In Recess!

I’ve been blogging here for around 6 years. Blogging has been a discipline that has been really useful to me over the years and its certainly not my intention to give up. The topic of this blog is to comment on Salvationism, the Army and to speak into issues which perhaps warrant comment with the hope of adding something to the conversation. It has also been partly a reflective tool, where lots of theology and practical stuff has been worked out in practice. On-going reflection is important.

However, for me at the moment, there is still much at stake for us. Long term followers of the blog will not have failed to notice that the last few years in particular have been a difficult journey as we work out how to be faithful as officers in the context of a few things. The honest position is that we as a family are still on the exploration, and there are elements of life and ministry we are reflecting on amongst ourselves!

You may have noticed that comment here has not only been fewer, but also, perhaps, not quite so engaging than it might have been at one point. Part of that is that there are things I’ve felt I couldn’t write on without starting a war, but also things I’m working on that even for quite an outspoken blogger, aren’t for airing publically.

So, what of the future of blogging? I am taking a rest from blogging comment on this site. There will still be posts, but it will be news sharing, maybe some good book recommendations and maybe even some extracts of those simply to keep the blog ‘live’ until such times I re-engage more fully with it. I’m guessing it may be a 6 to 9 month rest initially.

Another of the reasons for change of blog is that I’ll be looking at maintaining a different kind of blog. Its difficult to blog consistantly and fully in two places, but from very soon, I’ll be blogging here. But as I say, keep Army Renewal on your feeds.

Those of you who are au fait with The Salvation Army will recognise the significance of that. In our ministry here in Torry, we’re going back to the very basic elements of ministry. We’re returning more and more to the streets of our community and engaging there and my utmost attention must be there for this crucial season. So, The Blind Beggar will be more of a journal of our work day-to-day as we seek to navigate this new season of ministry. It will also hopefully be a joint blog between Tracy and I. I hope it will be a blessing to you as much as a helpful tool for us in reflection.

Why am I doing this publically? Several reasons. We’re human and we need the encouragement from those who are interested in our ministry, but we also feel that we owe some communiction to those who go above and beyond to support us. I also value the prayer that goes into covering our ministry, and that prayer needs to be informed prayer. It gives opportunity for the blogsphere community to comment, encourage, challenge which is just really vital for me. Finally, it documents the story of what God is doing here….and thats always exciting to track.

So there it is, my blogging focus is shifting a little. Thank you all so much for reading, especially those who have started reading this blog as it appears on Facebook, and who have added so much more to the conversation. I look forward to hearing from you at The Blind Beggar.

Salvation Army Opens Work in 119th Country

“GENERAL Shaw Clifton is pleased to announce that the work of The Salvation Army has been officially established in the west African country of Sierra Leone, bringing the total number of countries in which the Army operates to 119.

“An enquiry was first made as to the possibility of The Salvation Army establishing a presence in Sierra Leone in 2003. That led to a long period of discussion, prayerful consideration, careful research and waiting upon the Lord to reveal his will in this regard. Further enquiries came in 2005 and then, in 2006, Auburn Corps in the Australia Eastern Territory expressed a keen desire to support any project the Army might consider running in Sierra Leone.

“Later in 2006, Major Robert Dixon – then serving as Officer Commanding of the Liberia Command – undertook a feasibility study in Sierra Leone. There was a positive response from the government at that time. When serving at International Headquarters as the General’s Representative for World Evangelisation, Colonel (now Commissioner) Dick Krommenhoek visited Sierra Leone, met with government officials and other authorities, and submitted a positive report to the General.

“At a meeting of the International Management Council in December 2009, Commissioner Amos Makina (International Secretary for Africa, IHQ) reported that The Salvation Army had been legally registered to operate in Sierra Leone and officers from Liberia (Captains John and Roseline Bundu) had arrived in the country, ready to start work with the group of local people who had already expressed interest. Captain John Bundu originates from Sierra Leone.

“The General has thus approved the official opening of The Salvation Army’s work in Sierra Leone, under the supervision of the Liberia Command, as from 1 January 2010.”

Five Key advances for the Decade

Again, from Stephen Court’s blog. So good it has to be shared wider. Here is his five recommended and needful advances for this decade. What will you part in it be?

1. Finish the ‘every nation’ part of the great commission by 2020. 82 are left. That’s just over eight each year. If we are intentional and if God endorse it, we can do it.

Why? This is what we’re about – winning the world for Jesus. Let’s drag as many people into heaven with us as we can.

Why it hasn’t happened yet? I’m not sure. Political factors in different countries have been and will be difficult, that financial realities have been restricting, and that the challenges on existing fronts have been demoralizing. But they needn’t hinder a resolute force. Not every national invasion might be through the front door in uniforms and with a flag (though this is the current process)…

2. Return holiness and covenant to their rightful place as priority in The Salvation Army. The General has started this process with holiness. A universal embrace of covenant (soldiership particularly) will reverse fragmentation and decline).

Why? The universal embrace of covenant will bring about a unity that commands a blessing. The pervasive holiness will be like adding a rocket booster to every initiative in which we engage.

Why it hasn’t happened yet? We got side-tracked by commercial Christian influence that is almost exclusively non-holiness and non-covenant (books, CDs, tv, MP3, internet, etc.). We have a couple of generations (at least) nursed on the inevitability of sin and the futility of covenant. Ours is ‘new’ doctrine to most today.

