Dear Salvation Army Officers, How To Find The Time For Ministry In 4 Steps

Dear Officer,
what does your normal day look like?
Are there reports to submit, bills to sign, checks to deposit, phone calls to be made, budgets to be crafted (or re-crafted for the 10th time), personnel fires to put out….?  Does that sound about right?  I probably forgot to add, routine maintenance to schedule, board meeting details, corps council action steps to follow through on, people in visit in the hospital, statistics to enter, important community meetings to attend and perhaps a club meeting to participate in…and THAT sometimes is just the tip of the iceberg.

Commissioner George Scott Railton once said, “God requires the duty. If its performance brings no return, that is God’s affair not yours. The soldier who has obeyed every order comes back from defeat, as from victory, with honour.”

I often mistake business for duty, don’t you?
It seems we as Officers and even Soldiers are so good at busy-work that perhaps at times we miss the ministry altogether.  We are very good at being soldiers and obeying orders yet miss the mark on pastoral ministries…and each one of us are pastors and ministry ought to be at the forefront of what we do in and out of uniform.  If we work hard and climb whatever ladder we aspire to, yet lose the “Salvation” in our Army, then we will have lost everything and all of our hard work (duty) will be for naught.

Here are 4 steps to help each of us find the time for ministry again.
I hope and pray this will be beneficial to you as you read these.  Most will seem quite obvious, yet actually following through on them intentionally will certainly be harder.
I also acknowledge that these suggested steps could include many more, yet for the sake of time a succinct list has been compiled here for us to consider.  Also note that it is quite difficult to quantify these and wrap them up in a nice red bow, so as you read, perhaps you will discover other steps that I would ask you to share with us if you would be so kind.

HOW TO FIND THE TIME FOR MINISTRY IN 4 Steps:

  1.  Recognize Everything As Ministry
    ministryAs someone once pointed out everything is spiritual, there should be no compartmentalizing of our various tasks and that of holistic ministry.  I know a financial planner in our community who makes a point of praying for every client that comes to visit him.  He has even prayed with me there in his office.  These prayers that he offers are not pithy cliche prayers either, but one can feel the presence of God while he prays for you and the present circumstances that you are facing.  He considers his office not only the place he draws his paycheck from, but a chapel in which he ministers.  Perhaps we have not made our officers our chapels of ministry.  Perhaps we get so bogged down by what is required of us that we forget to include God in those spaces in order to make them sacred.  Everything we do from the most mundane of things to the most important things ought to be considered ministry – not some laborious task to get accomplished.

    Martin Luther King Jr is quoted as saying, ““If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.

    Consider each task ministry – from the least to the most important!

  2. Intentionally Pray And Plan
    We undoubtedly do our ministry a great disservice when we do not first intently pray for it and for those we will meet along its path.  Prayer should never be the last resort, but the first weapon in our spiritual arsenal.  If we aren’t burdened for the needs of others through prayer on our knees then we ought reach deeper into ourselves and explore our hearts and motivation. pray When we pray for each segment of our officership and appointment, we will find that our hearts are attuned to the moving of the Holy Spirit.  If everything we do is spiritual, then why do not pray in such a way?  When we intentionally pray and make this a spiritual discipline we will be better equipped to make the necessary plans that our ministries so desperately need. plan Don’t stumble into your day or week having now idea what you wish to accomplish.  Don’t wait until the last minute to pray for our congregation and those you minister to.  Keep them in the forefront of what you are doing, after all, the paperwork and reports are all because they are vitally important to you and to God.  Do not make haphazard plans at the last minute, throwing things together and hoping they all pan out…do yourself a favor and your soldiers a favor and make intentional, prayerful plans that will form and shape lives for Christ.
  3. Intentionally Show Up – Practice Presence
    cellI catch myself doing this, and I recognize my own conviction here:
    Put down the cell phones, put away the distractions…close the laptop and look your people in the eye.  Show up to your appointment ready to serve the Lord and those He has placed on your path.  Practice the presence of availability.  It almost seems contradictory, but forget those reports and the paperwork and spend time talking to your staff, your volunteers, your corps members…they are all members of your flock.  They will know if you are not actually available to them just by your presentemphasis on the “important stuff” that consumes all of your time.  I would imagine nearly 99% of us officers are guilty of this at one time or another.  Show up and be present.  Ask God to give you His eyes to see the needs around you.  Spend time drinking coffee (or tea or water) with those who frequent your soup kitchen.  Invest yourselves in the lives of people and do not stop with those who wear our uniform and within whom we already know.  Step out of your comfort zone and be available to listen, serve and love.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5AkNqLuVgY

