Saturday, November 19, 2016

A Salvation Army Wake Up Call

9 comments:

I don't want another ecclesiastical corps, or social centre, or small group or council meeting or mainly music program, cumbering the earth. When The Salvation Army ceases to be a militant body of red hot men and women, whose business is the saving of souls, I hope it vanishes utterly.

Though, I'm not ready for this movement to vanish. I'm not ready for it to be less than what God intended it to be. I'm not ready for this blood and fire movement to become a monument; where a decade from now we have some distant memory of well attended Congresses and Sunday School meetings, when the Lord used to do great and powerful things.

Though, here's the thing:

If the middle majority remain silent, the movement dies. And that's the work of the enemy. Silence the troops. That's not the work of flesh and blood, but it's the clear strategy of the evil one. Shut them up. If I can just get them to shut their mouths. If I can just get them to choose not to speak out. If I can just get them to cower away in fear, then I've won.

Well, here goes... If you want to help mobilise The Salvation Army you have to stop sleeping and wake up! Revival doesn't come to you served up on a platter with cheese and biscuits. No one said it was going to be easy. You can't sit around and expect the world to conform to the idealistic, Kingdom picture you have for it. You have to soldier up.

You won't find me lamenting about the glory days of The Salvation Army. I believe in a rich future for The Salvation Army. One that upholds the fundamental tenets of faith that made this movement what it is. I believe in a Spirit-filled, Jesus-focused, Justice-expressing, Faith-abiding movement, that wants to win the world for Jesus.

I have settled for less than that in recent days. Devil watch out, because I'm shaking the slumber from my eyes. The light is growing clearer. I'm not going to sit any longer idly by, while the heedless millions die. I lost my voice. You have tried to silence me for too long!

If you're still reading, here's what I want you to do. Understand the context in which you live. Understand what it means to live a prophetic life, that holds culture in tension.

As Court and Noland write in Reinventing the Movement:

Popularly understood, culture is far from the be all and end all for Christians. We’re not about conforming to it; we’re about transforming it. We’re not about cultural awareness as an end, but as a means. And it is awareness, not imitation. Ultimately, we don’t want to become like the culture, we want the culture to become like us.

It's time to stand for Christ. For Christ alone. I'm not going to sing. 

It's time. 

Don't be silent in the middle of the left and right of theological discourse. Wake up. 'Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet!' (Isaiah 58:1-2). Come on. I've heard some of your brass bands. Now raise your voice like a trumpet. Go and tell people what Jesus has done for you!

See, this is why that's important...

A truth not articulated is a truth unheard. A truth unheard is a truth unable to be embraced.

As Court and Noland state:

It is good and nice to save people from thirst, hunger, cold/embarrassment, indigence, unemployment, loneliness, silence, and ignorance. But such a “salvation” is but a human imitation of the divine salvation that we are really all about. Only divine salvation lasts beyond the grave. Human helps are merely that. Don’t settle for a cheap imitation. Insist on the real thing; without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin. AND, without the shedding of sins there is no forgiveness of sin. We are The Salvation ARMY. We are not a metaphor.  

Friends, we must storm the forts of darkness. Anything less underestimates the global context in which we live. Take a look around! Have another look. We are not living out a dress-rehearsal. We are in a spiritual battle.

And in the midst of that battle we have to remember the words of Isaiah:

If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
    with the pointing finger and malicious talk, 

 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday. (58:9b-10)

We have a job to do: United together in the transformative work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Through his life, death and resurrection we have the forgiveness, faith and fortitude to move forward in his name.

I call you to pray.

I call you to repent.

I call you to holiness.

Wake up.

Lest one day you find yourself still sleeping as the bridegroom arrives...


*The contents of this blog reflect the thoughts and opinions of Pete Brookshaw.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Confronting the Brutal Facts of The Salvation Army

17 comments:

You are in for a ride. If you are reading this, brace yourself. Following on from a blog a few months ago called, Why The Salvation Army is in Decline and What we can do about it, I want us to continue our thinking about where The Salvation Army is and what God has in store for it. Though to move forward into a dynamic future one must first confront the reality of where they are.

Let me sidetrack for a moment (and stay with me):
 
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has been in the top job in Australian politics for just over 12 months. That's long enough for the Australian public to demand he show something for his time. Australians want results. Leaders cannot simply provide nice catch phrases like, 'Jobs and growth' and 'I'm so excited about the future.' Leaders must deliver change. The same sentiment goes with President Barack Obama, who had a great approval rating when he first won the election to become President of the United States. People do not just want charismatic rhetoric and inspiring sound-bites on vision, they want action.

Here's my point: It is not enough to simply state that God is going to do great things in the future of The Salvation Army. Forgive me; I've said that 100 times. It is great to say [and I will continue to say it], but without coupling that with the brutal truth about where we are, and how we've got to where we are, pie-in-the-sky vision casting won't cut it.

Now, I'm all for vision. I'm all for gathering a crowd together and unleashing my best efforts in rallying the troops and calling people to action. I am just worried.

I am worried that if we don't step further back and have a deep hard look at ourselves and then make the subsequent difficult changes that need to occur, The Salvation Army will simply coast along, finally crystallizing into a warm and fuzzy historical artifact that we talk about in museums. 

