someone to see you" Our afternoon service was soon to start. I took a quick look before he saw me...he looked familiar. As I walked towards him I was sure I knew him "hello... how can we help?". The guy needed a food parcel "no problem... do I know you?"

He looked up "no... never been in here before".I persisted "are you sure - you look familiar..." He smiled - "well they say I look like my father".

"And do I know your father...?"

He smiled again, this time revealing a stumpy nicotine stained set of teeth "oh yes you know him!"... "I know your Father...?" I was getting perplexed. I shook my head "I'm sorry but I'm not sure I do."

He was clearly enjoying this."Oh yes you do...!" he rolled his eyes upwards and gave me a knowing wink. Suddenly he dropped his voice "I've been before...this is my second time around" Clearly frustrated with my ignorance he grabbed my arm and while nodding to underline and affirm his words he moved too close and whispered "I... I am the..... Christ Child"

All I could muster was "Wow... well ... um" . "Don't worry I get that all the time..." I go and return with the food parcel. I'm not sure whether this was right or wrong of me but I had a burning question. "Tell me... how's your cousin doing...?" He looks up from checking the food "which one...?" ..."you know" I persist "the famous one?"

"the famous one....?" It was his turn to be confused. "yeah the famous one... you know famous for losing his head...!?"

Scratching his chin, he looked at me while searching his memory. Silence...then..."You mean Steven Davison..?" he said hopefully.

"Actually no... I mean John"

"John?... John who?"

Our eyes meet and now I move into his space and drop my voice "You know... John the Baptist?" The penny dropped - "oh him..."

"no... he's not around at the moment...?!!"

"No", I reply "but I know where he is ....he goes to my mates Salvation Army in Harlesden...!" [Good friend and collegue Ian has some great reflections on his John the Baptist]

We chat a bit more before we shake hands and he leaves.

Later within our afternoon service my mind wanders I smell my hand. Sitting there suddenly I am aware of Paul's nicotine, alcohol, dirt encrusted smell. I smile as I think of Paul Davison (AKA Jesus - the Christ Child). My eyes closed the smell evokes his stumpy nicotine smile... and some words ...

"I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me--you did it to me.' Matthew 25: 40 MSG

How many times do I fail to see Jesus in others?


Gordon Cotterill
Active UKT

The Right to Provoke

The artist Lars Vilks was brutally attacked at the University of Uppsala in Sweden when he gave a lecture on freedom of expression, which included showing some pictures of Mohammed. He was physically attacked by Muslims chanting Allahu akbar. (Allah is the greatest) What are we to make of this?

Freedom of expression is designed to protect views and expressions that can provoke and shock - that's a fundamental principle regarding freedom of speech and expression.

Furthermore, freedom of expression is the very foundation for other democratic rights and freedoms. Without it there is no political freedom, no religious freedom, no press freedom and no freedom of assembly. Thus it is extremely serious and totally unacceptable that anyone is physically attacked because of opinions or images.

It is necessary to protest against the Islamic assault against a Swedish citizen and the attack on our democracy. But will leading politicians do it? Will the Swedish Christian Council or the Swedish Muslim Council? What about editorial writers and other cultural workers – Lars Vilks’ colleagues? Don’t hold your breath. But if we don’t protest we give in to threats and thus freedom of speech is limited in praxis.

Freedom of speech also includes the right to question Lars Vilks and what he does. Sure, he has the legal right to do what he does and the state must uphold his right to freedom of expression. But in a civilized society and daily human interactions we would strive for good manners and to avoid intentionally causing anger. It feels a bit childish and immature to have as a primary goal to provoke and offend. But it is the smaller problem.

The attack on and threats against Vilks is just one of a growing number of examples of how some Muslims in Europe are threatening and harming democracy. That is the major problem.