  4. Focus On Lives Not Numbers!
    statsThis step goes hand in hand with #3.
    Be mindful that our “end game” is not filling the statistics with numerical growth.
    If our sole focus is on building our Sunday stats with attendees then all that we will be focused on in church invitations and getting people through the doors of “Sunday Church”….have you stopped to consider that EVERYTHING we do is Church?  Have you considered that perhaps your biggest ministry isn’t on Sunday morning but during the week when you encounter broken people earnestly seeking help?  These are members of your flock that often get taken for granted.  They may never ever darken the doors of a traditional church, but 9 times out of 10 they call The Salvation Army their church home because we feed them on a regular basis and there are people who care for them.  Focus on individual lives of people, how to reach them, pray for them and with them.  Care about them…forget numbers, numbers will take care of itself if we are loving people and earnestly placing their needs at the foot of Christ.

    Evangeline Booth once said, “It is not how many years we live, but what we do with them.”  Allow me to adjust this quote to fit you the Officer today, and I do not think this loses any emphasis in doing so:    “It is not how many years of service you have, but what you do with them.”
    flag
    Something more for our Army and our Officers to consider today.
    Blessings!

    Please tell us what you think and offer additional steps you might offer in addition to these.  Thank you!

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

Dear Salvation Army, Convenience or War?

booth“We are not sent to minister to a congregation and be content if we keep things going. We are sent to make war…and to stop short of nothing but the subjugation of the world to the sway of the Lord Jesus” – William Booth

Today I wish to ponder upon our identity and that of our action as a Salvation Army.
I believe the chief dangers of our Army currently is comfort and prosperity.  I speak primarily to the Western world “Army”.  Not as an indictment, but rather as a conviction of mine.  We are comfortable. We have where places in the world does not have even a roof to worship under.  We can call it blessed, and it certainly is, but within that “blessing” there is the real danger of becoming lazy.

-Lazy with Jesus’ teachings.
-Lazy with the need to leave our buildings.
-Lazy with the necessity for Holiness.
-Lazy with the Officer or Local Officer in their preparation for Sermons and Teachings.

Comfort can produce these dangers if safe guards are not in place, and spiritual disciplines are absent.  (I am not calling anyone lazy in this pondering, merely warning all of us of its lure and harming  effect it has on our mission)

go onGeneral Booth’s quote here seems to indicate that it is not The Salvation Army’s mission to maintain .  Are we doing this right now?  Are we simply playing it safe and maintaining the status quo?  What of Spiritual and Corps Growth?  What we are we doing within the context of Suffering/Serving Humanity that leads to lives being transformed?  Our Army is NOT about becoming like another Church…or is it?  Is it an erroneous thought that we are Church or that our evangelistic approaches should mimic that of other churches?  What are the dangers of such an approach?  Do we get it wrong sometimes when it comes to this train of thought (Distancing ourselves from being just another “Church”)?

I know that the Booths truly believed that they could win the world for Jesus, and i’m not doubting that this is possible, BUT…was this quote simply used to rally the forces in some sort of pep talk/rally OR are we to wage spiritual warfare everywhere we look?

Some Truths: fight
We have become slightly (maybe more than slightly) comfortable in our cozy corps and structured programs.  We have sort of evolved, funding sources have more guidelines, we have more to lose and so we protect the ground we have already gained and risk much less often…tell me is this Booth’s vision of our Army?

