I now call upon all present to witness that I enter into this covenant and sign these articles of war of my own free will, convinced that the love of Christ, who died and now lives to save me, requires from me this devotion of my life to his service for the salvation of the whole world, and therefore do here declare my full determination, by God's help, to be a true soldier of The Salvation Army.

I signed this Soldier's Covenant when I was 14, during a worship service at my corps in Happy Valley, N.L. It was a significant step in my Christian life, a public declaration of faith in Jesus Christ and a commitment to demonstrate my faith through service. My corps officers led me through the ceremony and then prayed with me to ask God's blessing and help to keep this covenant.

Becoming a soldier most closely resembles baptism in other denominations—a true soldier of The Salvation Army is a disciple of Jesus Christ.

The word soldier may sound old-fashioned, but it's who we are—an Army with a mission to share the love of Jesus Christ, meet human needs and be a transforming influence in the communities of our world. To carry out this mission, we need people who are committed to spreading the good news of the gospel and to living out their faith with Christlike compassion. We need people who are ready to serve wherever the Army is engaged in caring, outreach ministries. We need soldiers.

The Army seeks to “save souls, grow saints and serve suffering humanity,” as General John Gowans said. But our current declines in attendance and membership can be linked to a lack of emphasis on growing saints or discipleship. Discipleship (or disciple-making) is one of our new territorial strategic priorities. We need to make an intentional effort to not only save souls but to help these new converts move toward Christian maturity—to be so moved with gratitude for God's love and grace that we look for ways to show our gratitude through loving service.

I realize that some followers of Jesus make the Army their church home without becoming soldiers, as adherents. We welcome and celebrate their helpful support and participation. But soldiers have added expectations. They embody integrated mission, holding word and deed together. The Soldier's Covenant has two parts: a statement of faith (word) and a parallel commitment to putting it into practice, with the grace and help of God (deed).

Soldiership reflects a level of engagement with the Army's mission, a level of confidence in what the Army believes and teaches, and a level of practice in living out our faith in Christ as part of his church. It gives our mission legs. Without soldiers, our mission is weakened.

So what can we do to help grow saints and make soldiers?

Refer to soldiership in a positive way. It's important for those in leadership to talk about the significance of soldiership and the reasons for new Christians to become soldiers.

Share testimonies. Ask people to share why they became a soldier and what it means to them, both young and new Christians, as well as those who have been soldiers for many years.

Offer soldier preparation classes. Discuss the solid biblical, theological foundation for soldiership and talk about further steps of faith and service.

Study in small groups. After studying the doctrines in my own devotional life, I led a small group through the Army's statements of faith and the Scriptures that support them. Some in the group were soldiers and some were distant members on a roll, who later made a public declaration of faith. We grew spiritually and deepened our commitment as we studied together.

Celebrate. Welcoming new soldiers is a sacred event in the life of the corps. Make it a special occasion with a sacred and celebratory atmosphere.

Soldiership is about mission in action in our neighbourhoods and communities. Let's consider how we can be more intentional about making soldiers—true disciples of Jesus Christ.

Lt-Colonel Junior Hynes is the secretary for program services. He will retire with his wife, Lt-Colonel Verna Hynes, in September.


On Thursday, August 20, 2015, Christina said:

****In essence, my rallying cry was for committed Salvationists to step up to opportunities for service, and not just enjoy the privilege of status as a welcomed believer. For me, in The Salvation Army, this always means being “ready to serve”—-true soldiership, for us, means just that! I want it to be an attraction rather than a distraction!****

But opportunities for service should be extended to all, regardless of whether or not people choose to become soldiers/officers. Its not a necessity in the mind of Jesus so why should it be with the S.A?

On Wednesday, August 19, 2015, Junior Hynes said:

Greetings Ken,

Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I believe we are on the same wave length about the priority of evangelizing and true discipleship in the Army we love. I believe it is all part of our “full salvation” and “abundant living” of which Jesus speaks and the New Testament writes.


On Wednesday, August 19, 2015, Ken Beeton said:

Dear Junior,

Many thanks for your very helpful response to my email and for taking the time to provide your additional thoughts and context.

Your comments are very much valued and appreciated. I was glad to have this further insight and agree with what you have said. I was also grateful for the Bible references and for the illustrations they provide of effective discipleship.

