Balanced corps ministry
by Ray Moulton, Lt. Colonel –
A cry I have heard repeatedly is for a return to a corps ministry standard. Some of you may remember the old form that you could obtain from Trade that you would complete with the various programs and activities at the corps, have signed by the divisional commander, and post in a prominent place for all to see and know the expectations for ministry at this corps.
I suspect that the transition of our society from a modern perspective that cherished structure, predictability, and order; to a post-modern society that values the reverse—a freedom of expression, a desire to do what feels good without standards, a lessening of respect for authority, more spontaneity—has transformed into the desire to discover a local vision into, “More freedom to do what we want.”
Territorial leadership is responding to the need that most of us have to know clear expectations for our behavior and ministry. A few of us may have the gifts and determination to figure out our own expectations and be fully motivated to achieve them. However most of us need to know the direction, the vision, the expectations in broad outline so we can line up our energy and effort to accomplish clear results. We are familiar with the famous experiment that divided children randomly between two classes, and then told the respective teachers before the year started that one class had the brightest and high achievers, while the other had the slower learners and most difficult children. Even though there was no basis of truth for this separation into the classes, the teachers subliminally communicated these expectations to their students, and each class lived out the pre-determined expectation to either overachieve, or perform to less than their ability. Expectations are powerful tools to achieve results.
In the illustration included is a representation of a balanced ministry expectation for each corps. It is called a Ministry Foundation as it is the foundation for each corps to build a balanced and effective ministry to fulfill our mission. You will note in the left column, that ministry activity is divided in response to our mission paraphrase by General Gowans (Ret.), to “Save Souls, Grow Saints, and Serve Suffering Humanity” with the additional expectation of deploying those disciplined into ministry and leadership. Each corps is expected to have activity in each of the ministries defined and with the determined frequency, or if not to have its implementation in active planning. Across the top of the chart are representative age groups. It is not intended that this define precise age limitations, rather an understanding that various age grouping naturally require specific ministry design. We have not prescribed specific activity for each age grouping, other than to define youth and adult program activities. To further refine a corps ministry mix would be up to the local leaders to respond to local needs. However it is expected that each corps would have ministry outreach to both youth and adults, would serve the needs of youth and adults, and have specific ministry to grow disciples, and then deploy all who are disciplined back into ministry. “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ,…And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” II Cor. 5:19.
While the Ministry Foundations provides clear expectation of a balanced standard of activity, it meets the modern mind’s need for structure and direction; it also offers choice within the activity categories to tailor your corps ministry to respond to local need and culture. We are not just in the business of providing programs, but within good programs we may engage in ministry, building relationships with those we serve. There is choices defined within the chart, and more can be substituted with agreement by the Divisional Commander. Our expectation is that all corps will be engaged in an effective balanced ministry to all ages, and fulfilling the full mission of The Salvation Army in the Western Territory.