Good News!

Youth discusses SA’s future

Commissioners Barry C. and Sue Swanson, territorial leaders, met recently to dialogue with 25 young adults from across the territory about the future of The Salvation Army and the role of the “millennial” generation.

Statistics indicate that the “millennials” (also known as Generation Y and commonly described as being born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s) are leaving the church in record numbers.

Rather than rely solely on the data, the territorial leaders thought it best to hear from the young adults themselves.

Jennifer Clark, a soldier at the Portland (Citadel), Maine, Corps, said, “I really appreciated the weekend. I felt like it was the beginning of a dialogue between the generation that holds a lot of authority and power in The Salvation Army and the emerging generation that will be and already is rising to those leadership positions.”

Among the topics discussed were these: Why do some young people stay in The Salvation Army and believe in its mission? What causes other young adults to leave? And how can the church respond? What do young adults envision for the future of The Salvation Army?

Commissioner Barry Swanson said the goal of the weekend was simple: “…listening to one another and to the voice of God; now comes the delicate process of sorting out what the Spirit is saying to each of us.”

Annie Liang, a graduate student and soldier at the Harlem Temple Corps, said, “Over the weekend, God allowed me to see that there are other like–minded … young people in the Army who are committed, passionate, and sincere about following Jesus and building His kingdom.”

To conclude the weekend, Commissioner Swanson recapped the event by saying, “This is just the beginning. This weekend has been the purest expression of the Body of Christ—believers together, worshiping, fellowshiping, and sharing. This needs to be replicated, intentionally. This weekend will have a lasting effect on our church, The Salvation Army.”

In his final encouragement to the delegation, the territorial commander made clear the challenge ahead and his ongoing commitment:

“I cannot build your Salvation Army—only you can,” he said. “I want to help you; we want to help you build it to what it needs to be.”

—Chuck Goodin is the young adult,
camping, and sports ministries director
for the USA Eastern Territory.

by Chuck Goodin

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