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    Help us reimagine youth and children’s discipleship for our territory. January 18, 2019 by Major Terence Hale
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    @theREADY
    (Above) Young people gather at Jackson’s Point Camp, Ont. (Photo: Captain David Bond)

    When I was a teenager in the 1990s, the Blue Jays were winning the World Series (more than once!), the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan ruled the basketball world, and the Maple Leafs, well … they were the same old Maple Leafs. My friends and I regularly compared the specs on our portable CD players, and the iconic sound of dial-up Internet modems opened a whole new world to us.

    On the Christian front, Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant sat at the top of the charts, DC Talk was breaking barriers both musically and culturally, and Hillsong Worship was gaining popularity outside of Australia. My home corps hosted a thriving youth group of 60 teens, a growing Sunday school, junior soldiers’ class, and two levels of corps cadets. It was in this environment that I was discipled as a Christian young person.

    I was reminded of all this when my wife, Jennifer, and I returned to my home division in Newfoundland and Labrador to be guest speakers at their FUSE youth event. It was held at Twin Ponds Camp, where I had attended youth councils as a young person. My mind was flooded with memories, particularly the spiritual milestones in my development as a Christian and a Salvationist.

    What I realize now is that I am a product of intentional investment. I matured in my faith because God chose to use people, circumstances and programs to mould me in my faith. There was a group of invested leaders that accompanied me on a journey toward something.

    My point in recounting all of this is not to harken back to a time or place where we did things differently or better. Rather, it’s to emphasize that discipleship was purposeful and employed faithful workers and resources.

    Fast forward 20 years and the world is a very different place. We can’t do things the way we did in decades past. But what is clear, and what the Canada Bermuda Youth team has observed in our interactions across the territory, is that we need an effective culture of discipleship among our children and youth.

    Fortunately, we have the building blocks to help raise up the next generation of disciples, servants and leaders. Across the territory we see vibrant Christian faith in our youth and hear stories of faithful leaders who invest in young people on a regular basis. In that way not much has changed. What will help us as we move forward, however, is a clear plan for the discipleship of our children and youth, and the resources to accomplish that plan.

    Our vision for children and youth ministry in the Canada and Bermuda Territory is to create “CHRIST-centred, OTHERS-focused Disciples.” That is the end goal, the guiding standard, the measure. With that vision in mind, we have been on a journey of reimagining discipleship for our territory. As we begin this new year, we invite you to join us on the journey.

    With Kevin Slous, territorial director of discipleship, leading the way, the Canada Bermuda Youth team has been actively developing a new Salvation Army framework of discipleship for all children, from infancy to emerging adulthood, in our territory. This new framework brings a clear plan and intentionality to our discipleship efforts. This new framework is called @theREADY. It represents years of research, ministry experience and collaboration, and brings the time-tested principles of Salvation Army discipleship into our present-day context.

    Last September, the framework was presented to the Leaders’ Summit in Winnipeg, which included senior leaders from divisional and territorial headquarters. Their feedback was used to inform further development. Now we want to hear from you. What are your needs, concerns and dreams for youth work in the territory? Let us know what you think of the proposed framework so that together we can make it as useful as possible.

    At the end of this month we will be releasing an @theREADY engagement package that will share with you all the information about @theREADY and invite your feedback and contribution. This package will give you an opportunity to interact with @theREADY in three ways:

    1. Print Media, including the details of the framework in printable information sheets and illustrations.
    2. Digital Media, featuring a series of podcasts where you can listen to members of the Canada Bermuda Youth team explain different elements of the framework, along with a series of topical videos that will give brief introductions and overviews.
    3. Conversations, facilitated through a series of online townhall Q&A sessions. All the information collected from this process will be used to inform and fine tune the framework.

    Returning to my recollection from my youth, the questions of what, how and why seemed clearly defined for me in my discipleship journey. Those are the same questions we are endeavouring to answer for today’s context. I am convinced that the children and youth that God brings under our care and spiritual influence need to be a part of something when it comes to discipleship. They need to be a product of a journey marked by intentionality and practicality. It is our hope and responsibility to journey with them towards becoming CHRIST-centred, OTHERS-focused disciples. That is the goal. That is the “what.”

    The @theREADY framework will serve as the “how” for our present day and into the future. @theREADY is a clear, adaptable guiding plan, supplemented with the necessary tools and resources, that integrates all of what we do for children and youth into one cohesive strategy.

    Finally, the “why.” This, of course, is the unchanging backbone of all that we do as The Salvation Army. Growing up and being discipled in my home corps, I knew that those who journeyed with me were motivated by parallel goals: my salvation and growth as well as the overall growth of the kingdom of God beyond and through me.

    As Salvationist leaders poured into my life, it became apparent to me that God had saved me from my sin and that my relationship with him was to be the first priority in my life. Also, I was saved for the purpose of introducing others to Jesus Christ and growing his kingdom here on earth. My discipleship as a young person infused these two mandates into my life. It became part of my spiritual DNA.

    So we invite you to join us in growing and developing the @theREADY framework. The days ahead promise to be exciting ones, and we hope that you will stand at the ready with us as we seek and follow God’s plan for the discipleship of children and youth.

    Major Terence Hale is the territorial youth secretary.


    at the ready logo@theREADY Key Elements

    ORANGE—A core curriculum strategy that leverages the combined influence of the church and family in discipleship.

    Deeper ORANGE—An addition to the ORANGE material that will infuse Salvation Army DNA into discipleship for the Canada and Bermuda context.

    Ready To Serve—A media-based curriculum developed by the Canada and Bermuda Territory for kids ages 7-10 that engages them in discipleship and service. It also serves as the junior soldier training program.

    CC21c: Ready to Lead—Reimagining corps cadets for the 21st century in a uniquely Canada and Bermuda context.

    For more information, ask your corps officer about the @theREADY engagement package.

    Comment

    On Tuesday, January 29, 2019, Heidi Adams said:

    Can't wait to see what you've been working in and,even more, to see it in practice.

     

    On Wednesday, January 23, 2019, Joe Huttenlocker said:

    Can I get a copy of this material sent to me here in the USA? THANKS!


    Editor’s note: I will put you in touch with the Territorial Youth Secretary.

    On Tuesday, January 22, 2019, Concerned said:

    I would very much like to be optimistic about this initiative, which in my opinion is badly overdue. Youth work (not mention retention) is in decline in many denominations, and due to its small size and uniqueness the Army is suffering more than most. This problem has been overlooked and sugar coated for too long; without strong youth work ( made even more critical in the society we live in today) and retention there will be no Army corps in the future.

    That said I was disappointed and somewhat alarmed by the fact that the descriptions of the key elements do not seem to reference biblical and doctrinal "study" ( for want of a better word)as being paramount. I will hold off on any further judgement or indeed input until I have read the materials, which I will order from my corps officer. But if the materials unduly focus on "discipleship" (referenced three times.... another word for "staying involved in corps activities"??)at the cost of short selling sounder grounding in Scripture and Army doctrine then it will have been largely a wasted effort. Our largely deficient if not in places moribund youth work will continue, and our pews continue to empty. Time will tell.

     

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