Wednesday, September 2, 2020

An open letter to The Salvation Army


Dear Salvation Army,

Where's your passion for Jesus? Where has your heart for your first love gone? Is it there, or is it hidden beneath the complexity of organisational life? Have you buried your love for Jesus while you try to build your own path to success? 

I ask you again. Where's your passion for Jesus? Where's your desire to lead people to him, to live out his values of the Kingdom and to transform Australia with the very love that once transformed your life?

I don't want to be the church in Sardis anymore. Have you heard of the one? Jesus writes a letter (as recorded by John) in Revelation chapter 3. It says:

“To the angel of the church in Sardis write:

These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God."

Is God pruning us, or are we in fact dead? Convince me please that it is the former. Show me your red-hot, Spirit-filled, Holy-Ghost-infused compassion that seeks to live out a vision of finding hardship and injustice and then make choices that live up to those very statements.

We don't need another ecclesiastical corps cumbering the earth, nor do we need another corporate video that includes sound bites of board-room value statements produced in front of green screens and edited until they are flavourless and uninspiring. We don't need another 1 hour meeting, with a 30 second prayer at the start and a 30 second prayer at the end, with 59 minutes of trying to get ourselves out of the feelings of corporate malaise. Try for me, just once, at least... a 1 hour meeting that incorporates 20 minutes of prayer. Test me on this. See if God won't begin to give you insight and wisdom that leads you out of an institutional desert and into hope and life.  

God is calling us to be the people of God, fashioned into the likeness of his son, Jesus Christ. The way we have become is not necessarily who God wants us to be. We must surely die to ourselves, and our organisation and place each at the altar. 

And please don't skip over the importance of that short paragraph. Take a moment now and kneel before the Lord. Tell him you're willing to lay your life down (again) to follow him and his paths for your feet. Repent of the excuse that the complexities of this movement have caused you to lose your focus on Christ. It's no longer an excuse. Repent of making Jesus some sort of after-thought in your mind, when really, without him we are nothing.

I remember when I responded to a call to follow Jesus when I was 18 years old. I cried like a baby at the mercy seat (in fact that happened some weeks/months in a row!) and God was giving me a new life with a calling to serve as a Soldier and then an Officer of The Salvation Army. I am personally challenged by the Holy Spirit in these days, that I need to reaffirm my commitment to reaching for the lost and serving suffering humanity. I am a mission-mobiliser, not a corporate manager. I am a pastoral leader, not a risk management consultant. 

My heart is crying out for the Salvation Army right now. It feels like another critical time in the juncture of this movement. Will we fast and pray for revival to come upon us once again? What's it going to take? You can't do this in your own strength. You've tried, Salvation Army, and been pretty lousy at it. That's because, we were never called to fight a spiritual war, with human-made organisational solutions. We are a spiritual movement, and only God-led, spiritual wisdom will get us through. 

I am reminded recently of when I was invited by a Salvation Army prison chaplain to preach the gospel in the prison for all the inmates who attended to hear. Wow. I had a word on my heart. The word was, 'If you want to walk in freedom, you have to get out of the cage!' I preached up a storm in that little chapel area, with about 40 blokes. I said, you could walk out of this prison today, but if you still live with unforgiveness you'll still be in 'prison'! I called people to respond and an incredible number of men walked forward for prayer. I then called men to follow Jesus, and 18 big, burly blokes put their hands up to choose Jesus. I felt like William Booth at the age of 14, when he said that he had found his destiny. These moments change the course of history! This is the presence and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ at work!

Over the years though, we have moved from a Man to a Movement to a Machine. That seems to happen in the history of the Christian Church. We had William and Catherine Booth who were led by God to ignite a 'Salvation Army' around the world. A movement ensued, and spread across the global landscape. Then we had to deal with organisational complexity and for a myriad of reasons we became a machine. And it's a machine that, if we're honest, not many Salvation Army mechanics want to work on. The engine needs replacing, the spark plugs have died and it's pretty hard to get it moving again. 

The reality is though, if we don't reclaim our first love, Jesus Christ, we won't even exist as a 'Machine' anymore, we'll become a 'Monument'. And let me tell you, there are already many Salvation Army monuments around; closed buildings, memorial photos and plaques that remind us of a by-gone era from leaders we respect and admire. 

But, in the midst of the fog, I see a new day dawning. I see a fresh, vibrant expression of following Jesus rising up among the people. I see renewed discussion occurring about holiness and what that means for The Salvation Army. I see Officers themselves becoming sparks of revival in all their areas of influence. I hear the gospel being preached in new, powerful and authentic ways, in all levels of the movement. I see a movement fixing its gaze upon Christ like it has never done before. 

I can hear the sound of a roar coming from the heavens. It's loud and note-worthy. It's like the very fear of God is coming upon The Salvation Army. And I don't say that lightly. It's the presence of God calling us to love Jesus afresh, and be filled once more to overflowing, with the presence of the Holy Spirit. It's a mighty call back to our first love.

I don't want to be part of a Salvation Army that dies. I don't want to serve my days as part of some sort of bureaucracy that used to have an incredible historical legacy of world-changing dynamism. 

We must wake up! Strengthen what remains and get ready to follow Jesus into the unknowns of the rest of this year and beyond.

If you've hidden your talents, get them back out again. If you've lost your first love, then fire it up once more. This, my friends, will be the difference between The Salvation Army either dying, surviving or thriving.

