Friday, February 22, 2013

WE NEED OFFICERS ATTRITION SERIES VII




Our fellowship has but one requisite to entitle one to membership. Members must have at some point in their life answered God’s call and served as an officer in the Salvation Army, and then, departed that unique vocation.

Resignation from pastorates run at about 50%, and they typically occur within 10 years of ordination. The SA attrition rate is no different from other denominations with the highest losses of active officers taking place in Australia, Canada, the UK, USA and Scandinavia. Our May 2012 articles highlight the key reason for officer’s leaving the ranks.

In the book, Pastors in Transition: Why Clergy Leave Local Church Ministry,  Dean Hoge and Jacqueline Wenger Eerdmans explore the question, ‘Why do pastors leave the ministry?’ Several common issues emerge from the research mirroring those enunciated by former officers: preference for another form of ministry, the need to care for children or family, conflict in the congregation, conflict with denominational leaders, burnout or discouragement, sexual misconduct, and divorce or marital problems.
The authors conducted extensive interviews with clergy who have left parish ministry, voluntarily or involuntarily, and with denominational leaders from five church bodies -- the Assemblies of God, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Lutheran Church -- Missouri Synod, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the United Methodist Church..

Hoge and Wenger learned, first of all, that polity matters. This finding is most clearly illustrated by the high degree of dissatisfaction expressed by United Methodist clergy in relation to their denomination’s deployment systems and the level of support they received from judicatory officials. Among the denominations included in the study, "the United Methodist Church stands out for the level of centralization, supervision, and commitment to its clergy."

The denomination sets up a standard of dependence between clergy and denominational leadership that is hard to live up to. The authors conclude that "the more a pastor’s career is determined by his or her denomination, the more conflict that pastor will potentially feel with denominational leaders."

In all five denominational groups, the top motivating factors for leaving were the same. Pastors reported: "I felt lonely and isolated. I did not feel supported by denominational officials..."

Former officers too speak of a sense of abandonment and indifference exhibited by DHQ officers: too much autocracy and too little gentleness.  And when requests are made to mid-management (DHQ) to contact and include THQ for assistance or clarification on issues or policy such requests “are ignored. It’s as though my DC is afraid to let THQ in on what’s happening. Seems he fears that our leaving will be a black mark on his performance; his step up the ladder.”

In speaking with officers from various territories it was confirmed that pastoral visits by DHQ leadership are at best, ‘very infrequent’. In my experience, having served in 4 countries and 7 divisions/commands I can recall only two leaders who made such visits; 5 in total (Sweden and USA, Ohio) And here in the UK, my wife had her first pastoral visit yesterday by an officer after serving in her DHQ appointment for almost 20 months. And, the visit was made by an officer from another division.

FSAOF USA EAST MEET WITH TERRITORIAL LEADERSHIP
Leaving ministry is difficult, and ex-pastors/officers share; "there are at least parts of ministry" that they miss. "Their accounts were remarkably consistent: they most missed leading worship and being a meaningful part of people’s lives." … "several interviews were interrupted when pastors cried." “and the shared experiences at the USA East Camp Ladore meeting also brought many tear-filled moments …  It’s often the recollection and the sense of loss that says something important about the good that is intrinsic to the work of officership/ministry and about how this work shapes a way of life that is not easily transferable to other non-SA vocational contexts . 
In his book Hoge claimed that one of the most important findings of his research was that pastors/priests left the ministry because they "felt lonely and unappreciated." … The indication of loneliness and isolation becomes increasing acute as the separation from active service looms ever closer, And the angst experienced in the 90 days subsequent to separation from officership “is the worst I’ve ever felt in my life. We suffered physical discomfort, economic hardships, family turmoil and even spiritual depression… we weren’t prepared for any of that, and we blame the army!”

Sadly, our exclusive membership count recently grew to more than 600, adding 40 new members world-wide members in a 30 day period, a record for a one month period. In an attempt to analyze this unusual activity one questions immediately comes to mind: Why are so many former officers turning to the FSAOF for Christian fellowship and spiritual, support?  Here’s a response from Australia East: “Headquarter officers are taught to do administration on our departure but not how to minister at a time we need it most.“

The above comments are representative of more than 1.200 on file with the FSAOF. More than 50% of former officers, thousands of former officers around the world, speak of the lack of care and concern exhibited by TSA once the officership is terminated, regardless of the circumstances. And a great many wonder if indeed THQ is fully aware of the circumstances leading up to the resignation and the autocratic process on the part of DHQ.

