Growing Healthy Corps
‘The only constant is change’ (Heraclitus of Ephesus, philosopher, c 500)
Heraclitus didn’t exactly use those words. He spoke Greek, but that is what he meant – and he is right. He does not appear to have added that ‘All change comes at a cost.’ Rarely is it possible to do something new without giving up something that has been a regular part of life.
There is nothing like the smell of fresh bread. Walking past a bakery in the morning can be a challenge as you savour the aroma of freshly baked bread. Wayne Cordeiro writes of the importance of serving up ‘fresh bread’ when we share the Word...
A wise leader will invest time and effort into building their own capacity to understand God’s Word and the environment in which they serve.
What images come to mind when you think about evangelism? Is it the street preacher calling people to repent, door-to-door visitation to talk to people about life and faith, or being equipped to share the Four Spiritual Laws at every opportunity?
It is now almost 40 years since the book by Eugene Petersen, ‘A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society’ was first published. The world has changed much in that time, but some things do not change...
My first experience of 'up-selling' was helping at the corps BBQ at the Surrender Conference. Hamburgers and drinks were part of the package - but we had more...
It was a simple email. The headline: ‘CONGRATULATIONS.’ Three sentences and less than 30 words comprised the body of the computer-generated correspondence, but it was sent to me. It was unexpected, but it was appreciated.
After being involved in ministry for a few years, it is easy to fall into the routines, practices and processes of our movement and our corps. Asking ourselves why we do what we do drives us back to purpose, brings focus and inspires action.
It's all done and dusted for another year. The hectic schedule of Advent is over, family celebrations complete, and a new year is underway. It is an opportunity to refresh, reflect, refocus and prepare for what may lie ahead in 2018.
Our national vision statement prompts me to ask the question: How are we equipping Salvos in our corps to make the vision a reality? Are we training members of our corps to share the love of Jesus as they go about the work in the corps and the tasks of each day?
Across Australia, the National Vision Statement is at the top of our agenda. ‘Leading our Vision’ events are happening in every division, and the early months of next year will see the vision being shared in every corps and centre.
At the recent GHC Conference, Dale Stephenson spoke about the key functions of leadership - and spent time focussing on culture. One of the key functions of a leader is to be a ‘cultural curator.’ This concept was taken to a new level as Dale spoke about organisational culture, church culture and personal culture.
A discipleship pathway leads to Jesus, and continues as people are transformed into his image. For some, it will be straight and smooth, for others, circuitous and difficult. Within our corps, it is helpful to examine the pathways that we provide to help people get closer to Jesus and grow in him.
If you have been working on implementing OIKOS in your life and in your corps, you have begun to PREPARE. You may list, pray, invest and invite – and all the time God is at work.
Jesus calls us to follow him. We do that as individuals, and join with others who have responded to him. We become the ‘ekklesia’ – and we work together to proclaim the kingdom of God. When it comes to impacting our OIKOS, the way we work together as a faith community, as a corps, should magnify the impact we can have as individuals.
OIKOS is a Greek term for household, a more extended group than our nuclear families. The OIKOS paradigm is that we each have an extended household of 8 to 15 people with whom we share life. This is the part of the world where we can have the greatest impact for the gospel.
A good craftsman knows their material. They study its characteristics and understand its strengths and weaknesses. When combined with the experience of working with the material, the artist can produce a thing of beauty, the tradesman constructs an enduring work, and the farmer yields a bountiful crop. Knowing what you are working with, and how it will be impacted by its environment, helps the artisan make best use of the material.
Albert Einstein said, “The definition of genius is taking the complex and making it simple.” Effectively sharing the good news of Jesus is a complex task, and we must find ways that make it simple.
With an appointment as corps officer or corps leader comes a platform to stand on. That platform is the positional authority given by The Salvation Army. Competence in the role and the personality and character of the individual strengthens and extends that platform.
What do you want to achieve in 2017? This is often the basis of reflection and discussion at the start of a year. New Year resolutions are one expression. Working on diaries and schedules, and establishing goals are all part of the process. Setting goals is easy, achieving them much harder.
Our national mission intentions - Caring for people, Creating faith pathways, Building healthy communities and Working for justice - focus our attention on ways in which the movement can be sharing the love of Jesus. What does this mean in your corps? Every setting is different, and the starting point is to identify the resources we have to accomplish the task.
Among my emails this week was a life assessment tool - a questionnaire to help reflect on the various aspects of my personal life. Why now? A new year is just a few weeks away, and it is a good time to reflect on what has taken place and refocus on what we want to accomplish.
Dr Jason Fox (author and strategy design expert) identifies meaningful progress as the key factor that motivates people engaged in a project, enterprise or activity. Goals and their achievement are important, but keeping people engaged until the goal is reached can be a challenge.
For officers in The Salvation Army, the practice espoused by Andy Stanley is not really on our agenda. The appointments system takes care of it! Or does it? Unless we invest in others who can share the tasks, roles and responsibilities of leadership, there will be no replacements.