Mats Tunehag
Sweden









( Vilks has been forced to live under police protection after having received several death threats, including a statement by the al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq which has offered up to $150,000 for his assassination)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Kazoo Player Livens up Praise Band

Portland, Or - USA

Paul Dooley loves what he does. While he lives the life of a single, mild mannered 42-year-old accountant who lives with parents during the week, on the weekends he is nothing less than a minor sensation at his home church. A life-long member of Cornerstone Church in Portland, Dooley had longed to be a member of the Praise and Worship band since his early days, but met rejection over and over again.

"I remember when I was 14, I tried to join the Praise Band, but they said that they didn't need a Tuba player" Dooley told TBNN. "Then when I was in college I asked if they would let me play the theremin in the band, but they nixed that idea too. After that I tried the accordion, the washboard and finally a crystal glass array, but each time I was rejected. It seemed that no matter what instrument I played they were never interested."

But finally in March of this year, Dooley approached the band leader once again this time thinking he had finally found a winner. Dooley's instrument of choice? The kazoo. And since his entrance into the band, the church's time of praise and worship has seemingly been raised to new heights.

"At first I was reluctant," said Praise Band leader John Conway. "But, surprisingly, in all my years of knowing Paul, this was the most reasonable instrument he'd presented me with, so I thought I'd at least give him a shot. I'll admit, though, I didn't expect much."

But to everyone's surprise, Dooley's kazoo playing has served to only heighten the worship experience at Cornerstone. Each Sunday now, Dooley stands in front of his microphone, kazoo in hand and offers his own musical interpretation of the songs as he accompanies the band.

"Sometimes I just play the melody and sometimes I'll play some harmony or throw in a descant or counter-melody," said Dooley. "Sometimes I'll even do an intro or a solo to set the mood."

"Ever since Paul has joined our band we've been taken to new heights in our worship," said Cornerstone's pastor Alex Paulson. "When he does that slow moving intro to Storm I get tears in my eyes every time."

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

God's in the shuffle !

My playlist on my Mp3 player has challenged me this evening; strange comment I hear you saying !! And I have to say it isn’t because it’s too technical for me to work or understand.

The playlist on my Mp3 is in alphabetical order, and it seems that every time I’ve decided to listen to a song lately, the preceding song has spoken to me. A coincidence some would say, however, I believe that it’s a “God – incidence”!
Let me give you an example... This evening I was in the mood for some uplifting music from the ‘ Musical’s’ genre. I quickly decided to play that fantastic song from “Annie”, called ‘It’s a Hard Knock Life ‘. The song makes me smile every time I hear it; I love the enthusiasm of the children singing and actually love the words of the song. I strongly believe that music speaks when words don’t quite make us understand. The orphanage girls are talking about how hard their lives are - no one cares, no one loves them because they are in an orphanage. You can hear the desperation in their voices; a need to be accepted and equal, “ No one cares for you a snitch, when you’re in an orphanage. “

We all know that feeling don’t we, when we feel that nothing further in our lives can possibly go wrong: things can’t possibly get any worse !!! But experience and reality tells us that often it can get much worse.

In any event, back to the Mp3 playlist – I usually let it play on from the initial song I have chosen, but I had evidently knocked it accidentally on to “shuffle”, so it then plays random tracks from the whole of my playlist.

Amazingly though, the next track took my breath away because it was the beautiful Bette Midler song ‘ Wind Beneath My Wings ‘. When I heard it, all I wanted to do was play that song to those desperately unhappy orphanage girls from “Annie” !!!

“ Did you ever know that you’re my hero,
You’re everything I would like to be.....
I can fly higher than an eagle,
for you are the wind beneath my wings !! “

The mistake that I made initially, by switching the player onto shuffle, was becoming a very special “God – incidence” for me.
Some people might struggle with, or may not agree with Christians looking at the words of secular songs and applying them to their Christian life and experience. I personally believe that God speaks to us in many different ways, and music is a beautiful way that God often speaks to me personally. In fact, y return back to faith was through a Salvation Army band meditation. Yes, miracles do happen !!!

