College Church of the Nazarene in Olathe, Kansas, recently partnered with the local Salvation Army to create the first Salvation Army Outpost. This initiative is the first of its kind and has the potential to fundamentally change the way the Salvation Army works with other local churches.
The outpost model is different from current Salvation Army initiatives because College Church organizes the location and provides the donations, the food storage, the pick-up location, the volunteers, and all other resources needed to get the ministry moving.
“We remodeled and restructured our entire existing food pantry according to the Salvation Army’s designed floor plan,” said Troy Snyder, executive pastor of community formation. “We want people to be proud of where they get their food from, [so that] we can give them dignity as well.”
The Salvation Army provides the branding, any excess food the outpost may be running low on, the computer system to track incoming and outgoing donations, and any support College Church may need. The Salvation Army even provides its network of caseworkers where clients in need can receive counseling and budget planning.
"The people who come through College Church can use those case managers,” Salvation Army Lieutenant Heidi Strand told FOX4 News. “They can receive budgeting classes. If there's a homeless family, we can put them in our lodge and work with them."
The idea for the initiative came after College Church staff realized they may not be using their resources in the most effective way possible.
“In January 2018, we decided to reevaluate what we were doing to help the community,” Snyder said. “There was no blame shifting or anything, we just realized what we were doing wasn’t exactly healthy… We have always had good intentions, but it was like the more someone made us cry with their story, the more money and resources we gave them… We wanted more accountability and less toxic charity.”
After evaluating their current initiatives they decided to partner with an established ministry — the Salvation Army.
"We decided the Salvation Army really did it better than anyone else," Snyder told FOX4 News.
The new model was developed over the course of a year as College Church and Salvation Army collaborated.
“At first we were going to call it a satellite location, but we all figured that the outpost name made more sense with the Salvation Army branding,” Snyder said. “We officially launched the Outpost on April 24, [and] we are open Tuesday through Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 3 p.m. We served 33 families in the first month.”
College Church and Salvation Army staff believe this model can be easily replicated in most churches across the United States.
“There is a heart of compassion in the midst of this, and we would love to see this replicated throughout the country,” Snyder said.
College Church plans to continue its partnership with the Salvation Army and to further its commitments to the Olathe School District, the increasing homeless population, and others in the neighborhood who need the loving support of a faith community.
“We have reignited our interests and our investments into the shadow of the steeple,” Snyder said.