"I bind myself in solemn covenant… to live to win souls and make their salvation the first purpose of my life." As Salvation Army officers, this is part of our covenant. How do we do that in the midst of the daily demands of ministry, administration and leadership in our corps - and the comfortable affluence of an Australian society that seems indifferent to traditional Christian teaching?
The best learning takes place in the midst of life. While the classroom plays an important part in education, experiential learning is the process of developing through day-to-day tasks, challenges and practice.
In the epistle to the Christians in Ephesus, Paul reminds them that God has provided resources to the church. Money and property are not mentioned - people are! Each member of the church is equipped by God to play a role in the body of Christ.
In the realm of the Spirit, the concept of strategy seems out of place. For some, it may imply that our will is being imposed, and the work of God in guiding and directing our steps is being supplanted by human decision. With demands always seeming greater than the time and resources available, it is vital we have a strategy to achieve the goal of ‘Making Disciples’.
"We are a salvation people - this is our speciality - getting saved, keeping saved, getting somebody else saved..." (William Booth, The Salvationist, 1879) This was how William Booth described our MISSION. What will people see happening in your community when the mission is lived out amongst your people? This is your VISION. Even though we can articulate mission and vision, all too often we can struggle to fulfil the mission and realise the vision.
A friend told me about the gathering, but when some family members began attending I tagged along to see what it was about. After a few visits, it became a part of my routine. Sometimes now I even go when family members do not. It has begun to occupy a small part of my week that has a positive impact on my life.
It is easy to rush through the day, fully absorbed in the task of running to keep up with demands from numerous sources. Eugene Peterson paraphrased some words of Jesus from Matthew 11:28-30 - “…Walk with me and work with me - watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
As Salvation Army officers, there are many things that clamour for our attention, energy and time, but Jesus was very clear when questioned about the most important command - love the Lord your God. In the midst of the demands of life and ministry, what helps keep your relationship with God strong, healthy and vital?
William Booth expressed the mission in "The Salvationist" in 1879 as "We are a salvation people - this is our speciality - getting saved and keeping saved, and then getting somebody else saved..."
GHCN can be a powerful force for growth and health in local corps settings.
It is our prayer that the changes to GHCN will improve our ability to be accountable and bear fruit for the Kingdom.
“Do you really want to know people like me?” was the question of Catherine, a middle aged woman who was on the fringes of Gordon MacDonald’s church community. MacDonald had always been aware of her, but was busy about the tasks of leadership and ministry, engaged with people more “important” than Catherine.
Anthropologist E.T. Hall developed a theory of proxemics which analysed the informal spaces that surround individuals. Four categories of relational space have been identified: intimate, personal, social, and public. Each of these categories has key characteristics relating to the numbers of people involved and physical distance.
From time to time, I have had officers come to me asking me if I have any word of hope for their corps. Since reading and applying the principles of Experiencing God in my own life, I have been led to reply, "Yes, there is hope because the Father is at work in your corps and in your city right now. All you have to do is surrender your plans to Him, develop an intimate relationship with Him, find out what He is doing, and start to partner with Him in what He is doing."
Ever heard of the centripetal force? Anyone who has done 'round the world' successfully with a yo-yo relies on it. Some wind turbines depend on it. Centripetal force is the pull factor “by which bodies are drawn or impelled… towards a point as to a centre." The opposite force is the centrifugal force. These two forces were in play when David, the Israelite shepherd boy, used his sling to direct a rock at the head of the Philistine giant, Goliath.
Every day we hear about it on TV and radio. Every day you can find out about it in the newspaper. Sometimes an illuminated sign provides the information, and at any time, we can go on line and find out what it is now, what it was yesterday and what it might be tomorrow. But this piece of information is just a number, a statistic, and we seem to have a problem with statistics.
28 corps leaders (officers and leader teams) gathered recently in Melbourne Central Division for a Growing Healthy Corps Layered Learning event. The event was facilitated by Pastor Phil McCredden and focussed on the Patrick Lencioni book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.
Attending the GHC conference was one of the highlights of ministry for me in 2014. Sitting under the ministry of Pastor Michael Grechko was absolutely inspirational.
Last September, the Tasmania Division held two Layered Learning events. GHCN facilitators, Tim Dyer (Johnmark Ministries) and John Morse (former Executive Officer, Tabor College) presented on the topics of Lead Followers, Follow Leaders. This teaching was focused on the two interwoven facets of followership and leadership, and about how one influences the other.
The most significant asset of any organisation is its people. If it wasn’t for people, mission intentions, statements of purpose and strategic goals could not be implemented. If it wasn’t for people, who would pray without ceasing, evangelise, encourage, edify, challenge and offer hope to the local communities, cities and nations that we live in?
Good leadership is the key to growing, healthy corps, and good leaders are always learners. The GHC Network supports corps officers desiring to learn more about spiritual formation, leadership and church dynamics. This year, over 190 officers from almost 100 corps have been involved in GHC. The clusters provide an environment for growth, accountability and peer support in ministry.