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Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Greatest Challenges Facing The Salvation Army Today



Founders Day 2012 was an opportunity to reflect on The Salvation Army, its history, its ministry, its highs and its lows.

I preached from these above notes recently at Palmerston Salvation Army (NT, Australia).

The topic?

The Greatest Challenges Facing The Salvation Army Today


I must confess... These are my insights, from my perspective, at this point in my ministry journey, and in this particular moment of time. Maybe you will agree with some of these challenges, and maybe you can help me refine them, and possibly add some others.

I spoke of the following challenges that The Salvation Army faces globally today:

  • The ability of The Salvation Army to adapt its methods in an ever-changing society to fulfil its God-given mission, while retaining the unique personality of The Salvation Army and the fundamentals of its belief system.
  • Pressure to conform The Salvation Army's theology to more inclusive, relaxed theologies, that potentially 'water-down' or compromise its core beliefs. (This may get you talking!)
  • Communicating a BOLD vision. Why is this a challenge? Failing to communicate and embrace a holistic, sold-out, biblical vision for the future, will breed apathy and complacency. Keeping the mission, vision and values of The Salvation Army at the forefront helps us keep our eyes fixed on what matters and to not be too distracted by the peripheries. With a bold vision that inspires, soldiers, officers, employees and volunteers of The Salvation Army are more likely to stay focused on the mission, and be able to celebrate when they witness the vision unfolding around about them! 
  • Anti-Christian ideals make it difficult for The Salvation Army in some contexts, for example, having a long-lasting impact upon some Islamic countries, is a challenge.
  • Financing the work of The Salvation Army is a global challenge. Much of the first-world funds the third-world. How do we ensure longevity of Salvation Army ministry in places where finances are hard to come by?
  • Lastly, William Booth's was quoted as saying:
    • 'In answer to your inquiry, I consider that the chief dangers which confront the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, and heaven without hell.'

The Salvation Army amongst other faith communities, as well as businesses, non-for-profits, sporting groups, etc, all face challenges. This is a broad stroke that attempts to capture some of the challenges relevant to The Salvation Army, from my perspective, at this moment in time. You may have some ideas to add to this list, or elements that you would refine.

Pete.

1 comment:

  1. Major Stephen Court comments on the points I made: http://armybarmyblog.blogspot.com.au/

    The ability of The Salvation Army to adapt its methods in an ever-changing society...

    sc- always a challenge, but for a movement one of the foundational principles of which is adaptation, we’re well up to the challenge as long as:
    i. We aren’t concerned more for our reputation, credibility, and cashflow more than our principles, people, and propagation of the Gospel;
    ii. We aren’t more concerned about ensuring risk management than in taking risks;
    iii. We aren’t more concerned with occupational health and safety regulations than we are in Salvation Army orders and regulations;
    iv. We aren’t more concerned with looking good and living ‘well’ than in imitating Christ and crucifying the sinful nature with its lusts;
    v. We don’t limit Holy Spirit;
    vi. We keep our covenants.

    Pressure to conform The Salvation Army's theology to more inclusive, relaxed theologies...

    sc- This has also been a challenge through the years, one we’ve handled pretty well (though doctrines 1, 9, 10, 11 get knocked about from generation to generation). We’re up to the challenge as long as:
    i. We don’t get infatuated with our intimidated by credentials (flouted by those tempting) and ‘higher’ education (being earned by those being influenced);
    ii. We know our HandbookS of Doctrine as well as we know the latest best sellers by the currently trending authors and speakers and theologians;
    iii. We train our recruits (and cadets) properly so that they know what they’re doing when they sign their covenants (and then, we keep our covenants)…

    Communicating a BOLD vision.

    sc- In the past we’ve argued that having a local vision is highly over-rated. Why? We already have the vision for The Salvation Army – the world for God. There is nothing grander than that, anyway. So instead of investing lots of time and energy in dreaming up some catchy slogan to express our local vision we might do better to fight with all that we are to see the global Army’s vision realized as we win the world for Jesus. So, we’ve got the BOLD vision that Brookshaw wants. The challenge is communicating it.

    Financing the work of The Salvation Army is a global challenge.

    sc- Finance can drive the Gospel. Hallelujah. There are different approaches to this, not unlike different personal approaches to cartridges. One school suggests that we make money and save it and invest it, and fire off our 10% loyally, ensuring that we have money for decades to come, from which we can fire off our 10% faithfully… Globally this looks like current giving from FITs (Financially Independent Territories) to GATs (Grand-Aided Territories). The other school gives as much as it can now and tomorrow and the next day to try to win the world for Jesus now, and if it isn’t won by bedtime trusts that God will provide tomorrow. Globally that might look like liquidating accounts from the FITs and investing them directly into the salvation war now. I don’t know that it gets any more radical a suggestion than that (because, either we win the world for Jesus or we go flat broke).

    Lastly, William Booth's was quoted as saying:
    'In answer to your inquiry, I consider that the chief dangers which confront the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, and heaven without hell.'

    So much can be said on this one. We experience each of these challenges weekly ourselves and believe that we’re not alone. So God help us recognize the challenge and be up to it.

    http://armybarmyblog.blogspot.com.au/

    ReplyDelete

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