This issues Global Connection highlights an individual who, instead of being frustrated when feeling disconnected, built a community online that now reaches around The Salvation Army World.
SAWM: So Dan, you have created this Facebook group called Guitar Players of The Salvation Army. What was the impetus behind that?
DAN: I spoke to Nik King about having something that was really accessible to everybody and I guess I felt for a long time like there wasn’t anyone else who played guitar in
the Army within the UK. I was the one who did
all of the guitar stuff at my corps and in my
division. I didn’t know anybody else who was
playing. Then I started playing with FourHymn
and I met a few people who played. I started
trying to branch out and find more people who
played. So, basically the idea was that it was
a place that me and my friends could share
ideas and ask each other questions and it just
grew from there. I think they all shared it with
their friends while I was trying to get people
who played guitar that I met to join. I think it has been going for about 18 months now and I think there are 179 people, spread across every continent which is pretty exciting.
SAWM: When you started this, it was an easy way for you to communicate with friends who are playing. Did you imagine that it would grow like this?
DAN: No, I didn’t think anyone would be interested.
I didn’t think there were that many people out there
playing. But I still meet people and ask them if they
know about the Facebook group and they say no. It’s
been great to be able to share with them that there
is this group they can be a part of. There are still
people I want to connect with and get them involved
in it as well. In the early days, it was definitely very
much just me putting stuff out there and asking
questions. It felt like a bit of a slog for the first few
SAMW: So, explain to us the format. You said you
put questions up there, and then what happens in
DAN: In the beginning, I wanted to collect information
about what was happening, just with guitars, but
specifically in contemporary worship music in the
Army in the UK. Because, like I said, I was
disconnected from everything in a wider sense and I
didn’t know what was going on. At the same time, I started joining lots of groups such as worship collective groups in America. I thought to myself that I hadn’t seen anything like this in the UK or in the Army. I wanted to start something so that people can have a chance to be part of this online shared experience.
It started off with me just asking questions and hoping for responses. There were a few polls that went up, like how often do you play, and topics like that. But now it is a lot more like I wanted it to be with lots of different people contributing. A few months ago, I put up a post on the group page that said in the beginning, I had to approve everything that was posted because I had seen some Facebook groups go sour in the past.
When I saw what people wanted to ask or comment, and the number of times I hit approve, I made the decision to allow people to post, give advice or ask questions. There are a lot of technology things on there that I never would have thought of. People are helping each other out and just being kind to one another which is nice.
SAWM: So, as it goes forward, what would you hope for the group in the future?
DAN: Actually, I don’t have any grand aspirations for it past what it is now. Other than more people being able to join and experience having a community, since that was something I didn’t feel like I had when I started. With more people joining, it just opens up a much larger area that I thought it ever would. I hope it stays positive and functional, and that it doesn’t die out. If it takes a different format from what it is now, that is okay as long as it is helpful to the Army. I often complain to myself that in contemporary music, we are misrepresented or underrepresented. I don’t want that to be the case. I just wanted there to be a community and now there is!
Dan Bate is 24 years old and has been playing guitar for worship in his corps since he was about 10 years old.
He goes to Preston Corps in the North West of England.
He is a member of Meraki a worship team that leads worship at different events across the UKI Territory.