SA officers in middle management positions (DHQ) often assume their appointments without the requisite management skills, and in particular; interpersonal, conceptual, diagnostic, political and counseling skills. Interpersonal skill involves human relations, or the DC’s ability to interact effectively with those under his command. And here communication is a critical. Leaders with poor interpersonal skill are unlikely to succeed in communicating effectively with those struggling with issues moving them toward resigning and abandoning their ‘call’.

In our recent meeting with territorial leaders in the USA East there was too much shared in the hours we spent together to list here. However, the words that spoke the most to me were; ‘There is repentance that we need to do as an army’; the army broke its covenant with you’.  This was the much-needed step one!

The statement was somewhat expected, yet when it was said, years of pain, angst and bitterness appeared to dissipate among the twenty or so ‘formers’ gathered there. But sadly the words couldn’t be boomed to the thousands of formers who’d been denied the opportunity to present their case or given time for recusal or a cooling off period. They were however, shared with the global FSAOF members.

Paul says that it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.

1 Corinthians 4:1-21 (The Message)

Paul speaks on behalf of Commissioners and tells DCs what their role is…

1 Don't imagine us (The Commissioner/ Chief Secretary) leaders to be something we aren't. We are servants of Christ, not his masters. We are guides into God's most sublime secrets, not security guards posted to protect them. 2 The requirements for a good guide are reliability and accurate knowledge. 3 It matters very little to me what you think of me, even less where I rank in popular opinion. I don't even rank myself. Comparisons in these matters are pointless. 4 I'm not aware of anything that would disqualify me from being a good guide for you, but that doesn't mean much. The Master makes that judgment. 5 So don't get ahead of the Master and jump to conclusions with your judgments before all the evidence is in. When he comes, he will bring out in the open and place in evidence all kinds of things we never even dreamed of - inner motives and purposes and prayers. Only then will any one of us get to hear the "Well done!" of God. …14 I'm not writing all this as a neighborhood scold just to make you feel rotten. I'm writing as a father to you, my children. I love you and want you to grow up well, not spoiled.

15 There are a lot of people around, (‘DCs and their servants’), who can't wait to tell you what you've done wrong, but there aren't many fathers willing to take the time and effort to help you grow up. (Pastoral visits and counseling. It was as Jesus helped me proclaim God's Message to you that I became your father. 16 I'm not, you know, asking you to do anything I'm not already doing myself.

17 This is why I sent Timothy (a Divisional leader) to you earlier. He is also my dear son, and true to the Master. He will refresh your memory on the instructions I regularly give all the churches on the way of Christ. 18 I know there are some among you who are so full of themselves they never listen to anyone, let alone me. They don't think I'll ever show up in person. 19 But I'll be there sooner than you think, God willing, and then we'll see if they're full of anything but hot air. 20 God's Way is not a matter of mere talk; it's an empowered life. 21 So how should I prepare to come to you? As a severe disciplinarian who makes you toe the mark? Or as a good friend and counselor who wants to share heart-to-heart with you.

You decide.


Dr. Sven Ljungholm
Former Officer
USA, Sweden, Russia, Ukraine, Moldova

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

(Ladore participants)

I must say, that this is where I struggled the most. My husband and I were so hurt by our former D.C. that those words and feelings said by our leader is still haunting us today. I personally still struggle today with watching the dream God gave to me be taken away by a power hungry leader who forgot to ask the Holy Spirit which way to go. In fact, I felt the need to confess this hurt to the group (Ladore) in hopes of bringing on a quicker healing….


After all was said and done and the last good-bye was expressed, Dan and I talked all the way home (3 hour trip) about our experience.

We both felt the experience was enlightening and helpful in our journey toward healing; But perhaps more importantly, we felt this experience was a great expression of the Army’s desire to lessen the disconnect with its former officers. We both appreciated Mark’s heart in this whole matter. This event actually made us miss a bit of the Army’s comradery. We are both hopeful that this event will lead to greater things in the future


Misty Gatchell Simco
Former
USA East

Kathie Chiu said...

