Dear Salvation Army – 10 Things That Will Kill Your Corps

Today I want to explore with you only ten things that will kill our corps.  As with other lists we have compiled here on Pastorsponderings, this is merely a primer and I know there are other issues that will certainly lead to a terminal corps.  Be mindful as we explore this list to consider your own corps, ask yourself the hard questions.  Our goal is not to tear down or make anyone feel bad about their corps, but instead through critical thinking, help us to inject vibrancy into corps settings.  One other word of caution – Corps Officers, don’t try to be the dictator of every aspect of your corps, micromanaging will stunt the potential growth of your soldiers and local officers.  Soldiers & Local Officers, don’t expect or accept the notion that your corps officer is to do everything either.  This is a partnership.  It is true that the position of corps officer is a very temporal position and with it comes differing views and leadership styles, but be firm and strong as the glue that hold your corps together!  More often than not, corps that die usually have little to no local officers leading the way.  Without that infrastructure the corps can collapse.

So, without further adieu, let us delve into
Ten Things That Will Kill Your Corps 

  1.  Legalism legal
    Contrary to some views, the Pharisee of the Bible did not die…they still exist sometimes even in our corps.  Be mindful of the use of rules and regulations.  Yes, we need order and operate within a quasi-military structure, but watch out that extreme legalism doesn’t soffocate your members!  Remember that we are not under law but under grace!  (Rom. 6:14)   Yes, keep to the doctrines of our Army, but do not lord it over soldiers and adherents.  Excessive power will divide people and make them dispise leadership, where as grace and love will solidify the soldiers and friends of our army.  Sometimes, bite your tongue and say nothing is a better formula than lashing out, judging and becoming the rule enforcer!
  2. Tolerance of Sin Issues
    sinAt the other end of the spectrum is the ignoring and tolerance of sin issues in your corps.  Be mindful that we are not the judge of our world, but we do hold a high standard for our fellow brothers and sister in Christ who wear this uniform.  This almost seems to be in complete conflict with the first point, but it is not.  Galatians 6:1 clearly reminds us as it did in Paul’s day – “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.

    Do not blindly ignore sin issues in your corps.
    Confront in love with the support of other believers.  We must be very cautious here, make sure this is not done in anger, unless righteous anger is needed (let the Holy Spirit lead you).  Pray about these issues.  Wait for the right time.  DO NOT confront from the Pulpit or lash out at people just to “get even”.  Use your corps council, your local officers, contact an mediatary from your divisional headquarters, but do not let anyone in your fellowship slip further into sin and/or by ignoring it condone it by-proxy.

