Special Europe Edition
Salvation Army finding new ways to share the gospel.
by Sue Schumann Warner –
The Salvation Army marches on…in villages and towns and in great cities across Europe…armed with compassion, caring, and commitment to the cause of Christ.
And now, after more than 140 years of doing battle, this Army—the largest in the world—faces a formidable adversary: apathy.
“Europe today is a mission field,” stated Commissioner Thorleif Gulliksen, international secretary for the Europe Zone, in an interview with New Frontier. “People seem to turn away from Christianity.”
Statistics bear him out: in five key European countries (France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany and Italy), regular church attendance has dropped since the mid 1970s from 40 percent to just 20 percent, notes author and journalist James P. Gannon, in a USA Today article.
In many places, it is much less.
According to Major David Robinson, Nottingham Arnold corps officer, UK, “England is one of the most secularized places in the world. We are now finding second and third generations of people who know nothing about church and who God is. People are getting farther and farther away from the gospel.”
The question remains: how to bring those people back to the truth of the gospel?
Lifestyle evangelism may hold the key.
“I think in many parts of the world, Salvationists have lost the art of knowing how to share in appropriate ways about Jesus,” stated Commissioner Paul du Plessis, to New Frontier. “Our public relations department does a good job of telling us what a wonderful organization we are, but they haven’t necessarily given individual Salvationists the personal skills that I think are necessary.”
He notes that the Army should find appropriate ways to take what he calls “the evangelistic opportunity into the evangelistic offer” and says, “There’s got to be a way to use our lifestyle of presenting who we are: when people ask what’s this really about, we don’t need to tell them about the Army—but we need to find ways of telling them about Jesus.”
In the pages that follow, stories and photos reveal the battles Salvationists face, along with the many ways they share the good news of the gospel with family, friends, and neighbors…in those villages and towns and great cities where William Booth’s Army marches still.