Saturday, June 30, 2012

FSAOF MEET WITH THE SA USA East






In some ways I feel I am here under false pretences, a gathering of former USA Salvation Army Officers, and me an active Officer.  And, in a country and territory that I know little of.  And so here I am almost gate crashing as Sven’s wife and carer.  I didn’t even know to where we were coming.   I thought we were coming to New York City for the weekend.  I had imagined being caught up in the hustle and bustle of the city as I imagine it to be. And yet somehow or other escaping to an SA conference centre in the middle of it all.
 
How wrong could I be.  This is beautiful and as we drove through the gates of the SA Ladore Conference center in the Pennsylvania mountains.  I sensed God’s presence and just knew we would be able to meet with Him here in a special way as I believe we already have.
 
I feel very privileged to have been able to be a part of your group this evening and to hear some of your stories.  As I sat and listened and saw the pain on some of your faces I was reminded of the Scripture that tells us to ‘weep with those who weep’, my heart wept tonight as I found myself asking God’s forgiveness for my part in your pain.  As some of you spoke of brokenness my mind recalled one of my favourite stories that Henri Nouwen shared that I would like to leave with you now.
 
In his book ‘Life of the Beloved’ Henri informs the reader of a musical that was written in memory of the assassination of John F Kennedy. During one of the scenes a priest is being carried through the streets in all his priestly garb and on the shoulders of his people.  In his hands is a very ornate glass chalice Suddenly something happens, the priest is dropped, falls to the ground and in doing so the chalice is shattered into a thousand pieces.  

In the next scene we are moved on to the next day when those same streets are empty.  Along comes the same priest in his jeans and a tee-shirt looking very bedraggled, staring at the ground and kicking it as he goes. He reaches the very same place as where he had been dropped the previous day and there he saw the thousand pieces of broken glass. The sun was streaming down on them, and then came what I believe can be life changing words:  ‘I never knew broken glass shone so brightly.’ … ‘I never knew broken glass shone so brightly.’  All I would say now is:  ‘Dearly beloved, be encouraged’ and may God bless you real good right where you are. … Oh, and thank you for the privilege of allowing me to come, observe and learn from you!

Glad Ljungholm
Major

Friday, June 29, 2012

Shell's CEO Peter Voser with some lessons, for the Salvos

I'm traveling across the pond to the USA (Joisey) and then by road to interior Pennsylvania- so I'm again giving the floor to Steve Court.


