For Caleb Louden, ministry to the disadvantaged is not just about where a person sleeps or what they have to eat. As a Mission Specialist in The Salvation Army, it is also about sharing the message of the Gospel and connecting others to the spiritual resources of the Christian faith.
“What we do to the least of these, we do in the very presence of Christ, and God’s heart for the disadvantaged is consistent and present throughout Scripture,” Caleb said. “For us to serve the disadvantaged is to serve the very heart of God. Sometimes it’s difficult for people to hear the Good News of unconditional love and holiness and not see that message of love reflected in our actions, too.”
Although Caleb has only been in this role for about a month, he is a sixth generation Salvationist, living out The Salvation Army’s mission of sharing the Gospel while simultaneously meeting human need without discrimination.
“It’s great to be a part of an organization that provides social resources, but is still committed to offering the assurance of God’s grace and provision,” Caleb said.
Caleb seeks ways to fill the needs within the Brookhaven community, a city within Metro Atlanta, by developing programs for both teens and young adults. To do that successfully, he builds relationships with community leaders, non-profit organizations, and social outreach organizations in order to find gaps that still exist.
“A lot of people have been serving in Atlanta for a long time,” he said. “I’m fortunate to be able to attend different events that help me get a better idea of where the Salvation Army can continue to expand its services.”
Currently, he’s piloting a program called Young Adult Leadership Lab (YALL). YALL officially launches in January and is designed to help teens love God, be excited for their future and prepare them to enter college and the workplace. YALL utilizes Gabe Lyons’ 7 Channels of Vocation in order to provide teens with a big picture of potential vocations; these channels are the church, business, education, social sector, arts and entertainment, government and media.
As part of YALL, teens partner with local experts to gain experience in a variety of job roles. Some examples include photography, video production or story telling to develop basic skills that employers in those fields seek.
“Our mission is to develop character building opportunities for teens, as well as help them get ready to enter college or the workplace,” Caleb said. “We find ways to give our teens a taste of different traditional channels of vocation.”
Caleb is working to create an authentic space for young, professional adults to worship on Sunday mornings, engage in discussion, and study the Bible. The Atlanta Temple Corps is also looking to start other ministries such as a small group ministry or a bi-weekly service designed to reflect a young adult worship style.
“We want to create those opportunities for young adults that would facilitate a feeling of authenticity,” he said. “But we’re in the preliminary stages of it all.”
Although the Salvation Army has been in Atlanta for over 100 years, changes due to redevelopment and shifting demographics in Atlanta have left some underserved. Within the next three years, the Atlanta Temple Corps plans to send Caleb and a team of others to plant a corps in an area of Atlanta that would benefit from a stronger Salvation Army presence.
Caleb Louden shares practical advice for those just beginning their seminary journey:
What three things do you wish you had known?
- Invest in different and challenging ministry opportunities – I was so fortunate to participate in a number of ministries while in Seminary. Yet, I still think I could have pursued other diverse opportunities for ministry. It is important to find yourself out of your comfort zone in different ways during your time in Seminary.
- From the get-go in your first IBS class, be intentional in working on your own personal method for studying the Bible. Have the method from Dongell or Bauer, but as you go through Seminary, different classes will add to your personal method as well.
- Take an extra IBS or exegesis class and focus on building a deep knowledge of different parts of the Scripture. Take IBS on pastoral epistles or an exegesis class on Isaiah. These classes offer great ways to enhance your knowledge and understanding of the important texts that then inform the rest of your study of Scripture.
What advice would you give to those just beginning their ministries?
Every Christian should be committed to prayer, but I think it’s important to always have in mind that prayer should be a major emphasis in your life and ministry and to always begin and end your work in prayer, whatever you’re doing. Whether you’re about to lead a laundry ministry for the homeless or engage in a time of pastoral care, prayer should be step one in all we do.
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