Exploring Officership - Salvation Army Canada


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    Exploring Officership

    The Salvation Army still needs officers. But how do we encourage Salvationists to consider this unique call to ministry? March 1, 2012 Interview by John McAlister
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    In this round-table discussion on Salvation Army officership, John McAlister, features editor, speaks with Major Fred Waters, candidates' secretary, Captain Mark Braye, corps officer, Temiskaming Community Church, Ont., Kevin Slous, youth pastor at Mississauga Temple Community Church, Ont., and Megan Smith, a student at the University of Toronto.

    JM: What is officership? How would you describe or define it?

    MB: It's an avenue of full-time ministry, although in a sense all Christians are called to full-time ministry. It's giving up secular employment to be a servant.

    KS: It's a life surrendered to full-time service and leadership within The Salvation Army.

    MS: It's a calling and purpose that God has for your life. It's a life-long commitment that is sealed by a covenant.

    FW: That's a key difference between employment and officership. I am a covenanted leader in The Salvation Army. I could have done ministry in a variety of different avenues, but I felt God specifically calling me to this ministry. So, I entered into a covenant with him to be an officer and then allowed The Salvation Army to focus how that calling is worked out.

    JM: What is the difference between someone serving as a covenanted soldier or a covenanted officer?

    FW: A soldier's covenant revolves around behaviour. Much of it has to do with lifestyle issues, so there are the “I promise to” or “I promise not to” statements. With an officer's covenant, the aspect that keeps me awake at night is the haunting phrase, “I will live to win souls.” Our mission is held in the hands of our officers, not by function but by covenant.

    KS: I don't think you can be a soldier and not give officership serious consideration. The officer's covenant is different in that officers give their lives wholly in service to the Army. It's necessary to have officers as leaders who embody the mission of Salvationism.

    MS: God raised up The Salvation Army, and part of its DNA is the role of officers. In order to fulfil his purposes for the Army, God needs officers who will maintain and lead us in our mission.

    JM: Will the Army always need officers?

    FW: When General Linda Bond installed Commissioners Brian and Rosalie Peddle as our territorial leaders, she said that we will know when God is finished with us because he will stop sending us leaders. It seems that mission and leadership are always tied together. In The Salvation Army, we view that in terms of officership. As the demographics change, it will be a greater challenge for officer leaders who can help us find our way forward. We're not only looking for people to answer God's call, but people who will bring with them the skills and abilities to lead in a complex and ever-changing world. We not only need officers; we need many different kinds of officers. We're starting to see that with our officer training programs, people come to us from around the world with different languages, skills and education. Rather than sending out missionaries, we need people to come and be missionaries here. The challenge for us organizationally is to find a spot where those people have valid ministry. There needs to be an openness to changing the way that officership—and training—looks in the future.

    KS: Officers must carry the mantle of leadership in the Army. How that looks can change over time. But we still need officers who are willing to offer their lives and serve where they are most needed. We need that mobilization to be an effective Army.

    FW: That's the tension of our present generation. As an organization, we're still looking for people who will say, “Tell me where you need me and I'll go.” I think that's a great adventure, but we're dealing with a generation that wants a greater say in where they serve.

    MS: Not only that, our education system and societal norms are influencing people's career choices. More people are pursuing specialized and graduate degrees, and even in high school, students are already choosing—and being encouraged to choose—intentional paths to follow.

    KS: It's a reality of our culture. For example, I feel a strong calling to minister to children and youth and to resource their leaders. But I've asked myself, would it be more obedient or disobedient for me to pursue officership when I know that I could be placed in whatever ministry the Army decided for me? Would I feel that same peace if I pursued officership?

    MB: If you become a Salvation Army officer, you're giving up control. However, in recent years, officers have been given increased input into their appointments. I think that this is a healthy way for officers to discuss the type of ministry they feel gifted for.

    MS: And there is still the choice for officers to say, “I'm open to going wherever I am needed.”

    FW: As an officer I choose not only to submit to the Army and its systems, but also to the sovereignty of God.

    JM: What are some of the barriers or challenges faced by those considering officership?

    MS: The biggest thing is that it's countercultural. My generation doesn't want to let go of pursuing a culturally acceptable job after college or university or having a typical family life. As well, making a life-long commitment to one vocation is daunting. Most people today will have a number of jobs or careers over their lifetime. It's going against the grain.

