Affirmations #8: Salvo Identity

8. I believe that The Salvation Army is a revolutionary movement of covenanted warriors exercising holy passion to win the world for Jesus.

This is the dream.

revolutionary = world changing
movement = not static or declinging, holding light to structure that limits and forging on
covenanted = trust…we trust God, he trusts us, he releases the Kingdom
exercising = doing the stuff
holy passion = take a look at Jesus and follow him
win the world = we set our aims high…118 countries and counting.
Jesus = the point of it all.

There is a lot of rediscovering, praying, educating that needs to take place for this to begin to happen, its a tough climb, and as I said in my last post, the key to becoming this is to look to Jesus.

I’d say that anything other than this affirmation is not really salvationism, so we’ve no option but to press on and make the vision a reality.

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Prayer for Scotland


A request, please, for prayer for all of those who are part of the church of Jesus here in Scotland. We all face testing time here in these days for the spiritual wellbeing of our nation and indeed the advancement of the gospel.

You may or may not be aware of the recent debate within the ‘national church’, the Church of Scotland. This evening, the Kirk, at their Annual General Assembly, voted to allow the appointment of a gay minister, currently in an open relatonship with another man, to a church in the city of Aberdeen.

I want to stand in solidarity with many good friends and colleagues in Aberdeen who view this to be a huge departure from the Scripture and who will undoubtedly be in very difficult situations at this time.

I believe, in line with what I understand to be The Salvation Army’s position, that those who would call themselves ‘homosexual’ should not necessarily be barred from ministry on those grounds, but providing that the indivuduals involved are committed to a celibate life (as any unmarried officer/minister would be), ministry can be fruitful and in line with the Word of God.

My heart goes out to my many friends in the Kirk, for those who may be considering their position, for whole churches who will be facing great difficulties because of this.

Not a good day for the church in Scotland.

Affirmations #7 New Army


7. I believe that God can do something unprecedented with The Salvation Army.

I believe God can, but will we let him? Where does the future of the Army lie, how will God do his new thing? What will it look like?

I believe God will be able to do something withus when we get a fresh glimpse of Jesus, when we take our eyes off of ourselves and look to the author and perfector of our faith, the beginning and the end, our Commander-in-Cheif.

Unsurprisingly, there was a quote that caught my eye in Alan Hirsch/Michael Frost’s new book “ReJesus: A Wild Messiah for a Missional Church”. He says this:

“For Salvationists to rediscover the fire and fight within William Booth…is valuable. But, when there is something fundamentally wrong in the basic equation of faith, then it is time to recover a vital and active sense of Jesus: who he is, what he has done for us, the way of life he laid down for us to follow. His passions must become ours.”

Primitive Salvationism (read Booths salvationism) was empassioned by Jesus. Read any work of any Booth and you’ll see how much Jesus was Lord of The Salvation Army. He must indeed become this again. I don’t currently believe every aspect of our Army today is under His lordship. He will do something new in us when we rediscover Jesus.

Going back to what I said a few posts agi, our Christology (our understanding of Jesus from the scripture) should shape our missiology (what we do) and our mission should inform our ecclesiology (what shape we are as an Army).

The extent to which we are a Jesus Army (not The Jesus Army) is the extent to which God will do something new amongst us.

Simple Mission


Just a pause on the affirmations series to interject a post I wrote in Jan 2007, whilst I was still the CO at Pill. As I was reflecting on how things are going here at Torry, God just brought this back to my mind. I was pleasantly surpised about how Torry is beginning more and more to be this! As I re-read this through Torry eyes, it fits so well.

Funnily, since then, I’ve been heavily incluenced by Floyd McClings book and Neil Cole’s books on what has been called ‘simple church.’ When I wrote this, I hadn’t heard of these people or their books. I say that simply to credit our great God about the marvellous ways he speaks to his people to advance his Kingom.

By the way, all we lack in this vision is some bodies to come alongside us and help us. If you feel called, you’re welcome to join us.

——-
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Simple Mission

I’ve got a dream. Its best encapsulated by the phrase ‘Simple Mission.’ Let me explain how I see it.

It is a corps of soldiers and local officers working a geographical area. It is, of course, a ward based corps, so the main teaching, prayer, worship and pastoral care happens in a network of small groups. New converts are also plugged straight into these groups because this corps doesn’t hold conventional meetings…not every week anyway. Now thats a good job, because this corps doesn’t have a very expensive building to maintain because its much more Kingdom efficient to just rent the local school hall when all the wards come together for celebration.

The corps does, however, have a decent sized shop front in the main street of the town. This shop front is the hub of the mission. It has a 24/7 prayer room too.

There might be a couple of offices at the back, but the front is just kitted out with sofas, a few tables and chairs and a coffee machine, and its open as much as possible. Its not a scant building though, it is simple yet attractive, modern. People float in and out all day, the young people gravitate there in the evening. Its the kinda place you want to spend some time.