In Canada this year I don't think we broke even between new officers commissioned (18) and those who resigned and retired. It's particularly frightening to hear senior leadership ask us to put it in a global perspective, that we're not much worse off than other denominations. It seems like an excuse not to make changes in our system. When I was commissioned there were approximately 1475 officers in Canada. Twenty years later we're at approximately 830. This is serious and no attempts to soften it by comparing us to other denominations will stem the flood. The pool is shrinking and the failure to realize the culture of our country is changing and adapt appropriately will only hasten our demise in Canada. We will end up an officer-less territory.

Who will speak up loudly enough, put their career on the line... and call for change?

Thanks to the FSAOF for the work you are doing to represent those who served with integrity and passion. I think every active officer, myself included, struggles with the question of whether or not to remain in active service. Therefore, by the Grace of God...

Major Kathie Chiu
London, ON, Canada

Anonymous said...

I don't think the pastoral care should be down to the DC and his wife anymore. The present SA system demands they are no longer pastors but managers and I really don't think they have the time or energy to full fill this demanding role. So let's be honest about this, maybe every officer could expect a yearly pastoral visit from the DC but a more frequent, open and honest one with someone whose specific role this is.

Sometimes I question the wisdom and even the integrity of the SA when I think of where they plough money. I would suggest in most divisions in most territories we can all see money being spent into areas we would question. Keeping Corps open where only 12 gather to worship for instance and putting possibly nearly $50,000 a year to do this. Why? And yet that would more than cover the expense of one officer being a real pastor to officers and possibly helping reduce the number of resignations.

I would challenge TSA if you really mean business. If you really want to pastor and support officers to the level that is needed then put your money where your mouth is. We need pastoral support, mentoring, spiritual direction beyond what the pastoral care can give. Do you want to keep us as officers or not???

Shakily Active
USA East

Sven Ljungholm said...

Shakily Active
USA East

Please contact me at selmoscow@aol.com for a private conversation.

Thank you.

FSAOF Administrator
Sven Ljungholm

Anonymous said...

I firmly believe the USA East has "put their money where their mouth is" in appointing Majors David & Jean Antill to the Pastoral Care post at THQ. A huge undertaking, don'tcha think? I'm praying their sphere of influence will be felt, noticed and acknowledged throughout the USA East territory.

The Antill's are stalwart Chrisitans, possesing both kind and sensitive/gentle spirits, really. I've seen them carry on their responsibilities up close and personal in days gone by. Having once been my corps officers and then comrade-colleagues, Dave & Jean are well placed (qualified really) for the undertaking that will be theirs soon as Territorial Pastoral Care Officers(if it hasn't taken place already).

Also, too, joining them is Major Young Sung Kim (in training together 94-95)as Ambassador for Holiness who gave/gives evidence that the power of the Holy Spirit can and does heal and transform. They will be a dymanic team (in my opinion)!

Be in prayer for these our active-officer colleqgues.

Andre L. Burton, Former
USA East, Greater New York

Anonymous said...

As always I feel something of an interloper as I would only qualify for a FSABandsmansFellowship.

But I can assure you that all the hurt, the heart-rending expressed here is replicated ten and more times over by people who are former Salvationists.

I was speaking recently with two wonderful people extremely well-qualified professionally who left officership after many uears sevice. To my mind their reasons for so doing were extremely valid and understandable and I would not breach confidence by referring to them. But when they announced their decision to leave they immediately became "non-persons" as far as the Army leadership was concerned. Whilst the gain to the world of their discipline has been beyond value I suggest that the loss to the Army has been grievious.

What I don't seem to see in this blog are ideas as to how the Army might change: as I see it the Army as a "church" is in almost unstoppable decline: perhaps it has reached the end of its useful life: in the West: certainly its original appeal was to the lower end of the Urban Working Class out of which emerged some wonderful leadesrs, musically as well as spiritually.
Maybe the Army has lost its niche in the religious spectrum?

Kindest regards

Anonymous said...

"What I don't seem to see in this blog are ideas as to how the Army might change"?

Does the offer of the FSAOF's willingness to engage in dialogue not offer a change? There are thousands of us out there who know best what changes the Army needs to make.

Former Canada

Anonymous said...

Former Canada

Do you remember singing in the Company Meeting, this song written in 1898? Perhaps it holds a clue as to what is wrong with TSA!

