A few thoughts on ‘Brigades’

I wanted to publish that section of the 1930s Orders and Regs for Corps Officers for a few reasons. Firstly, because it seems to me that it contains much of the 1914 Orders and Regs for Wards, the Army’s prototype cell groups derived from Wesley’s class system. Secondly, because they are a great picture of living intentionally in a mission mode.

Now, of course, it is a document of its time. Sometimes we have challenges looking at documents like this and so automatically dismiss them of no value, but there is treasure in here to be mined.

Here is the basic concept, as it was then. You have a corps. You assign each person, everyone from I suppose convert/recruit/adherent to soldier/local officer to a brigade. Some of those brigades may already be in existance and if thats the case, great (eg band, songsters etc) and the ones that aren’t involved, you create on for them.

These people are given leadership by a Brigade Leader, who is in essence, a mini corps officer responsible for pastoral oversight, and employment in the salvation war. The brigades get assigned to a part of the corps district and focus on that area for outreach, community work and for gathering together as a sub-expression of the corps.

Pastoral care happens (and not just as the corps officer). Mission happens. Evangelism happens. Serving the poor happens. Total mobilisation happens.

I’m thinking of places I’ve seen this in operation. I have to say that the Ward System we initiated at Pill was an attempt at this…as I say, I can identify much of the 1914 O&R for Wards in that 1930 reg. Wards had within them a ‘brigade’ system, but here we see the other way around. I’m guessing the wards were seen as maybe too difficult to set up alongside existing systems like band etc, and so they update the whole brigade idea.

Anyway, yes, we tried this in Pill and although the corps have now re-named and gone down the ‘cell’ route, I think much of the same essence is still in existence, praise God.

Other systems I’ve seen currently have to be at Holy Trinity Brompton (large Anglican church in London, home of the Alpha Course), who have what are called Pastorates. These are, in essense, ‘Brigades’. They meet together (maximum of 40 people) for worship, bible teaching, encouragement, pastoral care under two leaders, male and female. They meet in geographical areas across London and I understand several of them have gone on to either adopt dying churches or form their own under the umbrella of HTB. They produce a little booklet called ‘Pastorates’ and its available from HTB. HTB is certainly a church that many seek to emmulate.

Of course, there are still soem brigades active in the Army, but I’m not sure if there are entire corps where this brigade approach is operating.

This to me is about total mobilisation and involvement of the whole corps in mission and in mutual support, care, nourshment, sharpening and encouragement of each other. None of the 80/20 thing where 20 percent of the people do 80 per cent of the work. In that sense, these are wholistic small groups, if you’re in NCD language.

I still maintain that this could be an effective pattern for mission if viewed through a 21st century lens. As Major Stephen Court says, these Os & Rs have not been tried and found wanting…its more that they have been deemed irrelevant and therefor not tried. I think, in fact, he is offering $1000 AUD to someone who tries this system and can prove that it doesn’t lead to growth!! We have a very small corps here at Torry, but we’re using this as a pattern as we build, albeit from a very low base.

Anyway, have a think on these things. Could it help any cell groups/house groups you currently have? Could it develop your surviving brigades (songsters, band, corps cadets/youth group, Home League)? Don’t like the terminology….well change it if you like. I’d simply love to see a day with a greater mobilised soldiery, a less one-man-band officership and a steady increased influence in the lives of our communities in which we live.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this concept. Not particularly interested in ‘can’t see this ever happening in the Army’ – more interested in comments on the effectiveness, or otherwise of the system. Also, there is also a danger of using surviving brigades (such as band or songsters) as a bench mark…don’t be distracted by the narrowness of these groups, and think wider to the other aspects of them.


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.

Five Year Review

I guess I’ve had a bit of time now to process the ‘process’ of my five year review in London last week. I thank God, first of all, for the encouraging input of those who were ‘assessing’ us. Thanks too, to those who were involved who read this blog. I still don’t know the results, although I can’t perceive any conditions that might be put upon our continuing in officership.

You’ve no idea how much I needed the assurance coming from that few days. Sometimes you fight on and you wonder if anyone ‘gets’ what you are trying to do and be. I guess after a difficult year of internal stuff, I’m gradually getting to the place where I feel that I am becoming ready to step up to the plate more and more. It annoys me that I had to step back in the first place!

We’ve had a great breadth of experience in our 5 years of officership and another 3 in corps leadership on top of that. It has shaped our life. We have a strong sense of God preparing us, not just for the now, but for the tasks and appointments yet to come.

