24/7 Prayer


Its official. Confirmed. I am very likely mad.

Here at Torry we are due to embark on a 24/7 prayer week at the end of August. I have to say that fundamentally is just being obedient to what I feel God is asking of us at this time. Thing is its a prety huge thing but so is the battle we face here in Torry. Although we suspect that some people will come from other places to support, and thats great and desirable, the challenge for us is to re-introduce a rhythm of prayer into the life and mission of the corps…something that isn’t an obvious part of the fabric of our community here.

We’ll be praying like never before out of sheer necessity. Out of a desire for something to shift in our wider community. Out of the need to seek the Lord of the Harvest to raise up labourers for this corner of the vineyard. Out of a heart felt, empassioned desperation to see this place change and the Kingdom to take a stronger foothold.

We see death at work daily on our streets. On the faces of the people who live here, on the children, the adults, the elderly and the youth. We’re surrounded y prisons of addiction, sin, godlessness, fear and hopelessness. Our local authority are good at making our community look pretty and presenable, but at the heart there is a cancer that is eating the vitality out of everything. Our community doesn’t need plastic surgery, its needs complete transfusion and transformation from death to life.

We might be crazy, but we need God. We won’t stand by and let the enemy have his way any longer. Things must change.

While women weep, as they do now, I’ll fight; while little children go hungry, as they do now, I’ll fight; while men go to prison, in and out, in and out, as they do now, I’ll fight; while there is a drunkard left, while there is a poor lost girl upon the streets, while there remains one dark soul without the light of God, I’ll fight-I’ll fight to the very end!

Prayerful and missional living with a passionate persuit of justice and all that the Kingdom will bring is the answer for Torry.

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.

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 #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.

Firm


A couple of days ago Stephen Court blogged a list of nine affirmations he found somewhere on someones blog, I think. He didn’t quote, so I can’t either. Here they are:

1. I believe the doctrines of The Salvation Army;
2. I believe that we should (and can) be holy;
3. I believe that we should (and can) win the world;
4. I believe that lots of people are going to hell forever (some who never got saved, and some who lost their salvation);
5. I believe that signs and wonders and prophetic and deliverance will play a big role in winning the world;
6. I believe that charismatic cell-based Christian communities are the most effective means of accomplishing mission today;
7. I believe that God can do something unprecedented with The Salvation Army.
8. I believe that The Salvation Army is a revolutionary movement of covenanted warriors exercising holy passion to win the world for Jesus.
9. I believe that covenant is the only hope of avoiding the international fragmentation of The Army within 20 years.

They are an excellent summation of salvationism. I’d want to add something about our call to the poor – the lost the last and the least, but otherwise great. Actually, they are in essence a good summary of all the good stuff that has been coming Stephen himself for the last decade, its the emphasis of every faithful salvationist and I hope that people would hear those things under my ministry.

Those nine little sentences evoke hope, faith, vision and joy and are just an excellent reminder of what I, as a Salvation Army officer, am about.

In this last year or so, you’ve probably noticed, I’ve had some serious doubts and concerns, not about God or my faith, but about my calling and more specifically, my calling as a Salvationist. No doubt they are from the enemy, trying to divert me off track. However, God – gracious, faithful and merciful as he is – has used this last year in a serious time of solidifying and confirming…not to mention shaping and refining. I maybe needed it again just to confirm that resolve of my heart.

I am sincerely in a place today where I can thank God for it all.

Like Stephen said when he posted them, there are some who don’t sign up to this for whatever reason, either through ignorance or through determined objection, perhaps. We can’t always do much about the determined objectors, but there is certainly great purpose in teaching and instructing those who just haven’t heard salvationism described in these ways.

It is my hope, over the next nine blogs, to take each statement and just give comment. Hope you’ll tune in and wade in with your tuppence.