    FW: I think one of the misconceptions is that officers are poor or have no money. While officers aren't wealthy, they are certainly looked after financially and live quite comfortably.

    KS: I think some people worry about whether they will be equipped to carry out the complex and broad role of an officer.

    MB: Those of us who are officers' kids have seen the good, the bad and the ugly. We've witnessed our parents' worst days and their struggles, but also the joy and fulfilment they've experienced in serving God. We've had an education of officership that will last our entire lives. This can either encourage or discourage us from pursuing officership.

    JM: What inspires people to become officers today?

    MS: For me, it's that no matter what you are good at or interested in, whether it's youth work or business, the Army has a variety of places to use you.

    KS: The opportunity to connect with people. The Army can take someone's passion for souls and use that to meet human needs. God can work in people's lives in ways that are beyond what we can dream or imagine for ourselves.

    MB: The privilege of ministering to others. When you become an officer, it gives you more possibilities to serve. Whether it's talking with someone over coffee about the Bible, visiting people in their homes or preaching from the pulpit, there are exciting opportunities.

    JM: Many people talk about the sacrifices of officership, but you're suggesting it can be a freeing experience, too.

    FW: That's actually embodied in one of the definitions of officership—an individual who has been freed from secular work to be in full-time ministry. Essentially, our calling and covenant replaces our previous jobs so that we have the freedom to serve as officers.

    JM: What can we do to better support those considering officership?

    KS: It shouldn't be left to the candidates' secretary, but all officers should be identifying people who have the potential to be effective officers. Beyond that, other Salvationists should also take an active role in encouraging people to consider officership. As a youth pastor, when I recognize the leadership potential in my young people, I have a responsibility to speak to them about officership.

    MS: Everyone should be a candidates' secretary. As soldiers, we have a responsibility to pray for others and encourage them to use their gifts for God.

    FW: God calls and the Church confirms. Not everyone who feels called will be accepted as an officer. It's up to the Army to discern a person's ability, health and capacity.

    JM: How do people know whether or not they are called to officership?

    MB: Some describe the call as a mystical experience; for others, it came down to considering the opportunity and praying, talking and wrestling over the decision with God and people that they love and trust. In my case, I knew that this was the right decision as I had a peaceful assurance from the Holy Spirit. I think we need to give people the space and time to discern this calling. From an organizational side, this can be a concern in that we do need new officers now. Perhaps this urgency is what drives an emphasis on candidate recruitment instead of focusing on candidate development, which can take time.

    FW: Every person struggles to decide what to do with their life. It's not unique to our Movement. Our hope, however, is that all Salvationists will take the time to consider whether God is calling them to serve as Salvation Army officers.


    On Tuesday, May 28, 2013, Sven Ljungholm said:

    There's a healthy discussion on the topic; Has the SA lost its Vision at; WWW.FSAOF.BLOGSPOT.COM And for those who have resigned or thinking of doing so, visit www.fsaof.org and you'll be encouraged to rethink that decision that seemed so right at the time.

    If an individual SA officer causes you to question your calling, speak with a higher authority and He'll settle your confusion. The SA is not a person, a Division or even a Cabinet. It's a mighty God created and anointed movement in the hands of sometime overworked leaders. Step back and reconsider your next and better move.

    Dr. Sen Ljungholm
    Former Officer, USA, Sweden, Russia, Moldova, Ukraine living in the UK

    On Tuesday, May 28, 2013, SAM said:

    Dear Friends, and commorades,
    Dear Friends and current and ex-officers of the SA
    I am now 47, born and brought up by the Officer parents, who served more than four decades in the Army. They often say to me and my brother and sister that the blood that circulates in us is the Army Blood. We have been nurtured by the Army. Over the last four decades, I have personally experienced the changing face of the Army, some for good and some heart breaking. My parents always wanted us to make our own decision to serve the Lord, in a given opportunity, and when I went to my medical entrance to become a qualified candidate for medical school, and approached sponsorship from the Army, the then TC, asked me to commit for a full time officership, to avail sponsorship for the medical school and at that point in time, as a young man, I have not able to see full-time officership and getting sponsorship for a medical school has any linkage, as there were more history of non-Salvationists and even non-Christians are sponsored for professional courses by the SA, and as a young man at that point in time, I did not see any justification for the leadership demanding me to consider officership, (which is a call to serve need to be made as life time decision) for the medical school sponsorship, and that become a stumbling block for my decision to be an officer at that point in time.
    In the absence of sponsorship, I have opted my Masters in Social Work, and later acquired Master in Health Management, Planning and Policy from Nuffield International Institute of Health and Development at Leeds (UK), and served as Master trainer for number of doctors, health and development professionals and to clergies in India and elsewhere. In my later life I realized it is not that I wanted to take this route, but it was very much part of God’s plan in my life. I never regretted that I did not go through the medical profession, however very many times thought through and confirmed that God has called to serve Him through my life. Now over the last two and half decade of my service to various groups at the grass roots, poorest and down trodden communities with various opportunities at God had provided me and family with, we affirm the calling that He has for our family to serve the Lord.
    Now it is that I am 47, and my wife is 46, and have seven children (five girls and two boys ranging 4years to 17years) and several children under our foster care, we may many times feel that we may not be fit to full-time officership, However, going through the various postings, if God want to use a man, age is not a criteria. We are willing to take up the Officership Training in England (heard about the William Booth College, where the age still open for 40-50 with candidates have significant exposures). We are willing to consider being at a corps anywhere in England, prior to move to taking up officership training). I look forward to serve in a cross cultural context and take integral mission forward to my life ahead of us. We have greater vision as family, that as a family we need to be faithful and to serve the Lord, and glorify Him alone through our lives. My mother taken to glory with the Lord in 2011, and my father, the retired Army officer, still active in his ministry at 75years now, reaching out the lost souls with Army dicipline with active Blood and Fire in him.

    On Monday, April 15, 2013, Gladys said:

    I have been reading the above comments and quite a few of them says "When God is finished with us". Well I think when He is finished with us we will be taken home to glory. We always have something to do for the Master whether in the S.A. or any other faith believing Church. One fellow mentioned about a dying church being brought back to life. The officers or Pastor which ever the case may be can more or brake a church, but that should not be. We should be looking to Christ our King and High Priest. If we put Him first and live as He would want us to live then He will bless us and keep us alive.

    On Friday, April 12, 2013, Glenys Page said:

    I agree also with Juan's comment : "The truth is God may be finished with us because we are stuck in the past. What was it Tony Campolo said a few years ago? “If the 1950s ever come back, The Salvation Army is ready for it.” If God cannot do a ‘new thing’ with us, it stands to reason that the officership pool will dry up. The question is: Is God really finished with us or is it just that we have disqualified ourselves from being able to be used by him."
    I think that the fact that we refuse to also be relevant to today is a huge problem. This appears to be shown by the growth in Hillsong Church around the world. They are relevant to the youth and they encourage the ministry of all believers. Enthusiasm and spiritual theist is their hallmark... Not unlike the early days of TSA! God will build His church in many ways but we do need to be relevant to the lost. Showing enthusiasm and truly loving each other is the way forward. We need to be in the 21sy Century!
    I agree with Christinw that age should not be a problem. I dont think Jesus has age limits or his service... We need to use every person who is open to the Spirit's leading. I agree about having Terrietorial or Divisional Envoy's and maybe use these positions better for people who feel the call later in life. Think about it does 2 yrs training really have to be done for people to be Officers...don't we all keep progressing through life and learning as we go?

    On Friday, April 12, 2013, christine said:

    I find the above very interesting. I think its high time the Salvation Army leadership had a good look at itself and is guided by God as far as candidacy for Officership goes. Officership should not be down to how old someone is or the cost of training. If a person is called by God, they are called by God, no ifs, buts or maybe's.

    That person is obedient to God, proceeds and does their best to do his will............and gets blocked by leadership ..... - because of their age??? What about the call on their life? What about what God wants them to do??? He has a plan and purpose for their life and the Salvation Army leadership - whoever interviews them is closing the door!!???

    Its time for CHANGE people!!! This is the 21st century. There are many out there who know they are called and for a reason and then get told, sorry there is a problem because of your age!! Unbelievable!!

    Other Churches don't have this problem, why does the Salvation Army?? Is there any wonder people are leaving and finding another Church in which they are appreciated and can use their gifts to serve God and are fulfilled in ministry. I think its really really sad.