Jim Collins in Good to Great says we need to 'retain faith that [we] will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties.... and at the same time... confront the most brutal facts of [our] current reality, whatever they might be.'

The Australia One Project that seeks to unite two Salvation Army Territory's is leading the way in creating necessary change to forge a new future. The General of The Salvation Army has initiated an accountability movement that aims to embed accountability within our movement.

This is about confronting the brutal facts. See Adam Couchman's 'An exercise in self-deception.'

Now, let me stir you up. If you're still reading, this whole subject intrigues you. Let me lay it on the line for you today and confront some brutal facts (and maybe acknowledge some elephants in the living room) of The Salvation Army.


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Confronting the Brutal Facts of The Salvation Army

1. We no longer make the salvation of people the first purpose of our lives. There may be a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, maybe we are caught up in the endless administrative burden of ministry, and can create a legitimate excuse for why leading people to Jesus just doesn't happen (or atleast does not happen to the degree it did 100 years ago). Secondly, maybe we have lost the art of leading people to Jesus, have not been good at it, and have subsequently built for ourselves a theological framework that conveniently excuses us from such ministry. Thirdly, maybe we no longer have a hunger for souls that the revivalists once had.

[God, send the fire! We long for a great outpouring of your Holy Spirit, that would equip us and empower us to be witnesses to the ends of the earth. May we lead many to the foot of the cross, that they might find fullness of life in Christ!]

2. We have allowed fear to cripple us. Call it a demonic spirit of fear if you like. Jesus needs to deal with this in us! You may ask, what do we fear in The Salvation Army? I'm glad you asked. Firstly, we fear making any great changes that would cause The Salvation Army to become less than what God raised it up to be. We fear losing our identity in the process (that's why we hold on to band concerts, and attempt to revitalize timbrel brigades - because if we can just make things like they used to be, we'll start being successful again). Change need not water-down who we are as a Salvation Army. Good, Spirit-led change may in fact revitalize us to become a movement that reaches heights we never even dreamed of in years gone by! Thirdly we fear we won't have the resources to do that which God wants us to do. We spend too much time seeking after funding in the process. Money follows mission. Let's keep it in that order. The Lord will provide.

[Lord Jesus, we command the spirit of fear to leave The Salvation Army, in Jesus' name. You have not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love and self-discipline. Empower us by the Holy Spirit to walked courageously into a new era of opportunity to see great spiritual outcomes in the lives of the people we minister to.]

3. Our organisational structure has become burdensome. 'No dah,' I just heard someone say. Thanks for your intellectual input in this discussion. You should write blogs like me. I believe Salvation Army leaders are confronting this reality; at least in the Australia Southern Territory they are. The challenge is for leaders with the influence to do so, to make the difficult changes that need to be made to make decision-making agile and quick with a foundation of trust in the transaction of decisions. Enough on that, I'm boring myself.

4. God is not finished with The Salvation Army. That's the brutal fact. Though, I believe, even globally, God is taking The Salvation Army through a refining process. It's difficult and even somewhat painful. We know though, the story of the vine and the branches in John's gospel (John 15:1-17), where Jesus, 'cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful' (15:2). We have become a bloated Army. We have expanded things that should have been cut off years ago, and mistaken pruning for failure. Allow God to prune in you, and in The Salvation Army as a whole that which God wants to prune.

[Lord, we give you free rein to prune us, to chop off things that dishonour you, and rid us of egocentric behaviour that causes us to fail to humble ourselves. Ignite in us a new season of personal, spiritual growth. Re-ignite a Salvation Army that we believe you will use to fulfill your mission in the world. In Jesus' name!]    

Let me finish with these words. We must confront the brutal facts and all the while remain absolutely convinced that we will prevail in the end. Keeping those two concepts together will do us good.

If you believe this article may be helpful to others, please share it. Thanks. God bless.

Please note, the opinions on this blog represent my personal views and do not necessarily align with the views of The Salvation Army.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Why I Quit Salvation Army Complaining.

6 comments:

I like to have a whinge. I mean, don't you as well? Someone cuts me off in traffic and I struggle to stay holy. Someone pushes in at the supermarket and I'm praying for the gift of patience.

And let me give you some other examples. You are going to love this one... The Divisional Commander sends another email with three important action points. The Public Relations Department need your involvement in a fundraising initiative. Someone in the Corps broke their toe-nail again, and it's an emergency.  Someone didn't show up to a rostered-on ministry opportunity. So-and-so let you down again.

We have reason to whinge. Sure. We could justify it. Each of the reasons push our buttons. We feel validated in having a good ole' gossip session with another colleague. We feel justified in complaining about the Corps Officer behind his/her back. We could list 10 reasons why I should be allowed to whinge.

Though, here's my point:

The world doesn't change, when we spend our time whingeing about it.

Revival doesn't come in the midst of cynicism and bad attitudes. It's ushered in, in the midst of passionate, prevailing prayer meetings, couple with innovative, dynamic, Christ-centered mission.

The Salvation Army won't reform and be shaped into God's ultimate design with coalitions of mediocrity gathering around the water-cooler.

Wow, I'm hitting on a nerve here.