_____________________________________
SHELL'S CEO Peter Voser with some lessons, for the Salvos
Forbes: What convinced you to accept the CEO job?
PV: The Shell board kept up an ongoing conversation with me. Shell had turned 100 years old in 2007, so we talked a lot about how to make Shell a world leader for the next 100 years. By 2050 the world will have 9 billion, not 7 billion, people; global energy consumption will be at least double what it is now; and China will have 600 million or more cars. The question is how should Shell evolve to serve this new world?
sc- So The Salvation Army turns 150 years old in 2015.  Now, I'm not of the school that wants to discuss how to make sure The Army stays a world leader for the next 150 years.  Instead I want to discuss how we can finish off the mission to win the world for Jesus way before 150 more years pass.  Voser discusses the demographic changes that affect Shell.  For us, the 10/40 Window is the key demographic, joined by Asia and the biggest populations in the world - India and China.  But Europe, whose new nickname - Eurabia - is suggestive of spiritual changes that make it a key battleground in coming years.  How does The Army need to arm up to take the 10/40 Window, India, China, and Europe?
Forbes: You became CEO in June 2009, during a global economic crisis. What was that like?
PV: I saw it as a great opportunity. Shell had become too slow. We’d built up a lot of structures, hierarchies, fat. I wanted to change that from the first day I became CEO.
sc: We're facing the global challenges we mentioned above - demographically.  But we are also facing social challenges and system challenges and structural challenges.  Let's see these as a great opportunity.  Like Shell, we have probably become too slow.  Like Shell, we have built up a lot of structures, hierarchies, fat.  Ouch.  Voser aimed to change that from day one.  Some seasons it is hard to tackle the big challenges because of the urgent issues and demands of each day.  But let's step back and step up and strategise.  How about a premant global strategy body to plan this stuff?  It sounds like more 'fat'.  But if we trim some other stuff, we're in shape to do it.
Forbes: Speed of transformation is high on every CEO’s list. What are the keys?
PV: Two things. First, you have to communicate right from the start—and very clearly—what you want to do. Then, when you start to make changes, you start at the top. We took 20% of Shell’s top management out in order to make the company fitter, with faster decision trees, more accountability ­further down. Then I took the unusual step of asking the top 14,000 people at Shell to reapply for their jobs.
sc: Whew!  So, wait.  First, Shell removes 20% of the top management.  Can you imagine that in The Salvation Army?  20% fewer commissioners, 20% fewer DCs; maybe 20% fewer territories and divisions... How would that look?  At the risk of offending some people (no offence, we're just brainstorming), how about a set of standards for territory status?  X number of soldiers and corps...  We might end up with Continental Europe Territory and a bloated Southern Africa Territory and a West Africa Territory, and so on...
I'm not saying that this is the best way ahead but we blogged this past week about raising retirement ages meaning that commissioners and generals stay on longer, bumping other great leaders to 'lesser' responsibilities (which you'd expect for them to prosper), thus improving The Army.  This would have a similar impact, theoretically. 
AND he made 14000 employees re-apply for their jobs!  Wow.  Can you imagine making all the officers re-apply?  Actually, there is an intriguing related idea out there that goes like this: make 2015 the year of jubilee and release every single soldier and officer from their covenants.  Everyone is freed with blessing.  So if you left or you've wanted to leave for whatever reason, you're now free and won't be breaking covenant.  THEN everyone who wants to stay in The Army covenants up again.  But THIS time we actually hold them to it.  What do you think?
Forbes: How long did it take to change Shell’s organizational structure?
PV: Seven months. I wanted it in six, but I was happy with seven. When you decide to change, you have to move fast.
sc: What?  Seven Months!  He changed the structure of SHELL in seven months.  Wow.  So before Valentines Day 2013 we could change the structure of The Salvation Army.  No excuses.  It can be done.  Shell did it and it is a $500billion/year company.  Do we want to? (does God want us to)  Do we have the guts to? (do we have the guts to obey)  Those are the only questions.----
The Kingdom of God is at hand.
Major Stephen Court

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

FSAOF MEETING WITH THE USA EAST TERRITORY

The FSAOF was inspired and launched on August 15, 2007, an era when every facet of business had begun using one common media outlet to expand their market focus and outreach, the world wide web (www). Both the intrinsic and extrinsic usefulness of the Internet was immediately recognized and motivated many to form international alliances. It was in this same fashion that I was inspired to form the FSAOF. Initially I created a web-log page where ‘former’ officers could visit and read challenging and inspirational messages with ‘formers’ being the main article contributors and our focus audience. 


I, along with several other former officers, still active as soldiers in TSA saw this as Divinely assigned role. We’d given centuries of combined years of service and shared a keen spiritual concern that our investment not be without gain for TSA and the Kingdom. One of the driving purposes was to slow the steady flow in the numbers of Salvation Army officers resigning and deserting the assignments they’d prayerfully and willingly accepted.

Our primary intent was to get alongside those contemplating resignation and those who’d already made a ‘break’. We wanted to make all ‘formers’ our friends through our Spirit led fellowship; we were careful to not be seen as in any sense making them our ‘mission’.

Anti-religion and negative SA leadership sentiments were running strong.  Few active officers, on the separation of faithful officers from the organization, demonstrated the spiritual kinship William Booth ascribed to us: “He received the spirit of officership, whereby he mingled amongst us, for a season, as one of us, and go where he likes, and do what he likes, the imprint of the life he lived will remain.”

If our fellowship, the FSAOF, was ever to become a force for stemming the attrition rate and the eventual return to officership of those who’d resigned, it was paramount that TSA and our own members recognize the crucial role each group had to play. There had never existed a fellowship of any size, except the almost 100 year old strong and tightly run FSAO association in Sweden.

Within a few weeks the interest, need and usefulness became evident with an average of 100 blog visitors daily; www.FSAOF.blogspot.com . And the FSAOF has to date welcomed almost 100,000 visitors from more than 100 countries, with around 50% of the visitors having no SA link.

