Welcome to season 3 of the Salvationist Podcast. Our first episode talks about the new strategic priorities for the Candidates Department and their new Candidates Connect initiative. Today we interview Major Jennifer Hale, secretary for candidates, and Jeff Robertson, accepted candidate and corps leader at Fenlon Falls, Ontario.
Road Map for Recruitment Article
Brandon Laird 0:00
Hi, my name is Brandon Laird, and you're listening to another episode of the Salvationist podcast.
Are you feeling the call to officership? Or maybe you're just not sure where to begin to become a Salvation Army officer. Today we have Major Jennifer Hale, secretary for candidates, and Jeff Robertson accepted candidate, corps leader at Fenlon Falls and public relations director in Ontario on the show to answer these questions and more. Welcome to the show, folks.
Major Jennifer Hale 0:34
Thanks so much, Brandon. Glad to be here and thanks for facilitating this conversation today.
Jeff Robertson 0:40
Thanks for the invitation, it's good to be a part of this conversation.
Brandon Laird 0:43
Well, it's great because this is the month in February where we talk about officership and candidates in the Salvation Army. The first question I have for you guys is, how often do you get asked by an individual considering officership, how do I know if it's God's calling in my life?
Major Jennifer Hale 0:59
That's a great question, and I would say it's a pretty common question. And whenever I get that question, I usually respond with a question. And so I'll often asked people to think about their passions, you know, what passion says God sort of planted in their heart, what desires has he given them? And then I asked him to think about their gifts as well. You know, what skills have God given them. And then I asked them considering those things, put those things together, and ask them how they can best use their life to advance God's kingdom purposes. And for some, it may be as a nurse, for some, it's a teacher or any number of other professions. But I think for some, and perhaps I think there's more in this category than we sometimes think, the response is to offer themselves for service as a Salvation Army officer.
Brandon Laird 1:53
Jeff, you were an employee of the Salvation Army before becoming a candidate. When did you feel the call to officership?
Jeff Robertson 2:01
Wow, you know what, actually it happened when I was a teenager the first time. But life gets in the way, right? Marriage, and then divorce and kids, it got messy and muddy, and so I sort of put that call in the background and sort of forgot about it, and really focused my energy in my work. Because I got to work for the Salvation Army, I got to speak on behalf of the Salvation Army, and work with corps officers and ministry leads on their work to support them. I got to help plant a corps. I got to preach from time to time and lead worship. I got to do those things to be involved that way. But it was back in 2017, 2018, where God started to up His game a little bit in my life. And I remember talking to my oldest son around Christmas in 2017, saying, Hey, don't, don't dismiss God's calling your life if that's what he wants you to do. And I heard this whisper in my head from God saying, Are you listening to yourself? Doors at work started to close for me, and people started speaking into my life and my future, several officers at headquarters, and that's when it started really reformulating in my head that, yeah, this is what I need to do. And this is what God wants me to do. And since that moment, doors started opening and more conversations were happening. And it's been a really cool experience to see God working that way.
Brandon Laird 3:33
Alright, thanks, Jeff and Jennifer on setting the stage here for our episode. You know, it's great that we have Jennifer here and we have Jeff, who's considering, and Jennifer, who's in charge of our candidates across the territory. Jeff, can you share some encouragement for someone who might be considering officership but is hesitant?
Jeff Robertson 3:51
Absolutely. Investigate it more. Right? There's a reason you're feeling this way. And I would just investigate it. There are a lot of resources and a lot of people who want to help you understand God's call in your life. Whether that's for officership or another ministry, there are people who want to speak into that. Don't put it off. Don't find excuses to say, No, I won't worry about that. Investigate it. And you'll find that God will put people in your life to help you understand what you're feeling, what your heart's going through. And I remember being at an officership information weekend, and I kept hearing over and over again, don't put it off. Don't put it off, just do it! And that has resonated with me a lot. And I would encourage anyone who's got this feeling inside to investigate it and don't put it off.
Brandon Laird 4:48
That's a good word there, Jeff. Thanks for sharing. The Salvation Army has launched a new four-tier recruitment strategy to help inspire individuals considering officership. How is this strategy going to inspire new recruits?