    To all of you who feel you are called by God to be an Officer.......DON'T GIVE UP!! Do your part and be obedient to Him and he will find a way. Pray that he will open the door for you so you can serve him as he desires you to in his name, Amen. Blessings.

    On Tuesday, April 17, 2012, SSG John L. Galey Jr Retired US Army said:

    Above you heard from my wife Janet. I started the process of becoming a officership in Hawaii. I was transferred to Fort Benning, Georgia. My first Sunday in Columbus,Georgia; I met my wife to be. We talked and expressed our interest in being officers ( in Janet's case again). A few months later we were told we didn't qualify. Janet was working on her biblical degrees and I was preparing to retire from the U.S.Army. I was qualified all over the world except the Georgia Division. I hold no remorse because of the special people all over the world who made me the God Fearing Man I am; two were Generals (Rader and Burrows- General Rader was my former DC,TC, and then General), Auxilary Captain Margie Fredricks, Envoy Lisa Daniels and especially my gorgeous wife, Janet. My family go back generations in TSA. I'm sorry I didn't qualify to be the first officer in the Galey family.

    On Saturday, April 14, 2012, David said:

    Is the leadership of the army Pharises or Disciples? Unfortunately I have met many that have fallen under the first category.

    On Thursday, April 12, 2012, Glenys Page said:

    Janet Galey, Do not give up. I re-applied for Officership in the Australian Eastern Territory because God told me there was a window of hope for TSA and I needed to be there. So in obedience I re-applied.I was accepted and I am 59 yrs old. Australian Eastern Territory value people regardless of age, so does Jesus! If God tells you to go do not give up, keep asking them, God will open the way!! Bless you,

    On Thursday, April 12, 2012, Ann Grigor said:

    I have read all of the above post with great interest, I have ran from my calling for many years, for many diffrent reasons, I am now at an age that some would say I am too old to offer for officership, or even be accepted now, as I am 51yrs old now, yet GOD speaks to me daily about my calling, my greatest hearts desire is to serve God in whatever way I can, I have gone down the road of envoy/corps assistant in the USA and loved it, but then along came my now husband ! I then returned to live in the UK after working and living in the USA for many years with The salvation Army, I keep thinking my call will go away, but it never has, so I have been prating for months now, well over a year to be honest, and during that time have had some health Issues also, but still GOD speaks to me about my calling, so I decide to do the right thing and speak to someone like my corps officer or DC , so I made many phone calls, but I am still waiting to even be able to talk to someone about this ! it frustrates me no end, Daily I give it to the Lord in prayer, I was very saddend when I came home from USA to find so many corps closed, my home corps being one of them, I spent my childhood growing up in that corps and I have wonderful memories from it, but most of all I found Jesus there and that was the start for me, The Salvation Army are saying they need officers, and I do agree with this statment ! so if this is so, then why oh why, does it take so long to even be seen to talk about being considered? and I think no matter if you are 16yrs or 50yrs old as long as you can offer years of service then you should be able to apply and be considerd . If you feel God has called you to be an officer, then sitting in your corps every week as a soilder is not fullfilling God's call on your life, even if you are very active in the corps, God has a plan and purpose for all of us ! Janet DO NOT GIVE UP ! keep pressing onward if this is what you feel God has called you to do. I know I plan to keep fighting to fullfill God's call on my life, when I eventualy get to talk to someone ! my case may be complex but NOTHING is impossible with GOD! so....On We March with The Blood and The Fire... Romans 8v28 .

    On Wednesday, April 11, 2012, Don said:

    I have tried to remain silent on this thread but I am compelled to say somethings. In the early days of the Christian Church, Jesus walked around looking for people to be taught to make fishers of men. He called people that no one would consider for ministry. If we fast track alot of years to William Booth we find a man that almost accepted anyone to officership. He believed that soldiers should make the move to officership. We fast track to today and we find an entire session of officers with less cadets then my college class. The problem the Army has taken a stand of making it very hard to become a candidate. One must have this, do that, pass this test, and complete the Intro course. I feel that creating road blocks takes a persons calling and cancels it until the Army (or this term Major Waters) says welcome Candidate.