I've decided to take a different path. Maybe it's the path less traveled. Now, I'm no saint, but I've just woken up to something recently.

Administration exists. Quite often for good reasons.

We minister in a broken world. Get used to it.

Life is difficult. Not everyone has time to stroke your ego.

The Lord never said ministry was going to be easy. The Lord simply promised he would be with you in the midst of it.

The prevailing culture is not going to stir you up to think outside the box. Most likely the culture is pushing you back in it.

We live in the tension of a Kingdom-here, but a Kingdom yet to be grasped and realised in its entirety. That's why there's still hurt and pain, sickness and untimely death. We live in a world, where we cry out for God's Kingdom come and God's will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

I sense at times, we have unknowingly fostered a culture of entitlement, where everyone wins, and everyone gets what they want. Then, ones world comes crashing down when they collide with a culture that has high expectations of them, that holds them accountable and calls them to a life that puts others above themselves.

I need to be reminded, and Salvation Army, we need to be reminded: Quit complaining.

Now, maybe I sound like I'm complaining and thus become somewhat hypocritical in my writing. Forgive me. I just long for The Salvation Army to go deeper, further and higher. I long for God to challenge me and this movement to grow up IN Christ.

A great move of God came in the early Salvation Army. I like to think it came because prayer meetings were overflowing, people were absolutely sold-out to helping broken people and preaching the gospel, and early Salvationists stay focused on transforming the world for Christ. 

I'm drawing a line in the sand. I will no longer say, 'I'm busy.' Or, 'I'm tired.' I don't want to groan about another leader. I don't want to compare others, criticise others or speak ill of others. I will no longer swim with the tide of communal cynicism and pity parties formed in the wake of the latest annoying 'thing.'

I quit Salvation Army complaining.

Jesus is coming back soon.

__________________________


'In everything you do, stay away from complaining and arguing, so that no one can speak a word of blame against you. You are to live clean, innocent lives as children of God in a dark world full of crooked and perverse people. Let your lives shine brightly before them. Hold tightly to the word of life, so that when Christ returns, I will be proud that I did not lose the race and that my work was not useless...' - Philippians 2:14-16 (NLT).

 (These writings/thoughts do not represent the official position of The Salvation Army)
 






Friday, July 8, 2016

Why Apathy is Killing the Church

3 comments:

Why Apathy is Killing the Church

It's easy to be disillusioned with the global nature of everything ranging from politics, the environment, economics and terrorism.

On the political front, Britain doesn't know what lies ahead following the Brexit vote, Australia barely knows what politician to vote for and the U.S.A. could be heading towards its first orange President.

Environmentally, the climate is changing faster than the global leaders are willing to change, and no one understands how switching off their lights and using organic vegetables makes any difference.

Economically, first-world countries are looking like third-world countries with lip-stick on, and no one knows how to bring any particular country into a strong economic position.

When it comes to terrorism, we feel helpless in the fight against ISIS and others, and can't reconcile a belief that moderate Islam is moderate and that is distinctly different from militant Islam.

Even the Olympics cannot go ahead without the threat of violence and disease!

We are confused as a people and Christians are in the midst of that confusion.

We wonder whether we can do anything to actually make a significant difference.
 
Though, this is where we need to be reminded of an old quote attributed to Edmund Bourke, 'The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.'

It is unacceptable as people of God to throw our hands up and merely swim with the tide of indecisiveness and apathy. We must follow the ministry of Jesus that ushered in the Kingdom of God. Let me remind you, where the Kingdom of God is, there is hope, joy, peace and purpose. Where the Kingdom of God is people are reconciled, creation is drawn back to its creator. That Kingdom is found through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Therefore we have something to do: To love, to give, to preach, to befriend, to house, to help, to encourage and to smile.

Though it appears at times, that apathy is at risk of killing the church. Why? We look around at the global picture and it appears glim. Instead then of mobilizing, we fall asleep. We prefer to stay within the safety of the confines of our church walls and homes and fail to embrace the unique opportunity the Lord has given us to create history.

In fact, in the midst of economic uncertainty and political disappointments, God is healing the sick like no other time in history. Prayer meetings are springing up in churches. Evangelical gatherings are still witnessing hundreds of thousands committing their lives to Christ. Remember, in the last days, God will indeed pour out his spirit upon all people!

So, we must do something. We cannot give up or give in to God's calling for us to change the world.

And let me say, the churches that will grow in today's context are churches that embrace ambiguity, learn to live in chaotic times, release innovation and empower courageous leadership irrespective of the swell of uncertainty around them. 


As I say to employees, soldiers and friends of The Salvation Army in my local context, 'Fire up!' We say it to each other. Don't allow circumstances drag you down, but pray in the power of the Spirit and allow God to change the circumstances.

Don't allow apathy to kill your church.

Fire up. Do something.

*****

Benjamin Franklin once said, 'If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write something worth reading or do things worth writing.' I aim to do both. 
If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write something worth reading or do things worth writing.
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/b/benjaminfr143171.html

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Holy! - Why the Launch of my new E-Book is Turning Heads!

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It has finally arrived!

Grab your hands on the new E-book of Holy!