Major Jennifer Hale 5:00
That's a great question. I'm really happy to have the opportunity to share about our new recruitment strategy today. We've worked really hard with our territorial team of eight divisional youth and Cabinet Secretaries over the past several months and we're happy to launch this now. And so really, as you've said, there are sort of four tiers. The first one is about being positive role models. And we've discovered that relational influences of officers and local officers really have the greatest impact on prospective candidates. The second piece to the strategic plan is to identifying and recruit. And so really, we're talking about a shift in our culture where in the past candidates primarily have self-identified, they've responded to a call, whether it be you know, in a meeting at the information weekend, but they've sort of responded to us and we're saying we want to be more proactive and intentional in tapping people on the shoulder and identifying their, you know, gifts and skills. The third piece of the strategy is about a mission and values and realizing that Salvation Army does have a unique role within the church and that our mission and values are still relevant to the world in which we live today that the gospel is still relevant, and it's still needed. And while there are lost people, The Salvation Army will always be needed and our mission and values will still be relevant. And people I think, are attracted to our mission and values. So we sort of have an advantage there are in our recruitment strategy. And then the final one is talking about the journey to officer training. And really what we're talking about there is making the journey to officer training a proactive, life-changing experience, where it's a process of development and discipleship, positioning candidates well for training as Salvation Army officers. And so I think there are several pieces there that are going to be able to help us to inspire new prospective candidates, as we talk about being better role models. As we talk about being more intentional at tapping people on the shoulder and calling out people's gifts and skills and abilities and then encouraging them to see how they can be used within the context of Salvation Army officership. I think as we highlight our mission and values, and inviting people sort of to take on a more active role, whether it be through soldiership in their corps or local leadership, to partner with our you know, social services or family services, there's lots of ways to invite people to take on a more active role in our mission. Better engagement with prospective candidates through the application process. And then there's, there's one final thing that I'm really excited about that's called candidates Connect. And candidates Connect is launching this month in February across the territory and it was really born out of the strategic plan where we identified a need, and a desire to reimagine what the Candidate's Fellowship would look like. And so, you know, after looking at the Candidate's Fellowship, we kind of thought that maybe it's lost some of its effectiveness, but there were still some really good pieces and foundational elements that were really important. And so Candidates Connect is launching, it's sort of the the new Candidates Fellowship in our territory, and it really has three pillars. And it's about building character. So building the spiritual, you know, development and formation of candidates. It's about building capacity, and sort of giving them some leadership opportunities and learning and then building community and forming a community allowing members to really be able to interact together, and to talk about this journey that they're on towards Salvation Army officership. So I think the future is great. I think there's lots of opportunities. And I'm really excited about where we're, we're headed in the Canada and Bermuda Territory as it relates to candidate recruitment.
Jeff Robertson 9:16
You know, as I read through the plan, the strategy, what really intrigued me was the fact that this is really proactive and intentional. It's not about the Army trying to fill shoes with retiring officers creating holes, they're looking to really invest in people's lives and train them and find ways to allow God to speak to people. And that's really cool to hear. I mean, for me, who's worked at the army for 25 years now, officership on the horizon, knowing that it's a second career type thing, the Army is investing in me and it's made a difference in my life and I think I believe in the lives of those who I'm working with as well. And this plan really draws on that to say, we want to invest in people's lives. And that strategy is, is amazing. And I'm confident in reading it, that it's going to be successful because there's a God who wants people to do his work and the Salvation Army is an incredible opportunity for that to happen. And as I see officers and local leaders getting their hands into this plan, it's going to do good for us.
Major Jennifer Hale 10:38
Yeah, that's good. That's really great feedback. And I just add, you know, one additional comment that really, the invitation to all Salvationists is to partner with us in officer recruitment. And as you read through the plan, there are lots of strategic action points, and you can read about that on our website. But really, the invitation is for people at every level of our movement to be engaged in the strategic recruitment of officers. So whether you're a soldier at your corps, whether you're a local officer, a corps officer, a divisional officer soldiering at a local corps, we all have a role to play in the ongoing discipleship and development of future officers. And I'm so pleased, Jeff, that you've identified that and that that's been your experience. And you know, we are really hoping and praying that that will be the experience of many other people as we sort of launch this plan.
Brandon Laird 11:36
It sounds really interesting, the work that you guys have been doing in candidates and how Jeff has been able to explain how it relates to him in his call of the new recruitment strategy, and the new Candidate's Connect program. For the first time ever called commitment Sunday was held online this year, because of COVID-19. What was that like?
Major Jennifer Hale 11:56
Well, again, it's a unique opportunity for us, and certainly, this is a time of year when it's a highlight of the year really, for me, when I get to travel across the territory. I think I've been to all the divisions now in in the, you know, three and a half, four years that I've been in this role. And I love the opportunity to speak, to preach, to interact with people in their corps. And so I have really, really missed that opportunity this year. But I believe we have a unique opportunity ahead of us. And I think that you know, by having sort of an online service, we're able to show our partnership across the territory with our divisions. And you know, I'm so pleased about that. And also, I think we're able to even reach more people. And as people tune in and watch, I think we're able to engage more people, perhaps than we normally would. And so I'm excited about that. I'm excited about the follow up now that's going to take place as we engage with people after the service. And so, yeah, I think while we're missing some of the in-person things and you know, I'm missing that for sure, I'm excited about the opportunity to still be able to engage, still be able to focus and bring it to the forefront of people's hearts and minds.
Brandon Laird 13:15
Thank you, Jennifer and Jeff, for being on the show today to help individuals considering officership figure out if this is a path for them. If you'd like to learn more about Candidates Connect, visit saCandidates.ca. There are two articles in the February issue of Salvationist Magazine as well. You can read those at issuu.com/Salvationist.
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