Again, back to the Mp3 player !!! ...... My musical taste is unbelievably eclectic; I love many different genres of music including classical and rock music, brass bands, musicals – I even have some modern stuff on my player that my very modern daughter put on for me ( that I usually skip very quickly when it comes on ! ). So when I have the playlist on shuffle, I have no idea what will play next, I suppose that’s the exciting part of this whole story that I am sharing with you.
I listened to the “Annie” song, then heard the Bette Midler song straight after. I felt that God was saying to me that the second song was a solution to the first song. It’s a ‘hard knock life’, but ‘God is the wind beneath my wings ‘

I know that life deals us some very difficult cards to play. Some would say they are testing experiences, to test how strong our faith is. I have to say though that I don’t ever believe that God would ever wish us any harm, or would ever test us beyond our limitations, because that’s not in His character, or in His will and purpose for our lives.

In the words of a beautiful Salvation Army song
“ In the testing moments of my life, where the way is hard to see. There, my saviour stands and gently speaks, eternal words of Grace for me “

So in those testing times, those hard knock life moments, we can rely on someone who will never let us down, someone who will never let us fall.

I know this from experience, when everything else had fallen apart around me, everything I had ever put my trust in , God never let me down. He held me!

And now God’s amazing Grace is helping me overcome problems in the past, God’s work of Grace is helping those feelings of unforgiveness. I have, feelings of guilt and unresolved sin ..... and I am confident that same Grace will help me to completely let Go and let God !!, ( so watch this space ! )

I believe my life has plan and purpose now, and I have complete hope in Him, that my life wont be a hard knock life any more. It will be a faith filled life .... I will put my trust in Him; He will be the wind beneath my wings, and I will fly higher than an eagle because I trust completely in Him . God really is my hero, He like those superheros in films has rescued me. He is everything I need, and I can say along with scripture – fully believing with all my heart .......

Psalm 121 v 1 – 3 “ I will lift my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from ?. My help comes from the Lord, maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip – he who watches over you will not slumber ! “

What better hands can our lives be in – whether hard knock lives, or easy happy fulfilling lives - if we put our faith and trust in him – then He promises complete protection, complete assurance, satisfaction guaranteed !

Isaiah 40 v 28 – 31 is a very fitting conclusion to what I have been trying to convey through this article. If you are experiencing a hard knock life , or if someone you know is - then there needs to be assurance of the wind beneath our wings – because with that assurance , we can rise above our circumstances, and through God’s Grace at work – we can be more than conquerors in every situation. Once we know and believe that for ourselves, we can in turn help those who don’t yet believe.
“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Thank God for those incidences – those times when we really don’t expect Him to speak - He can use so many means to convey His truth to us – even through our Mp3 players , even when we accidently put them on shuffle !

Tina Jones
Former
Acting Songster Leader
Mirfield Corps, UKT

Monday, May 10, 2010

Officership: A Lifetime Call?

Statistics don’t lie—for an increasing number of people, the years of service as an officer are short.

In an age when most people change careers four or five times, can we realistically expect a lifetime commitment to officership? Does God call different people for different periods of time? Is our approach to leadership biblical? Is it practical?

This is the fourth in a series of Point Counterpoint debates in which a variety of Salvationists will explore two sides of an issue that is critical to Army mission.

Officership is not a career, but a covenant relationship designed for the long haul. Of course if we want people to sign up, we need to change our approach.

It may seem a no-brainer for someone in her 27th year of officer service to answer this question. Like others, I enjoyed a successful career in business prior to choosing officership. Since commissioning, have I ever been offered another career? Several times. Recently? Yes. Why then continue to commit to a lifetime of service as an officer?