A few months subsequent to the launch of our blog, the private FACEBOOK site was created with the intent of being a “safe house” where formers from around the world sensed that they were in the presence of like minded souls, others who had trod the road of the Divinely inspired, chosen and called Evangelist, but who for varied reason was separated from the army’s fighting forces; those with whom they had shared years of service under the SA banner.  A fellowship was formed, one that is as spiritually committed, faithful and supportive as any that can be found inside or outside TSA.

Dozens come together in fellowship daily. Our fears, hurts and joys are shared. We discuss, mostly in a brotherly way, all matters of interest and concern- no subject is too insignificant or foreign to be shared.  Hundreds of discussion threads and thousands of responses speak to our mission’s intent; it is a place of healing, rest and reconciliation and Godly praise.

As already shared, ours was not the first fellowship formed to support former officers. The first was created in Sweden in 1934, more than 75 years ago.

Stockholm, April 24, 1934

Colonel Sven Wiberg,

My dear spiritual father, I so long for the Colonel [you] to come to Stockholm, but it looks as though a welcome will be soon, and if the Colonel [you] can put up with living at the Hotel Elcelsior, you are welcome…

And so I have another plea, we have founded an association for former Salvation Army officers in order to gather them back to God and the Struggle for Our Lord; we will have the annual meeting at the beginning of the Convention and they want the Colonel to come and lead a Salvation Meeting …

The Swedish FSAO association was a SA initiative and its intent was to seek and to save the officers; resignation from TSA was equated with a fall from Grace and rebellion against God.

Ours was an initiative to save officers from leaving TSA and to alert TSA that our struggle for our Lord is a joint struggle with them! And after almost five years of struggling, our intent is beginning to be understood and welcomed. And today I and others look forward to our meetings over the next 2 days as we meet with SA leaders in the USA East territory to explore restoration, reconciliation and renewal.


We ask that you lift our expectation for healing and a mighty surge of the Holy Spirit's leading in bringing reinstatement of former officers throughout the SA world.


Sven Ljungholm
Former SA officer
___________________________________
I've been reading your blog and would just like to reassure you of my thoughts and prayers for your very important meeting with 
territorial leaders in New York this upcoming weekend. 


I will be most interested in hearing what transpires to the glory of God and to the mutual benefit to your fellowship and 
the Salvation Army.
IHQ


Your Calling to Fulfilll


Alastair Begg


TRUTH FOR LIFE
Some people have the foolish notion that the only way in which they can live for God is by becoming pastors, missionaries, or Bible teachers. How many would be excluded from any opportunity of spiritual usefulness if this were the case. Beloved, it is not office—it is sincerity; it is not position—it is grace that will enable us to serve and glorify God. God is definitely glorified at the workbench, where the godly worker fulfills his task singing of the Savior's love. In this humble setting God is glorified far more than in many a lofty pulpit where official religion performs its scanty duties. The name of Jesus is glorified by the taxicab driver as he blesses God and speaks to his passengers of the living hope. He will be more useful than the popular preacher who goes about peddling the Gospel for profit. God is glorified when we serve Him in our proper vocations.
Take care, dear reader, that you do not neglect the path of duty by leaving your occupation, and take care you do not dishonor your profession while in it. Think little of yourselves, but do not think too little of your callings. Every lawful trade may be sanctified by the Gospel to noblest ends. Turn to the Bible, and you will find the most menial forms of labor connected either with most daring deeds of faith or with persons whose lives have been illustrations of holiness.
Therefore do not be discontented with your calling. Whatever God has made your position or your work, remain in that, unless you are quite sure that He calls you to something else. Let your first concern be to glorify God to the best of your ability where you are. Fill your present sphere to His praise, and if He needs you in another, He will show it to you. This evening lay aside anxious ambition, and embrace peaceful content.

Bible reading plan

Devotional material is taken from “Morning and Evening,” written by C.H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg. Copyright (c) 2003, Good News Publishers and used by Truth For Life with written permission. Today’s Bible Reading material is taken from McCheyne Bible reading plan and used by Truth For Life with permission. Scripture quotations are taken from Holy Bible: English Standard Version, copyright (c) 2001, Good News Publishers.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

More from Major Court...




