Bridges to eternity

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Colorado Springs Corps maps out plan to reach the community.

by Jim Mertz, Envoy – m

How can we touch those in our communities who need help? How can we reach out to those who so desperately need food? Shelter? Clothing? Jesus? We can build bridges. For the last several months, bridge building has been a project of the Colorado Springs Corps—and at last count, we’ve reached over 92,400 souls!

The theme of last year’s Regional Learning Center was “The Master Plan for Making Disciples.” Major Linda Manhardt, Western Territory education secretary, coordinated the event along with Charles Arn, presenter. They developed this topic by explaining how to build bridges for evangelism. What I learned prompted me to take the phrase “Bridges to Eternity” and implement it at our corps in Colorado Springs.

After researching the possibilities available to us at the corps to reach out and help those in need, I put together a simple strategy of how to build spiritual bridges. I discovered over 20 areas that we could build a bridge to in The Salvation Army’s service areas.

Plan of action
I went to work. First, I promoted the bridge-building concept through posters, on bulletin boards in our chapel foyer and around the corps building with pictures of people and bridges extended to them. Next, I preached to the corps people on the topic of building a bridge to enlist their help.

During the project’s early days, I asked the Lord to raise up lay leaders who could develop ministry teams or become “bridge foremen.” These leaders then recruited other volunteers to assist them in their bridge building. Eventually—as the envoy in charge—I became the mentor, trainer and monitor for the leaders in all of the spiritual construction.

Every week we inserted simple bridges report forms in our Sunday bulletins to involve and motivate our lay people. The forms included information on visits made for the week, phone calls, cards or letters sent, total number of contacts made and the time spent making them. At the end of the month, we collated the figures with our total monthly corps stats and gave a grand total of people we served and contacted for the month in all areas. This number included people fed, housed, taught, helped, counseled, etc.

Prepared to serve
The report created a deeper consciousness of service and ministry for our non-staff to help them pray for and reach others for Christ. I believe this is our scriptural mandate as corps leaders: to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up (Ephesians 4:12).

Since Army corps officers typically have limited time to invest in their corps before moving on, the more effectively we train our congregation who remain, the smoother the transition will be for those who follow us.

We are excited to witness all that the Lord is doing through and in our corps. Our plan is not a “silver bullet” that solves all problems, but simply a tool to fulfill our mission and challenge our lay people to join us in building Bridges to Eternity.

Regional Learning Centers are yearly training events held throughout the territory for envoys, auxiliary captains and officers who have been commissioned less than five years. Each year, the Western Territory’s Education Department travels within the territory, conducting the same training at each location.


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