Co-authored with Stephen Court, we've taken a tired topic and given it some life. See, holiness has not always been a widely read topic. People envisage old ministers with brown sweaters and 45 minute intellectual sermonizing. People think of holiness and quickly equate it with 'boring', 'bland' and even 'irrelevant.'

We turn heads when we write a short, provocative, catchy book on the most radical experience you've never lived. Find out what you might be missing out on!

People are buying it from right around the world, including the United States, Indonesia, Australia, the UK and South Africa.

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If you love reading blogs on petebrookshaw.com can I please encourage you to write a quick review for me on Amazon.

God bless and spread the word!

P.S. - If you want to be like Jesus, start by loving people.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

How to Deal With Post-Red Shield Appeal Depression

No comments:

If you're part of The Salvation Army in Australia or New Zealand, you'll know what Post-Red Shield Appeal Depression is. I'm calling it PRSAD.

PRSAD hits us all this time of year. You've worked hard. You've tried to raise as much as you can. You've given it all you've got. You've called out for volunteers. You've rang volunteers. You've booked in shops. You've stood at shops. You've slept at shops.

It's been a big opportunity to raise funds for the work of the Salvos. And whether we did well, or struggled this year, we need to know some things:

The Symptoms of Post-Red Shield Appeal Depression

Now, let me be clear. I'm not speaking about depression in the medical sense. Put that aside for the experts to speak on. I'm speaking about the feeling you get a week later when you think about the fact you could've done better. The concern about what people in leadership might say. The cold and flu that kicks in because you were standing at the railway station for too long. Other symptoms include:

- Wondering why some people didn't sign up to help
- Wondering why some people gave lots and others ignored you
- Wondering why some volunteers were passionate about the Red Shield Appeal, and others in your church avoided you this time of year.
- Wondering why the rain seems to fall every May at the end of the month.

How to Deal with Post-Red Shield Appeal Depression

I wrote on facebook this statement following the main Red Shield Appeal weekend:

You are not your Red Shield Appeal Total.

Think on that for a moment. Whether you raised more than previous years, or had a year that you'd like to forget, the fact is, success in fundraising does not define you. We personally had a good year at Craigieburn. And guess what? PRSAD still kicked in. Hmm.. what if we had collected at the railway stations on a consistent basis? Imagine if we were not stifled by rain? I wonder what would've happened if we had extra volunteers to fill that shopping centre? Why do some Corps still raise so much more than us?
Success in ministry is not necessarily defined by numbers in your congregation or tallies depicted on a Red Shield Appeal database. To see a church grow in a spiritually-dry kind of area, is far harder than witnessing a church grow in the midst of a bible-belt. It is all about context.

You deal with post-red shield appeal depression by looking at whether you did the best with your time and energy and then thank God for the result.

We can always be better leaders. I understand that. We can always pull in a better result. But the goal is to do your PB. Now, that's not to say you should do a Pete Brookshaw. I don't think you should be copying me!! I'm saying do your Personal Best. Then be ok with that.

There is probably a bigger point to make here. In ministry in general, you need to know yourself. You need to understand when you've done your absolute best. Then you can look back and give all glory to God, fully understanding that that is all that God requires of you. 

God bless you as you deal with PRSAD.



Hebrews 6:9b-14 – ‘We are confident that you are meant for better things, things that come with salvation. For God is not unfair. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other Christians, as you still do. Our great desire is that you will keep right on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and patience.

Monday, April 25, 2016

What the Church can learn from Willy Wonka.

4 comments:

This is not going to be a post about chocolate. I just put that out there, for those that may be disappointed.

Charlie Bucket had found a golden ticket. Grandpa Joe offered to come and visit Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory with him. There was only one glaringly obvious problem: Grandpa Joe couldn't get out of bed! Bed-ridden for years, the ole' bones weren't working!

God is giving the church of today a spiritual ticket to a great future. By the power of the Holy Spirit, dead bones are coming alive and God is breathing afresh upon the church. Though, it's difficult to get up, when the old bones haven't been working for some time.

See, when I spend a day or two at home, and I lounge around the house, I become lazy. My body gets used to inactivity. I find it easier to sit on the couch, have a coffee and watch the news.

I have this picture of the Lord Jesus handing the church a new future. I see him saying to us, 'Here it is. Embrace it. It's new, get ready for it. It's going to impact many lives, get ready.' The problem is we are used to what we are used to. God wants to do a new thing, but we hold on to what we know.

So, anyway, I'm at home and relaxing, and my wife says, 'Let's go to the shops.' Of course, I'm now relaxed at home, and I couldn't think of anything further from my mind, than shopping. I've become content in sitting on the couch. And anything that disturbs that almost becomes quite frustrating to me.

Now, I have simply learned to enjoy sitting on the couch. I have enjoyed taking a siesta at home. Though, I am in danger of missing a new opportunity, because of my new learned behaviour.

In the spiritual realm, this is the thing: 'If you want to change the world, you have to get off the couch.'   

So, Pete, get to the point.

I believe the church has two options moving forward. We either mobilize or we crystallize.

William Booth once said, 'I consider that the chief danger that confronts the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, heaven without hell.'

I agree.

