Spent the afternoon with some interesting people. Was doing some hospital chaplaincy as part of training. The chaplain thought it would be a good idea for us to go to what is, I think, the ward the chaplains don’t like to go to. Its basically the ward for homeless guys, folks on heroin, akward people who are not “normal” enough to be around “normal” people. People who are dying and too offensive for anyone else to have to look at, apparently. So, I wonder if you can figure out where I saw more of Jesus this afternoon? Was is sitting in the office at the back fo a draughty chapel with 4 priests drinking coffee? Or was it talking to a little Glasgow lady about her emphasima and how she used to go dancing at the Dennistoun Palais? Or the heroin addict whose mother had just popped in to tell him his brother had died of the same disease that plagues him?

Often I have the idea that I am taking Jesus to these places and people and again and again I find him sitting in front of me saying “how are you going to respond to me today Andrew?” For the most part I stumble for words, desperate to find something to bring up in conversation, but at the end of the day its all a Jesus thing. Good to be there.

Andrew

So, The Salvation Army in the UK is undergoing abit of a revolution in our stuff for youth. The new brand of “Salvation Army for a new generation” has been launched and Alove+ is its name. Sounds a bit wierd on first hearing, but I have to admit that the vision has grown on me.

Attending the youth rally, it made me feel about 90, but hey, I am a dad, I must be entitled to feel a little older! I’m guessing it was the 1,000,000 decibel music, but hey, I’ve never heard “O Boundless Salvation” sung with quite so much fire, heart and soul!

So, this Alove is a 21C version of agape. The early Christians were sick of “love” being thrown around, so they create a new word for love…agape…GOd’s special love. And yeah, our generation needs new definition of love in contrast to lust, adoration, puppy love, liking something very much (i.e chocoate, tv shows, clothes). So, on that basis I love it. It has to be right for today.

And what a provocative logo it is. Its like ALOVE+ (the plus is a cross) in flashing red neon, pulsating and in yer face. Would look fabulous in any red light district, but hey, that wasnt a criticism. From my experiences of ministry in London’s Soho every Monday, Soho is a place people like to be! It speaks of a red hot passion and I just hope and pray our youth catch it like a serious dose of the flu! I hope it pains them, consumes them, makes their eyes run. I’m guessing that alot of them are looking for an excuse to live like they know they ought, and I pray this is an opportunity.

The reference was made to that love story that began in Brixton with the meeting of two hearts, William and Catherine Booth…they even thought of calling it Brixton1851, but though it should be wider than a London thing. It was fab to see teenagers getting the idea as the day went on. Connecting with the core of who we are as a movement.

It seemed to be going down like the titanic for a bit, but it wasn;t too long before to started to make sense. Anyhow, the key focus of this new thing is going to be dynamic faith, radical lifestyle, adventurous mission and a fight for social justice. That sounds like war and revolution to me! Tre Sheperd (leader of the abnd 100 hours) even suggested that it was time the Salvation Army started standing on the streets in weird clothers playing outrageous music for Jesus again! I just really pray that these guys get a hold of this and show the rest of us what its going to be.

They have to set the pace for the next Salvation Army. I pray that the Spirit will start pumping through veins of our youth. I encountered a few young guys testerday. For a moment I doubted that anything could actually inspire them for passionate Christianity. But really, there is no room for doubt, we have to believe it for them, and hey, if we’re young enough, get stuck into it with them!

Its awesome, and I think its going to turn out to be a God thing.

Go for it, live the live of ALOVE+

Andrew

So, here it begins. I have to admit that I am a man with an agenda. Yes of course, to see the Kingdom of God grow and expand to all nations, for people to find salvation and grow in holiness. But more specifically, that people will once again The Salvation Army and all those who we win will walk again in the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit.

I discovered today, by mistake almost, that during the 1960s there was a huge split at the William Booth College for training officers in London. The Evangelist Session started its life with around 200 cadets and after the first year of training was down to 100. Why? Because 100 people felt that they had to leave The Salvation Army because of reticence to move in the gifts of the Spirit. WOW! What a sad year that must have been.

I am spilt on what I think on this. First thing that comes to mind is “deserters.” The people who left undoubtedly left The Army at a critical stage in its history. I think 100 spirit-filled, charis-oriented people would have made a huge impact in The Army of its day. Perhaps their commitment to the movement would have meant that we would have avoided the dogmatism and legalizing, cold formality that existed in the Salvation Army at that time. Why did they desert? Surely they were on the brink.

But then, how powerful a statement is the departure of 100 leaders from a movement en-masse. Huge! A huge lesson to be learned. So, I guess we say thanks to those who were bold enough to leave everything for that principle. I guess that there was a degree or resistance in the college and in leadership in general. These days we cannot afford to have a reluctance in these things. The harvest is plentiful, even if we don’t always see it or get off our seats to bring it in.

So, my agenda has been made clear. The Salvation Army needs to see what it is to walk in the Spirit within the regiment. We can be too quick to throw away this thing we call The Salvation Army and the Spirit in which we do our warfare. Not that I am advocating tradition for traditions sake…I am advocating an aggressive spirituality and mentality that is heroic and passionate. My fuel has been flamed by many, by Captain Steve Court of http://www.armybarmy.com fame. By Captain Geoff Ryan who constantly challenges my boxed image of salvationism. But where is the UK equivalent? We have some fantastic officers in the UK. We have fantastic people like Wall and Rook. But who will there be who will dare to commit to covenant with God “out of the spotlight” in the frontline of mission in the United Kingdom.

I am in the Army because I caught a glimpse of something consuming, something revolutionary…little did I know that I had joined a movement which in many places had lost its fire. But my sense of “something more” has urged me on and God has shown me.

William Booth once said “Your days at the most cannot be long, so use them to the best of your ability for the Glory of God and the benefit of your generation.”

Its going to look different, sound different, smell different, march to a different beat, sing to a different songbook, but The Salvation Army is God’s and he will lead it. I commit myself again to living as God has called me. I commit myself to taking seriously this God metaphor and to live my life as an officer in The Salvation Army

yours in the fight

Andrew Clark