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How to bring back the 'good old days'

How to bring back the 'good old days'

How to bring back the 'good old days'

28 February 2020

Lieutenants Donna and Philip Sutcliffe are passionate about creating corps where everyone belongs.

By Philip Sutcliffe

There’s a comment I have heard many times during my first few years of officership – “We want to go back to the good old days!” I am sure you have heard it too!

I simply fobbed it off at first, but then curiosity got the better of me and I started to explore this comment further. Of all the people I spoke to, and of all the responses I was given, a common theme kept appearing. While there was the usual desire for bands, songsters and outreaches, the common theme was more to do with relationships, purpose and belonging

Somewhere in our journey as The Salvation Army, we have moved from a church that gives everyone responsibility to a church where all the responsibility falls back on the officers.

American author and pastor Ed Stetzer once said: “We’ve made it acceptable to sit in church week after week and do nothing and still call yourself a Christian.”

So, at our corps, we asked ourselves how we could model a style of leadership that developed a culture for everyone to play a part so that everyone could build relationships and feel a sense of purpose and belonging again.

In a previous appointment, we started a community lunch and right from the start we taught and modelled to our leadership group that it was not about us and it was not about them. This was a community lunch for the community, run by the community and supporting the community. Everyone was to have a place and purpose within the group.

We gave people roles and responsibility. We trusted them with decisions and shaping the culture. We taught them to include others and not make the success of the lunch reliant on them or their role, but to teach others how to do it so that it became a team effort. Once we gave them the responsibility, we then walked alongside them as mentors, cheered them on, then stepped back and let them run it.

Once it was modelled in one area of the church, people started to take ownership and this culture moved into other areas of the church. People started to feel like the “good old days” had returned because they had responsibility ... where they could build relationships and feel a sense of purpose and belonging.

A culture like this can be hard to model because we are shifting the focus from “it's all about me” to “what can others bring to the table”. So let’s challenge and change from a consumer culture to a culture of belonging and inclusion and model a leadership style where every person has a part to play and the opportunity to contribute.

Lieutenant Philip Sutcliffe is Corps Officer at Lismore, NSW.


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