As well as the ward meeting, the soldiers engage in brigade activity. They all get together at another time in the week and get out into the community. Maybe there is some outdoor worship, maybe some will be out doing prayer ministry door to door, some will be ministering practically to the poor. Others will be using the hub providing a course for new parents. Others will be prayer walking. Some might do an afterschool club at the hub to keep kids busy until bedtime. Others might be leading midweek worship at another church. Others are mingling in the local pub with the regulars. Yet more are befriending elderly folks, encouraging them to come down to the hub and meet a few people. Folk from all the wards get together to have a band practice because they spend their Sundays speading the word at as many public parks and events as possible during the summer and they love to go carolling at Christmas.

Others give free hours to the local Salvation Army hostel to help maintain the important spiritual work of saving men and women from addiction. The whole corps is invovled in mission yet everyone has much more time to be building personal networks of friends to invite to their ward because they are not down the Army doing all manner of stuff every night. At the bare minimum, people are attending their ward and doing a couple of hours brigade activity. Others are so enthused that mission is happening that they just want to give as much time as possible to the corps mission and they love manning the hub and supporting other brigade activity.

The corps officers devote their time to training the soldiers and local leaders. They get stuck in along with the rest of the soldiers with the brigade activity. They make the hub their base for most of the week. They may even be overseeing two or three hubs. The Army now has a less officer-centred ministry because of this dedication to simple mission because the whole Army is mobilised. The officer is now released to lead, direct and oversee…pointing out gaps in the strategy, manouvering troops, providing coherence, overseeing the pastoral work of the Ward Sergeants. The officers aren’t shattered because they aren’t having to carry the whole Army’s mission on their own. They have plenty of time for their mariages and families and there is much less unrealistic expectation thrust on them compared to what it was like before the change.

The Army has come into its finest hour and we’re opening new corps all over the place. Thousands are being saved, resources are plentiful and joy has returned to The Salvation Army.

Do you see it?

Affirmations #6 cell-based community

6. I believe that charismatic cell-based Christian communities are the most effective means of accomplishing mission today

I have to say that I believe this is true with all my heart. I think there is a place for larger gatherings, absolutely, but for the real nitty gritty, week-in-week-out Christianity, face to face accountability, study, worship, prayer and pastoral support its the way forward. So yeah, benifts in all those areas big time. Also, a small group working together in mission is effective.

We get hung up about leadership. Good leadership is important, and it does need to be a facilitating leadership, but small groups help the leadership challenge the church is facing today. Basically, mission isn’t sustainable if the church is led by a priestly class…thats not how the body of Christ was designed to function.

How many people do you know think they can lead a mega church? How many people do you know who think they can lead a congregation of 100? How many people do you know who think they can lead a church of 50? How many people do you kno who think they can lead a group of 10? How many people do you know who can help facilitate a group of 3? See, as the numbers get smaller, more an more people think ‘yeah, no problem.’ The smaller the number the more flexible you can be and the easier it is to gather people to form the basis of a larger body of people. You see, the more complicated the form of ‘church’ we run, the more complex the leadership, training and theological education needed to keep the thing goin. We are currently doin our own heads in because we’re working with a model of church that isn’t cutting it and becoming more and more difficult to sustain.

In our corps, we have just started our 4th small group. Call it what you like. Our cells meet weekly. We then meet monthly for celebration, encouragement and to impart larger vision of who and what we’re about, with all the cells plus a few more invited for good measure.

Salvationists need to re-discover our pioneering spirit in the area of church planting by planting small outposts all over the place. It doesn’t need any money, doesn’t need a building and doesn’t need a theologically trained, highly skilled leader to lead.

Here is a great link to get you started. http://www.all-nations.info/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=37&Itemid=48

Also check out simplechurch.co.uk – simple church is a newish phrase to describe these simple expressions of being the church which is taking an identity of its own, currently.

Books to read: the section on Wards in SA301, available at armybarmy.com
‘You See Bones, I see and Army’ by Floyd McClung
‘Organic Church’ and ‘Search and Rescue’ by Neil Cole
‘The Forgotten Ways’ by Alan Hirsch

You can do it! Lets start winning the world for Jesus using the best known strategy in history…plant churches, loads of em, small ones, everywhere.

Affirmations #5 Demonstrating the Kingdom


5. I believe that signs and wonders and prophetic and deliverance will play a big role in winning the world

Again, long time readers of armyrenewal will know that this is another common feature. As we look through the pages of scripture, the gospels and Acts etc, we see a very direct correlation between proclaiming the kingdom and demonstrating the Kingdom. Jesus very rarely proclaims the Kingdom or calls people to repentance without then demonstrating the Kingdom he is proclaiming or inviting people into.

