Get your kicks en route
THE BRIDGE BUILDER
by Geir Engoy –
In the 1980s soccer bombed in Norway. The national soccer team had only one win in four. In 1987, one out of 15. Then Egil “Drillo” Olsen was hired to coach the team. They won over half their games and hardly ever lost. He is now building with Wimbledon in England.
The big shift in Drillo’s soccer philosophy was from possession of the ball to aggressive breakthroughs. In possession, you pass the ball within the team until opportunity arises for an attempt at goal. In the aggressive breakthrough your entire team gets “behind” the ball to defend. The moment you capture the ball, your entire team aggressively turns to attack. Within very few plays an assault is made on the opposing goal.
Salvationists, remember that we are an Army marching against the forces of evil, with the intention of winning lost souls for Christ. However, changing times present challenges. We study the changes to find how different people respond in different ways to their environment.
The demographic make-up of our territory is among the most varied in the world. Out of about 350 Salvation Army units in the West, 98 are either fully or partly non-English speaking. We preach the gospel in 20 different languages. We have the people, we have the resources. Things are changing. Procedures and ways of dealing with those situations demand that we change with them. In January, the nation’s first Thaitown was inaugurated in Los Angeles. We already have Koreatown, Chinatown, Little Saigon and other areas that are marked by ethnic flavor. We even have several Leisure Worlds for senior citizens. Our population is always in flux.
The changes affect contemporary culture to a point where Christianity is now in the religious market place as one among many choices as opposed to being dominant. What do we do with people whose religious framework sees no need for salvation? How do we deal with people who are more power conscious than truth conscious?
Drillo is now coaching in a culture where possessing the ball is the big thing. However, he believes that his ideas are superior to the reigning ideas, and that eventually others will follow suit. Particularly if we look 10 years ahead. He notes speed is the big difference in the game today compared to 10 years ago, and will be even more so in another 10 years. Classic teams of yesteryear wouldn’t stand a chance today against your average minor league team.
Keeping up with the changing times and thinking cross-culturally demands a change in attitude which will take time to establish. A paradigm shift doesn’t happen by tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. It will need to be a thread that runs through the thought pattern of Salvation Army ministries in the Western Territory, through: more pulpit exchanges, visits (choir, group, band, YP), multi-corps ventures, regular multi-ethnic celebrations/meals.
We will know we are going in the right direction
- when the cross-cultural representative is called upon to ask about more than the availability of translations
- when ethnic minority personnel are appointed to important leadership positions
- when (with apologies to Martin Luther King, Jr., are judged according to their character and not on their cultural background
- when our corps and personnel reflect the make-up of our communities and are the showpieces to the world of Christ’s Body
- when Salvationists are recognized as realists, wall breakers, and those who overcome the barriers that separate people
Let’s take it personally. If you have a problem with somebody from a different background, ask the Lord to lay bare your resentment–known or unknown. Implore him to love that person through you. Don’t back down; stay on through the process! Be actively involved as you undertake the paradigm shift and your motives and actions turn increasingly more reconciliatory.