Have you had a chance to read the vision the General presented today? Have you watched the videos on youtube (2 x 15mins)? Watch them first then come back to this blog for my take.
So, for what its worth, my little blog here at Army Renewal wants to shout a big hallelujah and amen to the stating of this vision today. There is little that is new, but so much of it just draws out the crucial and essential heart and DNA of the Army that we passionately need to see Renewed. I started this whole blogging thing about 7.5 years ago, convinced that renewal needed to happen, that there needed to be clear missional and adventurous leadership at the top and all the way down to the most recent convert.
I want to just affirm each section of the vision and weep a tear over every commitment because I long to see the Army being like this. My comments are in italics.
The Salvation Army’s International Vision
ONE ARMY: We see a God-raised, Spirit-filled Army for the 21st century – convinced of our calling, moving forward together – let us all be convinced about who God has called us to be!
- deepen our spiritual life – God grant it! A Salvation Army which sells is people short of full salvation (and I mean it in the second-blessing entire sanctification message that it is) isn’t The Salvation Army. We were born with a passionate spirituality. Today many people couldn’t explain what it means to be holy – I see it on the social networks all the time and the concept of holiness is a mystery. We must first experience it afresh and then testify to it and preach it. Not just holiness, but a rigorous gospel of salvation centered upon the person of Jesus and every other spiritual disciple exercised to boot.
- unite in prayer – Come on! As with many things, the Army was doing half and whole nights of prayer long before the 24/7 prayer vision came forth….its why that 24/7 has seemed so natural to the Army….its in our DNA. Prayer is the boiler room of the Army, its our Holy Spirit fuel pump. Bring it!
- identify and develop leaders – Our desperate need! Listen, we already have a healthier culture of training leaders from young ages like no other situation I’ve seen but we’ve got a way to go. We gotta get rid of the clergy-laity thing…its an insult to the whole people of God. We need to make leaders of all people….whether you’re going to lead the Army, a Territory, a DHQ, corps, band, young people’s group, toddler group, hostel or whether you’re going to lead in your workplace and in your family, we need to be developed. Our mission stations equip people to lead others towards their potential in Christ. We need to recover the very heart of spiritual leadership – and recognise that professional development doesn’t necessairly equate to leadership development. I could say more, but please Lord, we need renewal in this area.
- increase self-support and self-denial – Open the purse strings, Lord! This needs to happen not just with Territories supporting other Territories and Commands, but corps supporting corps. There are loads of mission situations (like our corps at Torry for example) which was poor as anything…not only that, not real potential for raising it without hugely diverting from vast amounts of the mission. Lets not use money, or lack of money, as a threat….lets resource mission generously and sacrificially.
ONE MISSION: Into the world of the hurting, broken, lonely, dispossessed and lost, reaching them in love by all means
- emphasise our integrated ministry – Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, Lord! God doesn’t have two missions. He has one mission and it is the ‘healing of the nations’ and all that encompasses. Mass redemption is the plan. Founded on Jesus, Kingdom Ministry. Anything else isn’t authentic Salvo mission.
- reach and involve youth and children – I’ve been really big on this one recently. My current situation outside the Army just doesn’t see the potential of children and young people to be radical disciples of Jesus. The Army has the heart and the vision – it just need released, resouces and infused with the passionate DNA of all thats true to Salvationist calling and mission. We need to act on our convictions.
- stand for and serve the marginalised – Oh Lord help us! You know, we’re neglecting the poor. I mean, I know the Army does lots of stuff for people…but the poor are no longer ‘our people’ because so often we’ve opted to choose forselves a people more like our middle class selves. The Army doesn’t make sense in the suburbs….we’re made for the streets and the darkest alleys. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve met Jesus there. Its where we belong.
- encourage innovation in mission – I could cry at this one. If I ever failed in my officership, its because I just couldn’t help but believe that the Army just weren’t willing to see change. Easy to say with hindsight I should have had more patience. In her video, the General states that the answer in every mission board should be ‘YES!’ unless there is a good reason to say no. She admits that so often its a resounding ‘NO!!!’ until you can convince them 5 times why it should be a YES! This is true in my experience. You know what, in our leadership and discpling, its so important that people begin to learn not only from success, but from their errors on the way…..we shouldn’t be failing not having tried. We should be trying, adapting, reassessing, venturing out all the way…..finding our own Nos on the ground instead of in the boardroom. If something is true to the Army DNA, calling and mission, the answer can only be YES! and AMEN!
ONE MESSAGE: With the transforming message of Jesus, bringing freedom, hope and life
- communicate Christ unashamedly – Jesus all the way! One of my heart issues (as opposed to pragmatic or mission issues) that lead to me leaving the Army is that I’d fallen into the trap of making it about something else other than Jesus. Other things became more important than him, especially when I was trying to respond to the demands of ‘man’. My time out has been a radical refocus on Jesus that I needed outside the context of the Army to help me see the Army in the right perspective to Jesus. This is valuable friends. But I think many of our mission centres need this, our officers, and our soldiers too. Jesus is Lord!
- reaffirm our belief in transformation – God dragged me from the pit and changed my life entirely…he broke the cycle of generations of my family with no hope and no salvation. If he can do it for me, he can do it for anyone. We shall be changed!
- evangelise and disciple effectively – a fresh vision of Jesus will fix this. As will a re-shifting away from clerical officership. The whole Army mobilised! We need to make disciples who make disciples who make disciples who make disciples!
- provide quality teaching resources- you know, we need to have ways to fire the vision that God has given to us….not the vision that he’s given to Hybels or Schwatrz or even Cole or Hirsch. Sure, all these brothers and sisters can teach us and help us. Of course we consult them and use their teaching to our advantage. But I believe we have a specific charism and calling under God and we have to explore that and know it in our head as well as our heart. We need to know what we’re about and infuse and enthuse our people with a vision thats bigger than our own blinkered back yard and beyond looking whats happening in our neighbours back yard and thinking it will work for us. There is some good Salvo flavoured resouce starting to flow again in the Army…..we need more.
So…..thats my initial take. I hope you can hear my heart on this. I love that this vision has been expressed in this way and in these tangible and simple terms. This is the kind of vision that sparks vision AND action. As a soldier, even a soldier in full time ministry in another denomination, I long to have this vision as the vision for my life. Its what I’ve been trying to sing to for years. There are so many echoes here with what Knaggs and Court wrote in ‘One for All’. You gotta find this for yourselves and give your lives to it to the Glory of God in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ by the sanctifiying and purifying power of the Holy Spirit to propell us to action. Lord, bring it!