I continue to struggle with what I feel is a misplaced and inappropriate emphasis that is currently being given by The Salvation Army to soldiership. I would like to see more soldiers, as committed disciples, who are continually growing in their spiritual knowledge and well-being. However, placing soldiership above other forms of discipleship, to me, feels wrong and it certainly does not value other believers equally. This can be very discouraging. I would much prefer The Salvation Army to be passionate about evangelism, the whosoever and grace. Were we to do so, I believe we would attract and keep many more people and, as they learned more about discipleship, many more than now would choose to be soldiers. In other words, put God’s kingdom first and let decisions about soldiership be made as people grow in spiritual understanding and maturity, rather than using soldiership as our “pitch.”

On a more personal level, my wife, Mandy, was a soldier at Harrow during your service in the U.K. She has many good memories of your leadership and ministry.

Once again, many thanks for your reply and I wish you the very best for the future.

Best wishes,

On Wednesday, August 19, 2015, Junior Hynes said:

Greetings from Canada, Ken,

Thank you for taking the time and interest in reading Salvationist and particularly my article on the importance of soldiership within The Salvation Army.

I, too, am a lifelong Salvationist and came to accept Jesus as my Saviour when a child in The Salvation Army. I became a junior soldier and then, at 14, a senior soldier—a definite, voluntary and intentional step.

I can fully appreciate your concern over the current attitude towards the significance of the soldiership designation, and that it may seem rather dated today. However, I am simply trying to express the need for truly committed believers to accept the privilege and responsibility to express the outcome of their salvation by way of intentional service. For me, in The Salvation Army, this is best expressed through a strong commitment to active soldiership. The term “Christian soldier,” or soldier of Jesus, goes beyond The Salvation Army, and I think refers to serious (serving) discipleship, such as in Ephesians 6:10-18 and 2 Timothy 2:3-4.

I believe that true preparation for active soldiership involves the spiritual shaping for service, which is needed today as much as ever! Admittedly, our context is quite different from the early days of the Army in the slums of the East End of London, just as soldiership in our current military forces is quite different from that in the First World War. We should expect our Christian service opportunities to be kept current as well. The identity in uniform wearing has gotten much more practical and I support the appropriate use of the same in The Salvation Army around the world today.

I was limited in the number of words for the article and trusted to our editorial department to help me with the essential expressions. I hope I have not disappointed you in what was included—someone else’s perspective is always valued and noted.

In essence, my rallying cry was for committed Salvationists to step up to opportunities for service, and not just enjoy the privilege of status as a welcomed believer. For me, in The Salvation Army, this always means being “ready to serve”—-true soldiership, for us, means just that! I want it to be an attraction rather than a distraction!

Blessings on your pondering and decision-making in the future. We need serving saints. I believe you can be counted as one of those!

My wife and I have been full-time officers for 44+ years and are retiring next month. We were blessed to have the opportunity to serve four of those years as corps officers in Harrow, U.K. The Army needs more soldiers and officers like you. Let’s keep praying, encouraging and inspiring!

Gratefully yours,
Junior Hynes

On Wednesday, August 19, 2015, Ken Beeton said:

Dear Lt-Colonel Hynes,

I am a UK Salvationist and am very pleased to have the opportunity each month to read the Canadian Salvationist.

I read your article in the July 2015 issue and wondered if you would mind me approaching you for some additional information?

The essence of your article was about the importance of making soldiers. I have been struggling with this Salvation Army stance for some time. The UK and Republic of Ireland territory is also taking the same position through its Fit for Mission strategy.

In my mind, we should always aim to be inclusive. In Kingdom terms, it doesn’t feel to me that it should matter at all whether we are soldiers, adherents or people who attend our worship services. What matters is whether we accept Jesus into our hearts and then grow in grace and spiritual maturity. I see many good and bad examples of grace in soldiers, adherents and our worshipping friends. Some of our best evangelists are adherents. The label, to me, does not matter and I worry that we are creating divisions by saying that one form of discipleship is more important than another. I say this as a uniform-wearing soldier for 45 years.

I struggle, also, with the biblical context. The Ten Commandments, as shown in Exodus, start with the statement that we should have no other gods before the one true God. It feels to me that The Salvation Army is at risk of making a false idol out of soldiership. We seem to be putting the status of soldiership before our desire to save souls and grow saints. I do not think that this is right. In fact, it is causing me to question whether or not I should remain a soldier, as I do not want to be seen to be more important than anyone else. Surely what matters, above everything else, is the heart, regardless of status.

When I read your article, I was intrigued by your statement that, in our soldier preparation classes, we should discuss the solid biblical, theological foundation for soldiership. I wondered if you would mind sharing with me please the biblical sources for this statement as I think it might help me in my own spiritual journey.

Many thanks for taking the time to read this note and for any time that you may give in responding.

