Wednesday, June 23, 2021

The Salvation Army is shake, shake, shaking...


There's a significant, seismic shift happening in The Salvation Army in these days. One may suggest that's true across the church more broadly, but I'll allow others to witness to that. 

I've heard some describe it as a 'shaking' of the church. Others have said, it's the start of a new reformation. Someone told me recently, "I think we're on the brink of an awakening". 

It's near impossible to tell you what it's all going to look like 20 years from now. What will The Salvation Army look like in 10 years? God only knows. I don't even know what the world is going to look like in 12 months! 

The shaking is the only word I can think of, to describe what God seems to be doing. Every little thing, God is shaking it. Does it matter? Is it about the Kingdom of God? Is it bringing light into the world? Is it a man-made construct that holds people back in religious institutionalism?

Old ways of doing things: Shake, shake, shake.

A formal uniform in a post-militaristic society: Shake, shake, shake.

A Sunday gathering that expects the unsaved to come to them: Shake, shake, shake.

A Bible study that has shut the door to people that aren't like them: Shake, shake, shake.

Fail to treat everyone the way God would have us: Shake, shake, shake.

Music that is old and stale that expresses nothing new to an inquisitive world: Shake, shake, shake.

All that matters is your stats: Shake, shake, shake.

A form of Christianity that celebrates conformity and religious duty: Shake, shake, shake.

A Christian who can't worship Jesus, unless the minister wears a tie: Shake, shake, shake.

God must think anything is permissible: Shake, shake, shake.

Any form of evangelism that doesn't look at holistic salvation of an individual: Shake, shake, shake.

Maybe God's ok with sin? Shake, shake, shake.

You don't have your hair up when you preach: Shake, shake, shake.


Now, I'm not trying to stir the pot (even though I probably offended many in the last few paragraphs). I think you can blame God for the shaking. See, I'm actually quite afraid. Scared even. A little anxious. Even at the age of 39, I hold dear to many things. I already have a few decades of Salvation Army history under my belt. I have precious memories. I have rich stories of the Spirit of God working in different Salvation Army settings. 

But despite that, God is shaking things. Some of the methods might stick and be around in a generation or two, but I sense the shaking that God is doing right now, is causing some ways of thinking and doing to become irrelevant and superseded by the new thing God is wanting to do.   

So, if you've come this far with me, you may agree that the holy discontent among Salvationists is at an all-time high. We are discontent. And that's not because of some leader, or even some bureaucratic process that frustrates us. It's because we aren't who we're meant to be (yet). And we're trying to discover it. 

God is helping us along by shaking the very foundations of our movement. The foundations that became somewhat set in stone some years after William and Catherine went to be with the Lord. 

God is not finished with The Salvation Army. God is refashioning us. God is remolding us; reshaping us. And while we celebrate all that God has done through many a faithful believer in years gone by, (There is much gratitude for all their work), we know God is up to something.

The core belief we have is that God is love. So we trust, what Christ has in store. We trust, through faith, that the shaking is not just for our benefit, but for the salvation of the world.  

We must allow God to make new wine in new wineskins. The problem is, we're trying new things and putting it back into old wineskins. We try to squeeze innovative ideas for the Kingdom, into the frameworks that we created decades ago. Take a new idea, birthed by the Spirit of God, and allow it to ferment and exist within a new way of operating. A new framework. A new, God-inspired way of working. Don't put new wine into an old wineskin. 

There's a detangling happening. Some of us, are navigating our way through change, and learning to detangle ourselves from the expectations of man, and learning to live and serve for an audience of one. No power struggles. No unrealistic expectations upon the shoulders. No backstabbing other leaders. No putting down another colleague. Just a raw, authentic work of God, that is calling us back to the boundless salvation found in Jesus Christ. 

I'm learning to trust the Lord in these days. I'm learning to have faith in what he's doing. I'm choosing to not be afraid. The words in Psalm 46:1-2 sum up some of my thoughts:

"God, you're such a safe and powerful place to find refuge! You're a proven help in time of trouble ~ more than enough and always available whenever I need you.

So we will never fear. Even if every structure of support were to crumble away. We will not fear even when the earth quakes and shakes, moving mountains and casting them into the sea.

For the raging roar of stormy winds and crashing waves cannot erode our faith in you." (The Passion Translation)

The Salvation Army is shake, shake, shaking... Will you embrace what the Spirit is doing? Will you be courageous enough to embrace an awakening within the people of God, that will absolutely transform the world around us, with the incredible mercy and love of Jesus?  

[All views are my own and don't necessarily represent any official position of The Salvation Army]

3 comments:

  1. Well said Pete and very applicable right across the denominational spectrum, bringing a sorting of the interested from the committed and the religious from the genuine.

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  2. Until such time as TSA stop utilising government funding, stop paying professional consultants to advise, stop running THQ and DHQ like business and not a movement no amount of shaking will make a difference. Time to get back to basics - Spirit-filled mission and passion for those who know not the Gospel.

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  3. I'm of the opinion that the Salvation Army is suffering from trying to change with the times, rather than hold fast to it's uniqueness. Yes, like many established churches it is dying, but the prescription from our Lord Jesus is "Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent." Rev 3:2-3. William Booth described the Salvation Army as a Holiness movement, and it should continue to be that. Preach sound Biblical doctrine, that will be enough.

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