Today's post comes to us from:




We’re blessed this past week or so with the popular Former Salvation Army Officer Fellowship blog http://www.fsaof.blogspot.ca/
 - and thought we’d throw out a warm invitation to former officers and those who read this and might be considering becoming a former officer.  Here goes…
----



Dear FSAOF:

Greetings in Jesus' name.  Mercy and peace to you from God our Father I trust the battle progresses well on your front.

I'm writing former officers for whom return to officership is a technical possibility (I suspect there are a handful of FSAOs excluded by policy, etc.).

Come back!

Every honourable reason that prompted you to sign up in the first place remains.

There are billions headed to hell.

The Salvation Army has the infrastructure, the network, the credibility, the experience, some of the resources to win the world for Jesus.

Politics, mistreatment, bad appointments and leaders, fatigue, and other reasons for leaving pale in comparison with both the need and the potential.

The Army doesn't need me and it doesn't need you, either.  But it provides for you and me both a field for fighting that, when embraced wholeheartedly and exploited supernaturally, is incomparable.

We could get into covenant and covenant blessings and all of that. But I don't want to guilt trip anyone.  Instead I'll take a page out of the perennial US presidential campaign playbook (paraphrasing) and ask, is your life better since you left?

I'm not asking if you have more peace of mind, more freedom, easier work schedule, more friends, a more accepting attitude, more perks and pleasures, more popularity, or anything like that.  I'm asking if your life, dead to sin and alive to Christ, is making as big a kingdom impact today as it could be in the officer corps?  Even the great evangelist Gypsy Smith saw fewer converts/year outside of the Army than in, so I'm guessing the affirmative answer will be rare.

If by these measures your life is not better, let's get you back in as soon as possible.

I understand that there is a current commissioner who was 'out' for a decade so there is precedent for wide open opportunity upon your return.  Let's test the precedent.

God bless The Salvation Army.

Stay close to Jesus.  Much grace.  Believe me to be,

Yours under the Blood,



Major Stephen Court is Corps Officer at the Edmonton Crossroads Community Corps in The Salvation Army, Canada & Bermuda Territory. Stephen invests his time in initiatives to help win the world for Jesus. He has helped start congregations, corps, outposts, The War College, armybarmy blog, Journal of Aggressive Christianity, The War Room, Credo Press and has written several books.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Name that artist!


In recent years we have seen many Salvationist musicians, composers and conductors reaching the pinnacle of their profession. Symphony orchestras have been enriched by those whom we trained, the world's very best brass band are being deluged with scores penned by those who once wore SA uniforms, and SA bandmasters and trainers are wielding batons on world stages from Brisbane to Liverpool.

We've just posted arguments pro and con on our blog page as to why, or not, SA officers who resign ought to refund a part of their substantial training costs to TSA. Is it unreasonable to ponder what, if any, expectations we might have of those who've become prominent in their respective entertainment and arts fields due the army's very considerable influence and impact on who've they become? Some have left and not been heard from again. But then there's Eric Ball, Trevor Groom, Stephen Bulla, Torgny Hanson, David Daws, James Curnow, Phillip Cobb,  Dudley Bright and others.  

I'm certain many names come to mind. Why not share a comment following General Albert Orsborne's astute and yet timely observations of a half century ago...
___________________________
We are now in the fourth generation of Salvationists (1958).  Our tastes and our creative powers in music and song are beyond all comparison refined and artistic, to a degree our forefathers never even imagined.  Excellent!  It was always my aim and policy to retain and employ such talent, within our ranks.  This is being done, most successfully.  We have genius in the children and grandchildren of our pioneers.  What a tragedy if we knew not how to employ our multiplied talents to our Saviour’s greater praise!  Unhappily, some of our brighter sons and daughters have left us for other pursuits, where fame and gain are the main incentives.  We are rather proud of them, nonetheless, especially when they are willing, as so many are, to acknowledge that they came from our humble stock.  The Salvation Army has enriched music in many ways, and in many bands and orchestras where our uniform is never seen, but I have observed, in my wide travels, that we retain in our musical forces the great majority of talented young people born of Salvationists parents.  These naturally incline to the higher, more artistic forms of musical expression, and they prefer worship to a ‘free and easy’, and a worship service to a meeting.  Yet these young people, I am convinced, are as good Salvationists as their forebears, more talented and, on the whole, better educated.

General Albert Orsborn C.B.E.
The House of My Pilgrimage ps. 118-19




Blessings, Sven Ljungholm



Sunday, June 24, 2012

Chick Yuill - SOMETHING TO SHARE....

