Going deep spiritually is paramount to Lts. Kory and Heidi Strand, Olathe, Kan., corps officers. Since their appointment to Olathe in 2016, they’ve focused on spiritual growth and development with their congregation, the result of which has been increased interest in soldiership and service in the corps.
“Our goal was to help people grow spiritually,” said Lt. Heidi. “If they grow in the Lord, then the hunger to serve follows naturally.”
In the past year, the lieutenants have enrolled eight senior soldiers, two adherents and three junior soldiers, and they’re planning another soldiership class for this spring.
The Strands found that preaching and teaching Salvation Army doctrines ignited a desire among the corps people to go deeper in their faith. Bible study attendance grew along with a hunger for God’s Word. And another thing happened. As they grew closer to the Lord, participants began to grow closer to one another, forming a close-knit family of believers.
The outflow of growth has been an eagerness to serve others through the corps, a desire the lieutenants cultivate by providing opportunities and encouraging service as a key component of membership.
“The emphasis is on service as something we all get to do. It’s an opportunity to serve the Lord and give Him glory,” Lt. Heidi said. “Everyone is encouraged to serve with joy.”
And serve they do. Thanks to the dedication of the soldiers, regular programs and activities are covered and well-planned. In addition to leading Sunday school and character-building groups, volunteering in the kitchen, teaching music and participating in Sunday worship, soldiers rise to the challenge to meet seasonal needs at the corps. For example, during the Christmas season soldiers volunteer to take turns driving the kettle routes, which saves the corps thousands of dollars, and provides the opportunity to connect with bellringers.
When additional help is needed, the lieutenants approach the corps during Sunday morning announcements in two ways. First they recognize the difference volunteers have made to the success of past events, then they make a request for people to volunteer in specific ways for the next one. In this way the essential role each person plays is expressed, their value as a member of the body of Christ is acknowledged, and at the same time the need is communicated.
“We can’t fulfill the mission alone,” concluded the lieutenant. “We need our soldiers to come alongside us and join us in ministry, and we are grateful they do.”