Let me quickly affirm that much has been gained by the Church from using a business model in terms of management and stewardship of resources. I wonder, however, if we have inadvertently made a mistake in using business language to describe officership—specifically the use of the word “career.” Career speaks of experience and expertise that provide opportunity for power, independence, financial gain and “self.” Officership is not a career. More accurately, officership might be described as a “service path,” originating out of a covenant relationship with God and a vehicle within which to serve The Salvation Army.

The Army’s military terminology and imagery aside, ordination is not a new idea within the Church. It finds its roots in the Mendicant orders of the 13th century where groups of people offered themselves as a model of God active within a community. They took vows of obedience, poverty and chastity so that all of their time and energy could be expended on the religious work of preaching the gospel and serving the poor. Sound familiar?

Seven hundred years later, all Salvationists commit to evangelism, discipleship and service. Officers voluntarily choose additional covenant vows of obedience and simplicity of lifestyle. After more than 20 years in leadership development and training, I have yet to meet anyone who begins officership thinking, “Well, I’ll see how it goes.…” But statistics don’t lie—for an increasing number of people, the years of service as an officer are short.

Based on this reality, I’d like to ask another question: Under what conditions might the Army expect an individual to commit to a lifetime of service? Aside from the theological issue of covenant, I’d like to suggest some pragmatic components that facilitate productive “long-termers.”

Consultative Leadership: While we are making progress in consulting officers on a variety of issues, consultative leadership is more than asking officer personnel for thoughts or opinions regarding issues. These days, people not only want a voice, they want a vote. If people do not believe that their voice is truly heard and valued, they will vote with their feet. The best form of consultative leadership involves what I call “mature conversations,” discussions where deepest need and deepest passion intersect, where both parties recognize capacity and contribution as well as challenges and limitations. People choose to commit to the long term when what they experience in the short term tells them there is a future and they can envision their place in it.

Professional Development: Our Army provides a myriad of opportunities to fulfil one’s calling to serve community. While I’ve served in corps and social services, most of my officership has been in international education and training. We live in a world where accreditation and credentialing increasingly demand a high level of professionalism. While a growing number of people enter officership with extensive skills and education, it is critical that we adopt lifelong learning and equipping of officer personnel for present and future service. While limited financial resources will always be a factor, our strategic-planning lens must be one of “investment” and not “cost” at strategic points in an individual’s service.

Sabbatical Refreshment: I’m not talking about a year lounging on the beaches of Bali (as beautiful as they are!). Studies show that within the ministerial professions, frontline workers experience burnout regardless of how well they have attempted self-care. This is a particular danger for our movement as we expect 24/7 availability as well as multiple appointments from individuals.

Are we guilty of abusing God’s grace when we ask people to commit to a lifetime and then fail to provide for the biblical precept of intentional re-creation? Several territories have in recent years implemented a variety of sabbatical forms. This is resulting in longer years of productive and energized service of officers. I’d love to see this become a reality here in Canada and Bermuda.

Consultative leadership, professional development, sabbatical refreshment—that sounds like an Army I’d want to sign up for—long term of course.

MAJOR WENDY SWAN

Major Wendy Swan is the extended learning program director at William and Catherine Booth College in Winnipeg.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Reflections on Mother's Day

Ah, Mother’s Day. Breakfast in bed, clumsily wrapped presents, a fistful of drooping violets: a priceless day for the perfect mother. Yes, that’s what I set out to be. Thirty years ago, I was determined to be the best mother ever. I would breast-feed, make my own baby food, read to my sons at least twice a day, and create the perfect home for my precious children. Even though Robert Munsch’s beloved words wouldn’t be written until Greg and Drew were 5 and 3, I knew instinctively that I would love them forever and like them for always.

It didn’t take too long for me to discover that I had a rather skewed view of motherhood. While an old Salvation Army song may have promised that “there’s an angel in the house, when there’s love at home,” a colicky first-born quickly disavowed me of my resemblance to any angelic being. I soon found that while I might love my sons forever, there were times when I wasn’t sure that I liked them very much – such as when their newborn clocks insisted that 2 a.m. was a perfectly good time to be up for 2 hours, and later when their teen-age clocks thought that 2 a.m. was a perfect time to sneak out of the house. Come to think of it, the issue wasn’t about liking them for who they were – it was about being concerned over what they did.