  3. Lack of Core Leadership
    Without core leaders in the corps, the vision and decisions fall solely on the Corps leadOfficer(s).  Yes, they have had training, yes they are leaders, but they cannot lead properly without the core leaders to help them.  A shared vision and delegated group will be better equipped to handle opportunities and threats that come to your corps and community.  If you don’t currently have core leaders, begin by praying and asking God to reveal potential leaders to you.  Prayer is never a last resort, but a constant conversation.  Don’t limit your search to just the older members, the younger generations will eventually replace us at some point, so begin to invest in them.  Begin to disciple them, and display for them what leadership is all about!  Gather one or two influential people with common sense to help you in your corps.  Remember, that we are an egalitarian movement – both men and women are equal, so do not limit your leadership search to just men or just women.  Without a core group of leaders, the vision and movement will be limited.
  4. Polarizing Visions
    disagreement
    Polarizing Vision Can Kill!
    On the other end of the spectrum you might have too many cooks in the kitchen, so to speak.  What happens when the core leaders in your core do not agree on which direction to take?  This is a danger, and if not addressed properly can leader to dysfunction, an exodus of membership and death in the corps.  A shared vision is of the utmost importance.  Without a shared vision, everyone will be doing their own thing and everyone will be going every which way, and nothing will ever get done successfully.  “Where there is no guidance the people fall, But in abundance of counselors there is victory.” (Proverbs 11:14)
  5. Inwardly focused – All-in
    There is a danger in our corps to become so insulated, so accustomed to who is there, focusedand what we do as a corps, that we begin to have no need for the “outside world”.  We stop looking out into our community and we become self-reliant and self-focused.  In this danger, what happens when our congregation gets old and dies?  Will there be youth to raise up and take our place?  Will be just be a group of inbred soldiers?  I don’t mean to sound crass, but the reality is, we need to stop being afraid of our communities.  We need to stop treating the people outside our buildings as “those people” with a sense of superiority.  We must squelch the desire to just remain in our buildings and selfishly focus on “us”.  What about the great commission?  What are we fighting for if we only fight for ourselves and our traditions and self-interests?  If we are all-in and inwardly focused, we will slowly die away…and no one will care when we’re gone.
  6. Outwardly focused – All-in
    godThis is probably a rare thing, but perhaps not.  Perhaps there are some corps that have so many services to the community that worship and all things “Spiritual” are an after thought, and then you come to Sunday and it just becomes a “thing we do”.  We focus all of our energies on the outside, on meeting human needs but we seldom meet those needs “in HIS name” anymore.  We might as well be just another social service agency or a humanitarian group, because we will have forgotten our first love and the “body” will be just bits and pieces pulled and stretched so thin that it doesn’t resemble Christ any longer.
  7. Rigid Goals and Vision 
    We can plan to fail by over planning everything.  This can kill our corps, if we do not listen to feedback from those we serve, and we merely continue to plod on in ourrule vision and goal because “they have been set, and we don’t alter these goals”.  Goals should never be so rigid that there is no looking back and re-evaluating what works and what does not work, whether it be in evangelism, discipleship, or corps fellowship growth strategies.  Remember what worked 100 years ago, might not necessarily be the best method to use in an ever evolving culture.  Not to say we adopt our culture, but we ought to consider what works and what does not work any longer and not be so rigid that we refuse to ever change how we plan and how we enact a strategy in our corps.  Rigidity can kill your corps, and stifle any potential growth you might see.
  8. Holiness is not taught
    holyIf you corps does not understand Holiness, and or it is never preached on spoken of, perhaps this might be an indicator of a terminal issue.  I am not saying that holiness is the end-all be-all of the corps, but what do you do with Salvation after receiving it?  Where does one go after initial sanctification?  Does the Holy Spirit still desire to transform us through and through?  Does He not want us to be the very reflection of Christ?  Yes.  There needs to be continual conversation about our surrendered life and how that looks in the real world.
  9. Discipleship is not cultivated
    With the teachings of Holiness, comes the deeper fellowship of discipleship.  This isn’t some text book class we all are forced to attend, this is mentoring, this is disemulating elders we respect, this is becoming more than who we are now.  Walking in the footsteps of saints and in so doing, we too become saints within this great army.  If your corps does not have this vital element, closely connected to holiness, you could be facing extinction.  Recognize this need, and do something!!
  10. Comfort Over Risk 
    Lastly, our army could will die if we merely remain content in where we have come.  We can sit back and relish the past.  We can lament that things aren’t how they used lazyto be in the bygone days.  We can rest comfortably on financial resources and riches we have been given from various places, and never take another risk again…and if we do this, we. will. die.  I cannot stress it enough, in order for God to change our Army, we have to become uncomfortable again.  We have to take risks and forget what the rules and regulations say.  We have to close dead corps, move to places of need without bureaucratic red tape hamstringing us along the way.  We have to get out of our pews and put feet to our professed faith.  It’s either put up or shut-up.  Seriously, we can talk a good game, but if we can’t back it up, then hung it up and quit already.  We don’t need fans in the stands not doing the work.  We don’t need complainers and criticizers telling it us it can’t be done – because the risk is too great.  If we don’t do something, we might as well put our corps on life-support right now.  There is a sad trend that is taking place in our corps around the USA, and our corps are not statistically growing anymore.  We are not busting out of our corps buildings anymore.  Yes, perhaps it’s across the board in all denominations, but could it be that we are so comfortable now that we have stopped ACTUALLY trying to reach our communities?  Could this be an entire systemic issue of spiritual laziness?  Forgive me if I offend you today, I can’t help but feel alarmed at how swiftly our corps are dying.  And I can’t help but wonder what the next 50 years will hold for this movement?  If we do nothing, we will not be here in 50 years…not like we have been, not like we should be…and then perhaps, Lord forbid, God raises up someone else to do what we should have been doing.

    These are ten things that are killing our corps…there are more, but for now that is more than enough to ponder and chew on in our army.  What do you think?  Tell us, please, I relish your input, opinion and testimonies.

    Blessings on you and your corps today!
    To God be the glory!

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7 Comments

  1. My officer parents always said that if we fail to keep marching we will become stagnant. Too many Corps are closing. Leaders must lead & encourage others to pick up the flag & go out into the highways & byways. the need is growing & so many more people need the Word telling again & again. god Bless our Army.

  2. I speak to people (not S.A.),and they miss seeing the band marching up the street flags flying. We seems to have lost our traditions. Yes we need to move forward but you don’t see folks wearing the uniform. Truthfully I do not recognize my corp it does not feel like the S.A. Move forward but keep the spirit of the of what the S.A. is corps officers are not Pastors call them by their rank. I still believe in what the S.A. stands for.

  3. The church should be bigger than the Army, allow the Army to die, then the church will grow. Never mind the Army peripherals, what is needed is the authentic church. Let the Army spirit die in order for the Spirit to move the church.

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