Going for Souls

We’ve been teaching the 4 points to pretty much everyone linked with our corps here. I keep going on about it, I know, but this is by far one of the best ways I’ve come across so far in equipping everyday folks for their witness. Its ‘power to the people’ – something which doesn’t always happen very easily! For the ‘evangelist’ types it seems simplistic and maybe not th most effective method, but for people who aren’t majorly gifted in the evangelism dept, its great.

Tonight we shared with with our Kids Alive kids, gave them one of the little bands (which they were well chuffed with) and was just great to hear them go out the door sharing the gospel with each other! Lord give us what we need to nurture those seeds and see them bear great harvest for the Kingdom!

There are only a few of us in our corps. We’re going all out in sharing the gospel in these next couple of weeks leading up to Easter. We’re praying that boundless salvation will flow. We’re praying that the Holy Spirit will come and cement the Word we share and produce the fruit (godly sorrow that leads to repentance -2 Cor 7:9-11). We’re pressing for souls because there is nothing more important. There are other things that are important, but still, what does it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his soul? (Matt 16:26; Mk 8:36; Luke 9:25).

Some of you will find that this gospel makes more sense to the poor. Why? Some of these guys have a lot of fertilizer in their lives! It truly is good news to the poor as opposed to the rich young ruler who walked away sad. Camel, needle, eye.

Remember the last, the lost and the least, in your sharing.

2020 Vision

Some years ago, there was a lot of hype about 2020 vision in this territory.  The idea is that 2020 is a number that symbolises perfect vision, but also reminds us of the fact that statistical decline shows serious consequences for the SA UKT by the year 2020.  There isn’t much about this at all in the recent years.  No idea what happened.

However, having had those thoughts about the whole 2020 thing, imagine my surprise when I came across a new initiative by the South Queensland Division, Australia, through facebook.

Their vision, spearheaded by the Divisional Commander, is to see a life giving Division with 60 Mission Centres – liberating lives,transforming communities, advancing God’s kingdom. 

The group on facebook shows signs too that people are taking the challenge seriously and that its producing focus and results to, so early.  This is a great example of clear, inspiring and empowering divisional leadership.

I hear too much of decline.  I hear too much about hopelessness, so much in fact that I got sucked into beginning to believe it.  If this thing called the Salvation Army is to be true to God in these next ten or so years, it really needs to stand up. 

What a vision…60 vibrant Mission Centres – liberating lives, transforming communities, advancing God’s Kingdom.  Great thing is that I really picked up that the division were doing so much to facilitate it to through provision of training, encouragement and vision casting.  I’ll be watching with interest.

Meantime, what a vision to consider – vibrant mission centre – liberating lives, transforming communities, advancing God’s Kingdom.  Amen!   Amen?

Missional weight

Things are progressing well on our front. I’d say its a steady advance. We’re also becoming slimmer in some areas to enhance our effectiveness. Its like taking the extra pair of boots out of your backpack to make you a bit lighter on your feet. This is an important thing to do. It may be that as you walk along the road, you’ll find something that you really need to pick up and put in the space that you’re old boots once occupied.

In Salvation Army terms, we often find it traumatic to stop doing a thing. We see it a sense of failure (espeically when it comes to a musical section perhaps – and I don’t say that without quaiilification, as we’ve experienced having to do that!) and don’t often see any benefit from not doing a thing.

There was a timely reminded on armybarmy blog in the last couple of days with regards to ‘limitation.’ Essentially, SC was saying that the missionary situation in our world means that there is never a shortage of work to be done. Of course. We do know the reality, however, in that whilst the mission needing doing in the community is not limiting, sometimes our corps environment is. I believe thats where leaders in particulr have to be strong in helping corps discover a strong sense of mission.

Lighter isn’t essentially weaker. It can often mean that its easier to respond, easier to act, easier to adapt and adopt. Having said that, if being weighty is acheiving the results, then thats the main thing. I think there is a firm who have ‘Just do it’ as their mantra…not a bad one for us.