It was refreshing too that although the process has been designed by someone assessing officers as ‘pastors and administrators’, new leaders taking over this years process realise they must do more than that. I sense a gradual change at that ‘higher level’ of a change in mindset from officership as a ‘jack of all trades’ to officership as a route of service for leaders expressing an aspect of Ephesians 4 ministries.

Good too to hear some thinking about how officer training should look. I reflected back to the group that training college prepares officers to lead the status quo. William Booth College needs to be a place where leaders are trained. There is the difference between training effective leaders and training people to fulfil a organisational role. I look forward to the day when WBC becomes a leadership college as opposed to an academic institution. Our movement needs that positive shift.

The Model Officer

I’ve just come back from officers ‘retreat’ which was a good few days. Several things were helpful: the rest, the fellowship, the conversation, the good teaching by Majors Peter & Val Mylechreest. It was also good, like I said before, to reflect on stuff a year on from some pretty serious conversations we had at the last event re calling, officership etc.

One thing that came through strong over the few days was the ‘model’ of officership that was being discussed as if it were pretty much the only one. Officership was defined on several occassions as pastoring, preaching and administration.

Now, my ministry includes all of that, all of that is necessary. I’m better at some of it that I am at others. But as surely as the Lord lives, surely officership is much more than that.

It is, of course. Isn’t it?

The Model Officer is Jesus. And he wasn’t so much a General, as a regular captain who, at every turn, refused any title or position of authority thrust upon him all for the sake of what his Father taught him to do. Jesus was a pastor, preacher, apostle (as in sent), teacher and evangelist. He was the model officer. He came to invite us to follow him, to do as he did and be as he was and is. An Isaiah 61 ministry like he announced in Luke 4.

I don’t have a ministry. Mission is God’s, its part of his character, part of his purpose and as part of that he sends us like he sent Jesus, like Jesus sent the Holy Spirit. When I ‘do’ ministry its rubbish. When I do God’s ministry, I’m a co-worker with him and he does things that I could never imagine.

I am tired, in a sense, of self-introspection when it comes to ‘ministry performance.’ Coming up for my five year review, I’ve filled in a myriad of forms and questionnaires about my ministry. Now, I know that accountability comes in, and I am all for that, 110%. But since when has the mission of God all depended on me? or on you?

To me, officership is about being released from regular employ to seek to emmulate my Rabbi, Jesus, who has called me to follow him and do what he does, to learn from him in listening to what the father is commanding today. That will involve a pastoral conversation, and evangelistic conversation, a fight for justice and standing for the oppressed, it will involve leadership of God’s people in how we engage with the mission of God, it will involve bringing light on the teachings of the Word too.

I’m not the Messiah (you’ll be glad to know), I am not called to give my life as the sacrifice to pay for the sin of Torry, but I AM called to learn from Jesus. I’m called to live for him, like him, through him and with him that the world might see Jesus in me. Its all about doing the will of the Father, empowered by the Spirit in the fashion of Jesus.

Its not just officers who are called to live like Jesus like this, of course, not saying that at all, but what I am simply saying is that those of us who are called into leadership in the Army, this is where I believe we must start.

I’m waiting for someone to ask me how much my ministry looks like the ministry of Jesus.

Primitive Assertion!

Much of life, at the moment, is about getting on with it, thankfully! I certainly don’t say that in any negative sense. As I head off to officers ‘retreat’ tomorrow I’m very much aware that I am attending as someone in a very different situation than last year, where I was regretably doubting whether I would be able to continue in officership. That all seems somewhat distant although thats not to say that there are not some things I’m working on seeking to influence or change for the better in our movement.

Primitive Salvationism for me is about rediscovering the bold pioneering spirit of this movement. Its about adapting from anyone’s book if it works. Its about passionate and fresh spirituality. Its about pentecostal daring, with full empowering by God and annointing by the Holy Spirit. Its about the empowerment of ‘everyday’ people in the work of God. Its pertaining to the origins, living to our birthright and celebrating our heritage, yet not becoming entrenched in dead traditionalism.

Essentially, the word ‘primitive’ shouldn’t have to appear there at all. Salvationism should be like that, full stop. This is not always a reflection of our state though, especially here in the UK. Thats not to say that people don’t get saved in the myriad of expressions of Salvationism. God has his way of working in spite of us, of course. It is to say though, that we all often (myself included) need to trace ourselves back to our source to rediscover the power and potency and spiritual vibrancy of our salvationism.

A year on, I’m even more convinced of the essential return to primitive salvationism. There may still be some who will ridicule the very idea, but then that is simply big adventures in missing the point!