All versions of the great commission, especially Mark’s version, leave us with no uncertainty that signs, wonders, prophecy, demon-kicking will be part of our ministry. Certainly in Salvation Army history and heritage, we’re not unfamiliar with this kind of thing. Five minutes digging in SA history will prove that…so lets not hear any silly cries of ‘its not Army.’ The SA gave birth the pentecostalism and the more modern charismatic renewal.

We experience in the Army an alarming lack of teaching on these sorts of things. It often doesn’t appear on our radar. However, this is partly because we’ve been low on discipleship in the last few decades. Things are changing though. Many salvationist are now much more spiritually aware.

Now, its not the case that we want to find a demon under every banana skin…but we will want to be aware of the enemy and his minions. We will want to fight until the very end for the freedom of every person both saved and yet-to-be-saved. It is for freedom that Jesus set us free, said Paul.

Demonstrating the Kingdom in its many forms is something that needs revisited.

Resources for that? Try SA101, SA201, SA301. Full of great stuff and available at armybarmy. SA101 available now in book form via Australian trade departments.

Other resources
‘Know you Spiritual Gifts’ by Mark Stibbe
‘Demoloshing Strongholds’ by David Devenish
‘Power Evangelism’ and ‘Power Healing’ by John Wimber
‘Come Holy Spirit’ by David Pitches
‘Prayer Ministry’ (DVD course from Holy Trinity Brompton – home of Alpha course) by Sandy Miller
‘Freedom in Christ’ course by Neil T Anderson and other books of his.

Affirmations #4: Jesus or Hell

4. I believe that lots of people are going to hell forever (some who never got saved, and some who lost their salvation)

I can totally understand why people would want to theologise hell out of existance. I can imagine why in the midst of grief and uncertainty, Christians may chose to opt out of thinking about the issue of hell.

Funnily enough, we don’t seem to have the same problems about heaven. Somehow, we can cope with heaven because its ‘nice.’ Somehow we can better understand a God with a heaven than a God who lets hell exist. Goes to show how much we don’t know about God.

My grandmothers death in particular brought this issue to the forefront of my mind. Its over ten years ago now, but I will never forget the anguish of realising that she was probably heading for hell…that is unless she repented on her death bed. Its shocking, isn’t it? My granny going to hell.

I had a thousand and one opportunities to share Jesus with my granny, but at that point I was in a strage softly softly place with evangelism and Jesus…I’d believed the lie that all you had to do was be nice to people and let Jesus shine out, and so I never took the opportunity to share Jesus with my granny.

Friends, the evangelisation of the world is urgent because hell is real. The God of love and perfect justice will deal with sin and rebellion in that place. Its repent now, or pay later. I thank God that he is a God of justice.

Some people think that its not right to be thinking about hell as a motivation to get ourselves off out backsides and share our faith. Some think we should just think about God’s massive love. You know, let me just say that one of the biggest parts of Gods love is his love of justice and righteousness. His judgements are 100% right and so if hell is someones destination and its God that has done the sending, I agree with God, without a doubt.

Luke 16:19-31 (New International Version)

The Rich Man and Lazarus
19″There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

22″The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23In hell,[a] where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

25″But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

27″He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, 28for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

29″Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

30″ ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

31″He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ “

Let that word sink in.

Affirmations #3: World Winning


3. I believe that we should (and can) win the world

Again, this is a topic that has been repeatedly accented on this blog over its however many years now. We realise that the bottom line is that its either Jesus or hell…salvation is in him alone. We don’t hide that, we declare in in out doctrine and everything about us. You may or may not have heard the prophecy given by Catherine Booth along the lines that she believed that The Army would be highly significant in winning the world for Jesus, in facilitating the ‘big push’ for world evangelisation and actually, at 118 countries invaded so far, we’re not doing too badly!

But we don’t just rest on the call of the Booths or the Railtons or even the Cliftons or Gowanses for they are simply emphasising the words of Jesus himself who called us to go into all nations and to make disciples of them. Preaching the Kingdom, demonstrating the Kingdom.

Is it possible? Well, everything is possible with God. However, doubt has crept in about our purpose as an Army. It is interesting that when we talked up winning the world for Jesus, people were actually bold enough to have a go! We were zealous for the Lord in this, absolutely. We know the task remains the same, so whats changed?

a) the task? – nah, the great commission still calls us.

b) culture? – we know the world has changed, church has changed, people’s views of Christianity have changed. However, this is inevitable. Culture is always changing. What often doesn’t change is our mindset or our methods. Commissioner Joe Noland has a little formula:

attack + adapt + attract = some (I Cor 9:22)

The key I want to bring out is adapt. We were very adaptive in our early days, we took leafs from anyones book and had a jolly good go…seeking to grab the attention of our culture. We must do the same today. The message is the same, the method, howver, will be creative as always. Have we lost our creative spark? Have we lost our innovation as a movement? Nah….its there, lets just unearth it!

c) the Army?
– its my long held and annoyingly vocal opinion (to some) that the Army has been guilty in some quarters of losing its focus as a permanant mission to the unconverted. We’ve drifted into thinking we’re a church, which is a grave error. Sure, we are the church (the church is the people/body of Jesus, yes?), but we are a mission. Our soldiers are missioners. But its not terminology thats the problem, lets not fall into that one. The problem is where we set our eyes!

