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What if The Salvation Army died?

What if The Salvation Army died?

What if The Salvation Army died?

6 March 2019

I began to wonder what would happen if The Salvation Army lost its focus, so much so that it became significantly different to the original movement that I signed up to.

By Pete Brookshaw

A decade ago i signed the Officer’s Covenant. What a privilege I felt in my heart to be able to lay down my life to serve others and lead people to Jesus Christ.

That passion is still there. In fact, it is there more than ever. You see, I have such a holy discontent that we are not doing more to support people in need and see lives transformed for Jesus. I long to increase our impact upon society.

I long for more people to join the cause. I long for more people to commit themselves to the ideals of the soldier’s and officer’s covenants. But then this nagging feeling comes upon me. I began to reflect one day on what would happen if The Salvation Army died.

Let me qualify what I mean by that: I began to wonder what would happen if The Salvation Army lost its focus, so much so that it became significantly different to the original movement that I signed up to. Maybe you have asked that question once or twice.

It’s not because you or I lack faith or fail to have a view that God raised up The Salvation Army, but because we don’t want to see it be less than what God raised it up to be. Recently, I was walking around a large lake at a local park, praying and thinking about that very question – “What if The Salvation Army died?”

I felt some words in my spirit that said: The Salvation Army does need to die. It needs to die to its own image. It needs to die to its own strategic plans. It needs to die to its own narcissism. The Salvation Army needs to spend less time celebrating the mission it has achieved, and more time celebrating the source of the mission.

The Salvation Army needs to spend less time focused on how good it thinks it is, how good it thinks its forebears were, but rather point to how good it believes God is. We need to reignite the coals of the Jesus-focused, gutsy, Spirit-filled fervour that is embedded within the very DNA of this movement.

We need to re-embrace the apostles, evangelists and prophets across the globe, to join again with the shepherds and teachers to work together to establish God’s kingdom here and now. Captain Matt Reeve was recently quoted as saying: “Movements start because their founder loves Jesus. They die when the movement loves its founder.”

There’s a tension there, one that I feel and acknowledge. We are thankful to William, Catherine, Bramwell and the team. We love their focus, passion and tenacity to raise up such a movement. We are thankful to Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit that we should be a part of such exciting times.

However, The Salvation Army didn’t succeed because General William Booth always spoke about how good John Wesley was; The Salvation Army didn’t succeed because Catherine Booth chose to put Phoebe Palmer on a pedestal. Part of why The Salvation Army succeeded was because Salvationists not only learned and were inspired by the past, but were driven ultimately by a passion for Jesus Christ.

In John’s Gospel, chapter 15, we read that Jesus is the true vine and that the Father cuts off every branch in us that bears no fruit. Jesus says we cannot bear fruit unless we remain in him, because apart from him we can do nothing.

I look forward then, to the day that The Salvation Army dies. A day when we lay our talents, skills and abilities at the mercy seat; a day when we lay down our own ambition for that which is even better; a day when we commit ourselves wholeheartedly to the cause of Jesus Christ in the world. This is the day I long for; this is the day when we will be at our best.

And praise God that, in some places, that day has already arrived.

Captain Pete Brookshaw is the Corps Officer of The Salvation Army Craigieburn. He blogs at


  1. Mervyn Holland
    Mervyn Holland

    A timely reminder that our mission is to build the Kingdom of God. The Salvation Army is the means to achieve that goal, not the goal in itself.
    I regularly remind myself that there’s no Salvation Army headquarters, corps, social centre or any other department in heaven. There are only those who love and serve our Lord and Saviour Jesus.