I wrote the prayer below late last night. Two things prompted me to write it. Firstly, in the afternoon I ran 4 miles in the pouring rain and had a great surge of gratitude for health and strength. I feel remarkably well and fit and I am very grateful for that.

Secondly, earlier in the day - and following a series of investigative procedures over recent weeks - Margaret Yuilland I met with the consultant who confirmed that I have prostate cancer - despite the fact that I feel so well. The prognosis is good in that they are fairly sure that it is confined within the prostate gland and they are talking in terms of a cure rather than simply managing it. I will have an MRI scan on Thursday to confirm that it has not spread to any other part of my body and then we have to make a decision whether to opt for surgery or radiotherapy.

I have decided to share this publicly for several reasons:

1
I think that every time someone is open and transparent about the fact they have cancer it removes some of the fear and makes it a little easier for others who might one day have a similar diagnosis.
2
I fully intend (with a brief interval, of course, for the treatment to take place) to continue with my preaching/teaching ministry and my work in the Imagine Project for LICC. I believe I still have some work to do as I play my little part in building for the Kingdom of God. I ain't done yet!
3
I would very much appreciate the prayer support of the many people I am privileged to call my friends.

Finally, I just reiterate the great truth that every follower of Jesus believes - THE BEST IS YET TO BE!



Chick Yuill 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

TEAR DOWN THE PYRAMIDS (TRAINING COLLEGES)

Today's article is 'borrowed' from the ArmyBarmy Blog site. Stephen Court, the blog's creator must be counted as the most creative, industrious and influential 'army' blogger in the world. He's blogged every day, for several years, without fail. And, I believe that he, more than anyone in the SA, has been the pioneer that's moved scores of others, including the FSAOF, to appreciate just how effective a 'cyberspace soapbox' can be in sharing messages deemed significant.  
Today, the FSAOF, will have its 90,000 visitor- 4 1/2 years of blogging. 


Welcome Steve!
______________

Sven Ljungholm at Former SA Officers Fellowship blog decided to test our suggestion last week about officers repaying training expenses if they leave before having served 20 years:



Admittedly it is asking former officers if they should pay the money back (and not a broader spectrum of salvationists), but there are some good arguments made against the idea.  So maybe we should toss it. 

Two outflow discussions:

a.
That said, we are told that in at least one place, if the Army pays for you to study for a higher degree and you leave within a certain period you are meant to pay that back. 

So, a Captain studies for a MSW or a MBA or something and the Army picks up the tab.  And within a couple of years of securing the designation the officer leaves (and benefits in the job market with the MSW or MBA for which the Army paid).  Should s/he pay the Army back for that expense?

b.
Why on earth is training so expensive?  Until fairly recently you could score an Ivy League four-year degree for the cost of two years in CFOT.  (Canada) And, as much as Ivy League, and in fact most post-secondary education, is ridiculously over-rated, isn’t it still in a different stratosphere than most (all?) training colleges today?

Why should it cost more to create a Lieutenant than a Harvard BA? (a premise that may now no longer be extant)

Surely we can train cadets much better through incarnational apprenticeship – faster, better, and cheaper.

Wouldn’t it be interesting to test the claim?  You could take two comparable territories – say USV and USX (you can guess which US territories we mean).  And USV goes with the incarnational apprenticeship model and USX stays with the current residential model. 

Within a decade the territories would no longer be comparable.  USX would have continued in its incremental growth – hallelujah.  

But USV would be completely different.  Here are some of the changes:

a. ‘new officer’ corps would be much bigger than they were at the start of the experiment because new officers are much better than they had been in the old model;

b. cadet sessions will have exploded.  Instead of 40-something there’d most likely be well over a hundred and maybe over two hundred in each session;

c. the flow-on effect of ‘b’ is that there will be many more corps – hundreds?

d. ‘c’ implies that there will be heaps more conversions, soldiers, made, candidates made (multiplying the positive effect…), outposts started…;

e. how will they pay for all these new corps?  Well, training will cost a fraction of what it costs in USX – let’s say half.  So, starting with the benchmark of 40 cadets, saving $80,000 EACH, USV has an extra $3.2 MILLION to invest in new corps the first year alone!  Money is actually a bonus of the new system;

f. We said it was faster – because USV has an entry officer profile cadets who are trained in the new system can be commissioned as soon as they match the profile, typically in one year (as in the ‘good old days’) rather than two – oops, save another 50% of training costs!

