That false dichotomy thing…

Been reflecting on my last blog…it came about in response to listening to a lady speak about her ministry with drug addicts and prostitutes as I contrasted our ‘social work’ with hers.

My good, learned, and passionate brother, Captain Gordon Coterrill of URBANarmy fame has introduced the phrase ‘false dichotomy’ in the past. I think what he means by that our mission should be holistic in the sense that we don’t say one thing is social work and the other is evangelism. He also mentions that our social service or community service should never be a hook to salvation.

But the fundamental problem comes in when, actually, providing social work and community work, as a valid expression of the Missio Dei (mission of God) becomes devorced from its redemptive heart. Transformation/salvation is our business and authentic transformation must always include the spiritual. Whilst we accept that our actions and words play a part in what can sometimes be a journey to salvation, I wonder how often we miss something.

1) That people may be ready to receive Jesus
2) That their current need may actually be met straight away by the supernatural provision of God.

I think about the ministry of Jackie Pullinger….you know, the one in Hong Kong. There is a lady who has seen thousands not only saved, but come off drugs and out of prostitution with nothing but prayer and Jesus.

She doesn’t spend hours and hours building relationship. In fact, the first words that come out of her mouth are something akin to that of Jesus ‘do you want to be well?’ 9 times out of 10 the people say yes, she introduces them to Jesus, they are filled with the Holy Spirit and the addicts and new converts are given the gift of praying in tongues for themselves, they are prayed over for 10 days, they are prayed through cold turkey without pain and then they are built up in their faith.

I’ve seen and heard testimonies each time I have heard her speak of those she brings with her. All of whom testify to meeting Jesus, being filled with the Spirit, praying in tongues and being used to pull others out of the hell of addiction.

There is no hidden agenda with Jackie. Her agenda is plain and out in the open and she is used by God to transform lives…not tickle them as they go on their merry way.

My challenge again is this…perhaps we should worry less about having a hidden agenda and simply recognise that Kingdom business, done in the Spirit of love and not arrogance or judgement, is at its purest and best when we allow the Spirit to cut to the heart of things.

I worked in a SA social service centre for a few years, albeit in the office and not only did I see work less than Christian, I saw some staff who themselves were unregenerate contributing to the sinfulness of the ‘clients.’ Thats not what we need or want. Its counter productive.

Contrary to the nice shiny borchures, the success rates aren’t as good as they sound. Many a times I saw our ‘sorted’ clients drunk on the side of the street or having to return within a few weeks of being sent out ‘sorted.’

The saddest was the day one of the drunken men appeared on the front page of the Salvationist with an Army band in the forefront with the sort of idea that here was a drunk man encaptured by the ministry of a Salvation Army band when in fact, only a few weeks previous, he’d left the hostel ‘sorted’ and here he was lying in the gutter with a can of beer.

Its nothing to do with hidden agendas…I don’t want people to be sold short. I remember every day of the pain of what it means to live without Christ. And the Salvation Army soldier needs to understand, either from experience of from contact with the unsaved, what it feels like to be in need of Jesus and for no-0ne to tell you.

I am fortunate…it only took 15 years for someone to explain the gospel to me. What about the 78 year old tramp? What about the 15 year old prostitute selling her body to feed her three month old baby? Does she need rescue or not?

Comes back to the fundamental issue. When shipwrecked people are drowning in the sea do we spend the time building relationship before we toss them a life jacket?

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Give up your words

SA Social Services need to walk by faith and not by sight.

We think we can talk people out of addiction. We think we can counsel them away from drugs. We think we can re-train their mind to ‘manage’ addiction. We think we can rehabilitate them. We think we can re-settle them in society. We think we can teach them a new lifestyle. We think we do a better job because we call our treatment ‘holistic’.

And because we think all that, we see it more important to use unsaved people with education, skill, learning, great new technologies and programes to acheive that aim. We only insist on management being Christian…I even heard of a story of a centre sending a potential unsaved manager on a course to learn about Christianity so that they could get the job.

