The concept of Arrow Corps started a couple years ago. As the CLB Mission Team worked through a strategic planning process, we recognized two significant needs in our denomination: 1) We have many churches that are in plateau or decline and 2) we do not have any denomination-sponsored ministry opportunities designed especially for either young adults or active retirees. Considering both needs at once, a picture began to emerge for addressing both of them.
We recognized that most of our congregations in plateau or decline have been unable to make the changes that might enable them to experience greater health and growth. These necessary changes would not likely occur apart from “changing the DNA”—the culture of the church. But such a transformation would most likely require the local presence of a group of people who were modeling and incarnating the needed changes.
That’s when the idea “clicked” of a team of people joining into the life of the congregation. And what if this team was large enough to provide support and fellowship for the team members, while making an impact on the receiving congregation? And what if this team included older adults to provide mentorship and stability for the young adults? And what if this team were in place for a longer time—two years—to insure the needed changes would be effectively integrated into the congregation? These questions shaped the now-developing ministry called Arrow Corps.
Let’s consider the name of this developing ministry first. The dictionary defines the word corps as “a group of persons associated or acting together,” such as the diplomatic corps, the press corps, or the American Peace Corps. The word corps captures the essence of the teams that we will be sending out, especially the “together” part.
In this concept of teams primarily composed of young adults, we noted similarities between today’s generation of young adults and that generation who first joined the Peace Corps. Both generations are activist; both desire to make a difference and change the world; both are willing to act, not just talk. When the Peace Corps began, thousands upon thousands of young adults dedicated two years of their lives to spread goodwill around the world.
We’re now asking this generation of CLB young adults to dedicate themselves to spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ by making disciples as they go to the churches and communities to which they will be sent. It’s a bit like the CLB version of the Peace Corps, only the peace that Arrow Corps will be spreading is eternal peace with God. The “Arrow” part of the name? It communicates movement, direction and purpose—hitting the target. These teams will be purposeful with a clear direction.
Next let’s consider the composition and size of these teams. They will be primarily composed of young adults with some older adults (possibly active retirees). These teams will be larger than teams sent out by the CLB in the past. The goal is 8-12 people, because a larger team will have a better chance of impacting the DNA of the churches where they are based. A larger team will also provide the support and fellowship the team members need in this crucial, but difficult ministry. The intention is for a two-year term of service for team members, with a minimum commitment of one year. Their main ministry will be to make disciples, who then go on to make disciples of others, who make disciples of others… Making disciples is the process of building relationships with people who are not Christians to help them understand their need of a Savior so that they will receive Christ and then begin to live and grow in him. To accomplish this, the teams will engage in both the congregation and the local community.
The bar for team members is set very high. They are being asked to support themselves with part-time jobs and secure their own lodging, while they engage in the community to make disciples, while they also help the church to engage in making disciples. After an initial training period, each team will receive continuing training and support throughout their ministry time. To serve in this way, Arrow Corps clearly has to be a definite calling from the Lord.
Churches requesting and receiving Arrow Corps teams will be thoroughly vetted. When churches plateau or decline, it is often due to losing touch with their local community and becoming very inward-focused. So churches hosting Arrow Corps will need to embrace change, learn how to reach out to their communities, and enter into disciple-making relationships with people outside of their congregation. They will not be passive recipients of Arrow Corps teams, but will be called to personal engagement in evangelism, outreach and disciple-making—through the encouragement and coaching of Arrow Corps team members.
We see this developing ministry as essential to the health of CLB churches in plateau or decline, and as such, to the overall health of our denomination. Arrow Corps is in the initial stages of development, with systems and structure being built as you read this. We’re dependent on the Lord to provide all that is needed, so we are asking for your support.
Please pray first that the Lord would raise up team members. Pray for the people and resources for this ministry to come together. We welcome your help in discovering the young and older adults that God is calling to serve him and his Church in this way. You may know of someone God may be calling to serve in Arrow Corps—someone in your church, a child or grandchild, or maybe even you, yourself.
May God be glorified and may his kingdom be enlarged as the Arrow Corps teams are sent out to engage with our churches in making new disciples of Jesus.
Rev. Stan Olsen is Regional Pastor for the Central Region of the Church of the Lutheran Brethren.
For more information contact Rev. Stan Olsen: [email protected]