I do not wish to sound like a militant Salvationist, but are we lacking something in this current approach?  I know that I’m not the only one asking this.  I know that there are leaders all around the world in our Army seeing this very same danger.  So…how do we fix it?  How do we go about turning the ship (sometimes Titanic-like behemoth) around?

I Believe… 
*I Believe we are not to be an Army of Convenience.
*I Believe we are not to be an Army of Comfort.
*I Believe that if we barricade the corps doors and insinuate ourselves with program and “play” church, and look like all the other churches – we will have lost our Blood and Fire Souls!
*I Believe this generation needs to step up our efforts in the fight against sin in our communities.
*I Believe a little civil disobedience in order for deaf ears to hear of the hope of Christ needs to be utilized once more.
*I Believe that we need to rely less on where our next funding source is coming from and more on the Great Provider to grant us these gifts.
*I Believe that Holiness in our Ranks means that our mission will not face extinction.
*I Believe that without prayer in the pews we will not have warriors for Christ in the streets.
* I Believe that without spiritual disciplines employed in our personal daily walks, we will be greatly weakened, Christ’s image not realized, and more susceptible to the lures of temptation.
* I Believe that our Army is in need of a revolution which can only begin on our knees in full submission.
*I Believe what make us an effective army is the Holy Spirit’s power, and the obedient-servant hearts of soldiers!

ArmyI do not belong to a convenience Army…do you?
May we continue to wage war in our communities on sin.
The darkness is very real in towns and cities.
Suffering because of sin still occurs…and we cannot, we will not turn a blind eye to those who are suffering!

Something more to ponder today.
To God be the glory!

 

 
Disclaimer:  The Opinions and thoughts of the writer do not necessarily reflect the opinions and thoughts of The Salvation Army.  

Dear Salvation Army – Matters Of The Heart

Dear Salvation Army,
What we do day in and day out matters in our world.
Don’t ever forget why we do what we do.
If we ever lose sight of this relationship that we have with Christ, His Holy Presence with us, I fear we will lose our way completely!

This work is arduous.
This work is often without reward – we don’t seek rewards or earthly recognition…do we?  The mission we have been given is to provide hope, to show others the way to Christ, to instill the deep need for Holiness in our corps and in our lives.  We are, at times a gateway for those who have never set foot into a church, let alone those who have never left the door open to a Christ that cares.

The Salvation Army doesn’t exist to feed ourselves, it should never be an organization sold out to the almighty dollar and the stipulations assigned to those funds.  Sometimes when compromise happens, one wonders where our “walk by faith” went?  We aren’t in this mission to merely survive…we will thrive and be faithful in all seasons including those in which we struggle.

Programs & Lies We Buy…
Photo Dec 01, 12 46 55 PMIf all we do is programs and our hearts remain at home, we will have a soul-less building devoid of people seeking spiritual growth, holiness and this new creation we are to become.  Sometimes I fear we settle for what is instead of what could be…or what SHOULD be.  Soldiers, in essence we listen to the lies of the Great Deceiver when we buy into the acceptance of where we are right now and that we are incapable anymore of growing in the grace that Christ offers.  We convince ourselves that we aren’t good enough to receive entire sanctification, or we must become biblical scholars to get there.  We make every excuse in the book to NOT change that we run the risk of becoming stagnant and meaningless.  This is exactly where Satan wants us to remain.  If we remain here, we are no longer fit to be called an Army of Salvation, but instead the Army of Stagnation.    This is pretty harsh, because I believe we buy the lie that we cannot grow, or that we are limited in our growth.  I believe we stunt our growth and the workings of the Holy Spirit when we don’t allow Him access to EVERY corner of our hearts, minds and lives.

Discipleship of the Heart…
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 14:26

Photo Dec 01, 7 33 19 AMWe need to understand that what our corps do – matters.
What WE do as Soldiers in and out of the buildings we frequent MATTERS! This matter of the heart – means that we are living intentional lives both for the benefit of other believers and future seekers of Christ, as well as for our spiritual growth and development.