Though I would add this: We are in danger of being a Christian church that sleeps through the next move of God. A body of believers that misses what God intends to do, because we're busy justifying our own deeply held theological positions, sketching out our own futures, consumed by the perilous amounts of trash permeating the airwaves and in love with the sound of our own iniquity.

The challenge lies in what our response will be to what God is saying in this season. I can hear it loud and clear. 'I'm doing that new thing now, embrace it. Let go of your old life, follow me.'

Though just like you can't receive a new job until you let go of the old job, so it is with God. If the Lord is to work his power within the church, we must lay our lives down again before him, give up our old lives and allow him to do a work within us.

If we allow that, we become mobilized. We become an army on earth, that brings joy, hope and salvation to the masses. If we stifle it, then we crystallize and become irrelevant to the world around us, and become like pillars of salt in a world that is dynamic and rapidly changing.

Recently I spoke at a forum for Bloggers, Editors and Social Media gurus. I spoke about being dynamic and embracing creativity. While I was there, I was taken aback by the stories of a declining denomination, that is stuck trying to continually reaffirm its past, in order to validate its future, but in the process fails to allow anything new and great to happen in the present. The denomination is crystallizing, and until some bold leaders declare that its time to let go and embrace a new thing, mobilization will not occur.  

Though, on the flip side...

I am filled with great optimism! I see and hear communities of faith right around the globe who are becoming mobilized. They are joining together as one army of believers, sold out to restoring broken humanity with its Creator. We must reach the tipping point. We must call more people to join us, to come on the journey with us and to lay down their lives for the cause of Christ.

As I write this on a day in Australia's calendar, where we recognise and honour the sacrifice of military personnel who have protected both Australia and New Zealand, I cannot help but think... Sacrifice is key; Laying down your old life and embracing the newness of what God is intending to do through you.

Choose to be mobilized, not stagnant. Choose to rally people together to serve the Lord. Choose to celebrate together. Choose to be a little bit bold and creative. Choose to keep Jesus front and centre, and don't allow the frivolous distractions of the enemy stop you from the destiny before you.

Mobilize. Either that, or crystallize.

I know which one I want.

By the way, Grandpa Joe did get up out of the bed and go to Willy Wonka's factory. It's like God breathed some life into those dead and tired bones and gave him energy and excitement for a new adventure.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Why are we so Risk Averse? Crucial Challenges The Salvation Army and other Organisations face.

5 comments:

My hands are trembling and my fingers are shaking. I'm nervous even writing this, either that or I've already drank too much coffee this morning. I'll be honest with you, it could be either one.

Let me preface what I'm about to say with this: Change can be painful. Change can be unsettling. Change can even hurt. Though change is necessary for any organisation that seeks to stay relevant and engaged with the world around it. It has been said, that the only thing that doesn't change, is the fact that things change. Actually, the rate at which change happens today is changing. Without spelling out the obvious, change is happening at a more rapid rate than ever before. How do we possibly cope?

In the interest of organisational stability, we attempt to not rock the boat. We do it with great intentions; we want to see great organisations continue to thrive, and not fall apart in the midst of shifting societal values and rapid technological change.

Here is the challenge: The organisation that thrived in its beginnings, generally thrived within a culture of boldness, innovation, a mild disrespect of existing bureaucracy, a little bit of arrogance and risk-taking ingenuity. The organisation some years later tries to hold itself up using fundamentally different ideals, that of, organisational structure, clear administrative processes, authoritative lines of decision-making, risk aversion, workplace health and safety and the list goes on.

The latter list is not wrong, far from it, but it is miles apart from the culture that caused the organisation to thrive in its inception.

So we are seeking to be part of a thriving, growing movement, that has a new learned behaviour of rewarding the fulfilment of the status quo. We then question why the organisation is not thriving to the degree we have in our heart, but fail to recognise we implicitly support an organisation fundamentally different to the one that used to thrive.

The Salvation Army faces that challenge. Right now we are on the precipice of change. We have a decision to make. Who will be in the drivers seat of organisational life? Risk Aversion or Faith-filled visionary ideas?

Let me spell it out. We need good goverance; of course we do. We need to ensure children are safe in our care. We need to ensure the finances are managed well. We need to ensure thrift shops are safe. Absolutely. Though because these things take up so much of our time, they end up being in the drivers seat. Visionary ideas are pushed to the background. Innovation and risk taking are seemingly frowned upon, or atleast perceived to be from leaders who seek to 'do something new.' This happens without a flinch from people upholding good governance, because they seek passionately to keep the organisation stable and productive.

Where do organisations like The Salvation Army move from here?

  • We need to communicate VISION more than COMPLIANCE.
  • We need to reward INNOVATION more than ORGANISATIONAL Box-Ticking.
  • We need to release APOSTLES to be apostolic and allow ADMINISTRATORS to be great administrators that help facilitate apostolic work.
  • We must focus on PEOPLE more than TASKS. Tasks are means to an end. The end is surely to ultimately support the transformation of people.
  • We must not forget the ministry of JESUS that worked to lighten the load of religious expectation upon the people.
What can YOU do to support the edgy, risk-taking, out of the boat kind of people that God is calling us to be?

