I am certainly not advocating trying these out today in your corps, actually I’m pleading for all of us to do the opposite. Our various ministries can, and should be paramount to our faith and to those we serve. How we lead others, how we conduct ourselves in our corps makes a difference!
With that being said, dear Soldier, here are 5 ways to kill a Corps!
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. (James 1:26)
The Fastest way to burn your corps down to the ground is to strike the match of the malicious tongue that wags and pierces hearts. Be aware of what you say and how you say things. No one likes to be around people who are asinine in their speech and malicious in their actions and opinions of others. Gossip has no place in the corps, unless you long for it to die a slow and agonizing death.
We know that gossip shouldn’t be, but why do we tolerate it and even entertain it in our halls? Dear Salvationist, have nothing to do with idle chatter and people who only want to slander and smear the truth. (2 Timothy 2:23).
“My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. 2 For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, 3 and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” 4 have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? 5 Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court? 7 Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you have been called?” (James 2:1-6 NASB)
It even happens in Corps buildings.
It might not necessarily be about rich and poor, but perhaps personalities and someone’s available gifts. An Officer can favor only a specific few corps members and by doing so, unknowingly cause dissension, envy and strife. The same can be said for local officers who choose corps members to help them in their daily duties. Be fair to all who come into your halls! Show love and compassion and be aware that favoritism can happen even if we’re not cognizant of it. Favoritism is a true, perhaps unseen danger in our corps, and if left unchecked will cause jealousy, anger and disharmony to occur which can lead to a terminal corps.
3. Lording Power
“Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder andwitness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, 2 shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will ofGod; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; 3 nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.” (1 Peter 5:1-3)
This Salvation Army was founded upon a militant structure and sometimes we can get carried away with ourselves in places of leadership and authority. Many of us have heard story after story where, one who was entrusted with power and authority, has used it in very unbiblical ways to hurt others. I would hope that this is not the norm, but rather isolated incidents of worldly ambitions becoming visible to all.
Dear Soldier, be keenly aware of the pending dangers of authority and power. If you are or ever become entrusted with any kind of power – use it wisely and with every amount of Holiness that you can muster! What you say, how you lead, what you do – makes the world a difference! Although we have a militant structure, keep in mind who is the head of our army – it certainly isn’t me or you, or even the General – It is the King of kings and Lord of lords!! Be good leaders! Be kind leaders. Be wise leaders. Set a godly standard by exercising grace, love and hope.
2. Find Fault In Everything and Everyone!
“Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions.” (Romans 14:1-2)
I have met some deeply cynical people in my day. Many were housed within the corps…these individuals could never be pleased no matter how hard one might try. No matter what took place, these individuals always saw the negative and very rarely the positive. After time, no one wanted anything to do with them, because bitterness tends to bleed into the very fabric of our corps buildings if we let it.
This blazing fire that could consume your corps, is like that of gossip. It can invade and taint everything it touches. People become disillusioned by it because no matter how hard you try fault and imperfections are always seem instead.
Examples (just to name a few):
“Well Captain, the service is just too dry for my tastes…”
“That worship band plays too loudly and I hate that sort of music…”
“We’ve never done it that way before, and we’re not about to try!”
“That man in the back has been coming to our corps for three weeks and he smells…”
“I might stop coming to the corps because _______(name here)___ is still there and they are horrible people!”
Sometimes, these nay-sayers use the old phrase “This and better will do” to justify their salty – never satisfied – fault finding attitudes that they have. The problem isn’t everyone else, the problem stems from these individuals who can find nothing good to say…ever! Don’t the the corps burn to ground because of fault-finders and judgmental people!
1. Abdicate All Leadership and Responsibilities
“Let someone else do it!”
“I don’t have the time to come to corps programs and activities…”
Corps Officer – “So, who will lead adult Sunday School for the next three months?” (silence fills the space…no one volunteers even though there are many capable individuals in the room)
This Army isn’t fully functional until ALL capable members of our corps are engaged and serving! Officers – you cannot abdicate your calling and role in the corps! Soldiers, you cannot let or conceive that all things done in the corps is the sole responsibility of the officer!
If we want our corps to die – then never step up.
If we want to preach to empty pews during holiness meetings – then never lead.
We can die by not taking responsibility. We can allow stagnation to set in and wilt away as one generation dies and there is no one left to take their place.
