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.

Isaiah 61

Isaiah 61:1-4

Anyone who knows me will realise that when it comes to scripture, Isaiah 61 has always been important to me. I’ve had it on my wall, in my wallet etc for a long time. For me its just a perfect picture of ministry in the power of the Spirit in the name of Jesus for the glory of the Father. Jesus was happy to quote it as his mission statement and its why we’re happy to be doing the same here at Torry.

Poetic, idealistic, romantic, strong, powerful, heroic, passionate, transformational…its all those things and much more. Yet the words on the page are but a shadow of a glimpse at its Author. John the gospel writer tells us that we have in Jesus the fulness of this word as ‘The Word’ incarnate. We want to talk up this ‘Word’ as much as we can…not because he needs the publicity, but because everyone should know him.

Lets be all about Jesus in all that we do. The world needs him, I need Him, and so do you.

Under the fence

We’re in a situation here on our front where we have no money (as in much less than zero in our accounts) and we’ve few people (as in soldier fighting force). You could, of course, help us with that by either sending some cash or moving yourself up here, getting a job in our city and moving in. However, prayer for us will do equally as well.

Here is what we have discerened our strategy is. We have a vision to plant small groups across our city…when I say small, I mean we only want two or three in each group. We will start a new group each time it gets to four (the simplest biblical form of ‘church’ is ‘2 or 3’). At some point, when there are enough groups (say 4 or 5) we’ll gather the people together and form a nucleus for a small outpost for public worship and ministry in some form or other. We have 4 areas identified for doing this…4 potential outposts, two that will start in embryo form next week.

Its called ‘Under the Fence Warfare.’ Why? Because we don’t have the resources to go into these communities all guns blazing. All we’ve got is air cover (prayer) and on the ground warriors. We’re not so much basing ourselves ‘Scottish Regiment of the British Army’ but more ‘French resistance’ (low key but strong effort behind enemy lines)

Pray for us as we start going ‘under the fence.’


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)

Vision Alive

I read again in Floyd McClung’s book ‘You See Bones – I see and Army’ the quote “the person with a vision is never at the mercy of people without one.” I was in a coffee shop, having driven the 100 miles to our nearest car servicing garage, and nwow filling up the 5 hour wait with a good book.

The quote just stopped me dead…my heart started to beat fast, and my spirit quickened. I remember the very first time God gave me a real vision of what he wanted from his Army. It must have been about 9 years ago at Roots when the main celebration was still in the Theatre place.

Andrew Grinnell was leading the congregation in ‘The World for God’ and the screen was filled with images of early Army footage…Salvationists marching, old Booth preaching, and all that sort of stuff. Captain Geoff Ryan had just preached, telling stories about the revolutionary Salvationist stuff happening amongs the soldiers in Russia and they were now handing out calls to either pack your stuff and move to Russia or to pack your stuff and move to Manchester to help start the new Eden stuff.

It was a vision of a passionate, aggressive, winning Salvation Army with a radical commitment to discipleship and to the poor.

That evening’s worship changed my life fundamentally. It changed my view of the Army…for the first time I got it. In spite of my crazy conversion, the Army (or the corps) were slowly winning in converting me into a nominal bando. The invite to Roots was a step in God’s divine plan. It blew me away. I can trace my ‘discontent with the status quo’ back to that very evening. Since then, that vision of that kind of Army has been pumping away in my heart and all along I’ve been struggling and striving to make it happen…not in Russia or Manchester, but where I am.

I confess openly that I often fail in this. Sometimes I feel the vision is too big, too huge and subsequently impossible. I’m guilty of often look at the ‘status quo’ and getting the distinct feeling that it has won…that is until God awakens yet again the passion, the vision, the discontent. McClung’s book is dynamite. It’s dangerous reading.

Vision must be shared and shared and shared. It must be sold and communicated and published and refined and shared again. It’s about injecting people, awakening them to discover the DNA of who they are. When people discover this, it just explodes one way or the other.

As Stephen Court was saying on his blog recently, we can be slow to create new wineskins for a wave of the Spirit’s blessing, and God often has to make new skins elsewhere. I firmly believe that the largest threat to any Salvation Army revolution is our tendency to squeeze it into old skins. We try and manage stuff and keep hold of it, package it or legislate it.

My prayer for the Army in these day’s is that we’ll have the willingness to recognise that ‘where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.’ Its crucial that Salvationists in this Territory ask God for his heart and direction and then begin to lead it and live it wherever they are. It can only result in the salvation of the lost…it can only be good.

I had a Dream…

I had a dream last night.

I could see a map of a land with several rivers and waterways. The rivers were covered with a sort of green thick liquid which was polluting the streams. I was scraping the green substance off of the rivers of this map. Someone came up and asked what I was doing, and I said ‘just cleaning up these rivers…do you want to help?’ The, person said yes.

I woke up, remembered it but it wasn’t I prayed about it that God reminded me again of the prophecy he gave me for Scotland last October and again when we recieved our appointment.

The Lord desires to move through you like a north wind, quickening, awakening, helping the church to realise that its time to reap a harvest before the winter. Put your boots on, grab your ploughs and head to the fields for the harvest will be plentiful.

The wind will bring floods flowing down from the mountains of the highlands into the lowlands. There will be streams of running water that will make even the cities polluted streams taste sweet. The streets of cities and villages will be blocked with streams.

Some will set barriers around the streams and mark danger, but clansmen will know no fear and follow the flow to the deep water where the invitation is to get in above the waist.

The Lord has instructed me to do two things. 1)study rivers in the bible. 2)invite people to offer to pray into this vision and work and live to see it happen.

I’ll be sure to blog the outcome of my river study.