What if The Salvation Army died?
What if The Salvation Army died?
6 March 2019
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 www.petebrookshaw.com