God bless The Salvation Army! God grant us a double portion of your Spirit than that which you placed upon the hearts and shoulders of our forebears and may we prove ourselves worthy of the calling God has given us by his grace.

Back! (…..I hope!)

Well, thankfully it seems like internet is behaving if ever so briefly. So, here goes for the first post in about a month…takes a while to get back in the swing of things after such a long gap!

Its been fun adjusting to a new style of ministry again. For example, other than when covering at other corps (twice), I haven’t preached since July; ministry is now very much at the ‘coal face’ and not ‘back at the barracks;’ I’m finding great benefit in having the opportunity to be fed by others (yes, even outside the Army!); I’m engaged again, along with the Street Pastors initiative, in street work which is life and soul to me; I’m back at the ‘easy’ stage of just making mission happen instead of trying to cojoul others to do it…you get the picture. I guess there is enough going on to overshadow the tedium that accompanies some of what has become officership.

Our small team here at Torry seems to be coming together fine and people work so hard. They respond so well to leadership and are just so willing to do what they can to build the kindgom. This is no ‘yes Captain’ mentality though, this is people who see a need, hear a solution, who critically engage with it before giving it a jolly good go. I just have to salute them…good practical salvationism. We’re a motely crew, but I reckon God smiles on us.

When I think over the last year, two years perhaps, I’m looking back at a shaky road. Its has no doubt been a time of much testing. I hope I’m at this end of it much stronger. I apologise to those who have been affected by my ‘testing’. I’d also like to apologise to those who’ve heard words of ‘retreat’ from me with regards to all I’ve taught and spoken in regards to covenant (soldiers and officers). I’m sorry to those who’ve thought of me as someone firm and grounded but have struggled to see me shake a bit. I have struggled, and you no idea how much I’d rather it would have been different, but I’ve seriously struggled to see how I fit into the Army. Yet all along, I know exactly where I should be. I’m in it ’till I die.’ That is as firm as I can get.

There have been some big health things for me, mentally, physically and even spiritually. There have been challenging theological things to work through. There have been loyalty issues, covenant issues, and all sorts. I’ve learnt to thank God for those…we must. They make us who we are.

Having ‘been through the water’ I’m feeling much more on solid ground. You’ve no idea how much I hope that ‘normal service has resumed!’



I went to the doctors a couple of weeks ago to have a medical done so that I can drive our minibus here at the corps. I just, only just, passed it because my eyesight, without my glasses on, is only just on the required figure.

“Your vision is only just good enough” said the good doctor.

In my heart, my vision is huge. The struggle, with any vision I think, is how to get it out of the heart, onto the paper and more importantly, into action. I’ve spent these last months since end of July doing very little other than trying to listen to the Lord. The enemy has intercepted some of this time with annoying distractions such as health and other stuff, but its been a valuable time of listening to God and to others in the community.

I’m going to start speaking hypothetically here, because although we have a few firm plans for development on our Torry front, we have still so many gaps. What I’m writing now is certainly what might be how Torry and our work here looks, but its mainly what is on my heart as a Salvation Army officer and how I see ministry.

I guess, in terms of values and ‘ideology’ my framework is very much that of the 614 network although, as you’ll see later, when it comes to methodology I may differ in vision slightly. The 614 network hinges on the passage of scripture in Isaiah 61, but verse 4 specifically

They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.

In that context of the city, we want to be making plans to give people a hope and a future…not just for heaven, but here on earth (cf Jeremiah 29:11).

Rebuild, restore, renew, plans, hope, future.

Discussions are already underway in Torry becoming 614 Torry to identify ourselves with that theological framework. The netork is quite diverse in expressions of corps, although there are two or three who are what you could call ‘primitive salvationist’ which is much of where my mission ‘pattern’ lies. There are, of course, strong cross overs in any ‘stream’ attepting to capture the essense of The Army.

Primitive Salvationism is ‘charismatic-flavoured, mission-focussed, heroism.’

– its about operating in the strength and power of the Holy Spirit; fully open to all the the Holy Spirit might accomplish in and through us, believing on Him for more, being free to engage in mission as the Spirit enables!


– it is about recovering a heart for the lost and a passion for the gospel. It is about the desire to move beyond maintaining the status quo to being driven by our God given mission.

– it is about recognising that we are to be voices for the oppressed and suffering as well as being lifters up of the fallen. The world is in the grip of hell…we are sent to the rescue!