If you suffer from self-esteem issues or you question if you’re good enough to lead – you can do it! You just need one person to believe in you. We all make mistakes, it comes with the territory of leadership. Being responsible means we own up to our victories and our failures…and then we keep going and we don’t quit simply because the going got tough. We need more soldiers and officers with backbones – there I’ve said it. It’s not a slam again those who are faithfully serving (Thank you for what you do both behind the scene and in front of everyone!)…we cannot afford to abdicate our authority and leadership IF this is where God has called us to! Be faithful in the good times AND in the not so good times! This Army needs you! It needs good leaders! It needs consistent, prayer driven leaders.
Wrapping it up.
So this is my top 5, it’s a primer…what’s yours?
Share with us your top 5 things that will kill any corps from your experiences!
Together, we can avoid these pitfalls!
Something more for the Army world to ponder today!
*Disclaimer: The thoughts and opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent The Salvation Army’s thoughts and opinions, reader discretion is advised*
One of the problems as it relates to this very astute list, is that officers are often so afraid of hurting their numbers (ugh!), that we will avoid dealing with the individuals that are the purveyors of these problems. I have shed tears over losing someone from the corps over confrontation regarding one of these issues, only to find that they were the person or persons that were keeping the corps from growing in the first place. In a somewhat crass manned, we refer to them as blessed subtractions.
In all, I have learned that if we deal fearlessly and prayerfully with entrenched sin within the congregation, the short term is often ugly, but the long term is fruitful.
All too true Ed, it is very difficult to confront these issues in the corps, but it is a necessity!
It is my experience that a lack of pastoral care is a killer … Certainly members of the body of Christ should pray for, encourage, and support each other … However, that doesn’t compensate for a spirit of disinterest clearly communicated by the CO via the gap between religious words and actual pastoral care. People seek places where they are loved, wanted, cared for, nurtured, and challenged. Get to know the names of people who come. When they ask for prayer, follow up later to see how things are progressing. Reach out to those who are missing. Keep track of addresses and phone numbers. Give meaningful responsiblities.
Thank you! Very important words that must become action! Amen.
All those very important reminders for Salvationists! I believe when we call ourselves Salvationists, we don’t care if it’s officers or soldiers. We all have our responsibilities from God, just in a different position. I do agree that we are so scare of “responsibility” today, for the world has totally misinterpreted the concept of taking responsibility. One very obvious example, we can see young children are so eager to take responsibility from teachers, because it makes them feel capable and important. But from time to time, when we start to bear the blames and judgement with the responsibilities, it becomes something that we couldn’t take, especially when the blames and judgements are from our beloved corps people. Let’s pray that God clears our sight. Pray that we do not only have a child-like pure heart, but also see that those blames and judgement are not from “the flesh and blood, but from the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
(Ephesians 6:12 ESV)
God bless His Army!
What is killing Salvation Army churches is the constant pressuring of people to adopt liberal theology and political views. Yes it is true that William Booth was a social reformer and made great advances for the rights of the working class. Yet that does not mean that TSA and its members have to be pressured into preaching the agenda of the political left each Sunday over the pulpit. Sadly the TSA is all to prepared to accept government funding providing the gospel message is not preached with it. It is time we separated ourselves from political theology and returned to evangelizing the lost which is what we were founded to do, not to sit in buildings paid for by previous generations feeling chuffed about how politically correct our meetings are.
Yup. We need to be on fire, not lukewarm, about evangelizing. And to do what many mainstream Churches are NOT doing, which is to believe what God teaches in the Bible, be it on homosexuality, marriage, whatever.
God will bless us for that, and yes, the Army may lose some contracts with various parts of the Government, but we will maintain our integrity.
I was deeply hurt by a Soldier, a few years ago. The Officers would do nothing, because this man was part of the Corps Leadership team. I contacted HQ in Sydney, twice, and the person to whom I spoke told me, eventually, that no-one was prepared to act.
The particular Corps in question had its regular attendance diminish by three quarters due to that Soldier and a couple like him. It mattered not to those Officers in Sydney that were separated by distance and power.
Being a Soldier myself, I had to forgive, because Christ has told me to do so. I have come back to the Army, because I love the Army and its precepts, the style of worship, the motto in the flesh, and I’m interstate now, so go to another Corps when I can.
But it, too, is dying. No evangelism. No energy. No electricity. Its get up and go has got up and gone, as we say in our family.
Perhaps the Officers are too busy with the business of running the Corps and its welfare programmes.
I don’t know. I cannot help, as I live ninety minutes drive away, am on a Disability Pension, and so have little input into the Corps.
I am never contacted by the Officers.
This is so true. The Corps that I went too had way to much favourtism, and it does hurt so many people. Too many of the favourites, do not have leadership qualities, and strike their own personal agendas in to the Corps fabric.