A Soft Spot for Youth Councils


Col. E. Sather

by Colonel Esther Sather – 

I have a soft spot in my heart for youth councils!

It was at a youth councils in a hotel in Spokane, Wash., where, as newlyweds, my husband Don and I walked up to the platform to join others who were answering the call from God to officership. We had a weekend of meetings, wearing stand-up uniforms, testimonies, musical groups– and what I remember as long altar calls– following the invitation on Sunday morning.

Since that time, I have attended as a corps officer chaperoning my delegates, hoping none of them was acting foolishly. As a divisional youth secretary, the planning has been intense to meet the needs of the delegates in our division. As the territorial youth secretary, traveling to eight divisions for their councils, we have stood and watched how a single territorial theme could be entirely different every single time–yet each time so effective for the young people attending.

It is now 40 years since that youth councils in Spokane. We have gone from straight meetings with a preachment each time…to the feeling that Saturday night had to be a musical in the ’70s…to weekends that can only be explained as pure entertainment in the ’80s.

Now we are into a discipling mode, trying so hard to help this generation understand they will not make it as Christians if they cannot verbalize to their friends what a Christian is.

We have gone from councils in the hall to councils in hotels. We have gone from programming that used our own young people exclusively to programming done by outside professional groups. We have gone from wearing uniforms the entire weekend to entire weekends in grubbies.

We have gone from all Army music to almost all praise and worship with hardly any Salvation Army identity. Some I like and some I have a hard time with…

We have gone from councils where almost everyone was a corps cadet to councils being a time for outreach to unbelieving young people.

We have gone from where the only music was a piano. Now the usual is a keyboard, at least two or more guitars and always a drum set.

We have gone from councils where everyone was Anglo to today’s incredible diversity of color, culture and nationality…that in itself has demanded we change our style of programming.

But the bottom line is the same as my first line of this article. I like youth councils. Because Sunday morning, just as 40 years ago, the Holy Spirit will be in attendance. He will stop at certain chairs, put young people under conviction about their future. And they, too, will walk down the aisle to the platform and accept his call on their life!

God is faithful!

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