Reflections on the Ministry Discovery Program from a new lieutenant
The Ministry Discovery Program provides opportunities for Christians, 18 and older, who are interested in ministry through The Salvation Army to spend up to two years as corps interns to learn the ins and outs of officership.
Interns gain experience by joining in a wide variety of ministry programs, responsibilities and tasks. Regular check-ins with the corps officers, divisional candidates’ secretary and territorial candidates’ secretary encourage dialogue and allow interns to gain insight into their own strengths and areas that need development, helping them to make informed decisions.
Lt. Vincent Cusack, who was commissioned last June, shares his experience as an intern and how it prepared him for training and being an officer.
How were your strengths sharpened through the Ministry Discovery Program?
My internship at the Wichita Citadel, Kan., Corps was a beautiful two years of learning, development and spiritual growth. It was a great place to foster my strengths and develop my spiritual gifts.
For instance, while I’ve always enjoyed helping others, during the internship I came to embrace serving as one of my spiritual gifts. I was blessed to utilize this gift working in the food pantry alongside volunteers; ministering with officers and corps members; providing transportation to people who wanted to come to Sunday worship; and assisting with fundraising. With every opportunity, God deepened my appreciation for serving others.
What areas of development did you work on? How did you accomplish your goals?
Two areas I worked on during my internship were spiritual discipline and self-care. Upon entering the program, and ultimately answering God’s calling on my life, my conviction about spiritual discipline and self-care became stronger than ever. In terms of spiritual discipline this meant intentionally spending time daily in God’s Word and memorizing and applying scripture to my life, praying fervently, and striving to be obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
In terms of self-care, this essentially is summed up in rest, exercise and going to recovery meetings as a lifelong recovering addict. What helped me accomplish my goals was having a mentor who kept me accountable, being intentional and consistent in planning and spending time with God.
How did the internship prepare you for the College for Officer Training (CFOT)?
It prepared me for the CFOT in some substantial ways. Serving as an intern, I was blessed with corps officers who became my mentors and were intentional in preparing me for attending officer training. They provided a safe place to experience ministry with direction and affirmation. I built beautiful relationships within the Body of Christ, and so much more.
What skills did you develop in the Ministry Discovery Program that have been especially helpful as an officer?
One of the key skills I learned and now use every day is flexibility. Each person has certain areas in which they are gifted. I quickly learned during my internship that ministry requires me to be flexible and to wear many hats, even in areas I may not feel gifted in. Every day comes with a different adventure, a different task at hand, a different way to serve God. The lesson for me was to be flexible and open to where God wants to take me.
How did your internship prepare you for your first appointment?
The Ministry Discovery Program is all about practical, hands-on training. Not only was I able to observe and shadow officers, I actually got to serve and experience the roles and responsibilities of an officer. I led youth ministry programs, worked closely with social services, picked up donations, made pastoral visitations, was integral in the Christmas campaign, coordinated projects with other corps and the area command, was involved in worship planning and leading meetings, preached sermons, attended advisory board meetings. The list goes on and on!
Most importantly, the program gave me a tremendous opportunity to love and build relationships within the corps and community. All this to say, the program provided a way for me to live the “officer life,” and I feel I am serving better and more prepared today for the experience.
Would you recommend the program to individuals seeking ministry in The Salvation Army?
I would recommend the program 1,000 percent! If you are feeling a call from God and you want an opportunity to explore and prepare for this calling, the Ministry Discovery Program is amazing! It allows you to serve others, grow in your faith and calling, build new relationships, participate in leadership and ministry—and all this to glorify God and to walk in His purpose for you. It’s awesome!
For more information on the Ministry Discovery Program, contact your divisional candidates’ secretary.