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Tuesday, September 05, 2006


The 3 biggest challenges facing the Salvation Army

I know everyone has a ping at this topic every now and then, but this morning as I was walking along I was pondering what I see as the three biggest challenges facing the Salvation Army in 2006.

Today I will just outline the three challenges and then over the next few days we will unpack each of them a little bit more.

1) Maintaining our own theology and organisational distinctives.
I talk to a lot of Salvos and the more I talk to, the more I realise that we don't understand what our theology is anymore.
Alot of the debates that take place in the Salvation Army would not be needed if we truely understood the theology of our movement. This doesn't mean there wouldn't be debates, they just would be different debates.
The idea of maintaining our organisational distinctives is a complex task. What is the core DNA of the Salvation Army?
Obviously there are things that as an International organisation we need to keep uniform (just travel overseas to see the need for and strength of shared identity), but also as an internation organisation we need to allow for adaptability of our distinctiveness to suit the context. I would contend that perhaps that is our core DNA.

2) Being relevant.
This relates to the organisational distinctives. In the Salvation Army the idea of being relevant has been reduce to one of two things. Firstly, worship styles. Secondly, corps versus social centres. Both of these debates are distractions from the work of Salvation that the Army is called to do in our world. For an Australian context, the only place outside of the church where I go and sing songs is the Football (round ball variety). And the singing, chanting football supporters are in the minority of the fans of that sport. What songs we sing is not an issue that is going to stop or start people coming into our churches (maybe the 'coming in' bit is part of the problem). Again, corps versus social centres, the debate is being played out by those inside our organisation, instead of spending the time and energy on engage with the people who we are supposed to be doing our best to 'reach'.

3) Harnessing responsible leadership from our young people.
The Salvation Army has always recognised and encouraged the potentional of the young people with in its ranks.
The challenge for the Salvation Army today is to encourage the young people to be leaders, but also give them guidance and frameworks within which to lead.
Young people have great passion, vision and enthusiasm. But young people are also arrogant, short sited and narrow minded.
We need young people in leadership positions, but we also need wise old heads sharing their experience as well.
Those who don't learn from history are bound to repeat it.

Stay tuned for a more in depth look at each of these three challenges.

I think the three points you make are good. All too often things that are in the scheme of things unimportant become the crux of what we are on about, like music style. I wonder what music style Jesus used in his worship!! ;)

I also like you points about encouraging young leadership, both the positive and growth edges are challenges. Leadership is a huge responsibility! There is a certain level of wisdom and insight needed to fufill these roles well. I hope that we are able to help the young people of the Salvation Army to develop these skills and facilitate their enthusiam.
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