    I left the Army to attend a church that may not be perfect is more in lines of scripture. Our Clergy selection though may seem daunting is simpler. One must talk with the Pastor about the calling they then if they feel led to proceed contact our head office and get the application form. Six people in ministry also have a form to fill out either in favour of having the person credentailed or not. The six people are prefered to be of the denomination however can be from other ministries. there are reference forms that non ministry persons such as the family you sit with on sunday or the president of your service club would fill out. There are gift analysis and education anylisis. If one needs training then they are encouraged to get it however they also look at your Talents and gifts. Sometimes people are naturally gifted in ministry or may have had training from other sources and could be fast tracked into their calling.

    I would like to conclude with this. I was a soldier, and grew up in the Salvation Army. I have gifts. talents, passions and desires that would make me a servant leader. I had a covenant with God and a signed one with the Army. However i couldnt even greet people at the door in the last corps I attended. The Church I went to accepted me and my gifts. They accepted me a student leader and have asked that I try and stay on after school even though I would have to find income from outside the church until a time when they could afford to pay. I miss the Army and continue to pray for them but I would like to challenge the Army. My Challenge is look at other denominations how do they select their leaders. Changes need to be made to ensure that people that are called are not getting discouraged.

    God Bless

    On Wednesday, April 11, 2012, Roy Isherwood said:

    I read the above article and could hardly believe the comments put forward by Mjr.Fred Waters re. the difference between a soldier's covenant and an officer's. I wonder if he has had second thoughts on his comments. ie."A soldier's covenant revolves around behaviour----'I promise to or I promise not to' statements. With the officer's covenant, the aspect that keeps me awake at night is the haunting phrase, 'I will live to win souls.' " Or has he even looked lately at the Soldier's Covenant and Articles of War?

    Does he realize how superior it makes him sound? In case he is not aware, the soldier's covenant goes much deeper and to a higher authority than to the Salvation Army! The soldier makes his covenant to God and is compelled by the love of God and the mandate of our Lord to make disciples. I am quite confident that many a soldier lies awake at night longing for his family and friends to experience God's love and forgiveness and experience the new birth. Major Waters please don't underestimate the committment of Soldiers and think that your work is above theirs. We are all in this "war" together.

    It might also be very interesting to look at how many witnessing opportunities one might have working in a Salvation Army office as a candidates' secretary as compared to a layperson working in a secular office, factory, retail setting or teaching position with many who do not know the Lord. Perhaps his final comments on the subject exibit some redeeming aspects,ie, the mission of The Salvation Army is held in the hands of our officers,"not by function but by covenant" would imply that our mission is in reality in the hands of our soldiers. Covenant doesn't mean much unless there is also function.

    On Monday, April 9, 2012, Sven Ljungholm said:

    Many interesting comments- my response… Non-officer spouses under the SSO Provision DO NOT have to be SA soldiers or even witnessing Christians. This is a problem of real concern. Several recommendations have been made @ www.fsaof.blogspot.com . To date little interest has been shown.

    Ours is a five year old international fellowship of former officers. In June 2012 several members of our Fellowship (430 members of former SA officers) will meet with leaders of a large USA Territory to explore avenues by which greater understanding, Salvationist love and prayerful guidance cand bring about a reconciliation to benefit the SA's mission to God's glory.

    If you are a FB member and former officer, feel free to join with us. Former Salvation Army Fellowship @ FB!

    On Wednesday, April 4, 2012, Helen said:

    I read this with interest as I am an officership candidate in the United Kingdom. I am 48, planning to go to William Booth College aged 50 and no-one has been anything other than welcoming because of my age. It seems that the Army in the UK has thought this through clearly and welcomes older cadets to college. Indeed, from looking at the background of the current intake, a significant number are older (in their 40s and 50s), and began their journey to Officership through the Territorial Envoy scheme.

    I find it odd that there are such variations in terms and conditions of vocation across the Army - in the UK, you can be a single spouse officer - i.e. your spouse can have another employment, so long as they are committed Salvationists. There is a requirement for a 'reflection' period after a marital split, but many officers continue to serve after divorce, so long as they acted correctly at the time. This brings many officers back into active service, and I understand that the selection conferences are busy considering those who have previously served.

    The Envoy scheme has brought many able Soldiers, especially older ones, into leadership right at the point where the secular world loses interest in our experience and maturity, and has given a number of my friends a fantastic opportunity to live out God's calling on their lives. They take over a Corps and are trained as they go.

