Dear Salvation Army, Why The Holiness Movement is Dead…

As with many of these articles, hear me out before you tell me how outraged you are that I would say such a thing.
Let me start by asking you four questions: 
1.  What is your Sunday service called?  Is it called a Holiness Meeting or “Worship Service” (or perhaps even Church Service)?
2.  Is Holiness lived and taught in your corps?
3.  Is Holiness a focal point of your corps and it’s ministries?
4.  What is the thrust of your local mission in your corps/appointment?  Is Holiness a portion of this?
If you can’t honestly say “Yes” to these questions, then perhaps we ought to see where the grave of holiness is located in your building.  The Salvation Army was a large part of the Holiness Movement.  I do not believe that our numeric and spiritual growth stemmed from obedient officers or because we had a “tighter” core group of leaders in our Army world, instead I believe we as an Army, recognized and believed in the transforming power of the Holy Spirit in people’s lives.  I think the crux of our present age is that fewer and fewer soldiers have this realization any longer.  Dare I say this is true for Officer and Soldiers in the corps.  I am not questioning our salvation, for I think this remains intact, but I am questioning whether or not we believe in an Almighty God who still performs miracles in the worst of sinners?
Brother and Sisters in Christ, we cannot live and die by our seeker’s registry.  This is a tremendous indication of changed lives, but it MUST not stop there.  We ought not to simply celebrate the statistical measure of our seekers at the mercy seat.  We ought to be discipling those newly saved souls.  This is where I believe the Army has fallen short and is in dire need of changing.  There has to be more than just converting people to Christ…once they get up from the mercy seat what do we do with them?  Do we have measures of accountability?  Do we have saints who can mentor and disciple them?  Salvation at the altar is only the beginning!!

(Let me also interject for a moment that statistics can become a poor surrogate for a disengaged style of leadership.  What I mean by this is, statistics by themselves can be a helpful tool when used correctly, but a harmful tool when context is not considered).

I digress…

The Holiness Movement is dead because we have worshiped at the church of numbers and figures instead of at the altar of transformation and grace.  We have lost our movement and exchanged it for a growing organization dependent upon successful programming and business operations.   Some of this cannot be helped.  A growing Army requires more guidelines and policies to govern its structure, but at the same time I fear we have sacrificed our very soul in an effort to remain our country’s top charity or top nonprofit…but perhaps we have lost something much more vital within our DNA as an Army of Salvation.

The Holiness Movement is dead because we have exchanged The Holy Spirit’s leading at times for ambition, power and dollar signs.  Many of our sacred spaces have been relegated to tiny chapels with no vision for growing souls and more vision for feeding stomachs.  Please don’t misunderstand me, we do indeed reach lives for Christ by first feeding and clothing people, but what if we have become so focused on the feeding and clothing people that we have neglected the salvation?  What if we have, in essence, told Jesus to wait in the vacant chapel while we filled the box of food for families?  What if we have forgotten our hearts to God while we have been reaching out to man?

A Resurrection? resurrect
I pray that we can bring the dead back to life!
I pray that we would wake up and recognize the deep need of a Holiness Army once more. I pray that we would wake up and recognize that in all of our strength and power and might we are nothing apart from the Holy Spirit’s leading.   In my American slang, perhaps we have “grown too big for our britches” and in our pride and even arrogance we have begun to lead ourselves instead of allow the Holy Spirit to lead us.
Make no mistake, the enemy, The Father of lies is perfectly content in watching us self-destruct in our polarizing visions and missions and efforts.  Satan would celebrate in our death as a movement in exchange for another social service organization or social club.  But with God all things are possible!  With His power we can come to life again in the places of dormant holiness and floundering mission.  We do not need more meetings to do this.  We do not need more programs to institute this.  What we need are soldiers willing to commit to prayer and discipleship.  We need soldiers committed to living lives of holiness, which is very contrary to the society around us today!  We need an Army mobilizing on Holiness and not just a march in uniforms.  There has to be an inward change before we can externally represent His presence in the streets!!

Lord resurrect our Army!
Resurrect this passion in me!
I want to be Your reflection
Resurrect your presence in me!