We could go on, but you get the idea…

Why is such an experiment unlikely? 

Well, here’s a quick stab on it:

a. The General is 66 (today – holy birthday to the General).  The Chief of the Staff is 62.  Without running through the whole year book the average age of potential high council delegates is likely a shade over 60. 

b. Our ten-year experiment would put them all into retired officer residences.  Outside of Korea and General Larsson’s bold 2010 goal, we just don’t set campaigns beyond our terms.  And our terms are too short for any long-term plans. 

That said, Canada and Bermuda has a 54 year-old TC, so he could potentially be around in one appointment long enough to test this thing out.  How about it, Commissioner?

c. And those potential High Council delegates?  They all went to training college.  Don’t discount how personal experience and nostalgia can play in to such a decision.


Stephen Court
Major




Friday, June 22, 2012

The Perils of ‘Wannabe Cool’ Christianity


This is a very telling article in the Wall Street Journal. Of course, many of us have already perceived all of this, which is why we became Orthodox in the first place. This article reveals a sad, and at times – offensive, state of affairs in the latest avatars of what is passing for ‘church’ today.

‘How can we stop the oil gusher?” may have been the question of the summer for most Americans. Yet for many evangelical pastors and leaders, the leaking well is nothing compared to the threat posed by an ongoing gusher of a different sort:
Young people pouring out of their churches, never to return.
As a 27-year-old evangelical myself, I understand the concern. My peers, many of whom grew up in the church, are losing interest in the Christian establishment.
Recent statistics have shown an increasing exodus of young people from churches, especially after they leave home and live on their own. In a 2007 study, Lifeway Research determined that 70% of young Protestant adults between 18-22 stop attending church regularly.
Statistics like these have created something of a mania in recent years, as baby-boomer evangelical leaders frantically assess what they have done wrong (why didn’t megachurches work to attract youth in the long term?) and scramble to figure out a plan to keep young members engaged in the life of the church.
Increasingly, the “plan” has taken the form of a total image overhaul, where efforts are made to rebrand Christianity as hip, countercultural, relevant. As a result, in the early 2000s, we got something called “the emerging church”—a sort of postmodern stab at an evangelical reform movement. Perhaps because it was too “let’s rethink everything” radical, it fizzled quickly. But the impulse behind it—to rehabilitate Christianity’s image and make it “cool”—remains.
There are various ways that churches attempt to be cool. For some, it means trying to seem more culturally savvy. The pastor quotes Stephen Colbert or references Lady Gaga during his sermon, or a church sponsors a screening of the R-rated “No Country For Old Men.” For others, the emphasis is on looking cool, perhaps by giving the pastor a metrosexual makeover, with skinny jeans and an $80 haircut, or by insisting on trendy eco-friendly paper and helvetica-only fonts on all printed materials. Then there is the option of holding a worship service in a bar or nightclub (as is the case for L.A.’s Mosaic church, whose downtown location meets at a nightspot called Club Mayan).
“Wannabe cool” Christianity also manifests itself as an obsession with being on the technological cutting edge. Churches like Central Christian in Las Vegas and Liquid Church in New Brunswick, N.J., for example, have online church services where people can have a worship experience at an “iCampus.” Many other churches now encourage texting, Twitter and iPhone interaction with the pastor during their services.
But one of the most popular—and arguably most unseemly—methods of making Christianity hip is to make it shocking. What better way to appeal to younger generations than to push the envelope and go where no fundamentalist has gone before?
Sex is a popular shock tactic. Evangelical-authored books like “Sex God” (by Rob Bell) and “Real Sex” (by Lauren Winner) are par for the course these days. At the same time, many churches are finding creative ways to use sex-themed marketing gimmicks to lure people into church.
Oak Leaf Church in Cartersville, Georgia, created a website called yourgreatsexlife.com to pique the interest of young seekers. Flamingo Road Church in Florida created an online, anonymous confessional (IveScrewedUp.com), and had a web series called MyNakedPastor.com, which featured a 24/7 webcam showing five weeks in the life of the pastor, Troy Gramling. Then there is Mark Driscoll at Seattle’s Mars Hill Church—who delivers sermons with titles like “Biblical Oral Sex” and “Pleasuring Your Spouse,” and is probably the first and only pastor I have ever heard say the word “vulva” during a sermon.
But are these gimmicks really going to bring young people back to church? Is this what people really come to church for? Maybe sex sermons and indie- rock worship music do help in getting people in the door, and maybe even in winning new converts. But what sort of Christianity are they being converted to?
In his book, “The Courage to Be Protestant,” David Wells writes:
“The born-again, marketing church has calculated that unless it makes deep, serious cultural adaptations, it will go out of business, especially with the younger generations. What it has not considered carefully enough is that it may well be putting itself out of business with God.
“And the further irony,” he adds, “is that the younger generations who are less impressed by whiz-bang technology, who often see through what is slick and glitzy, and who have been on the receiving end of enough marketing to nauseate them, are as likely to walk away from these oh-so-relevant churches as to walk into them.”
If the evangelical Christian leadership thinks that “cool Christianity” is a sustainable path forward, they are severely mistaken. As a twentysomething, I can say with confidence that when it comes to church, we don’t want cool as much as we want real.
If we are interested in Christianity in any sort of serious way, it is not because it’s easy or trendy or popular. It’s because Jesus himself is appealing, and what he says rings true. It’s because the world we inhabit is utterly phony, ephemeral, narcissistic, image-obsessed and sex-drenched—and we want an alternative. It’s not because we want more of the same.