And that, says the preacher within, will preach. God loves us forever – in fact, we can make a case that God even likes us “for always.” Jeremiah said as much: “I have loved you with an everlasting love,” while Zephaniah teaches that God “takes great delight in you.” While I hope and pray that I will love my children forever and that nothing they will ever do will keep me from loving them, God promises to love us no matter what. And as much as I love my children, God loves far beyond that love (see I John 3).

Yet the picture isn’t quite complete. “As a mother hen gathers her chicks under her wings,” said Jesus, “I have longed to gather your children together.” A beautiful sentiment had he stopped there, but scripture adds another phrase: “but you were unwilling” (Matthew 18). Yes, God longs for us to be content under the mother hen’s wings, but God does not force us to gather there – or to stay there. Therein lies the pain of a mother’s heart, indeed, of the heart of God. Love doesn’t bind – it only can offer, extend, reach out, touch.

That’s the irony of a parent’s love. Despite the flowery sentiments strewn across the racks of Mother’s Day cards, true love isn’t syrupy-sweet and is seldom as perfect as the card-writers suggest.

In the midst of our Mother’s Day celebrations, there will be mothers whose sons have run away and whose daughters are estranged from them. There will be mothers with empty arms and aching hearts. For every mother who sits in the pew this Sunday surrounded by three or four generations of her family, there will be mothers who sit alone. That’s the reality of life.

Love given is not always returned.

Somehow mothers know that, yet love anyway. A mother’s wisdom recognizes the truth of the Swedish proverb: “Love me when I least deserve it, because that’s when I really need it.” And even more, as Salvation Army song-writer John Gowans reminds us: “If human hearts are often tender, and human minds can pity know – then how much more shall God our Father in love forgive, in love forgive!”


Major JoAnn Shade ministers with her husband Larry as the corps officers and Directors of the Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center. She received a B.A. in sociology from S.U.N.Y. at Binghamton, a M.A. in Pastoral Counseling, and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Ashland Theological Seminary in June, 2006. She is a prolific writer, lecturer, and busy counselor and has been a valued contributor to this blog since its inception.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Leadership in the Army is no longer one-size-fits-al

Leadership in the Army is no longer one-size-fits-all. If we truly accept the “priesthood of all believers,” then we need opportunities for lay leaders to take a greater role.

It is entirely reasonable to expect that officership will be a lifelong commitment. After all, it’s not a calling to a particular service path or vocation, but rather a covenanted life—or, to use the language of the Church, a joining of holy orders. The question we should ask ourselves is whether or not officership is a prerequisite for spiritual leadership.
Given our belief in the “priesthood of all believers,” the response seems obvious to me. However, our tradition of reserving certain roles and functions for officers seems to call our belief into question.

Throughout Africa, the ever increasing number of converts and soldiers necessitates the appointing of lay leaders. Constraints faced by territories in the training of officers make it impossible to produce an officer for every ministry unit. These lay leaders are selected on the basis of their spiritual maturity, competency and potential for future development. While considered a local officer, these individuals do not fill the traditional local officer positions but rather take on the role and function of the officer appointed to lead a particular ministry unit. These lay leaders serve on officer terms, but only for a specific time of service.
This practice replicates the early methodology of John Wesley. Having formed a small group of believers who studied and prayed together, he would then appoint a leader to encourage and monitor the group. The leader would be provided with organizational instructions and a small library of books to encourage their development and capacity. Wesley never intended these leaders to be ordained or take on the vestments of clergy.

For the first time, the Canada and Bermuda Territory is faced with the reality of fewer active officers than there are retired officers. This means we may soon have more ministry units than officer personnel to serve them. Unless there is an increase in cadets entering the training college, the gap between the number of available officers and the number of ministry units requiring leadership will only grow.