With best wishes,
Ken Beeton

On Tuesday, August 18, 2015, TheMatrix said:

What it is time for, is to DUMP the uniform as something that has has its place but now is no longer necessary and probably never really was. I believe it conflicts with the teachings of James 2 which say that people should not be given preferential treatment based on clothing. Its also ridiculously overpriced and out of reach for many who would want to serve as soldiers or even officers. It also separates people unnecessarily from those people they are trying to help, unintentionally giving the message that soldiers/officers are 'better' than others because they can afford a nice expensive, not to mention dry clean only uniform

The S.A really needs to adopt something cheap and simple. Or even just lose the whole idea of a uniform altogether

On Thursday, July 16, 2015, L. Shadel said:

This article is reassuring to someone who has been a soldier and indeed pushes one to renew the commitment made in the past to God. It seems that many are not to happy with the current Salvation Army.. They should know that no church is perfect. Each one has its bad and its good and more people seem affected by the bad then the good. The Rallying Cry calls for a renewed effort to make The Salvation Army stronger and better. It has changed over the years but has not always been for the better. It is time for change again.

On Wednesday, July 15, 2015, Shannon said:

I have often wondered if the Salvation Soldier has been rendered obsolete due to the outsourcing of their traditonal role in ministry; which is now conducted by Employees. Perhaps the decline in morale among Soldiers is a result of their loss of true purpose and identity. I acknowledge that many Soldiers faithfully serve their Lord through their Corps in voluntary and employed roles however, it seems that there is mininal expectation and accountability with regards to the fruit produced by the Salvation Soldier. By choosing to sign the Articles of War the Salvation Soldier expresses a desire to go beyond the call of duty. If this commitment was accompanied with a high expectation, from leadership, of producing regular fruit for the Kingdom then the perhaps Soldiership would once again become a role to be respected, celebrated and aspired to. The Salvation Soldier is not broken, however there is certainly room for improvement with regards to how the role is utilised in our Army.

On Wednesday, July 15, 2015, Stephen A Gallard said:

I too am a Senior Soldier. I worked for 3 yrs in the ARC in Victoria which was fraught with issues. I left after i took issue with people vandalizing our cars on ARC property and when i responded by partner faile dto come out or back me up in any. Having been raised Salvation Army and with most of my moms family involved i loved what SA stood for and what it does so i applied for a position in Edmonton. After inquiring i was told there was a derogatory remark on my file and that was it. No chance to ask my side, nor to at least tell me what it was about only no thanks go away. What ever happened to fair chances, forgiveness if it was needed and helping people lift themselves up and move forward. ARC has on their building a new place for a fresh start..I guess that only means for the select. I still love the Army but cant even get a decent response or a chance with them..Sad that they have lost the caring and compassion i always thought they had.

On Wednesday, July 15, 2015, John Maddams said:

You claim that becoming a soldier is similar to baptism in other Churches, It certainly is not. Seems your soldiers don't like water. Jesus was baptised by total immersion by John the Baptist in the Jordan and from day one Christians were so baptised until the Bishops of Rome and Alexandria introduced child baptism in the 3rd century and decreed in 251AD that all churches under their jurisdiction should do so. In the 2nd and 3rd centuries converts had to wait on probation for 2 years before baptism learning how to behave as Christians and then pass a 6 week Bible study course teaching them what to believe before being baptised by total immersion on Easter day. While baptism is not essential for salvation millions of other Christians have been baptised because Jesus was and because he taught that we should be, Do you know better than Jesus?

On Wednesday, July 15, 2015, AlaN said:


On Tuesday, July 14, 2015, Duane said:

So many things come to mind. Like the focus on what the ARMY NEEDS and adherence to the ARMY'S mission apparently having a relationship with God just isn't enough.... The ARMY has to be seen.... Be BRANDED.... Have a PRESENCE that is noticeable and significant. It's amazing how far things have moved from what religion and God SHOULD be all about. If I recall the plan God set our was for people to be shining lights in a dark world. Last time I heard LIGHT didn't make any sounds. LIGHT is simply quietly there. Being useful. An example with out any noise bluster or self aggrandizement.

The ARMY has become every bit the PR machine. Much noise. Much commotion. Seems more worried about how they are seen by the world than by doing the loving works God called them to. A bit of a sounding gong or clanging cymbal if you ask me.

I guess sometimes it's more important to be "set apart" than to love. Hope you can find and build the soldiers (aka "killing machines") your ARMY needs...... Godspeed!!

On Tuesday, July 14, 2015, GKJ said:

Very powerful article. Thank you for sharing. Reaffirms my calling to a want to reinstate my soldiership!

Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

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