If you’re part of The Salvation Army, you’re part of a dynamic, exciting movement with a desire to change the world. There I’ve said it. Though one may ask, what actually is Salvationism? What is a Salvationist?
Let me start with this: I’ve heard plenty of definitions of the mission of The Salvation Army. Maybe you have too. Some inspire you to make a difference and others feel like dry words merely articulated on a page. It goes without saying, when the mission is clear, The Salvation Army has clarity and focus. And clarity and focus is what we need.
So what then is the mission of The Salvation Army? And further more, what is Salvationism?
In the Australia Southern Territory of The Salvation Army, we say that God raised up the Army for the purpose of:
- Transforming Lives
- Caring for People
- Making Disciples
- Reforming Society
In other parts of the Army, the words spoken by General John Gowans are used: The Mission of The Salvation Army is to Save Souls, Grow Saints and Serve Suffering Humanity.
If you haven’t heard, the International Mission Statement of The Salvation Army is:
The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian
Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission
is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.
Some narrow down the mission of The Salvation Army to one sentence: Win the world for Jesus.
It’s bold, gutsy, arduous and worth embracing. The Salvation Army does not sit around waiting for bums on seats. We won’t sit and wait for the world to embrace God, like all of a sudden people will start flocking to our communities of faith, believing we have some answers to their brokenness. The Salvation Army is a pragmatic movement seeking to change the world, for the sake of the Kingdom of God.
A Salvationist is one working to that end.
I mean, a Salvationist is clumsily defined in most dictionaries as, ‘A member of The Salvation Army.’ Though, that’s like defining a great hamburger as ‘A bun with a meat pattie and some ingredients inside.’ It fails to encapsulate the essence of Salvationism.
A Salvationist has agreed to live a certain way (holiness) and has agreed to live out and actively pursue the fulfilment of the mission of The Salvation Army. Soldier’s sign a Soldier’s Covenant, because they understand the significance of what Salvationism means and the power of aligning oneself to such a covenant.
I think the signing of that Soldier’s Covenant and subsequently living out that covenant is relevant and spiritually powerful.
The Salvation Army should be unapologetic in calling people to Salvationism. In an age where we are post-denominational and we are a ‘go with the flow’ kind of people, it is still of value to stand by principles that create clarity and purpose for one’s life and to then commit to it.
We are a salvation people.
I am reminded by a lady in our Corps named Di. She is being enrolled as a soldier very shortly. Though the story goes back to coming for welfare support at the corps. Then she joined our community lunch and starting helping. Then she immersed herself into our Thrift Shop ministry. At some point she chose to forgive her mother. Then she starting dancing and laughing up the front of the church on a Sunday morning. Then we did Soldiership classes. She wants to change the world. She wants to express that desire through Salvation Army Soldiership.
Pause for moment.
Let me make some quick comments on what it means to be a Salvationist. A Salvationist is a:
- Passionate prayer warrior
- Committed social justice advocate
- Zealous evangelist
- Generous giver
- Faith-filled risk-taker
- Holy-inspired follower of Jesus
- Covenanted child of the King
- Unapologetically driven to support the work of the Kingdom of God through The Salvation Army
- Loyal and active participator in a local Corps
You may add your own thoughts on what it means to be a Salvationist.
Let me finish with this definition of Salvationism.
William Booth sums up Salvationism in one sentence:
‘Salvationism means simply the overcoming and banishing from the earth of wickedness.’
To read more, go to www.petebrookshaw.com
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