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More than a numbers game

More than a numbers game

More than a numbers game

9 March 2020

The Messengers of Reconciliation – From left: Shaun Featherston, Ryan Matulick, Crystal Lee, Keven Williams, Nicole Bezzina, Anthony Bezzina and Renae Phillips.

By Christopher Trodden

I often get asked, “How many cadets do you have for college next year?” It’s a bit like asking, “Are we there yet?” It’s a fair question; officers have always been, and will always be, central to the ongoing mission and ministry of The Salvation Army. But is the number of new cadets the only figure we should focus on?

Each time I take an extended road trip, I notice how much more attention I pay to the dashboard. Usually, I focus on my speed, but when I need to get somewhere significant or far away, I pay much more attention to the other indicators – RPMs, fuel, oil, temperature, etc.

Recently, I asked a few of the officer formation staff what were some other indicators we should take into consideration when it came to future leadership numbers. I share with you a snapshot of their responses:

Captain Brenda Young – Leader of Officer Formation

“In 2019, we saw 24 leaders released into full-time ministry, and 22 in 2018. These figures represent cadets, auxiliary-lieutenants, and newly commissioned officers. What excites me about these combined figures is that they speak to the wider story of ministry taking place in The Salvation Army. They represent leaders for chaplaincy, kids, youth and worship ministry. They represent new corps officers, mission expressions and social program leaders. Each one of these leaders represents different gifts, experiences, passions and abilities that God is calling to the Army. Forty-six new ministers for mission in two years – that indicates to me God is still moving in our midst.”

Major Cathy Elkington – Personal and Spiritual Formation Coordinator

“Burnout, anxiety, stress, loss of confidence, a crisis of belief – these are a few of the many road blocks a leader will potentially face in ministry. Just as a car’s engine is damaged when revs are kept too high, so too are the leaders who are always trying to prove their self-worth. Dallas Willard writes, ‘Spiritual formation in a Christian tradition answers a specific question: What kind of person am I going to be? It is the process of establishing the character of Christ in the person – that’s all it is.’ Knowing their [cadets] identity in Christ, how God has shaped them for ministry, learning how to change gears to rest in God’s presence ... these are key indicators that I look for.”

Captain Paul Lorimer – Officer Recruitment Secretary

“We recognise the journey towards ministry doesn’t happen in a vacuum, but occurs naturally when a person learns to discern God’s call with the help of other leaders around them. Over the past two years, we have been shifting our focus from counting cadets to the number of conversations we’re starting with emerging leaders. The number of cadets entering college each year is important, but equally important is the number of leaders being engaged with at the various stages of their journey. Some are only just becoming aware of God’s call, whereas others are gathering information or actively pursuing the next right step in their development. We focus on measuring how many conversations we’re starting, nurturing, and can keep moving forward.”

* Christopher Trodden is the Campaign Manager for Officer Recruitment.

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