The Salvation Army – Are we enabling through Social Programs?


This is an open question that begs your response. 
Don’t kill the messenger here, It’s something that I’ve not only seen, I have heard said as well.
Are we working to address underlying needs of those we love and serve or are we just addressing the basic needs of “the moment”?  
All too often it is far easier to “meet human needs in His name without discrimination” right now based on what they need…but it’s much harder to ask the difficult questions, to pry back the hurt in order to discover underlying causalities.  

I recognize that not every Salvation Army does take the “easy” route in services.   Some take great pains to work with those in need and to help discover and address the real issues.  I am certainly no unopposed to handing out a food box or securing temporary housing for a displaced family but without addressing the real causes are we slowly hurting those we serve more than helping?


 Enabling is okay for time, but providing solutions, real tangible answers to their problems…isn’t that what Booth was all about?  If you have a problem with drink – stop drinking.  If you need a safe environment to work – here’s a job.  General Booth said to his son Bramwell “do something!”  


Perhaps the question shouldn’t be “what are we doing” but rather “what can we do better?”  
How can we get to the bottom of life issues, help to heal – feed both the body and the soul and help a person back onto their feet? 
I understand some may never get back on their feet…some may have experienced the worst kind of life imaginable and they will need our support for the rest of their lives…but not all are like this.  Can we help them and then send them to become helpers as well?  Can we break from the “status quo” and become revolutionary again?  

This revolution may look very different in other countries, but what about your country?  What is YOUR Army doing to pick people back up, to help heal the hurting, to mend the shattered?  Can we avoid enabling within our social programs?  We must recognize that we are called to so much more than just social programs…but spiritual hope and salvation as well first.  

I would like to hear your thoughts on this. 
What is being done? 
What can we do differently? 
Are we impacting the world as we once did?  
Do we risk enabling souls instead of healing souls through the power of the Holy Spirit?  

-Something for our Army to ponder today.

May we ever be daring to continue to “go for souls and go for the worst!” 

6 thoughts on “The Salvation Army – Are we enabling through Social Programs?

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  1. Perhaps your difficulty is two-fold. I see one problem in the fact that sometimes we do a quick patchwork and hope that it fixes the situation. Such an idea is wrong for us to entertain and could be viewed as enabling. If I understand you right, you mean that enabling in this case is allowing the person to continue in the state that brought him/her to us in the first place.

    However, here is the other side of the problem: What if we do our best, invest in the people we are trying to serve, but still we see no change in that person’s life? Have our efforts been wasted? I don’t believe so.

    There are going to be times when we will not have the successes that we wish for and it is easy to put ourselves down on it. However, we need to realize that the people we are trying to help are the other side of the equation. If we look at successes and failures among our own clients as our measuring tool for success, then we are doomed for depression.

    By that measuring stick, Jesus was the biggest failure ever. Jesus lived with his disciples for a long time. (According to John it appears that it was at least 3 years. The other Gospels don’t mention how long Jesus ministered. We assume it was 3 years because John mentions 3 Passover holidays in his Gospel.) Unfortunately, one of his disciples, despite living with Jesus, witnessing his miracles, and hearing Jesus teach still ended up being the instrument of Jesus’ arrest and execution.

    I’d rather be Jesus’ type of failure any day.

  2. Me too Tim, I don’t quite understand the success and failure measurement you’re referring to. Do you mean how we view the healing process or how successful a person becomes after we help them? I think if we use Jesus as that measure – those who came to Him were healed, resurrected (not sure how they came to him there, sorry humor) and I know perhaps not all believed or were changed forever but there was SOME measure of success (for lack of a better word)…maybe “change” is a better word. I know we can’t be completely like Jesus and expect His results but isn’t that something to strive for in all that we do anyway? Good stuff!

  3. very true. Good point. I would add this: the system that we currently use to measure success and failure, is it new or has this been with us since our founding? I’m not sure of the answer to that, but I agree often times we measure success with some unrealistic or from a societal standard that cannot be accurate when serving those we serve.

  4. This is often something that I ponder myself. I think the biggest challenge that we face is finding the funding to run the type of programs needed to help people come self sufficient, to help the people we serve to sort out the issues they are dealing with etc. I am aware of several places in the Army that are trying to address the root of the problems and to provide answers but the response from the community is poor at best. This seems like more of a societal problem in general that we will not be able to address on our own. It is part of the “it takes a village to raise a child” mentality that most places are not on board pursuing.

  5. The Adult Rehabilitation Centers are a prime example of the Army getting it right. They with each resident 24/7/365 and deal with the whole person body , mind and most important spiritual regeneration!

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