I have a few thoughts:

  • Remind people to fix their eyes upon Jesus (Remember Peter walked on water when he fixed his eyes/heart/faith upon Jesus)
  • Encourage new ideas. Don't let your first position be, 'No.' Let it be, 'Tell me more...'
  • Get the right people on the right seats on the bus. Allow the prophetic organisational leaders be free to be who they were created to be. Have the people gifted in administration in roles of administration. People need to be working in their gifting.
  • Strongly encourage people to pray with great faith. To believe for the impossible. To believe God for a miracle. To pray with fervour and expectation.
  • Remind people of the history of the organisation - Remind them of the faith-filled stories of days gone by. Reignite in people a belief for greater things!
  • We need to legitimize innovation.

Organisations that succeed find the right balance between risk aversion and innovation. They place vision in the drivers seat and governance in the back seat. (Don't worry, governance will be a good back-seat driver and yell out occasionally when you need to be reminded).

Let me finish with this: Change can be painful. Innovation can be risky.

If we learn to empower dynamic, faith-filled, risk-taking, bold leaders who seek to establish God's kingdom in a broken world, we honour the past, provoke the present and forge a tremendous future!


Saturday, March 19, 2016

Leadership Lesson 101 - You Can't Manage TIME!

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once said to a friend, 'I don’t have enough time'. Well, the response was classic. He said that everyone has '24 hours in the day'. Everybody has the same amount of time. It's not about how much time you have, but how you prioritize your time that is important. You can’t manage time. The clock ticks over, every second of every day. You cannot manage that or control that.

We can manage our priorities around the time we have. That's priority management. God has blessed us with time. While God may preside outside of time, time has been given to us and we live within the confines of it. As leaders we have the free will to decide how we work, rest and play within ‘time’. It is our choice. What priorities are the most important? What work should I complete first? Which email is urgent? What personnel need my attention most?
Even as I write this I have to practice what I preach. I was sitting in two meetings recently, where each meeting not only informed me of particular organizational expectations, but each meeting came with a list of items that needed my attention. As I sat in the second meeting, sipping an instant coffee, with my mind wandering, I received a couple of emails. My phone buzzed. I quickly had a glance, and the email both had attachments with paperwork that was expected to be completed. How I now prioritize my work within the time I have is important.

Some quick tips on Time Management (Priority Management):
- Check your emails only 2-3 times a day
- Anything that can be completed in 60 seconds, complete it straight away
- Don’t worry about something longer than the time it takes to complete
- Delegate actions items that are not urgent nor overly important
- Stay focused on completing something when you start it
- Consider the MoSCoW leadership tool – What Must you do? What Should you do? What Could you do? What Would you do?

- A long term tip - Work your way out of a job. Train up people around you. In the long term you won't have to complete some tasks, because you have trained up someone else!
- Drink coffee (Ok, that's just my added tip for all aspects of leadership).


What does the Bible say?


2 Timothy 4:2-5 -
Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction…..But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

What will I do now?

How will you prioritize work, rest and play within the time that God has given you?


* This is Day 22 of my series 100 Days of Leadership

Monday, March 14, 2016

Model the Way - The Leadership Challenge for all Leaders

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I have a friend who challenged me recently to continue my series on leadership. Here's Leadership Post number 21. Click here for more on the 100 days of leadership series. 


When I’m looking for an example of someone who showed selfless, compassionate support to people in need, I think about Mother Theresa. When I want to emulate perseverance in the midst of conflict, I look to military and political leaders who have pursued the advancement of their cause despite huge obstacles.

Good leaders 'model the way'. This is one of five practices of exemplary leadership as noted by James Kouzes and Barry Posner. Modelling the way is about firstly clarifying values and then aligning your behaviours and actions with those values. Your behaviours will highlight your values irrespective of whether you clarify them, but by spending a few moments to consider what you value, you can see whether your behaviours align with those values. If they don’t, then something needs to change!



From a faith perspective, I have been a part of a church that says that ‘Prayer is our number one value.’ Though, when only 2 people turn up to the prayer meeting, you know the value is merely an aspirational value. The behaviours that are being modelled are what characterizes what you value. The prayer meeting has since grown and what once was aspirational is becoming a core value.

Great leaders, ‘…create standards of excellence and then set an example for others to follow.’ (www.leadershipchallenge.com). Nelson Mandela chose forgiveness and reconciliation even when he was imprisoned for 27 years. I have witnessed Salvation Army leaders who have had someone say something negative to their face, and their response was one of compassion, understanding and respect.

I long to be a leader who models the behaviours of great leaders.

Recently my daughter said directly to me, ‘Can I have a drink of water?’
I replied, ‘Please, can I have a drink of water?’
Please, can I have a drink of water?’ She said a little indignantly. I wanted her to know that using your manners was important.
Five minutes later. I looked over to my wife, and said, ‘Can you pass over the sauce?’ My wife gave me a look. My brain couldn’t cope. I’ve seen this look before. What was I doing wrong? Why was I receiving this sour face? Like a typical man in a marriage, I think I have messed up, and I don’t even know how.
She put me out of my misery… ‘Please, can I have some sauce?’
‘Oh yeah. Please can I have some sauce?’



Leaders model the way.

What does the Bible say?