That is foolishness. It will only succeed in as much as worldly methods will succeed. The government can offer that. Any agency can offer that. As the body of Christ we can offer much much much much much much much much much much much much much much much much muh much much much much much more.

We need to give up our words. There is no amount of talking that will remove from the mind addiction, bondage and oppression. We cannot renew the mind, that is God’s job. There is no amount of counselling that will transform the heart of a man. There is no amount of technology that will so educate a man enough that he will control his life well. You can call it holistic if you like, but if it only pays lip service to the spirit and soul, we waste our time and money.

Only God has the power to set people free, turn their darkness into night, break the chains of bondage and addiction, the power of sin and hell. Only through the Spirit of God can a man or woman be transformed. The only way a person will live life well is if he is living it by faith.

I feel that the Lord’s heart aches as we close him out of our centres. We fail all those who trust us when we set them on their way without lives transformed in the power of Christ.

So what? we lose some funding! But you know what else? God will release his treasure when he is honoured. I would sell the shirt on my back in order to release my finances to an Army Social Services that says to the world ‘we have nothing to offer you but Christ, no power but through prayer, no wisdom except by God.’

The foolishness of God is wiser than mans wisdom, says the word.

Salvation Army, will you march by faith and not by sight?

in Jesus name
Andrew

Vintage Army Renewal 3

Was having a chat with my CSM about the nature of officership and I remembered the following blog that I wrote after coming back from Sessional Reunion and is very much shaped by that few days….I want to share it again. After sharing this, I want to publish what I see as a sort of ‘theology of officership’ because its such a complicated thing and people come at it and understand it in so many ways. The question is, what is needed for today? Have a read….and tune in for ‘Neo-Officership – the way forward!’ (I doubt they will make me General because of it but it may spark discussion!)

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Friday, March 18, 2005

Neo-officership?!?
Are we in the age of neo-officership…’new expressions of’ officership?I feel quite shattered this morning…well, we got back from London late last night, but really this whole week of intense ‘sharing-with-people’ thing is a drain. So many different people on so many different paths, albeit officership. I’m sure they are all valid paths…I think.

The question that has come to my mind is how much of people’s officership (mine included) is preference driven versus gift driven, how much is personality driven versus God driven? Is my officership as significant as it should be? These are not so much personal doubts but personal fears because there sometimes comes a recognition that even on a personal level you stray away from your fundamental objectives in ministry.

But then I look at where we are in Pill at the moment, at the corps, and can see great signs of God moving in people’s lives and I need to recognise that I have been used by God to do some of this stuff. There is other stuff that I have taken on myself which I know I must lay down. Major Margaret Wickings spoke from Deuteronomy about the paramaters of officership….meaning that there might be things God will annoint in our ministry and things He won’t.I am continually seeking to move onto the next level of personal effectiveness for the Kingdom. It is important for us all.

Life is not a rehearsal…we don’t live in an appointment to practice and then get another go to do the time again…its real life, real people, real possibilities. I think there are some primitive models of officership that are very valid. The same challenge seems to be that in the way that primitive salvationism seems to be igniting soldiers around the world (and its has been labelled neo-salvationism) then perhaps neo-officership is a back to basics officership. What does it look like? What is the purpose of any change of focus…to tickle our ego or to advance the Kingdom?

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Well there you go….it comes back to the ‘what are officers sent to do’ issue I highlighted with the change of Commission a few blogs ago. This is a huge issue, not least because Officership has be come so diverse and ‘one size fits any job.’

We are still training officers to be pastors, keepers of a flock. Indeed it is the current General who emphasised the fact that officers weren’t and aren’t commissioned to lead a flock, but to be the leader of a mission team.

Anyway…I hope you will tune in and add you tuppence worth to the discussion!

yours in the fight for primitive officership!

