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A Twenty-First Century Army

A Twenty-First Century Army

For the first time in over 140 years, The Salvation Army in New Zealand is undergoing a seismic structural shift. A new model for Local Mission Delivery (LMD) with a streamlined Connected Support Network (CSN) is being rolled out across the country. With decision-making authority given to local leaders, this new high-trust model fosters a more collaborative, relational way of working together. Most importantly, The Salvation Army is intentionally positioning itself to best respond to the needs of the twenty-first century. Jules Badger spoke with Auckland Area Officers Captains David and Denise Daly, who have been living and leading the pilot for the new model for the past two years.

‘The Local Mission Delivery model is all about focusing our missional efforts as an Army at the frontline,’ explains David, ‘while the Connected Support Network supports that frontline mission delivery.’

In very simple terms, the new LMD model is what The Salvation Army is doing to ensure effective mission delivery at the local level, and the CSN is how that mission delivery is being supported. Instead of four divisions, there are now seven ‘areas’, with area officers (AO) overseeing each one. Each area has between one and four area leadership teams (ALT) depending on geographical location, comprised of representatives from every mission expression within that area. Divisional Headquarters and Territorial Headquarters teams are being re-configured and realigned to form one CSN across New Zealand, with a view to strengthening service at the frontline with more streamlined and expedient support.

‘It’s so exciting!’ says Denise. ‘It’s a big adjustment but it is definitely the way of the future, because doing mission together—standing shoulder to shoulder—is really happening.’

David explains that ‘the new model fosters authentic leadership that is collaborative and demands transparency with one another. It’s not “patch-protective” but has everyone working together. LMD is putting meat on the bones of our He Waka Eke Noa strategy. We’ve got one shield—the red shield—and it doesn’t matter what you are doing in terms of mission, we are all in this together and moving forwards behind that shield.’


For David and Denise as area officers, their key task is oversight of the ALT. There are four in Auckland across the geographical spread—Central/East, North Shore, West and South.

‘The great thing about this model is that it enables all parts of mission expression in the area to meet together in the same room regularly. Every frontline mission centre is represented. There’s an opportunity to connect and build relationships, learn from each other, identify and work on common challenges, encourage each other and deepen the understanding of what we, The Salvation Army, are doing in our local area,’ says David.

Every meeting begins with whanaungatanga (relationship) and kai (food). ‘Connection over lunch is how we always begin our time together. That sets us up so well for devotions before moving on to the agenda,’ explains Denise.

David is very careful and clear to explain that ALTs are not decision-making bodies. ‘ALTs are collaborative and relational, and a space where we can help each other improve mission delivery through the sharing of experience and resources. Decisions are now made at the grassroots level. Under the previous model, divisional leaders had a fair amount of decision-making authority, but now there are mechanisms in place for local teams to make their own decisions. Officers and leadership teams go through a due diligence and stewardship analysis when it comes to finances, for example, but it’s about autonomy with accountability at the frontline.’ 

Pastoral care

AOs like David and Denise are now able to focus on pastoral care and spiritual leadership of people, rather than being bogged down by administrative functions.

‘When we were divisional leaders, it was the tyranny of the urgent a lot of the time and we didn’t get out to the frontline nearly as often as we would have liked. But now we are out doing pastoral care and seeing our officers regularly, and I love that,’ says Denise.

David adds, ‘This new AO role is strongly people oriented. We still line-manage corps officers and care for them, but the scope for that is now so much greater. We listen, support and encourage and, when needed, provide a sounding board. For us, spiritual leadership has deepened because we are freer to offer and provide pastoral support in a more prioritised and sustainable manner.’

New pioneers

David wonders what pioneer Salvationist Captain Edward Wright would think of The Salvation Army in Auckland today. ‘There were only 75,000 people living here when The Salvation Army began its work. Now look at us, 1.8 million people and Salvationists still doing incredible mahi (work) to meet real need! Sometimes I sit at ALT and am so humbled and amazed by these people—officers, staff, volunteers. It really hits me sometimes—like wow, God is good!

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