  2. Pete, you are absolutely biblically correct. The SA has compromised much. It has friendship with the world which makes them enemies of God. Light should have no fellowship with darkness.Too many non saved people on our high level boards, counselling services, family stores, SAES etc etc. No wonder the spiritual growth of the army is at an all time low. All we hear about is the Social Gospel. Jesus came to seek and to save those which were lost (in their sin). We desperately need to proclaim the gospel, preserve the gospel and live it. We must have absolute confidence in Christ and proclaim his gospel at all opportunities or the Social Gospel will only effect the "carnal" person and not his/her soul. I am afraid that "Corporare Salvation Army" is the flavour of the day. The bible tells us that apostasy (knowing the truth and deliberately standing aside from it) will be very prolific just prior to Christ's return. Keep the faith Pete and strive towards the goal that has been set before you by God himself. I will be interested to see if my comment is important to the "Other" magazine as they claim that it should be. (See page 13 February issue 02 volume 3) "You opinion counts. We want to hear from you."

  3. This is a one of a kind article rarely read in ‘ Others’ ... so refreshing to see the influences of holiness deep in the soul of The Salvation Army, and all too often buried by strategies and transition and ideology, instead of an urgent desire to see the grace of God moving people to salvation It SHOULD ALWAYS BE all about Jesus !

  4. Catherine Wyles
    Catherine Wyles

    When I was 12 years old I went to a Congress and was horrified to see William booth glorified and not even a bible reading given on the Saturday night . God called me then to fight for what he intended the army to be and now 55 and an officer I have spent my life trying to fulfil that calling . Thank you , Gods got great thing in store when we humble ourselves before Him .

  5. Steven Farthing
    Steven Farthing

    Yes, the Salvation Army here in the UK has a lot of social services running on government money. In fact, the Salvation Army is the largest social care provider in the UK outside Government. I had contact recently with a Salvation Army Rehab that doesn't have any Salvation Army people working in it. Of course if you run on Government money then your strings are pulled by those holding the purse and handing out the funding. The real problem can be the detachment from Salvation Army projects and services, from local Corps. Perhaps we have become largely Sunday Salvationists.

  6. Thank you for this. I spoke on something similar the other week about how we lose focus on what is the real reason we were raised and what we are about and who raised us up - It wasn't William Booth, it was God using William Booth to create this amazing church and organisation that has practical help at its heart. I love the older kinda strap line (if that is the proper phrase) we used 'Heart to God and hand to man.'

  7. How true,went in to a Salvo store this morning to give some sleeping bags.Telling the attendent ,you may be able to give these to some homeless person if they come in the store.Her reply was we don't give items away,we sell them.

  8. Michelle Poke
    Michelle Poke

    If the Salvation Army died - ah, people might grieve but... God’s plans are not restricted to ‘this’ church or ‘that’ building. The Kingdom will continue to grow, with or without this Army.
    “See, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth, I tell you of them.” ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭42:9.
    “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” ‭Job‬ ‭42:2‬ ‭NRSV‬‬

  9. Dear brother in Christ – thank you for sharing your thoughts – they are extremely important. I disagree with you on one point. Very early in my officership I stopped believing that ‘God raised up The Salvation Army’ – which you claim you still do. However, like yourself, I strongly believe that our mission is God-given, and I share the passion. The danger with the credo: ‘God raised up TSA’ is that our minds start to think that our structures and ways of doing our mission have God’s unlimited approval. I have witnessed that this attitude many times has stopped vibrant initiatives that are in line with the God-given mission. The God-given mission will never die as long as people like yourself have the passion.

  10. To a non-Christian or someone outside the cultural language (those whom TSA is supposedly wanting to evangelize) the word Movement means nothing. Why continue using words and symbols that are only confusing? The Gospel is straightforward: Believe on the Name of Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Get rid of the cultural language that is confusing to non believers

  11. Interesting article. In Australia The Salvation Army is now the Salvos. And according to others Magazine any person can be a Salvo. You do not even have to believe in God. If you work for The Salvos free or paid, if you attend the Salvos once in a while, if you get help from the Salvos. No matter what you can call yourself a Salvo. Lord send us another William Booth. By the way William Booth prophesied about these days.

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