Andrew Clark
Neo-Captain

Booth on Speed

No…I don’t mean speed as in the drug…I mean speed as in pace :o) I love this message on active mission and the primitive urge for salvation sharing! Enjoy!

You’re Going Too Fast
by General William Booth

They say we go too fast! This accusation comes from all directions. Our enemies do not like our speed and our friends are afraid of it. What do they mean? If they had complained that we did not go fast enough, I could understand them. If our enemies had argued that after all we say about the evils of sin, the terrors of the Judgment Day, and the damnation of hell, we do not believe in these things ourselves, I could understand that, and feel humbled under their indictment

If our friends came together and said, “Why don’t you increase the speed? Look at the dying millions at home and abroad. You have evidently got a wonderful way of reaching the masses. You have accomplished what no other organization has. You can adapt yourselves to all peoples and countries and climates. Why don’t you push on faster? Why don’t you train more cadets-send out more officers-hunt up more criminals, drunkards and fallen women? Go faster; get up more steam!” Now, this seems to me would be the natural way of talking for both foes and friends. But no! The cry is not “Go faster” but “You go too fast!” What do they mean?

Speed is a good thing, and, if combined with safety, the faster the better. It is reckoned good in traveling. I don’t know of any train that goes fast enough for me. Time is so precious that unless it can be spent in sleeping or working, every minute of it is begrudged. My feeling whenever I am in a train is, “Now, engine driver, do your best, and fly away!”

Speed is reckoned a good thing in money-making. Who would complain if we were an Investment Company developing a profitable gold mine? The same people who complain of our speed in spreading salvation and saving men would all want to buy shares, become our partners or buy us out.

But because God has given us a little success in saving men and women from endless damnation, and extending the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, there is a great outcry-especially from those who every morning pray “Thy Kingdom come!” -that we are going too fast; they say we are ambitious and seeking great things. Can we go too fast, my comrades in saving souls? I will not attempt to answer that question. No soldier in the Salvation Army would ask such a question. It is an insult to the Bible-to the teachers of Christianity. I refuse to reply to it.

If anyone still wants a reply, let him ask the lost souls in Hell whose brothers and sisters are following them there. Let him go and ask the blood-washed throng in Heaven, whose eyes are wide open at last to the value of salvation. Let him anticipate the Judgment Day, and in spirit stand before the Throne and propose, if he dares, the question to God Almighty. I think from Hell, Heaven and the Great White Throne, the answer would come back; “More speed! Go faster!” If it should entail the stopping of legislature, pleasure, business, and all the employments and occupations of time, push forwards! Hurry onwards! Save the world!

Some warn us, “but there is danger with great speed”. Perhaps there is, but that is not certain; and even if so, I refuse to abate the speed to avoid the risk. If this thing is worth doing, let us do it with all our might. They say, “but if you go on at this pace a smash will come”. Well, perhaps it will. Perhaps God will let the devil and those who help him smash The Salvation. Army. They smashed Jesus Christ. There were slanders and riots and injuries terminating with the Crucifixion. Then a great number looked on and said, “I told you so!” If they smash The Salvation Army, there will also be a great number looking on and telling them to do it, and saying the same thing.

However, there are no evident signs of this terrible danger. For twenty years we have gone on paying our debts, breaking up and taking possession of new ground, and holding it when occupied; and, thank God! We are more closely bound together-more wrapped up in the spirit of sympathy and unity today than ever we were before.

Is our speed really too great after all? Is not all this talk a delusion? Speed is a relative thing, and the accuracy of the estimate depends upon the standard you measure it by. The coach is a rapid vehicle compared with the old carrier’s cart, but it is very slow when put alongside a royal express train. What do our objectors measure us by? Anyhow, I object to be measured by the standard of the carrier’s cart.

Does salvation travel as fast as sin? See how wickedness spreads. Talk about a prairie fire – it devours everything before it. Does Salvation keep pace with our evergrowing population? Make the calculation in your most favored Christian cities, and you will find we are terribly behind in the race. Do we keep pace with the devils in energy and untiring labor? Do we go as fast as death? Oh, say no more! We’ll close our ears to this cold, unfeeling, stony-hearted utterance of unbelief.