Something more for our Army world to ponder today!
Now, tell us what YOU think, leave your comments, questions and snide remarks below.

**Disclaimer:  The thoughts and opinions expressed here are that of the writer’s and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts and opinions of The Salvation Army.  Reader discretion is advised.**

12 thoughts on “Dear Salvation Army, Why The Holiness Movement is Dead…

Add yours

  1. I think your point of view is really one sided. The Salvation Army is more than one country, we are already in more than 100. And your local, personal reality does not apply for the rest of the Salvation Army, which is moved by the Holy Spirit and the movement of holiness in the rest of the world.
    I am agree though that if you put other intentions in your ministry the end result will be the end of the holiness movement, but we are the ones who are responsable, especially those of us who work in corps.

    1. I see what you’re saying, but I would counter that I have lived in more than one country and have experienced the Army in more than one place and I believe this to certainly be a viable issue today. Thanks for your comment!

  2. Part of the difficulty is that we no longer have a definite holiness experience to challenge ourselves to respond to. At the end of all the explanations of our leaders and especially our writers, we don’t know what to seek. So, any way you want to see “holiness” leads to seeing nothing . . . so we don’t seek the experience anymore. Even you, brother, challenge us to rediscover holiness but you don’t define it. Go back to square one and tell us what it is you want us to seek.

    1. Holiness is simple (yet hard): the deep desire to be like Christ in every way. At the moment of Salvation we receive the Holy Spirit who prods us fully submit and to shed off the old self and fully embrace the new that is the full reflection of Christ. You ask me how to define it, there is individual holiness and there is corporate holiness…we do not preach this as often (if at all) anymore and we seldom live it. What would it take to live out holiness and to be a kingdom builder?

  3. Yes for sure! Our Army of faith is going to known as CHARITY organization. And beyound from community and The soldiers, OFFICERS are made so powerful to decide thats why interest among the new soldiers is not so `holy´ as god wants. So, in my view to continue the first vision of Army With GOD is to make THE SALVATION ARMY as its objective, not so ammendable like other faithless charity institutions.

  4. Love this post and the prophetic call to our Army! I believe that we have become far too reliant on our financial resources and concerned with preserving and expanding those resources. Before any ministry expansion we must study and review. Rather than step out in faith and to allow God to provide, we don’t move until we have all the resources in place . . . May God continue to speak and move within our ranks!

  5. My corps here in Australia is commencing a series of meetings centering on Holiness and Holy living from tomorrow. I agree for some years we departed from the teaching however here it seems to be gradually returning.

  6. Thank you so much for this post, I am preparing a paper focusing on contrasting the early work of The Salvation Army, inspired by Booth’s theology of holiness and the movement of the Holy Spirit to how we are regarded and operate today in the Western world, Australia in particular. The conference theme is pneumatology (I wonder how many Salvationists are familiar with this). The following quote by William Booth should motivate us to rediscover and reinvigorate the Army as a holiness movement and turn our hearts to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit – Booth – “The chief danger that confronts the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, heaven without hell.”

  7. I see the army drifting away from the basic soap, soup and salvation. God army stands out in uniform but most see it as a job and not a calling. to serve others and bring them to the Lord. Always proud to say I am a salvationist, but having to hear so many begin turned away or having to make appointment. It is a 24/7 calling and not for all but all can serve. Please lets get back to the basic and show we are a church of love and compassion.

  8. To quote S.L BRENGLE as he quotes the Word of GOD:
    “The Bible tells us that holiness is perfect deliverance from sin. “The Blood of Jesus Christ … cleanseth us from ALL sin” (I John 1:7). Not one bit of sin is left, for your old man is crucified with Him, “that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin” (Rom. vi. 6), for we are “made free from sin” (Rom. vi. 18). And we are henceforth to reckon ourselves “dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God, through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. vi. 11). The Bible also tells us that it is “perfect love,” which must, in the very nature of the case, expel from the heart all hatred and every evil temper contrary to love, just as you must first empty a cup of all oil that may be in it before you can fill it with water.
    ‘There is a Fountain filled with Blood, Drawn from Immanuel’s veins And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.”‘

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