Dear Salvation Army Soldier, 
Be teach able.
Allow not only the Holy Spirit to instruct you in continual growth, but also other believers in the faith.  Do not allow your hearts to become hardened.  Do not become stiff necked people, who reflect more of the Pharisees of old than Christ himself.  When we lose sight of whose reflection we ought to emulate, we will have lost our reason for being an Army of Salvation.

Photo Nov 07, 7 30 14 PMBe Intentional
The words your choose, the friends you empower, the content (both visual and literary) you consume, the attitude you have around your community…IT ALL MATTERS.   If you cannot recognize the need for continual spiritual growth in your life, then beware.  We cannot become an army of arrogance and ignorance in regards to the matters of the heart.

Be Holy.
In word and deed – be holy.  Strive to be Christ-like.
Don’t take the short cuts, don’t sell out your faith or cheapen it in anyway.  Recognize that what you do on Monday through Saturday is just as important as what you do on Sunday in the Holiness meeting…it just might be more important.

heart.jpgThis message is for Adherents, Soldiers, Officers, Commissioners as well as the General.  It MUST be a matter of the heart.  We cannot only rely on “the law” to prop up what we do – we must first be HIS, and from that everything else must flow.  How is your heart?  Have you been guilty of listening to the lie?  Have you sold your need of Holiness short?  Is it incomplete?  Are you stagnating right now in your faith journey?  Perhaps this is my wake call…perhaps this is yours.  It is a matter of our hearts.  Forget all the programs that we throw around to “attract people”, forget all the “doing” that we are good at…it means absolutely nothing if our hearts are not completely His.

Something more for our Army world to ponder today.
To God be the glory.

*Disclaimer:  the thoughts and opinions express on Pastorsponderings are the writer’s own thoughts and opinions and are not necessarily the thoughts and opinions of The Salvation Army.*

Dear Salvation Army, 3 Things Every Soldier Should Know About Holiness

It can be quite easy to simply nod our heads when a topic such as holiness comes around.  We might nod our heads and deep down we really don’t understand much of it at all, we just don’t want anyone else to know.
I understand that, and I’ve been there.  Today on Pastorsponderings I want to delve into the topic Holiness AND be as simplistic as possible.

These are 3 Things Every Soldier Should Know About Holiness:
holiness2
1.  What is Holiness? 
Wesley taught that genuine faith produces inward and outward holiness. The regenerative process inwardly cannot help but find expression in an improved moral character outwardly. The doctrine of holiness is grounded in the command to be holy as God is holy (Lev. 19:2 and other Old Testament loci). Jesus commanded, “Be perfect therefore as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Mt. 5:48). Jesus also taught that true Christian discipleship requires loving God with all the heart, soul, mind, and strength, and loving neighbor as self (Mt. 22:34-40).” (Asbury University/Wesleyan-Holiness Theology – source: Wesleyan Holiness Theology)

We become saved, we perhaps kneel at the mercy seat and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives.   What then takes place is the Holy Spirit comes and takes up residence within your life.  We receive this “second blessing” – as He indwells among us.  With the Holy Spirit’s promptings, we are then forced to confront the “old self” still remaining within our lives.   I know of individuals who, at the moment of salvation, seemed to be completely changed.  I also know other individuals (myself included) who, at the moment of salvation, still struggled with the old life and with temptation.