3. Get our praxis right on women. Teach Biblical equality. Live it. How will it look? It might be reasonable to make 60 married women DCs in the next two years, a dozen married women CSs (from the 60) in the two years following, a handful of married women TCs (from the dozen) in the two years following that. That might mean that by the High Council to elect the 20th general there will be several married women TCs.

Why? Some of Booth’s best men are women. Why should we fight an unleashed and desperate enemy with one hand tied behind our back? There are excellent women leaders who could be significantly improving our effectiveness in senior responsibilities if we get this right. This will affect every marriage, every family relationship, every corps throughout the Army – it could revolutionise our warfighting.

Why it hasn’t happened yet? The most lame excuse I have heard (and I have heard it more than once) is the husband couldn’t handle it emotionally/socially if his wife was promoted ‘above’ him. That is so pathetic that I cannot address it seriously. In other words, it seems like we have not been serious about winning the war, as measured by our action on this issue, to date (huge claim).

4. Internationalise Salvation Army leadership. The next steps might look like this. Appoint African and Asian leaders as TC in western FITs (Financially Independent Territories). This has never been done. From a human standpoint, it removes the hindrance to electing such leaders general.

Why? There appear to be great leaders in some of these places who have proven track records of supernatural advance. Why should western FITs be deprived of their expertise and authority? Why should they be limited to territorial commands if they have a global anointing?

Why hasn’t this happened yet? It looks like institutional racism from the outside. But it is more likely the self-replicating dynamics of bureaucracy and organizational networking.

5. Nail the Ss. We’re saved to save. Even those who refuse to line up behind General Booth on this important point must realise that if they insist that they are saved to serve, they must at least determine that they are saved to serve the Lord and not the whims of the people.

Why? Settling this subject will keep us from teetering back and forth with every wind of the latest trendy approach to Christianity. It is one thing to lurch from church growth to Sunday Schools to men’s ministry to mega churches to seeker sensitivity to emergent church to postmodernism to justice to … but when the ship is global (as is The Salvation Army) and the moves are happening territorially there is significant stress on the system. Remember, the goal is to win the world for Jesus, and these changes are aimed at helping to do that.

Why hasn’t this happened yet? Well, as we’ve mentioned before, it is hard to sleep at night when you aren’t seeing people saved and sanctified and discipled. So it is easier to sleep if you can point to SOMETHING – and feeding and clothing and sheltering people is a good thing and can be measured. And a couple of generations (at least) of us have been hoodwinked by the significant change in William Booth’s and the Army’s fundamental raison-d’etre.


From Stephen Court at armybarmy blog (at right):

New Year is a good time to assess what is important and avail ourselves of the means of grace to enable us to live up to what we have already attained, and in some cases have yet to attain.

Here are Five For Fighting:

– rations – jacking up your rations in time, depth, intimacy, consistency cannot but help you grow in your relationship with God. If you are not 7/7 each week, this is the clean slate to shoot for 365/365.

– discipling – if you aren’t discipled, get disicpled. If you are, then disciple someone else. Do it.

– evangelising – resolve this year to throw out all the excuses for not evangelising. Get trained up, prayed up, and then lock it into your schedule – evangelise regularly.

– worship – why not determine to worship full out at every corporate opportunity, not being afraid of what other people think, not being distracted by anything outside the room, not being intimidated by demons, and worship like you were in heaven?

– stewardship – I once heard a preacher tell people to ask the Lord how much to give … and then to add a zero. Why not determine this year to be extravagant in your giving, frugal in your spending, and generous in your sharing? Sometimes the gospel is slowed by lack of these characteristics in our stewardship

Books 2009

A little list of books I’ve read (and some, re-read) this year…all come as recommended (except McLaren!)

– Larsson, J. (2009). “1929: A Crisis That Shaped the Salvation Army’s Future

– Hirsch, A. (2009). “ReJesus: A Wild Messiah for a Missional Church

– Hirsch, A (2007). “The Forgotten Ways: Reactivating the Missional Church

– Hirsch, A. (2009). “The Forgotten Ways Handbook: A Practical Guide for Developing Missional Churches

– Claiborne, S. (2006) “The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical

– Halter, H & Smay, M. (2008) “The Tangible Kingdom: Creating Incarnational Community

– Cole, N. (2005) “Organic Church: Growing Faith Where Life Happens

– Noland, J. (2000) “No Limits Together

– Murray Williams, S (2004) “Post-Christendom: Church and Mission in a Strange New World

– Murray Williams, S (2005) “Church after Christendom

– Murray Williams, S (2008) “Planting Churches: A Framework for Practitioners

– Bonnke, R (2002) “Evangelism by Fire

– Comfort, R (2006) “The Way of the Master

– McLaren, B (2008) “A New Kind of Christian: A Tale of Two Friends on a Spiritual Journey

– McKenzie, G (1998) “Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace

– Wagner, P (2002) “Radical Holiness for Radical Living

– Munn, O & Court, S (2007) “The Uprising: a Holy Revolution

– Northumbria Community (2005) “Celtic Daily Prayer

– McManus, E (2009) “The Barbarian Way: Unleash the Untamed Faith Within

– McManus, E (2007) “Soul Cravings

– Tomlin, G (2008) “Provocative Church: and study guide

– Wimber, J (2007) “The Way In is the Way On

– Booth, W (2009) “Essential Measures

– IHQ (2008) “The Salvation Army In The Body Of Christ

– IHQ (1930) “Orders and Regulations for Corps Officers