    For those of us who, God willing, will enter College in our mature years, there may be growing children to relocate and houses to sell, but that's also the case if you relocate with a secular job (I've done it around 7 times in my career, moving across continents). I've told my children in detail and although they will have to uproot themselves completely, they are thrilled. I leave the sale of my house in God's hands! I think the 'not knowing yet' part is a good test to see if you can live with the uncertainty that officership may bring.

    On Tuesday, April 3, 2012, Maurice said:

    I am a former Officer and was forced to relinquish my position because of my ex-wife who decided she no longer wanted to be married to me. From the time I was 15 years old, I felt the call to Officership and was very reluctant in accepting it. After many years, I could no longer ignore it and decided to enter into Training College. After a few years, my wife and I split and was told that there would not be an appointment for me in the June change.

    I was made to feel like a "black sheep" and not welcome within the inner circle anymore. I was also told by the DC that I should not move back to the town I ministered in (even though my young son was living there).

    As I listen to many people who are contemplating Officership, they talk about the struggles that many go through after they move out of Officership back into a Soldiership Ministry.

    While I understand the position of The Army, I do not agree with the way ex-Officers are treated.

    On Thursday, March 15, 2012, Jac said:

    Juan, I love your last paragraph...and I agree with your connection between church growth and the "pool for officers".

    Jason, I think we agree in what like-mindedness should be, my point is just that I see people across Canada who are Salvationists who think and operate in very different ways. That's why there are continuing debates among Salvationists re: uniform, moving, officership, communion etc. I have some strong opinions myself that might go against the traditional Salvationist views and some that are right in line with them. What helps me to sort through these and live within a system that I don't always agree with, but love, is keeping my eyes on Jesus. I gather from your writing that this is your desire as well.

    I do agree the process for entering training college could use a lot work. I agree that it is very nerve racking. Especially if there are aspects that are out of your control that seem to take a while. Especially for those who have homes to sell etc, the way I read the original statement about assets though was that you lose everything....it's just not an accurate statement to make for everyone.

    On Thursday, March 15, 2012, Jason Cavanah said:

    Yes like-minded in Christ is a good thing, but that's not what the statement, as a whole, is addressing . If you are only asking internal like-minded people, then in return, that may cause you to become more close-minded to everyone else.
    I love the Salvation Army, and I love imperfection. Many officers within the Army have been a great inspiration. The only point I am trying to make is that maybe we should be looking beyond our own Salvationist ideals.

    I am finishing up the intro to officership course, and I LOVED IT !!!!! I think that many of the procedures and prerequisites for CFOT are bang on. I wouldn't change them.
    I have a family of five, and we personally don't mind the whole packing up and being placed wherever part of officership, but I could see how some families would be bothered by it. Our kids are older (14,12,11), and they are exited for the Salvation Army adventure.

    Right now the only thing that is driving me CRAZY is that we are doing all of this work, and application stuff, but are not entirely sure if we are going to be excepted or not. The only thing I wish is that there was some earlier way to say that your "in". giving us something we can actually make a plan around.

    I would love to hear, "ok, if you do this, this, and this.You and your family will be going in 20XX".

    But right now my kids are telling all their friends that we are leaving for Winnipeg Sept 2012, I have told my boss i'll be leaving, and other family members are having a hard time parting with us. We have uprooted our whole life, and WE HAVEN'T EVEN BEEN ENROLLED YET !!!!! It is very nerve racking, and a great test of faith to have all your hopes and dreams in the hands of ? ? ? at CFOT.

    I guess the point is that there is a great deal of uncertainty when it comes to being a candidate. I think there would be much more responsive, and confident candidates if there were more of a system, something we could make a strategic plan around. As apposed to so many ? ? ?s

    On Thursday, March 15, 2012, Juan said:

    There are some interesting thoughts in this article - some I agree with and some others that I have not yet seen evidence of. One of those is the claim that people are reticent to consider officership due to the desire for self-determination.

    I have talked with a number of young people and people my own age (late '30's) who are still eligible for candidacy, but this is not the issue that comes up. It is perhaps a straw man that we have subconsciously created because we are afraid of looking at the truth. There can be little doubt that officership is tied directly to corps growth. The more people we have attending corps and actively involved, the greater the pool of people who will consider officership. The more of those corps that are energetic, passionate, and innovative, the more those numbers will increase.