Philippians 4:9 – Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

What will I do now?
What are your standards of excellence? How can you better model the way to your areas of influence?

Friday, March 11, 2016

What the Church can learn from Donald Trump

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Donald Trump has got the world talking. He's even got me blogging about him. He'd probably be happy with that.
He's the Republican front runner in the primaries leading up to the American Presidential Election. He's stirring up all sides of politics.
While Hillary Clinton battles it out with 74 year old left-wing candidate Bernie Sanders for the Democratic candidacy, the rest of us are scratching our heads. What if Donald Trump becomes the Republican candidate? Without making your head bleed, you could scratch further and contemplate what life would be like if Donald Trump became President. Is the United States of America ready for such a President?

I've been bemused by what I have been hearing. Granted, the snippets I hear from the media are mere sound bites in the overall presidential race. Though you could make it into a new t.v. show. Finally we have found a replacement for The Days of our Lives. The 2016 Presidential Election.

So this has got me thinking. I was always taught that you can learn from anyone. Furthermore, if you ever got to the point where you no longer were teachable, then you had to change and humble yourself. Donald Trump challenges this premise.

With this in mind, I ask the question: What can the church learn from Donald Trump?

Donald Trump would build a wall between Mexico and the U.S.A. Jesus would establish reconciliation. 

There's a fundamental difference between reconciling two parties and building a wall of division. I know Nehemiah built a wall (along with scores of helpers), but I am not sure that strengthens the argument for wall-building. See the ministry of Jesus was about reconciling the world to God, but also about breaking down religious and political structures that fundamentally hurt and excluded people. Jesus implored his disciples many times, that people will know that you are my disciples if you built walls; I mean if you showed love for one another. Donald Trump helps us remember the stark difference of the ministry of Jesus.


Donald Trump has ignited the discontent among American voters. He says what he thinks, and some conservatives value the fact that he speaks his mind irrespective of what that mind is speaking.

Let me help you understand what I'm saying. Some Americans respect Donald Trump for being a sharp shooter. For saying what he thinks. Though the fascinating thing is, some Americans care more that he is speaking his mind, than what he is actually saying! And what can the church learn from this?

I think people the world over want transparency within the church. We know some of the abuse and corruption of years gone by. We know some of the misuse of power and exclusion of the vulnerable in church denominations. People don't want leaders of churches to cover these things up. The public expects truth and openness about the failures. There is more respect when this happens. That's what Donald Trump shows us - leaders do garner credibility when they speak from the heart and with conviction.

Now, I disagree with much of what Donald Trump says. I also think it's na├»ve to simply admire Donald Trump for speaking passionately, when damage can be caused when what is passionately spoken about is disrespectful, demeaning and verging on immoral. Though I will say this: Donald Trump shows us the power of a leader that speaks with conviction; yet we cannot compromise ethics and compassion with mere conviction alone.

Donald Trump shows the church, that some Christians JUST DON'T GET IT.

How do I say this without being extradited to a foreign country? Now, you are welcome to respectfully disagree with me here. How can a Spirit-filled, compassionate follower of Jesus reconcile support of Donald Trump with their Christian faith? I am genuinely interested. Donald Trump has ridiculed others, he has contradicted himself more than any other candidate, he has wielded power to canvass votes (though one may argue that's the same with the Democrats), he has been racist, rude, divisive and the list goes on...

I think Donald Trump shows us, that some Christians have some very passionate political views, and will hold fast to them come hell or high-water. For some that even means compromising good ethics, morality, compassion and the teachings of Jesus.

Donald Trump shows the church that how you lead is important.

We could contrast the leadership of Donald Trump with Jesus. One may argue on why we would bother, but we can learn some things in the process. I could not imagine Trump, nor many of the leaders in the current political scene doing the following:

  • Choosing twelve leaders to help them, from a mixed bag of uneducated, simple workers and call them on a three year journey. Not only that, but after three years, give them the authority to run with the mission
  • Calling the establishment of the day to reform their practices in order to show greater compassion to a wider diversity of people
  • Call on people to live out moral values of love and compassion
  • Show leadership skills and lead people on a mission, without vying for position and power

Leadership shown by Jesus is categorically different to the Donald Trumps of this world. I know which one I want to replicate.

There are two things I was always told not to talk about: religion and politics. I have failed on both accounts today. Please forgive me.

You no doubt have some comments to make. Comment below.  

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Monday, March 7, 2016

What is God whispering to The Salvation Army?

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What is God saying in these days to The Salvation Army? What is the Holy Spirit whispering to this movement in the early parts of 2016?

I think this is critical to consider. Like Moses once said, 'If your presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here' (Exodus 33:15). We want to embrace all that God is saying to us and apply all that we discern is being revealed to us.

Let me stop there for a moment. As Salvationists, we become so pragmatic in our service to God, we can neglect listening to God. I make a general statement here, though I have seen it time and time again. We run around like Martha, trying to prepare a meal for Jesus, yet Mary was the one who had done what Jesus desired. She had sat at his feet, to learn from him and to hear from him.
 
So with that in mind, What is God saying?

If you permit me, I want to offer my thoughts as I have been praying. They're far from conclusive, and you might want to add your own thoughts in the comments section.