Just because we have this passion and desire to become like the Christ doesn’t always mean it will happen over night, in fact, in my experience it is both a crisis and a process.  Holiness begins on our knees accepting Christ into our lives, and it progresses so that we become less and He becomes more day by day, minute by minute.

purify2.  What is Entire Sanctification?  
The Bible often speaks of sanctification, which basically means the total, lifelong process of becoming holy.  Because the process begins with the new birth (salvation), we call the spiritual growth immediately following regeneration “initial sanctification.”  That is, we begin walking God’s way.  The fruit of the Spirit in our lives becomes evidence that a change has taken place…Entire Sanctification is God’s gift.  We do not earn or deserve it any more than we earned or deserved regeneration.  We consecrate; God sanctifies.”  (Frank Moore, Coffee Shop Theology p. 68)

Is entire sanctification possible?  You bet it is!
Many will struggle with this concept because we can become so tied up in the notion of perfection.  Entire Sanctification doesn’t mean “Human Perfection”, it means that we have surrendered fully and we have died completely to the old self and have begun to completely live for Christ in every facet and in every way.  John Wesley even addressed the debate about whether or not”ES” was a process or an instantaneous second work of grace.  His answer?  “Yes“.   It is both a crisis and a process.  From my experience the Holy Spirit still have much to teach me in regards to this faith.  I am not completely like Christ yet…but I desire to be.  This crisis and process has to first be an individual holiness before it can be a corporate holiness.

The difference between our spiritual progress before and after Entire Sanctification centers on the removal of the hindrance of self-sovereignty” (Moore, Coffee Shop Theology p. 69)

bible3.  Renew, Refresh, Restart!
How do we renew?  How do we maintain this “Holiness” in our lives when there are so many distractions all around?

Samuel Logan Brengle describes the need to study and diligence –
If you want to hold the truth fast and not let it slip, you must read and read and re-read the Bible.  You must constantly refresh your mind with its truths, just as the diligent student constantly refreshes his mind by reviewing his textbooks, just as the lawyer who wishes to succeed constantly studies his law books, or the doctor his medical works.  John Wesley, in his old age, after having read and re-read the Bible all his life, said of himself; ‘I am homo unius libri’ – a man of one book.  The truth will surely slip, if you do not refresh your mind by constantly reading and meditating in the Bible.” (Brengle, Helps to Holiness p. 74)

Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t always understand these theological terms.
Be a faithful soldier of Christ.  Read the Bible.  Study.  Be mindful that life was never guaranteed to be easy post salvation and the second blessing.  Remember that there is more for us to learn, more room for us to grow.  Renew daily in Him.  Find a prayer closet, make it a discipline in your life.  Be aware of the distractions of life and perhaps fast from those distractions from time to time.  If He is to become more and you are to become less, then you must become disciplined in this path.

Do not be discouraged by the resistance you will encounter from your human nature; you must go against your human inclinations. Often, in the beginning, you will think that you are wasting time, but you must go on, be determined and persevere in it until death, despite all the difficulties.” -Brother Lawrence, The practice of the presence of God

Wrapping It Up: 

In concert with Phil Laeger

Where are you in your faith journey?
Is Holiness important to you?
How determined are we to sacrifice self-sovereignty and take on the mantle of selflessness?
Are we committed to Entire Sanctification?
Is Christ-likeness truly our goal and passion in our lives?

Dear Soldier,
We are a Holiness Movement, we don’t wear this simply as a badge of honor, it should propel in all we are and all we do.  How is your faith journey today?

Something more for our Army to ponder today, to God be the glory!

Re-read this week’s conversation on Holiness here by clicking on the links below:
Sin and Holiness
Cheap Grace
Unpopular Holiness

Disclaimer:  The writings, and opinions of Pastorsponders are the writers expressed opinions and do not always reflect the opinions and views of The Salvation Army.

Dear Salvation Army – What Do You Know About Unpopular Holiness?

Dear Salvation Army,
It might feel good to hear the acclaims of the public, to receive accolades for the work that we do…these are certainly affirming to us…but we aren’t in the business of helping people for the purpose of accolades are we?

We didn’t sign up to wear uncomfortable uniforms for the purpose of basking in the limelight did we?
No, the purpose for our movement is MORE than just helping people!
We ARE STILL a Holiness movement!  Let us never forget this truth, may it never get muddied in our various pursuits to “do the most good” in our communities.

Holiness is not an easy road for followers of Christ.