    For the last few weeks, I have been attending a corps in our city that at one time was dying. If you have any doubts about the possibility of resurrection, you should visit this corps. It is growing, it is vibrant, it is young. I met a lay leader there last Sunday - a guy I've know for about 10 years - and he said the corps has never been as strong and the leadership has never been as committed. He was so excited. There are also a number of young adults there who are planning to apply to be officers. From my experience, young people like these (call them what you want - post-modern Salvationists, neo-Salvationists, 614 revolutionaries) are adventurous and mission-engaged. Self-determination is not big on their list. They'll go just about anywhere. We just need more of them. Following that train of thought, we need more corps like the one I mentioned.

    Major Waters said that General Bond declared that we will know that God is finished with us when he stops sending us leaders. While I don't disagree with that, I do not take a deterministic approach to it as if God decides and just stops sending leaders. The truth is God may be finished with us because we are stuck in the past. What was it Tony Campolo said a few years ago? "If the 1950s ever come back, The Salvation Army is ready for it." If God cannot do a 'new thing' with us, it stands to reason that the officership pool will dry up. The question is: Is God really finished with us or is it just that we have disqualified ourselves from being able to be used by him?

    On Thursday, March 15, 2012, Robert Jeffery said:

    Right on Jac. I too have been influenced by many positive officers, and by many positive soldiers who encouraged me to take up full-time ministry. For me it's the best calling in the world. I do my best to work hard every day, but in a way it doesn't really feel like work I love it so much. It does break my heart though to hear of people who try and try to get in, but it never seems to work out. I too would encourage those in that situation to keep trying. For my own experience, I never felt that in becoming an officer I had to give up my self-determination. I'm sorry that some experience it that way.

    On Wednesday, March 14, 2012, Jac said:

    Just wanting to clarify that last comment is not in reference to and of THIS discussion, but just mentioning that it was the reality of part of what held me back :)

    On Wednesday, March 14, 2012, Jac said:

    I LOVE serving as an officer...I think it is a great avenue of ministry for young people to consider. Although I think the comments about assets etc is slightly off the mark...I don't think that is what is holding people back, in fact I find young people are looking for areas in which they can sacrifice.

    Jason it is interesting you should comment on the like-mindedness of the Army, because I believe the scriptures call us to be like-minded (in the mission of spreading the gospel) I think one of the problems for young people today is actually the lack of like-mindedness in the army. Having traveled from coast to coast and back with the army...I see this as a major problem.

    One of the hindrances for me becoming and officer was officers and salvationists who do nothing but complain about the army and it's flaws. Is it perfect? NO. However being influenced by some officers who are realistic, yet positive really changed the way I look at it.

    On Friday, March 9, 2012, Jason Cavanah said:

    firstly, everything Glenys Page posted is right.

    In my opinion, it's time for the Salvation Army to grow up. The words and actions of William Booth were inspired from God, but they are not Gods. They are NOT eternal, I don't think William would be very impressed with us if he knew that we were still doing things the same way he did one-hundred years after his death. Especially since he began the Salvation Army by breaking free from the molds of tradition.

    The salvation Army needs a revolution within itself, every passing year it is becoming more and more insignificant to the world. I hear these types of questions constantly being asked in Salvation Army articles; Who are we?", "How do we get more officers?", "What kind of changes need to be made?". The problem with these questions is that we keep asking the wrong people, Salvationists. Constantly focused internally within our organization. If you are continually asking like-minded people, you are going to get like-minded answers.

    I think we are afraid to ask God these same questions because we know that he will call for change. LOOK AROUND YOU!!!!!! What is the world asking us to be? what is the christian community asking us to be?

    In the 21st century I see the Salvation Army having relevant dynamic life, or a secluded dwindling death. Fortunately for us, God will bless either.

    On Friday, March 2, 2012, Royal Senter said:

    Officership is not an easy life but since when did God ever call his people to an easy life? I seriously believe that every Christian should ask God if He wants them to be in some kind of full-time service, perhaps even assuming that they should be until it is clear that it is NOT God's calling. How one determines that is another question but sadly I think that most Christians, be they Salvationists or in other churches, don't consider such ministry. When God is asking, "Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?" they don't stand up and say, "Here am I, send me!" Rather they turn away and assume (and hope) that God is talking to some one else.