I hesitate to start with something from Revelation, because you probably think I'm about to predict the day and time of the return of Jesus. But have a read of this, that John wrote to the church in Ephesus:

I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. (Revelation 2:2-5)

Pastor Jim Cymbala, a few years ago, gave this word to The Salvation Army:

'Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the Lord; Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn.' (Isaiah 51:1)

I constantly think of a similar word; that God is calling us to fix our eyes on Jesus. Simple. Yet if we fail, we lose the entire foundation on which The Salvation Army was built.

We must look to Jesus. We cannot look to large, growing churches in affluent communities for tips on future methodology. We cannot merely look at our current practices, shine them up a little and expect different results. We must look to Jesus.

I consider my local context in recent days. Two of us praying every week for God to touch our community. Two people. Consistent prayer. Week in, week out. Would God every grow this little prayer meeting?! We believe God for breakthrough. In recent days there were six of us praying. Sunday morning we had thirteen people gathered around before the meeting to pray. God teach us to fix our eyes upon Jesus!

I sense that God is doing a new thing in our movement. Can you perceive it? And further to the preceding comments, the words in the gospel of John, chapter 15, ring true to many: You will bear fruit, fruit that will last. And that word about fruit, is related to remaining IN Jesus. Keeping our eyes fixed on him.

God is pleased that we now squabble less about meaningless, frivolous matters. The mission of God is being revealed to us in such a fresh way, that the concerns and desires of our heart is to partner with God in fulfilling that mission.

Though let me ask you this: If God is doing a new thing... then who are we to hold on to the old? That's a loaded question right there, but one that the Spirit of God would surely have us consider. In moving forward, what stays and what goes? It's critical to discern in coming months and years the right answer to such a question. If we get it right, then we fully pursue the purposes for which God raised us up. If we get it wrong, we may end up perpetuating practices and procedures that no longer work in our time.

So be reminded of this: God is doing a new thing, can you not perceive it?


* These are Pete Brookshaw's thoughts and ideas and do not necessarily represent the official position of The Salvation Army.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Why God is Not Finished with The Salvation Army.

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The response was varied. The readership was huge. The viral nature of my previous blog astounded me. I wrote a piece entitled, 'Why The Salvation Army is in decline and what we can do about it!'  For different reasons it sparked discussion right around the globe (especially in the West - and many are right when they assert that decline is most relevant IN the West). In one corner people agreed, and in another there was vehement disagreement. Some sought to sharpen up the original post, with some clarifying thoughts. Some pointed out that some of my assertions were general assumptions and not applicable to their setting.

Well, the dust has settled and I want to follow up that provocative post with Part 2: Why God is Not Finished with The Salvation Army.

I am convinced that Salvationists need a sense of urgency of the need for change, hence my previous post. One does not get a hair cut until they are dissatisfied with their current hair style (Ok, I do not speak from experience on that one...). You know what I mean? We can not change the course of history by trying to solve the challenges we have with the same thinking that existed when the challenge arose. We must think outside the box. Give new things a shot. We keep what is absolutely essential to what makes us The Salvation Army, and allow the Lord to reveal to us new ways of expressing gospel-centered ministry to a broken world in our rapidly changing global environment.

So, that's why I have written this post. God is not finished with The Salvation Army. In fact, I think the best days are still ahead. No offense, Will and Kate. You did great things. Though God has planted something within this movement that desires to do greater things!

We could rewind to the vision imparted to The Salvation Army from William Booth, found within In Darkest England and the Way out. The vision was an army pulling people from the ills of society, and giving them the hope of full salvation. You can see workers straining to reach out to people in need. There is a passion for the transformative work of Jesus to transpire in people's lives.

Today we have Salvationists right around the globe still working tirelessly to draw people out of addictions, hate, pornography, apathy, homelessness, loneliness, anger, abuse, bitterness and the list goes on.

I think of the street ministries of Salvationists and volunteers that give cups of cold water to those who thirst, and the community lunches that feed the hungry. I know of a ministry that provides free legal advice to those on lower incomes. There are Salvation Army hospitals and schools, and rehab centres, and shelters from abuse. There are Corps that are ignited by a passion to lead people to Christ and disciple them in the process. Some Salvation Army communities of faith meet in buildings, under trees, in houses, in fields, in large basketball arenas, in 'mission houses' and even in secret.

There is a passion to do something about our faith!

But one knows only too well, that there is still a job ahead of us.

This is why I believe God is not finished with The Salvation Army. See, within this movement is an embedded DNA that says, while there is still one lost soul, we'll fight. While there is still brokenness, we'll fight.

We're still fighting.

Until the fullness of the Kingdom of God has come among us, we will keep fighting.


We may wrestle with what The Salvation Army looks like a decade from now. We may not be able to conceive of how God will shape us moving forward. No doubt we'll discuss uniforms and music and ecclesiastical structures. A commissioner here and there will make some tough decisions. We'll debate about how to do effective mission in the world and we'll work at finding alignment on such issues. But that being said, I know this: we'll keep fighting.


We'll keep fighting, because there is still something to fight for. And while there is still something to fight for, you'll find The Salvation Army.


* These are my opinions and do not necessarily reflect the official position of The Salvation Army.

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