LET US GO FASTER! We must increase the speed if we are to keep pace with the yearnings of the Almighty Heart of Love that would have all men to be saved. We must go faster if we are to have a hand in the fulfillment of the prophecies. Read the sixtieth chapter of Isaiah, and think of the speed that must be reached before all that comes true. We must go faster if we would wipe out the reproach and taunts of the mocking infidels who are ever asking for living proof of God’s existence. We must increase our pace before our own prayers are answered, our own expectations realized, our own relations converted, and our own consistency proved.

My comrades, the General issues the command to every country, and to every division, and to every corps, and to every soldier-to advance. The pace of the past is to be no standard for the future. We must go faster. Obstacles, difficulties, and enemies shall be swept before us, and the mouths of those who condemn us shall be forever stopped before the Lord.

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Amen

yours in the fight
Andrew

Vintage Army Renewal 2

I blogged this after hearing General Gowans preach at our Divisional Congress…..ooh…I’m enjoying this trip down memory lane…hope your are!!
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Wednesday, November 24, 2004

General Gowans preached well. I hope that people take it home and remember his challenge for a bit. God clearly spoke to some people. We all need the courage of our convictions. The thing that made me smile was the reaction to one comment…Gowans said “People should stop putting the Salvation Army down.” Of course, that is right, they should. But I smiled at the reactions of two groups of people….first, the older traditionalists for whom that statement meant “stop all these young people from changing the Army ways” and to the younger folks it meant “stop all these older people from criticising us .” So, hearty agreement but never was there such a large divide.

The important thing that I am constantly saying to both camps, is that you need to define traditional, figure out that traditional is not the same as traditionalism.

Traditionalism is doing stuff for the sake of it, to “preseve an expression” and to practice a particular thing divorced from its original meaning. Like what? E.g The soldier who would be the first to offer criticism about people not wearing uniform, but they themselves only wearing it to the meeting, and covering it up with a normal everyday coat when they walk home. That, and a thousand other examples are examples of traditionalism.

However, traditional I see is related to our spiritual and organisational heritage…the things God birthed us for in the past and still has in mind for us today. Like what? E.g A strong commitment to aggressive spiritual warfare, aggressive evangelism, engaging in social action, a strong commitment to the life of holiness. Using our last example…in teh context of uniform wearing, a traditional (as opposed to traditionalist) salvationist wears their uniform because it identifies the believer, it is a testimony to a life changed be Jesus, it is a desire for the church to be visible in the community and is more functional than ceremonial.

So, are you traditional or traditionalist? The thing is that that a lot of our senior salvationists (there is always glorious exceptions) are traditionalist, tradition for traditions sake kinda people and thats what our youngsters react agains. But, alot of our youngsters, because of that are led to believe that everything related to our heritage must be negative. That is as equaly unhelpful as the traditionalists.

Somewhere along the line I learned that it is not actually our military metaphor and all that goes with it that is irrelevant. Its not the uniform that is irrelevant, it is often the people who wear it. Oooooh….big judgment. Perhaps…but I feel it is very true. All our Army stuff is a tremendously powerful image when we live it unapologetically and with all the passion we can muster.

yours unaplogetically in the fight
Andrew C

Vintage Army Renewal 1

Thought I’d dig out a few blog entries of days gone by. Here is my first blog…24th March 2004, written when I was a cadet at William Booth College.

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So, here it begins. I have to admit that I am a man with an agenda. Yes of course, to see the Kingdom of God grow and expand to all nations, for people to find salvation and grow in holiness. But more specifically, that people will once again be influenced and won for the Kingdom by The Salvation Army and all those who we win will walk again in the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit.