    I am honoured that God has called me and my wife and we look forward to giving up so much of this meaningless worldly stuff for the challenges and sacrifices of ministry.

    Janet, persevere, my wife and I are heading on to 51 and have great support to return to the work.

    On we march with the Blood and the Fire (and with a little prayerful trepidation).

    On Friday, March 2, 2012, David Cavanagh said:

    Janet, keep pushing. It's probably true that your husband would not be considered for residential training because of his age - you have already been through training, if I understand aright- but there are other avenues of full-time service. Since John Gowans' term as General, TSA has been exploring avenues of full-time and short-term service. I'm not sure to what extent the USA territories bought into these schemes, and I don't know what titles are currently in use - the UK Territory, for instance, now uses the title of "Envoy" or "Territorial Envoy" and in many places the model of Auxiliary-Captaincy is implemented precisely for people who express a "late in life" vocation.

    On Friday, March 2, 2012, Major/ Captain Patrick R. Lublink said:

    Thank you for a great article. Officership is a great avenue to serve God and to serve others. I believe many young people are called to ministry, and it is up to our leaders to encourage and help these young people discern their vocation. This article will go on a long way in helping all of us in this task. God bless.

    On Friday, March 2, 2012, David Cavanagh said:

    I think the crucial point which Glenys (posting above) identifies is the equation of leadership with officership. That's highly questionable in theological terms, because TSA is actually a "lay movement" and it should not be assumed that "officer" = "clergy". As developments over recent years have shown, there is virtually nothing that an officer does that cannot (or could not) be done by a soldier.....So leadership is not the preserve of officers.

    All of which raises the question: what is the key function of officership? I suspect that ultimately the key function is to be found in the way in which the officer is a symbol or icon in which the mission of TSA (and the church as a whole) is crystallized - and it is precisely the ideal of life-long commitment which marks out the crucial difference between the officer and the soldier, in that the officer does not have to balance the competing claims of a secular employer and Christian vocation, but is freed for a single-minded focus on serving God through TSA.

    On Friday, March 2, 2012, Janet (Butler) Galey said:

    I am a former TSA Officer. The reason for my termination was TOTALLY based on the actions of my ex-husband. I have married a very Godly man who is a multi generational Salvationist who is retired from The United States Army. We both continue to feel God is calling us to Officership. When we expressed this call to our Corps Officer and then to our D.C. Keeping in mind my husband taught leadership in the United States Army and I have a Master's Degree in Biblical Counseling--our D.C. informed us that we are too OLD for The Salvation Army to use us in full time ministry roles. My husband is 55 years old--I am 50 years old. Our Corps Officer told us that we should just be Soldiers in the Corps and tithe--that is all we are qualified to do because of our ages. I find this very disheartening to the point we are praying about leaving the SA entirely. We are told time and time again TSA needs Officers--yet we are told no because we are too old--we have no health issues and no known reason why we could not devote 10-15 years of service

    On Thursday, March 1, 2012, Glenys Page said:

    If General Bond is correct in saying that we will know when God is finished with us when we have no more Officers, then how do we percieve the drastic decline in numbers over the past 10 yrs or so? The Salvation Army is seeing a decline in Officers and I think it speaks more about the need for change in TSA. We are no longer in the 18th Century, we need to move into the 21st Century. how should that look? More self-determining of appointments ( young people want to stay and build the Corps not be moved on all the time). Their children need stability and not frequent moves. Where in Scripture does it say we need to move around all the time?? This is a legacy of the 18th Century!!!!! We no longer do circuits.
    You may think this is a radical change but it will work if we gradually implement this. Having a Divisional commitment not a Territorial one I believe is the way to change. TSA needs to seriously look at tailoring Officership to the needs of individual people. I believe that young people will commit to being involved in an area for a long time and having the freedom of living in their own homes if wanted. Why not do a survey and ask them???
    At the present time when a person becomes an officer they lose their self-determination, money from their assets(usually in order to go to College), they do not end up owning very much so if they need to leave down the track they are trapped. Who wants to sign up for that??
    Our young people are bursting with enthusiasm to serve God but they will find another way to do this if TSA does not change. I have great faith that we can...we must!!

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