Even then, we couldn’t hear from everyone, so we launched a survey through Salvationist.ca. The survey consisted of five questions, including four short one-word answers and a single sentence reply. We were pleased that nearly 900 Salvationists completed the survey. We read through the responses and grouped the results into the top five most common themes under each question (see coloured notes). These themes echoed what we heard in our visits.
Focus on the Future
One theme that we are hearing consistently is a message of “hope,” including through our ministries of “giving” and “caring.” That’s come through in many ways: stories of people discovering hope in the toughest moments of life through our social and community-based ministries; as we met with new soldiers and officers who have been commissioned since we left the territory; the time we spent at the training college with cadets and at the Officership Information Weekend; exciting reports of corps engaging in community connections.
Also emphasized was a focus on the future, captured in the word “growth.” People have faith for an Army that will grow. And there is confidence that God can do it! That might mean looking different than we do now, but our communities also look different than they did 20 or even 10 years ago. Growth means doing new things and letting go of things that don’t connect with our mission. The Bible calls us to be “salt and light,” but those qualities only have value when we are connected to communities.
The survey also identified some concerns, the greatest of which is leadership, specifically the declining number of officers and the challenge of recruiting committed local leadership in corps/congregations. Concerns were also expressed in two closely related areas: relevancy and change capability. We need to address this gap in order to effectively be a transforming influence in our communities.
Despite the challenges, there is optimism. We hear confidence in the ability to meet those needs through godly, hardworking, committed people, described in the survey as our greatest strength. The reputation of The Salvation Army is also strong, not just in raising funds but in our ability to give hope where it is needed most.
We want to emphasize that this is not our agenda, it is God’s agenda. We want to be aligning with God wherever he is at work in our communities. He invites us to partner with him.
Positive change also happens when we put our mission and values into practice. Values posted on the office or church wall mean nothing in and of themselves. Values must transform behaviour, and changed behaviour, in turn, transforms culture.
100 Days of Prayer
We are grateful for the hundreds from across the territory who have been part of the 100 Days of Unceasing Prayer and Shared Scripture, praying every day up to Good Friday. We solicited 100 prayers of gratitude, petition and intercession from 100 ministry units across the territory and paired them with 100 essential passages of Scripture.
Toward the end of this journey, we are inviting people to share what God is impressing upon them as they’ve been praying for the Army and reading the “grand story” of God’s work of redemption. Therefore, on Day 75 we released a follow-up survey. Visit salvationist.ca/100days to add your input.
Listen to the Spirit
There is a hope in Christ that does not disappoint (see Romans 5:5). There is a hope rising within the movement for a fresh wave and work ahead. Growth is anticipated, and we need to prepare for that growth to happen. Growth means change—not all change is easy. But we are grateful for what we are sensing to be the strength of the partnership in the gospel (see Philippians 1:3-5) across this great Canada and Bermuda Territory.
We need to listen to the stories and the Spirit—to understand where we are as a movement and where God is leading us—and how he wants to use The Salvation Army to transform the communities across this territory and beyond.
• Our slogan is “Giving Hope Today,” through the gospel of Jesus Christ and by providing for the needs of others.
• We are struggling to remain relevant in a world that is constantly changing at a rapid pace.
• We are challenged by a lack of new officers and an overall drop in church attendance.
• The territory is changing, so we don’t have the option of stagnation. Change is scary, but God is guiding us through.
• The public sees us as people who serve—that is our calling.
• In order to grow, the Army needs to get back to its core values.
• I would love to see the Army take off and inspire the younger generation to follow Christ.
• When we reach out into our community to draw people in, statistical growth will follow.
• If we cannot grow spiritually ourselves, then we cannot grow the kingdom.
• We need to change if we want to grow. This may mean new and different programs or dispensing with old ones that no longer serve the needs of the community.
• We need qualified, committed, capable people in key leadership positions for extended periods.
• People are our greatest strength— they are what keep us going.
• Our reputation as an honest and caring organization is strong.
• We risk being stuck in the past when we hold too tightly to “the way things have always been done.”
• We need to innovate and not be afraid to make bold changes when required.
• We have a good reputation with the public. We need to build on that strength.
Click on the following documents to read all of the territorial survey results:
• Territorial Survey - Most Common Themes
• Territorial Survey - Top 4 Answers with Comments
Read this article along with others in the digital version of the April Salvationist magazine. Download and print articles and share on social media.