I discovered today, by mistake almost, that during the 1960s there was a huge split at the William Booth College for training officers in London. The Evangelist Session started its life with around 200 cadets and after the first year of training was down to 100. Why? Because 100 people felt that they had to leave The Salvation Army because of reticence to move in the gifts of the Spirit. WOW! What a sad year that must have been.I am spilt on what I think on this. First thing that comes to mind is “deserters.” The people who left undoubtedly left The Army at a critical stage in its history. I think 100 spirit-filled, charis-oriented people would have made a huge impact in The Army of its day. Perhaps their commitment to the movement would have meant that we would have avoided the dogmatism and legalizing, cold formality that existed in the Salvation Army at that time. Why did they desert? Surely they were on the brink.

But then, how powerful a statement is the departure of 100 leaders from a movement en-masse. Huge! A huge lesson to be learned. So, I guess we say thanks to those who were bold enough to leave everything for that principle. I guess that there was a degree or resistance in the college and in leadership in general. These days we cannot afford to have a reluctance in these things. The harvest is plentiful, even if we don’t always see it or get off our seats to bring it in.So, my agenda has been made clear. The Salvation Army needs to see what it is to walk in the Spirit within the regiment. We can be too quick to throw away this thing we call The Salvation Army and the Spirit in which we do our warfare. Not that I am advocating tradition for traditions sake…I am advocating an aggressive spirituality and mentality that is heroic and passionate.

My fuel has been flamed by many, by Captain Steve Court of http://www.armybarmy.com fame. By Captain Geoff Ryan who constantly challenges my boxed image of salvationism. But where is the UK equivalent? We have some fantastic officers in the UK. We have fantastic people like Wall and Rook. But who will there be who will dare to commit to covenant with God “out of the spotlight” in the frontline of mission in the United Kingdom. I am in the Army because I caught a glimpse of something consuming, something revolutionary…little did I know that I had joined a movement which in many places had lost its fire. But my sense of “something more” has urged me on and God has shown me. William Booth once said “Your days at the most cannot be long, so use them to the best of your ability for the Glory of God and the benefit of your generation.”Its going to look different, sound different, smell different, march to a different beat, sing to a different songbook, but The Salvation Army is God’s and he will lead it. I commit myself again to living as God has called me. I commit myself to taking seriously this God metaphor and to live my life as an officer in The Salvation Army

yours in the fight
Andrew Clark

Mobile Prayer Centre :o)

You might remember me mentioning that we were offered an ex-ambulance. It really fitted with a vision God gave me of a mobile prayer and outreach centre so much. Although, I didn’t want to commit the corps to the liablity and I’m not sure that the Army would allow it officially anyway as the vehicle is a few years old (a J Reg.). So we said kinda ‘no’ from an Army perspective.

But today, it’s crunch time. The guy who offered the ambulance really needs to get rid of it because he can’t store it where he has been storing it any longer so we had to make a decision.

What we are hoping to do is run the ambulance privately and see if we can do some Kingdom business with it! There will be a little bit of conversion needing done to the inside, but hopefully not too much. It will need a bit of a paint job on the outside too (with it being an ambulance and all that!)

Sounds crazy…probably is…but hey, if it doesn’t work we an sell it and use the cash for the Army. Now all I need is a crazy (but wealthy) person willing to send some cash our way to help get it sorted….! Pray for us, will you? Will keep you updated…if the guy giving us it is ok for us to have it we are ready for business (almost)!

Where it all went wrong…

In 1905 the officership commission read,

By virtue of this commission the said will be appointed from time to time to the command of Corps, and upon recieving Marching Orders will be required to proceed to the appointment given, there to lead and train the Soldiers and Recruits in the devotion of their bodies and souls to the Service of God, and for the salvation of the people.

By 1958 the commission read,

By virtue of this commission the said will be appointed from time to time to the command of Corps or Institution, and upon recieving Marching Orders will be required to proceed to the appointment given and there to devotedly and faithfully labour to the glory of God and for the salvation of the people.

Come back 1905…all is forgiven.

yours
Andrew C