It would seem that for many potential candidates, a lifelong commitment is not something they are prepared to make.
One solution might be to prioritize mission opportunities and then close ministry units that are only marginally productive but are high consumers of mission resources. Alternatively, a proactive recruitment of lay leaders for a contracted service period may attract willing hands to the task of discipleship and mission expansion. This approach has worked in Australia and Hong Kong. New corps and ministries have been built and, in time, handed over to officer personnel. Similarly, Africa heavily relies on its envoys (lay leaders) to minister to its many congregations. The contracts for these envoys are reviewed annually and are subject to divisional and territorial approval. This process provides great flexibility and control while encouraging performance reviews and evaluations to be based on mission achievement.

When it comes time to release these lay leaders from service many have asked: What is the advantage of appointing a commissioned officer rather than a lay leader?

The advantage of officer leadership over lay leadership lies not in the “priestly function and role” but rather in trained leadership ability. Let me give an example from the field of project development. When building a school, a leader oversees the overall project and its component parts. However, that leader will gladly welcome assistants who complete the various components, be it the foundation or roof. Similarly, in mission, where there is not long-term consistent leadership, the broader vision and individual objectives may be lost.

Lay leaders on contracted service would need to demonstrate capacity for their particular ministry appointment or take training which would equip them for the task. They should also be under the care and supervision of qualified, informed leaders who understand the mission objectives and can ensure that short-term mission leaders contribute to the whole.

Lay service contracts have existed for overseas appointments where need is recognized and local resources are lacking. Perhaps it is time we recognized the need in our own backyard and provided a means whereby willing hands may be encouraged to serve without requiring them to commit to a lifetime.

Major Ian Swan is the associate dean for extended learning at William and Catherine Booth College.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

OUR NEVER ENDING ROLE...

I have finished my course, Pastor! It was with great excitement and anticipation, which I came to the Ribinge creek near Uppsala. It started with me again, mostly because of the Community. It's probably the first time I feel I come as directly into a group. It's not always the easiest. There is much to be maintained. The give-munity that we have built up since October 2008 to today is something we are keen to continue. What (special) people I have come to know. All have paid a price for following Jesus. Being a Christian is not just a lifestyle or accepting/adopting affinities. It is a spiritual struggle. It costs to be a servant in kingdom of God. You are fighting for good against evil in yourself and in others.

There are many humans who lives in ignorance today. They do not know how to find God. I read the other day about hieroglyphics involving an Egyptian who told about pain as strong on-reminiscent of the plagues that struck Egypt through Moses…If there anything that I have been strongly reminded of in the course, it is that you and I are the difference between life and death for our non-believers. We know who God is and can present Him in Helsingborg in a relevant way. I as a pastor, our parish leadership and the congregation, together we are really important for Helsingborg. We, together with all believers in Helsingborg are all-important.

In this course, my self-confidence has grown more and more. I've started to see what I do is not in vain. The time I have invested in education, personal calls, money, planning, cleaning, renovation, camps, evangelism and mission makes a difference. What you do for Jesus means something. We can and must do much more. We can become more and more like Jesus and to be there. We are the Living God church, which stands against the whole power of darkness. There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God. It is so wonderful. What you do means something; you make a difference!

Every morning when you wake up and go to meet a new day, there's a meaning to it. You are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Give yourself to Him every day, love your fellow human beings and provide them with what you have, share with the Community of believers in church services, meals and recreation. Invite unbelieving friends to your cell group or church service, tell your neighbors about Jesus, put the hands on the sick and pray in faith and they will be healthy. Get to know God and deepen your relationship with Him. Deepen your knowledge through regular Bible study. Give your whole life to the Lord's service. Do you work in a hospital; do it for Jesus. Are you working at a childrens nursery so make it for Jesus. Whatever work you have to do, do it for Jesus. Let all that you are and do take place because of your love for Jesus.

