Ignite: Reconnecting with our driving force
By: Dan Childs
The Salvation Army’s programs and practices have changed the lives of countless thousands and made the Army one of the world’s most respected and beloved movements. But Commissioners Willis and Barbara Howell believe something quite vital to the Army has gradually become obscured over the years and should be rediscovered and rekindled.
The Ignite conference June 1-2 in Atlanta during Commissioning weekend will help Salvationists of the Southern Territory reconnect with the motivation that has been the driving force for our mission. The event, which will be conducted in a “forum” style stressing lively and frank interchange between facilitator and participants, will be held at the Atlanta Temple Corps, beginning on Friday afternoon and evening and continuing through Saturday morning.
About 225 Salvationists, including officers, soldiers and employees, will attend the conference facilitated by Steve Yungerberg, a psychologist with a strong background in theology who has worked with The Salvation Army in various capacities for over 20 years.
Commissioner Howell said participants should not expect a festive Congress atmosphere of meeting up with old friends and singing and rejoicing. “We’ll be rolling up our sleeves and getting down to it,” he said. “We’ll catch our meals on the fly and keep our nose to the grindstone in the few hours we are together. We’ll be looking for strong input from what we believe is a great cross section of Salvationists from every division and the ARC Command.”
The territorial commander stressed that Ignite is not a new program, initiative or mission focus. It is a tactic to help Salvationists return to the motivation that ought to drive the Army’s outreach and ministry. He calls that motivation The Salvation Army’s “Why.” He believes that the Army has gradually drifted too much toward a concentration on the “Whats” and “Hows” – such as fundraising, corps functions, youth activities, social services and the like – with less emphasis on the “Why.” All of those are important to the Army, but Commissioner Howell believes it is critical that Salvationists reconnect with and refocus on the “Why.”
“We believe that in many parts of the territory, the work of The Salvation Army has unintentionally, little by little, drifted from our original ‘Why’: the saving of souls. What we want to do in our territory is simply put our soul-saving ‘Why’ back where it belongs,” he said. “A burning ‘Why’ is your driving motivation. It’s that thing, that cause, that purpose, that mission, that stirs your passion and makes you come alive inside. Your ‘Why’ causes your eyes to light up when you talk about it.”
He added, “If you’re a soldier or an officer, you’ve already said that this is the way you want to live. So let’s come back to that!”