In very practical terms: committed to evangelism, outpost planting (through initiatives such as mmccxx to see corps/outposts started in 2000 cities in 200 countries within 20 years), strong commitment to prayer, focus on authentic Christian community by building cell/ward corps, incarnational ministry to the poor, with a strong commitment to training up covenanted warriors to engage in the fight.

With all that as my own personal sort of ‘vision for ministry’ there then simply comes to the questioning as to how the Lord wants to see it in the front I’ve been deployed to. Thats the exctiting bit. Its where the tyres hit the runway!

So, there you have it, my vision for my officership…this is what God has been forging in my heart for these last 13 years as a Salvationist and I thank God for it. If I could keep sight it it more clearly, I’d do better, but by the grace of God I’ll win!

(Credit to Lieutenant Peter Lublink at pointful.ca for the artwork used here)

Rescue shop…

So that CT Studd quote really sticks in your brain…

“Some want to live within the sound of church or chapel bell; I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell.”

It struck me today when I came across it again and its just been on my mind all day. Being a sort of visual person, that whole thing just speaks volumes to me. It reminds me of a discussion I had at bible college with a good friend of mine, Jim.

Although he was much more of a lad than me, we come from similar backgrounds and similar conversions. We lived in the same town, in the same culture and I guess paid the price in different ways for it. We got to talking…in fact, we were praying and we talked to God about this stuff. The whole thing of wanting to be in the business of rescuing people from Hell. We’d been rescued, you see, and we wanted to do the same. Jim now runs a great youth project in Ayr, near where we were brought up. He is literally altering the lives of young people in our home county and although the website may not give the impression, Jim is an active evangelist and won’t be missing the opportunity to share with these kids.

If I suppose if I were to reflect on what the last 4 years as a commissioned officer and 2.5 years as a lieutenant has done to me I’d have to say that I know for a fact what God created me to do.

The struggle over these last few months has simply been a refining of that assuredness. I’m Salvationist to the core. I am extreme, I am passionate, I am a burning fire. My heart is to be seeking the lost, rescuing the poor, lifting the fallen, changing the world.

Yeah, sure, I do some of that. But my officership is a poor reflection of who I am most of the time. I had been feeling trapped with officership, but I know it shouldn’t be this way. When you take a few steps back and consider The Army, I guess its easy to be feeling trapped by it. Our autocratic heirarchy is fine when it is releasing and effectively managing resources to fuel the mission, but when its not…its a monster. Can any of us disagree with that?

We have so much freedom as officers, but there is also the expectations. No-one expects their officers to be radicals these days. For me, Salvationism is about taking the gospel to people. I’ve served in a few corps now, and I’ve so often met resistance to be taking the gospel anywhere outside the four walls of the sanctuary…and thats not a Wick specific thing. I want to be out there all the time. What Salvationism SHOULD be is a creative environment where the key thing is inspiring, mobilising and equipping soldiers for the fight…as an officer, thats what I’m trying to create for the people I try to lead. Eleanor Burne-Jones tells me that this is what Andy Roxborough hints at in his book Missional Leadership.”

This is what I do for myself. I immerse myself in all that will help me to wage war effectively because out of that environment comes me! The conflict of identity comes when I ask myself why I am not the me outside that I am inside. I just never seem to be able to be the person I am. I could blame the enemy, the Army, the corps and all those things have a part, it is fundamentally about me. The downside of this is that I begin to get frustrated because people don’t see the same vision or have the same outlook. I don’t just want to avoid ‘living within the sound of the church bell’, I get angry about those who are content to dwell there when all around them people are sinking.

We are surrounded by people going to hell…unless they are saved. That is the bottom line. I need to lose my life, myself, my pride, my timidity and step forward behind Jesus, for Jesus…to do something about the lost. I want to be leading people to Jesus more and more, praying for people, talking with people, blessing people, speaking prophetically to the community about the coming of the Kingdom to them. I have opportunities surrounding me each day, I’ve got the ideas, the passion and God knows I’ve got the heart but what I lack is the courage.

I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell.

Here I am, send me.


We can be very comfortable in the church in accepting the role of the pastor, teacher and evangelist. To some extent we’re content with the prophet until he/she says something we don’t like, but the apostolic ministry is something many of us have trouble with or simply don’t recognise.

There are three sense in which ‘apostles’ existed/exist.

First, there are those who saw the resurrected body of Jesus and were given the great commission first. We call them ‘the apostles’. I am sure you know the linguistic roots of the word simple means the ones what are sent. In that sense, Jesus was the first great apostle because he was sent from the Father and he then says to the disciples, now I send you. So there is that first pioneer apostles, which included Paul because the Lord also appeared to him and gave him that initial commission.