Now it's summer and there is much to do. Summer conferences are many. We have church services every Sunday. 10:00. Every Friday we have youth events. 18:30 down to Gröningen open air services along with the other churches in Helsingborg. We will meet in the summer for the church to prepare the children for the autumn relaunch of the premises youth programming. But most importantly, take your time with your Savior Jesus. It has strengthened me during the course schedule: My time with God. Not a lot of strategies and plans, simply quality time with the Father.

God bless you
Alejandro Gallardo
Ramlösa Church Pastor
Former, Sweden

(I had the privilege of enrolling Alejandro and his then fiance’ as soldiers while serving in Sweden. His parents are retired SA missionaries having served and pioneered SA work in South America.)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

SINGLE SPOUSE OFFICERSHIP Part -2-

Are there negatives to being a single spouse Officer, yes I am sure there are, As there are to being a married Officer and constantly living and working with your partner. For me the advantages far out weigh the disadvantages. However, there are times when I would ask ‘leadership’ to look at our individual situations before making a policy decision that affects us all. One size does not fit all. I began by stating that our situation is possibly somewhat unique. We asked for and were granted permission from the Army for us to marry while my then fiancé’ was still in hospital recouperating from his stroke. At the time none of us knew how things would work out medically (we heard nurses and doctors confer behind a screen agreeing, “he’ll never walk again!”) and yet the Army still gave us permission to marry.

Two years after his stroke there is no similarity between those early days and now and I thank God for the massive progress Sven has made. However, he is still disabled and in the light of this there are things I chose to do for him and want to do for him as a loving wife. I want to be the best Officer I can possibly be and have a husband who supports me totally. At the same time, I want to be the best wife I possibly can be too and would ask ‘the Army’ to support me in this but not just me, other single spouse Officers too.

I am grateful for Officers Councils, Retreats and Training opportunities we are given and over the years have received a great deal from these events. I have found they spiritually refresh me and recharge my batteries. It is good to be in a position of being ministered to. However, now I find it increasingly difficult to attend as I will not leave my husband at home alone and would want him at least to be able to share my accommodation at such times and have his meals provided. Is it really out of the question for our spouses to attend such events with us? Is it really out of the question for the Army to offer the hand of fellowship and ministry to our partners as a thank you for their support? While we are in councils or retreat could something not be offered to the non-Officer partner in the same venue that could help feed them spiritually, bring them together so they too could meet with other like minded people and share fellowship with the Officer fraternity too?

In some ways there are times when it would appear I have my own confidant, counselor, prayer partner, trainer, mentor and much, much more living under the same roof. Yes, it is me who is the Officer. Yes, it is my calling being fulfilled, but it is being enriched by a husband who if he had his way would have an Army flag by the front door in our quarters as a constant reminder of our mission, and what we are about as we leave the house. I thank God that we, are: ‘Called by God to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.’ And we have the opportunity of fulfilling our calling separately and together to the very best of our ability.

Glad Ljungholm
Major
Exeter Temple (on the way to Hamilton, Scotland, via Latvia)
UKT

Monday, May 3, 2010

SINGLE SPOUSE OFFICERSHIP Part -1-


If someone had asked me five years ago what I thought of the concept of single spouse Officership I would have said it had been too long coming in the UKT. As far as I could see, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages, but, it wasn’t for me. I could never have imagined marrying someone who was not a Salvation Army Officer, someone who was not 100% committed to mission and ministry within the Army and for me I could imagine it creating split loyalties and conflicts. However, now, I find myself a single spouse Officer and I thank God I have been given the privilege and opportunity to marry my now husband and continue with, and expand my ministry.

