The Salvation Army – Women in Ministry…are we as Progressive as we think?

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Please don’t misunderstand my question.  I don’t mean to incite a riot or start a fight.  It’s a genuine question that continually needs to be re-examined.  

If the question was – “Is The Salvation Army more progressive than most churches?”  The obvious answer would be “YES”.  Absolutely we are progressing more rapidly than most churches, but we aren’t most churches are we?  Our mission is slightly different than most churches.  We adhere to communities of lost, need, poor, broken and we will use any and all available personnel in the trenches.  We are certainly progressive in the utilization of women in ministry.  

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But…

if the question asked – “Is The Salvation Army as progressive as we can be?”  I would have to say “no”.  
Certainly we are absolutely heading in the right direction.  Certainly we have made great strides in the egalitarian department (wait we don’t have that department yet at THQ?…sorry I couldn’t help myself).  

But…

When it comes to leadership and the selection of leaders how progressive are we then?  

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One can make the argument that our last General was a Woman – and I couldn’t argue with that.  One can also make the argument that more female leaders are being appointed to key leadership roles.  However, there are still appointments that occur that make me scratch my head.  Don’t take this the wrong way but sometimes gifts are seen in one of the married couple but the other partner in the marriage is appointed to some odd appointment or a place that they lack any gifting.  

Perhaps it’s not always inequality in the sexes, perhaps its because of specific giftings that are seen in one of the married couples…let me just be frank here – not every female officer wants to be appointed to the women’s ministries department, or the community cares department or another department that didn’t exist until recently.  As I say this it should also be noted that the same can be said of male officers who are appointed because of the giftings of their spouse.  We as an Army are getting better at this but we still have quite a ways to go as well.  

Breaking Old Molds

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Old excuse: “This is the way we’ve always done it
This excuse isn’t exclusive to corps deeply entrenched in traditions but is also evident in certain leadership models.  Others would say it another way – “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it”…but sometimes what that means is if it appears nothing is broken…sometimes we don’t see the fractures that have appeared over maintaining the “status quo”.  Sometimes we gloss over these cracks with fresh enamel of “Salute and go”.  

Officers are still people! 
They have hurts, aspirations, ideas, gifts and abilities.  Sometimes these gifts and abilities compliment the marriage team, and other times it is best to allow them to serve in separate appointments.  Every person regardless of their marital status is unique and can operate in many different appointments.  Their voice should matter in appointment decisions.  I recognize that more than ever Officers are being listened to.  I’m also not a fool in to thinking that Army politics “never” plays a part in some decisions that are made.  But if The Army is truly interested in stopping the attrition rate in its Officership core then intently listening to its officers should be at the top of the list.  

Humbly Serve!

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“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8).
We are, without a doubt, saved to save (and yes saved to serve)!  Humility doesn’t mean that we don’t discuss our gifts.  Humility doesn’t mean that we don’t sometimes disagree with decisions made.  Humility doesn’t mean that we are “happy” all the time.  But it does mean that where THE LORD leads we will go.  That’s why it is imperative that both leadership, department officers, corps officers and other officers appointed else where serve the Lord first, seek His face, pray earnestly, do what He says, and from that right relationship – lead in whatever capacity is appointed to us.  

Thoughts and Questions:
How progressive should we be when it comes appointments and gender? 
Are we there yet? 
What are the indicators that will be present when we have accomplished true egalitarian ministries? 
Does “pigeon-holing” in the appointment process still take place today?  
How can we change this? (Can this be changed?)

Here’s my purpose for writing this today.
Not to cause trouble…that’s not my intention at all.  Not to ruffle feathers – sorry if I did.  
Not to sound militant or rebellious – I will serve as the Lord leads me.  
But…
Jesus had female disciples in a very male dominated world.  He was progressive in ministry and egalitarian in his choice of followers.  Shouldn’t we be as well?  We have made great strides thus far in our Army…let’s not stop now!  

-Just something else to ponder today. 

 

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2 Comments

  1. Lots of good questions! Thx Scott!
    I recall a conversation with a female officer in leadership in TSA about how we have gotten away from our original purpose…Saved to Save… we are here to draw people to the knowledge of the Gospel and the saving grace of Christ. My question is one Catherine Bramwell Booth asked long ago…Are we so taken up making records of our work that there is hardly any time left for the work itself? ….In my ministry as a single officer I spend more time on business administration and reporting than anything else I do. I’m so busy taking pictures to record what we are doing that the relationship building is far more shallow than ever intended. So male or female, progressive, egalitarian or not there are more questions to be asked…Am I saved to save, saved to serve, or both and where is the balance?

  2. Until men are willing to get iff their high horse and allow women to be in a role that suits their talents, we will get nowhere. Also, our Constitution gets in the way. The spouse of the General is the International President of Women’s Ministries. We need to revamp everything in order to change.

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