Second, there are apostles today. Ephesians 4 clearly says that apostles are given for the church today. Of course, not in the sense of ones who’ve seen the risen body of the Lord in front of them, but in the sense that they are called and annointed with a ministry of starting new churches and pioneering in new places with new ways, providing new wineskins for the new wine. In that way, you could say William Booth was clearly an apostle.

Thirdly, there is a sense in which the whole church has to be apostolic without everying necessarily being apostles. In the same way that not all are evangelists but all occassionally do evangelism, I feel the church is called to be ‘apostolicly’ mobile in as much as we’re all sent, we all have that commission upon us. We must be boldly asking the questions ‘what is it you are asking me to do?’ I believe God may have an apostolic task for many of us in the sense of there being some thing he is asking us to do to advance the gospel in the world to stretch the church out and lead it to widen the skirts of its tent (thats Isaiah speak…check it out).

Why do I say all this? I guess Tracy and I are both sensing we’re about to be stepping out on an apostolic assignment. We’re leaving behind our key roles as teacher/pastor (Tracy) and prophet/evangelist (me) to a place which is clearly apostolic. All that God has been teaching us both in recent days and months has fuelled apostolic passion in us both. The appointment to Torry has finally made sense of all that we’ve sensed we’ve been called to begin building. Its an ideal place for creating new wineskines because there is very little at Torry at the moment.

I smile at the ‘the Clarks have been demoted’ school who still live in the world of moving from small corps to larger corps, to medium corps to big corps. I think my mother-in-law (and maybe others) thinks we’re taking steps backwards. Actually, if ever we’ve had a sense of being sent, its now.

More on Torry and the road there

So yeah….Aberdeen Torry is our new appointment which we will take up in August. It is a distinct community just south of the city centre of Aberdeen.

Torry contains a couple of the poorest 5% neighbourhoods in the whole of Scotland. In fact, the vast majority of Torry is within the 15% bracket of the poorest communities in Scotland. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not heading there with a million pounds, but I’m heading there with a whole lot of passion to see the broken restored, the oppressed released and the blind see.

At the core of my being, I believe that The Salvation Army only makes sense when we are reaching out to the poor with the life-giving message of the gospel. I think the fact that the Army has become middle class in many places is a sure sign that we’ve successfully managed to transform families and bits of society as we now have long term Salvationists, generations of families, who are ‘well healed’ financially and as far as societal standing goes. The big challenge for the Army is to continually be marching back into the city centres where life is messy or indeed to be lavishly giving to the poor in any setting.

Its probably safe to say that some people think we’re nuts…why we’d leave a lovely town and corps like Wick and all that brings to live in a place like Torry. By faith I can see Torry beautiful…I believe in that scriptural madandate to rebuild, restore and renew places long devastated (Isaiah 61:4).

If you can fill in the pieces and read between the lines of all that I’ve said over the last months it won’t be difficult for you to realise that on a very personal level, I’ve been struggling to work out our calling in the context we’re in. Our move is much more about us trying to follow what we really sense God saying and what we sense he wants to do in us and through us.

The really difficult thing for me has in trying so hard to be a faithful servant to the good folks at Wick I’ve felt increasingly less and less like myself and that I was starting to become someone different to who God made and is making me. There is only so long a person can do that sort of thing. Why did I do that? I guess its what I thought I had to do out of a place of just wanting to serve and trying to make this appointment work. We were appointed here, and duly came here in good faith. I can honeslty say that whilst we sensed the absolute rightness of an appointment in the Northern parts of Scotland, we’ve struggled all along with the ‘rightness’ of Wick. We’ve tried to make it work in faith the Army got it right. And certainly, the year has all been in God’s plan, I am sure of that.

The journey here has involved lots of difficult decisions, desperate conversations, sleepless but prayerful nights to get to this point. There are some people who’ve been on that journey with us, even a couple of people locally who we’ve been able to confide in. For this we are grateful, not only for their support but their discretion as we’ve worked stuff out.

There will not be few who will be having critical thoughts about us at the moment. Colleague officers, soldiers, friends, family. Folks who believe that the appointment system shouldn’t be challenged regardless of what it does or produces. I understand those things. Thing is…following God isn’t always as clear cut as following processes. Don’t we wish it was sometimes?

Anyway…difficult as it is been in getting to this point, it good now to be able to keep up the unwritten policy of my blogging of sharing what’s on my heart. Thanks to all who contribute to the discussion, publically and privately.