By Brett McCracken

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

SHOW ME DA MONEY!



Rumours are that at least one territory is considering asking lieutenants, if they resign their  officership, to pay back the Army for its investment in training them.  Very few quit inside of five years of their ordination and commissioning so one must wonder if the rumoured policy might be applied across all ranks?.  


It costs TSA a reported $120,000 to train a cadet and the average age is 35 of those who resign, the Army is expecting 20 years of service.  That’s an investment cost of $6000/year.  


ROI (Return on Investment)


So how about we institute a plan in which an exiting officer pays back whatever is left on the SA's investment?  Therefore, if an officer quits prior to their 20th year they will be expected to pay back $6,000 for each year short of the fully vested period (tenty years).back.  


Here's some shock therapy!


A single officer who resign will be required to pay back after completing:


  5 years of service - (15 x 6,000) $90,000.00
10 years of service - (10 x 6,000)   60,000.00
15 years of service - (  5 x 6,000)   30,000.00

A married couple would be required to repay twice the above amount. You do the math!

Ought the first instalment be deducted from any earned retirement benefits earned? And, as is the case with money loaned to OKs to assist them with college tuition and other associated costs, should they sign a loan agreemen when entering training college. 


What do you think?


Concept borrowed from a respected SA blogger








__THE FSAOF RESPONSE__

The SA's attrition rate experience mirrors most protestant denominations; 50% plus of Pastors resign, with most departing from their 'call' about a decade following their ordination and first appointment. The ROI is around 50%, or a staggering loss of more than $1,000,000 per annum. And that does not include the years of investments made in in-house training an officer once ordained, commissioned and serving in the field. And what about all the courses attended and paid for by the SA that officers undertake at costly outside higher education institutions?


One possible solution


A recent WORLDWIDE SURVEY conducted by the FSAOF with its 564 members revealed that 23% of officers who resigned would consider a return to full time service provided they are approached by truly caring, compassionate, non-judgmental, experienced, decision-making officers.


Almost 50% responded that they would have returned if TSA approached them seeking understanding and reconciliation within 90 days of their resignation. Might this not suggest that TSA offer a 90 day 'time out for reflection' period, and one where TSA remain in regular contact offering counselling and other support? Yes, a time of remorse and reconciliation on the part of all concerned...


In ten days members of the FSAOF will meet with what we hope will be the first of many such engagements with SA territories struggling with the growing problem of officers (pastors) resigning and 'deserting' their God anointed roles as officers in the Salvation Army. We are coming together with territorial leaders from the USA East THQ and the School for Officer Training to explore restoration of respectful relationships and reconciliation. We pray it will lead to Spirit driven reinstatements. We value your prayers.


God bless the Salvation Army!


Dr. Sven Ljungholm