I came to Jesus long ago,
all laden down with sin,
I sought him long
for pardoning grace;
he would not take me in.
At last I found the reason why
as light came more and more;
I had a shelf with idols on
just in behind the door.

Chorus:
That shelf behind the door -
don't use it any more;
but quickly clean that corner out
from ceiling to the floor;
for Jesus want his temple clean,
he cannot bless you more;
unless you take those idols out
from in behind the door.

I tore it down and threw it out,
and then the blessing came;
but e'er I got the victory
and felt the holy flame,
Beelzebub came rushing up
and said with awful roar,
"You cannot live without a shelf
right here behind the door".

Chorus:

So many people of today
are destitute of power;
'Tis plain to see they cannot stand
temptation's trying hour.
By way of an apology
"my weakness" is their cry;
'Tis all because of idols
they are using on the sly.

Chorus:

Some smoke and chew tobacco,
and some love their fancy dress;
others have wronged
their fellow men,
refusing to confess.
They wonder why they are not blest
as in the days of yore;
The reason why is on the shelf
just in behind the door.

It's the same problem, just different idols!

Former Canada and Bermuda

Anonymous said...

Former Canada and Bermuda

Here are some idols for starters, perhaps you could list more. They are in order alphabetically:

authority, autocracy, conformity, control, doctrine, generationalism, loyalty, money, nepotism, non-sacramentalism, paternalism, polity, protocol, rank, security and uniformity.

Former Canada

Anonymous said...

Quote: SA officers in middle management positions (DHQ) often assume their appointments without the requisite management skills, and in particular; interpersonal, conceptual, diagnostic, political and counseling skills. Interpersonal skill involves human relations, or the DC’s ability to interact effectively with those under his command. And here communication is a critical. Leaders with poor interpersonal skill are unlikely to succeed in communicating effectively with those struggling with issues moving them toward resigning and abandoning their ‘call’.

As an Officer of more years than I care to remember I would like to argue this point. I was in my mid twenties when I was first given a DHQ appointment as a DYS (that ages me). I was appointed to hardworking DC's who had a strong sense of pastoral care for their officers and also a good business aqumen. They were excellent role models but from the very first day of me being in my appointment made it very clear we were there for the Officers. DHQ were to be a resource and encouragement to Corps and their Officers and not the other way round.

I remember going to our first Divisional retreat and being told the retreat was not for us, it was for the Corps Officers and we were there for them, to support, encourage and pray with as much as possible. This was our opportunity to help recharge their batteries to help them return to the battle front energies and equipped Spiritually, mentally and physically.

Over the years the role of the DC has changed beyond recognition and maybe we should no longer be expecting such things from the DC. Maybe todays world needs the DC to be a business person and not a pastor. Maybe they have to be the visionaries, the drivers, the administrators with clear thinking minds. I think far more is demanded of them now than in years gone by because of legal requirements and demands beyond the SA. Maybe because of this I am left thinking 'DC's are not what they used to be'.

However, in the light of this maybe we need to stop looking to DC's for pastoral care and maybe we ought to allow those with pastoral gifts to fulfil such ministry. Sometimes those of us who appear to be born pastors feel as if we have had our wings clipped in caring for officers because it is not our remit, our position. Maybe, just maybe we should just be grateful there are those who can fulfil such roles and will never be DC's and maybe just maybe we should allow them to pastor other officers rather than allowing them to be neglected - to feel isolated - empty - alone and so many other things.

My present role is one that allows me to give pastoral care but sadly there are DC's out there who refuse to allow us the freedom to fulfil our roles. Why, I don't really know. But all I would ask is that we are seen as a bonus not a threat and that Officers see us as being there for them . As Corps Officers give pastoral care to their people they have the potential of seeing their people grow Spiritually. May it be the same with Officers and it seen as being a positive, strengthening and equipping role rather than something available to those who are not coping for whatever reasons.

Frustrated Active who would love to have the freedom to do more.

Anonymous said...

Frustrated Active

Beautiful post re pastoral care.

Is it possible that the DC doesn't want you to show too much love to his officers, because he/she thinks it would hamper his objectivity, when the time might come for him to wield his hatchet?

Managers don't seem to want love or compassion to get in their way!

Former
Canada and Bermuda <)))><

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's time for a non-officer DC as the way I am seeing and experiencing it, there are DCs out there who are more bothered about management than pastoring but what were they called to do?