So what is it with The Salvation Army that means that I can’t walk away?
This is a question I’ve asked myself time and time again. I’ve already mentioned the whole covenant thing, I made promises to God. But yet its not the bare fact that promises were made, its the vision behind the promises that I can’t move away from and that I’m determined to live out in my life regardless, preferrably in a likeminded community. My frustration of years has been the extent to which the vision even seems popular, or more importantly, shared by others in the Army. Now as I share these things, I’m really trying to describe the Army vision rather than the current reality. Keep that in mind….
Here are the things which keep me inspired and which continue to shape me:
– daring pioneering is at the heart of authentic Salvationism. Literally wed to no previous plan. It was a fresh page on the history of the church. Mission today requires fresh page action.
– shared covenant. In short, you should know that the other person signed the same agreement as you. This is valuable for accountability, shared mission and for creating ‘cymbrogi’ – a Celtic term which means ‘Companions of the Heart’. Those who share a similar vision or journey, bound together and committed to it.
– passionate spirituality. You could often hear and smell a Salvation Army meeting. It was raw passion. Prayer was real, worship was full, preaching was powerful, transformation possible and holiness attainable by grace.
– ministry by all. Every soldier was a missioner. The priesthood of all believers was fully activated. There was nothing that was the sole reserve of the officer-leader. Everything was up for grabs, everyone got to play.
– strategic leadership. Early officership was apostolic and itinerant. It was about planting new stuff, seeing developments, keeping things fresh. The local ground was led by local officer ‘elders’ who led brigades of soldiers into battle against the world, the flesh and the devil. The five-fold ministries were released.
– good news for the poor. The vision of Isaiah 61 was fleshed out, the gospel was being preached to the poor. Blind eyes were seeing, prisoners were being relased, the captives set free. It was a liberation Army. Justice and salvation were symbiotic.
– planting movement. Faith was grown where life happened. Outposts, corps, societies, cottage meetings, open airs, factory meetings….you name the place, the Army had an expression there. It was a missional movememnt before the word became trendy.
You’ll notice that NONE of this stuff need be consigned to history. This is all stuff that much of the church is just rediscovering. And ironically, all the radical church planting, mission-renewal conferences and talks I’ve sat in during recent times have applauded the early Salvationists and held them up as courageous examples of what we need to be doing in our day. Its not just Primitive Salvationists who think there is something to this thing.
This is the Army I see and continue to pray for. Truth be told, its what I want to work for, even in spite of ‘the way things are.’ Its what the world needs. Its key to the advancement of the Kingdom. We are possessors of this great Kingdom heritage. It needs to be unleashed.