Yours in Christ,

Captain Pete Brookshaw

 

25 comments:

  1. Wow. A powerful call for the whole church, not just the incredible Salvos! Bless you Pete

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  2. What an amazing charge for the body of Christ! Thank you for your bravery and bringing us back to the feet of Jesus. Keep walking strong Ps Pete xx

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  3. Well Peter thank you for this challenge and message I believe anointed by the Holy Ghost!
    As I read it I thought I heard the voices of Elijah and John the Baptist coming through and the continuous sound of Amen – Amen – Amen coming from the voice of Jesus Himself.
    How I pray for you to be Divinely protected and a wall of Holy Fire be placed around you and that the Lord will continue to mightily anoint you and bless you.

    With Christian love to you and our thanks to God for you…..keep humble….. keep obedient to the Holy Ghost ……. Keep declaring! Oh KEEP WELL!

    Alan R. Laurens
    Major.

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  4. Thought provoking, just maybe there has to, occasionally, be a Voice crying out in the wilderness. Keep crying out an maybe the wilderness will be productive.

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  5. I love this and will put it on our Corps facebook page. i will challenge all of our soldiers, and officers with it.

    Major Mike Himes,
    Manchester, Connecticut
    USA

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  6. Thank you so much for writing this. Your writing echoes so much I've felt since "joining" the army through marriage. Thank you for reminding me to worry less, pray and love Jesus more.

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  7. Keep doin' what you're doin mate!
    Reminds me of Battlestar Galactica where man made things took over and nearly wiped out human kind... we're headed for the same fate!
    In Battlestar Galactica God prevailed... let's pray for that to happen here

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  8. Thank you for this Powerful Letter. It needed to be said. As a Soldier in the Salvation Army, I was wondering why the Heart for Jesus seems aloof at the moment. Thank you for putting it straight out there. We are called to be in the Fight for JESUS. 🙏🙏🙏

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  9. Praise God for your message.

    There is a Salvation Army Drug and Alcohol Rehab in Coffs Harbour NSW Australia. The centre does not have any Christian Symbology (crucifixes,biblical passages on the wall), no bibles for residents, or teachings about Jesus. Why? The ideology: Jesus is not 'evidence base best practice'. But it is okay to teach clients that we are just 'energy'. It is okay for Buddhist and Muslims to come in and preach. We just can't preach Christianity as part of the program.

    I think before we go back out to the world we need to take a good hard look at what is happening in our own backyard.

    jose@australianantiicecampaign.org.au

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    Replies
    1. This is SO SAD! Actually makes me MAD! What sets TSA should be JESUS!

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  10. Peter, thank you for your compassion, your honesty, and your commitment to those who need our help, you have been the voice for many of us who are feeling the same way. Come on salvos step up to the mark.

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  11. You won't be lead into prisons any more with funding for prison chaplains being cut. I really hope the people who need to see this are reading it.

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  12. Preach! May HS keep the fire burning and give you the strength to keep preaching truth.

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  13. This letter is an open letter to all "churches" not just the "salvation army"

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  14. Peter, In reading this again I am wondering if you know the old song / hymn,.... "Dare to be a Daniel!?"

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  15. Yes, because it is the hierarchy of TSA especially in Australia, who need to read this. God bless you Captain Peter for speaking up.

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  16. Amen! I do not understand how such ideology can take have foot hold within the Salvation Army.

    I do know a little something about restoration. It only happens in Christ Jesus. And to deny this, is to deprive the vulnerable their only effective chance at getting well.

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  17. Inspired letter, Pete. "You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy." Rev 3:2. Let that sink in. The issue isn't the few, it's the many.

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  18. Bless you Pete. I stand with you !!!

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  19. I too felt this way. Oh that our leaders would revisit the Cross.

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  20. Thank you Pete for sharing. My thoughts exactly. We need back the William Boothe army with the 21st century touch of the Holy Spirit

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  21. 90% of the issue is a lazy Soldiery who are more interested in telling their Officers what or how it should be done, instead of investing in their communities.

    What percentage of Soldiers attend Bible Study, are actively involved in being discipled AND discipling someone else and ever so important, inviting people to worship? Fewer than you would think, hope or expect.

    TSA Soldiers have grown lazy and entitled. "That's the Captains job." "That's why he/she/they were appointed here."

    The worst decision I've ever made was hiring a Soldier; somehow work took place of weekly fellowship and service. You will never convince me that is Biblical.

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  22. Yes, finally an officer who speaks the truth and tells it how it is. The Salvation Army is falling apart. Yes, we need to find that strength that the Booth family showed when they preached the gospel in order to save souls for Christ . We need to find that passion for our army structure and praise the lord with timbrel and drum. We need to once again be seen in public, in our uniform so that People who need help know they can come to us for assistance. Yes. we have a social movement and that is required more than ever in times such as these. We need our songs and choruses that told it like it was and still is, and what ignited the passion within us for praise. Those old testimonies are still in our hearts and minds and the emotion they expel gives us the joy in singing them. We need to go back to our rousing songs as our strength as a corps goes hand in hand with our music and musical sections. That’s the Salvation Army of old and it is still very much relevant to society today.
    We do not have to be another ‘Hillsong’ church.. The Salvation Army has always been a unique Movement and has previously balanced its praise for the Lord with the care of people who desperately need us.. l admire the strength of William , Catherine and family in those early days and the adversity they experienced, however their love of the lord and his word guided them in those early days and l have no doubt that they are up there in heaven, along with the many faithful soldiers looking down on today’s army and wanting us just to take a step backwards in rebuilding the Lord Army.

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