Our situation is possibly somewhat unique but in its uniqueness I believe it affords my appointment, the Army and me many advantages. My husband is a life long Salvationist and a former Officer having served as a Corps Officer, a Pioneer Officer and a Regional Commander and so comes Into our marriage with a vast experience of ministry. Initially we had hoped to serve together as Officers but now this is just not possible. A week after we got engaged my fiancé’ had a massive stroke and is now disabled. However, this does not stop him or me and possibly if anything drives us even more to be and do the best we can. Life is precious and has to be lived to the full and so we give it everything we have got. Mission, ministry and the Army is what we are about.

Scripture tells us ‘It is not good for man to be alone’ (Gen 2: 18) and let’s face it, ministry is lonely business. The disciples were sent out in twos (Matt. 10) and even when there are two of you it can still be a lonely existence as we shoulder the weight of Kingdom responsibilities and the fragility of peoples lives. Sometime ago a retired Officer told me Officership used to be high profile and low stress but these days the reverse is true, it is low profile and high stress.

Shared ministry is the better way, the preferred way. But these days it is becoming less unusual for married couples to be given separate appointments for numerous reasons and therefore possibly working alone even when both partners are Officers. Single spouse Officership affords some of us opportunities that would otherwise be denied. And although one partner is not an Officer it does give us support, understanding, companionship, and a spiritual partner who believes in us and encourages us to be the best we can be for the Kingdom and the Army.

For me being married to a non-Officer has opened up doors to opportunities that are unlikely to have been mine otherwise. It has introduced me to people from different walks of life and cultures, with interests that were previously unknown to me. It has given me a whole new realm in friendship evangelism because prior to marriage my life evolved simply in my ministry and my people, there was not time or space for others.

Now there has to be, and this has given me an understanding and a richness to life that otherwise could have passed me by. Ministry is a lonely business and I have no doubt for all of us at times whether single, married, single spouse or other, we know what it is to feel so very, very alone. Those of us who have been Officers any length of time know what the Sunday evening syndrome is like. No matter how good a day we have had, possibly through exhaustion, physical, mental, emotional, spiritual we know what it is to hit rock bottom, possibly because we have given so much of ourselves throughout the day. Coming home to an empty house can be devastating. I wonder over the years how many Officers have been lost through sheer loneliness?

As a seven year old I knew that God wanted me to be a Salvation Army Officer. As a child, a young person preparing for my future, career officers at school were somewhat bemused at me being so adamant that this is what I wanted to do and everything else was merely preparation for the great day when I could begin to fulfill my God given calling. It is now twenty six years since my commissioning day and I am as certain of my calling now as I was then. Today I thank God because of a change in SA policy I am still able to fulfill my calling that has not changed. Had this not been the case, I would have had to decide between my life long calling or the opportunity of love. Should people really be put under such unnecessary pressure to make such impossible choices? ‘Two are better than one’ as we read in Proverbs …

Was I fulfilled as a single Officer? Yes! Did I enjoy my ministry? Yes! Are there advantages to being single that are lost in marriage? Yes! Do I believe single Officers have a valid and important ministry? Yes! Would I do it all over again as a single Officer? Yes! Nearly two years into married life, knowing what I know now would I do it all over again? Yes! Has marriage added to my life? Yes! Has it added to my ministry? Yes!

I have been introduced to a ‘bigger’ Army through travel, through the introduction of new friends from different cultures, backgrounds and traditions within TSA. I have been privileged to preach in the United States on three occasions … attend the Swedish Congress … visit TSA in Latvia, take humanitarian supplies and 49 uniforms for new soldiers and now be a part of my husband organizing a mission trip to Latvia in the summer arranging for people to do both practical work and ministry. My eyes have been opened and more than ever I have been reminded how proud I am to be Army as I have witnessed more of the ministry and work we are involved in. All of this in less than two years of marriage. No wonder I feel my feet haven’t touched the ground. I have no doubt other single spouse Officers could record many other experiences that have been theirs and has brought about a different insight to their ministry too.

PART -1-

Glad Ljungholm
Major
Exeter Temple (on the way to Hamilton, Scotland,
UKT