In concert with Phil Laeger
In concert with Phil Laeger
It is not the popular route.  Why?  Because it actually demands more from Christ’s followers.  It requires each of us to ACTUALLY face our sins, our hidden sins, our indiscretions, those things which embarrass us and cause us great shame.  It demands that we not only look at them but we allow the Holy Spirit to cast his glorious light upon them.  When we have given up fighting the Holy Spirit and have finally surrendered to His pleas, (perhaps there are those of you who relinquished right away, and of that I am envious) He then can begin this new work, this revitalizing-restoring creation within us.  Entire Sanctification is very real – but it will undoubtedly be the most unpopular thing an Officer or Soldier could ever preach.

Why so unpopular?  
Because it is not simple.  It is hard.  There is sacrifice, and in the Western Church, sacrifice is not something many are willing to really fully commit to in a long-term capacity.  We live in a hedonistic culture, even in Church,  and dare I say that Holiness will always be in conflict with such a lifestyle.
brengle

Samuel Logan Brengle in his book “Helps to Holiness” puts it this way – “Dear brother, do not think you can make holiness  popular.  It cannot be done.   There is no such thing as holiness separate from ‘Christ in you,’ and it is an impossibility to make Christ Jesus popular in this world.  To sinners and carnal professors, the real Christ Jesus has always been and always will be ‘as a root out of a dry ground, despised and rejected of men.’ ‘Christ in you’ is the ‘same yesterday, to-day, and forever’ – hated, reviled, persecuted, crucified…He (Christ) will pronounce the most terrible, yet tearful, maledictions against the hypocritical formalist and the lukewarm professor who are the friends of the world and, consequently, the enemies of God…Do you not see the impossibility of making such a radical Gospel as this popular?  This spirit and the spirit of the world are as fully opposed to each other as two locomotives on the same track running toward each at the same rate of sixty miles an hour.  Fire and water will consort together as quickly as the ‘Christ in you’ and the spirit of the world.” (pg. 92, 93, 96)

Questions to Ponder today: 
Can we accept such an Unpopular Holiness?
Are we up to the challenge?
Are we afraid of this world’s ridicule and shame?
Which “spirit” will we select tomorrow, and the next day, and the one after that?

Dear Salvation Army – We cannot separate the need for entire sanctification from what we do in our soup kitchens, social services offices or on the gym floor.  There should never be a distinction between what we do on Sundays from what we do the rest of the week.  The entire thrust of what “we do” is to bring people to Christ for the purpose of entire sanctification – through and through.

unpopularThis will be unpopular.
Many people, even soldiers will reject such a call…it’s too radical, it’s too much work, it requires too much study, patience and sacrifice…but isn’t that the purpose of becoming a true disciple of Christ – so that we become like Him in every way?!   Some are far too comfortable just coming to church on Sundays.  Some are happy with this familiar routine in life.  They don’t want to be shaken to the core.  They don’t want to be disrupted.  Some have stopped learning about Christ all together – internally they have become lazy in their studies of the Bible, they have thought in their minds “no one can teach me any more, because I already know everything there is to know about God and the Bible.”  -This is entirely far from the truth…I am ashamed to have even considered this phrase to be true in my own heart sometimes, yet God brings this spirit of conviction in me.  Dear soldiers, we need to humble ourselves once again.  We need to fall on our faces and repent.  We need to allow His Holy Spirit to renew us once more…and to allow Him to complete His work in us.

Some may cast this pondering aside today, because it will certainly be unpopular.
But I want to call us back to the Altar.  I want us to recognize the work we have left unfinished in our hearts.  We cannot go any further in our mission if we do not first stop here and ensure our hearts, our lives are completely His once more.  I know there is still work to be done in me…how about you?

Something more for our Army world to ponder today, to God be the glory!

To read more on this week’s topic of Holiness click the links below:
Sin and Holiness
Cheap Grace

Disclaimer:  The writings, and opinions of Pastorsponders are the writers expressed opinions and do not always reflect the opinions and views of The Salvation Army.

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