If you set your eyes inwards, you become a people obsessed with the ‘inwards’ of the organisation. You become too focussed on yourself, trapped in unhealthy introspection at the cost of all else. Our frame of reference is how to survive and how to keep us all happy.

If we set our eyes outwards, we become obsessed with reaching the last, the lost and the least and transformation happens in the life of people. It also shapes us because we’ve looked at the call of Jesus, applied it as the priority for our existance.

With a nod to Steve Chalke, we must be careful to let our vision of Jesus and his mission to shape our mission so that we can best win the lost by all means possible. It is that vision of Jesus and mission that then shapes our ecclesiology (how we organise ourselves and what we think we are). We get it the wrong way…we let how we see ourselves as Army shape our mission, which then affects what we say and how we present Jesus. Lets turn that on its head.

The chart flows like this:

Vision of Jesus and his call to us -> How we do mission -> Shape of Church

Not this:

How we do ‘church’ -> how we do mission -> what we say about Jesus

Is the world not too big? No….not if you start where you are. You see, if we all do that, we’ll have the world won by Tuesday (which even gives time for training and equipping!)

Here is a definition of salvationism you may or may not have come across: “The Salvation Army is a revolutionary movement of covenanted warriors exercising holy passion to win the world for Jesus.” Chew on that.

I believe that the world mus be won, that we must lift our eyes up from ourselves and look to the harvest field which is ripe and awaiting labourers. Get yer boots on.

Affirmations #2: Holiness


2. I believe that we should (and can) be holy

There is much confusion around about holiness, the arguements have been well rehearsed. Our tenth doctrine is a gem, straight out of the pages of scripture. It speaks of a possibility, a promise, a hope, a certainty…both now in our current experience and perfectly when all things come to pass.

How to be holy: ask Holy Spirit to convict of sin, confess and repent of sin, we become dead to self and alive to Jesus. You might have to speak to some people and mend things. We ask to be kept from temptation (as Jesus suggests) and for Holy Spirit to fill us. He will be thorough, you know. Now that all our junk is gone, the fruit of the spirit already in us is free to display itself in our life and we’re a fit vessel for Holy Spirit to inhabit…it is free to blossom simply because the opposites have been hacked down. Holiness is about more than behaviour….this dying to self is about putting to death all that is contrary to the Spirit. Its a truly significant thing. Hatred turns to love, greed to generosity, fear to faith, lust to self-control, etc etc

This experience, this place, can be maintained by God through our co-operation with him, keeping the connection well open. When you get off your knees, its pretty safe to say that sin has been dealt with. When there is no sin, the Spirit has full reign. We are holy, not only in name and calling, but in reality.

What do I do if temptation comes? resist it…take every thought captive and submit it to Christ. You see, God gives us all we need for a life of godliness…he gives us the ability to resist all that comes our way and won’t allow us to be tempted more than we can bear.

What about sin then? Well, sin is when we choose to be disobedient…chances are if you’re enjoying the above experience and then temptation comes along, you’ll be well aware of it. You have the choice then whether to deal with it, resist it, straight away or play with it. We sin because we entertain it long enough for us to give in, NOT because God isn’t able to keep that which we’ve committed to Him.

So, does this holiness mean I’m ‘perfect’? Depends what ya mean by perfect. You have the capcity to sin, we will only be sinlessly perfect in heaven. But Christian perfection (did you know God commands you and me to be perfect?) is refusing to knowingly sin against God. So, God not only commands holiness, he makes it possible. Thats how good he is. And once he’s done, he can maintain it in you.

Personal confession time: I fail. I disobey God way more than I should. But here is the thing…its not because God isn’t able to keep me or that living in a state of holiness is not possible…its because too many times I refuse to let God have his way. I’m not proud of that at all. However, I’m not trapped by an inevitable cycle, I’m free in Christ. I can testify to long periods of time when I’ve been without sin. I thank God for his grace and mercy, but I don’t take it for granted and I certainly don’t want sin with all its short live pleasures and futile indulgence.

Almost impossible to cover all aspects of this in one blog, but covered most of the basic ground points I hope.

The big question we need to ask is ‘Lord, are my hands clean, is my heart pure?’ (cf Psalm 24). Looking for a good place to start? Try Psalm 51…it will help you get praying.