Emphasizing the HEART of the Army
Pendleton, Ore., corps uses Army motto to strengthen congregation.
by Martha Sheppard, Captain –
Membership at the Pendleton, Ore., corps, led by Capts. Don and Martha Sheppard, is rapidly expanding. In the last two months, 14 soldiers and nine junior soldiers were enrolled. Twenty local officers were commissioned. Over the past two years, Pendleton has enrolled 40 soldiers and roughly the same number of adherents. Here, Sheppard shares their method for successful ministry.
I think our secret is very basic. We use The Salvation Army motto, “Heart to God, Hand to man,” but have made “heart” into an acronym that we apply to the corps. We have used these five purposes—HEART—at all three of our appointments and each time they have shown us the same results—growth.
H – “Harvesting Lost Souls.” This goes back to William Booth’s philosophy to love the unlovable. The Army collects a broad mix of people in its congregations. From social workers to police officers to felons and drug addicts, we seek to make all feel they are members of the church family. I really believe that this is a key element—as people see us ministering to those less fortunate than us, they are attracted to the authentic ministry.
To harvest souls, we started a Celebrate Recovery program that meets weekly with 60-75 people in attendance. In these Sunday school-like classes, Christ-centered recovery issues are discussed using the Bible. Many of the people we invite are those with whom we share a meal at the feeding program.
E – “Encouraging others.” When the Sunday morning service is over, the congregation shares a fellowship meal. With time to sit and talk, relationships are strengthened. People forge friendships, ask for rides or advice from another, and find common interests that make them feel connected and bring them back.
A – “Adoring him.” Worship in Pendleton includes loud music, lots of testimonies, open prayer time during the service, and Bible-based preaching. We encourage questions and interaction. Parents pray for their children during the service and the altar is available for prayer during every service.
R – “Remaining in him.” We focus on accountability within the men, discussing it during the service so the women know the men are being held accountable. It is an expectation for all men who regularly attend to be confronted on certain issues including financial integrity, relationships, moral issues, and their private thoughts. A testimony time during the service is also beneficial for our corps. When people hear stories of answered prayer, they realize that God cares and answers prayer.
T – “Training for ministry.” Everyone has a job. If they don’t have one, we’ll give them one. Expecting our soldiers to be actively involved contributes to our growth and attendance. This involvement also includes our social services programs. Church members run our daily feeding program, food pantry, and winter shelter program. We don’t require that people be a soldier or even a believer to have a job. It helps sometimes to draft people who are active in their addictions to do jobs so that they can be around people who have experienced victory.
Pendleton is also active in divisional and territorial events. We try to send everyone we can to retreats, seminars, rallies, camps, etc. We want our corps people, who are usually new to the idea of The Salvation Army, to know there is a bigger picture than just our small corps.
Using this acronym to carry out the work of Pendleton Corps has resulted in many people who love the Army. Many want to be full-time workers as officers or in other capacities. But it’s more than just loving The Salvation Army; it’s about being the Army. They are The Salvation Army.
For more information on the Pendleton Corps, see the corps’ blog at pendletoncorps.blogspot.com.