Creating faith pathways for people
Creating faith pathways for people
1 September 2022
Creating faith pathways is an essential element of our holistic mission. Linda Bond, a former General of The Salvation Army, suggested that wherever there is a Salvo Red Shield on the door, a pathway to faith is accessible and affirmed.
We appreciate that not everyone who works for The Salvation Army identifies as Christian. At the same time, there is an expectation that everyone who works with The Salvation Army will respect and support our mission. This includes our mission to create faith pathways. We seek to do this in culturally appropriate ways that encourage exploration of the Christian faith without coercion, force or manipulation.
Members of corps and our faith communities have a wealth of opportunities to reach out and share the love of Jesus with people. Our Doorways, homelessness, addiction, family violence and youth services are spaces where our people are welcome to meet with and build safe and caring relationships with people. This may involve sharing a conversation over a cup of coffee, a meal or holding a chapel service or small group discussion.
One way we share the love of Jesus is by helping people develop their spiritual life, or to use the language in our statement, create a faith pathway. The idea of being on a pathway with and toward God is not new and is found in the Bible:
“Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways” (Proverbs 4:26).
“Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls” (Jeremiah 6:16)
“You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence” (Acts 2:28).
A pathway is a means of getting from one place to another. Some pathways are straight, direct and smooth. Others are circuitous and difficult. Moving along that pathway involves a series of steps as we put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward. At times, we venture on paths that simply stop and take us nowhere. Other times we have stopped because there was an obstacle or hurdle that was too difficult for us to navigate. These are the challenges of John Bunyan’s classic, The Pilgrim’s Progress.
The Bible encourages us to take care in our life journey and seek pathways leading to a full and flourishing life. The Christian faith sees this in following Jesus, who said he had come to bring life and bring it to the full (John 10:10).
This is a lifelong process of transformation for all that includes growing in maturity, service and love for others. This process of holistic transformation is integral to all that we do.
At the Helensburgh Salvos Store (NSW), members of the local faith community meet weekly to discuss life and questions of God with community members. At Bendigo, Townsville and Darwin Alcohol and Other Drugs services, chaplains work with local corps members to create spaces for people to explore faith. At our aged care centres, our chaplains hold services and meet with people to pray, sing and share Bible passages that provide hope and reminders of God’s love and presence.
Our corps and faith communities provide a range of opportunities for people to explore the Christian faith, come to know Jesus and go on to grow in maturity and holiness. These include ‘soft entry’ opportunities to welcome and connect with community members such as community meals, English as a Second Language classes, or Kids in the Kitchen programs.
After the meal at Long Jetty Corps (NSW), members of the corps offer seeker-friendly interest groups such as Bible studies, an ‘Experiencing God’ group, men’s and women’s groups, Junior Soldier classes, a book club, and Positive Lifestyle Program.
Four corps in Sydney – Bankstown, Campsie, Burwood and Hurstville – have collaborated to train 26 people in the Evangelism Explosion program. Praise God, 65 community members have committed their lives to Jesus. At Carindale Corps in Brisbane, a men’s breakfast was held to hear Fijian rugby international Albert Vulivuli speak about the Christian faith.
At Noarlunga (SA), Bayside (Qld), Glenorchy (Tas.) and Launceston (Tas.) corps, co-located mission expressions collaborate to build meaningful relationships with community members and intentionally seek to create faith pathways.
How are you and your faith community creating faith pathways for people?