Messy Church – Joseph and His Coat of Many Colors…

Joseph  – Messy Church

This time our corps (church) did a messy church on the story of Joseph and his coat of many colors.  The major theme was God providing and taking what was meant for evil and turning it into something good.  The following stations were used to illustration and reinforce the story as the station leader asked questions and prodded the participants to discuss and think about particular segments of Joseph’s life.  

Station 1:  Dream Pictures (10 Minutes) dreams
(Need:  cotton swabs, card paper, markers, colored film paper.)
Create a dream on paper with the materials at the table.
Talk about:  Talk about dreams, how God can speak to people through dreams, and how most of us have a dream for our lives.  We might find that as we follow our dream, God has very different plans for us that are even better than our dreams.

Questions:
Do you like to sleep in complete darkness or do you sleep with a night light or lamp?
What kind of dreams do you have?
Do you think that God can still speak to us in our dreams or is it just last night’s pizza?

Scripture – Genesis 37:5-8
Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.”

His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.

Ask:  Does it sound like Joseph’s brothers appreciated his dream?
Why do you think they were upset with Joseph?
Do you get along with you family and brother/sister(s)?
Close:
As we finish this station today remember that it is good to dream big dreams in life and that God wants to help you along the way.  God also wants to be there with you each step of the way!

coatStation 2:  Big Colored Coat (10 Minutes)
(Need:  outline of coat, colored crepe/tissue paper paper, glue)

prepare in advance strips of colored paper for the participants to organize onto their coat.  Emphasize the need to make it as beautiful as possible.

Talk About:
Talk about the beautiful coat that Jacob gave to Joseph as a present.  Ask everyone what their favorite piece of clothing is at the moment:  favorite shoes, shirt, jeans, jacket and why.

Scripture Genesis 37:3 – “Now Israel (Jacob) loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. And he made him a robe of many colors.”

Questions:
Why did Jacob give Joseph the colorful coat?
Who are the people in your life that love you?  Name them.
How can we show love to others like Jacob showed love to his son Joseph?

Station 3  Gift Box Decoration (10 Minutes) boxes
(Need:  Small gift boxes, scraps of colorful material or wrapping paper, wrapped candies/chocolates)

Directions:  decorate small gift boxes using the colorful materials and wrapping paper.  Use a heart or cross design while using the materials as a symbol of love.  Select and place a wrapped candy/chocolate inside the decorated box.  The idea behind the box is to give the box and the candy away to someone to show how much you care for them.

Talk About:
Talk about presents from friends or members of your family and how you might want to give them a present just because you love them so much.
Ask:  What’s the best present you’ve ever been given?
What made it the best present?
Who gave you that present?

Scripture:  2 Corinthians 9:15 “Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!
What do you think is the writer meant when he said “this gift”?  Who do you think this gift is about?  Do you know that God loves you so very much that He sent Jesus to die for your sins?  We are going to close our time at this station with a quick word of prayer thanking God for giving us this wonderful gift of Salvation through Jesus.  (Pray)

Lastly say, “After Church today, or during this week, pray about who you should give this gift to.  Perhaps it will help cheer someone up, or used as a way to help heal a relationship or friendship that you have.  Pray about it and then give this little gift to someone who you feel needs it.

Station 4 Thumbprint People (10 Minutes)
(Need: Poster paint in different colors, sheets of paper, markers)
painttheone
Directions:  Make 12 thumbprints with poster paint.  When they’re dry, decorate them with markers, drawing eyes, mouths, beards, and clothes to be Joseph and his 11 brothers.

Talk About:
Talk about the way very different people make up a family and how hard it can be to live together when you feel very different from each other.  Talk about ways of getting along that you have found helpful.

Read Scripture as participants are decorating: Genesis 37:18-28 18 When Joseph’s brothers saw him coming, they recognized him in the distance. As he approached, they made plans to kill him. 19 “Here comes the dreamer!” they said. 20 “Come on, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns. We can tell our father, ‘A wild animal has eaten him.’ Then we’ll see what becomes of his dreams!”

21 But when Reuben heard of their scheme, he came to Joseph’s rescue. “Let’s not kill him,” he said. 22 “Why should we shed any blood? Let’s just throw him into this empty cistern here in the wilderness. Then he’ll die without our laying a hand on him.” Reuben was secretly planning to rescue Joseph and return him to his father.

23 So when Joseph arrived, his brothers ripped off the beautiful robe he was wearing. 24 Then they grabbed him and threw him into the cistern. Now the cistern was empty; there was no water in it. 25 Then, just as they were sitting down to eat, they looked up and saw a caravan of camels in the distance coming toward them. It was a group of Ishmaelite traders taking a load of gum, balm, and aromatic resin from Gilead down to Egypt.

26 Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain by killing our brother? We’d have to cover up the crime.[c] 27 Instead of hurting him, let’s sell him to those Ishmaelite traders. After all, he is our brother—our own flesh and blood!” And his brothers agreed. 28 So when the Ishmaelites, who were Midianite traders, came by, Joseph’s brothers pulled him out of the cistern and sold him to them for twenty pieces[d] of silver. And the traders took him to Egypt.

Ask:  Why do you think his brothers hated Joseph so much?
What was the name of the brother who stopped the other brothers from killing Joseph?
How do you get along with your siblings?  What are some ways that you can make peace when a fight breaks out?

Station 5: False Beards  (10 Minutes) beards
(Need: Scraps of dark brown, black fabric, scissors, dark wool and a darning needle –if needed- and thread)

Using your selection of fabric cut out a triangle big enough to fit on the chin as a beard.  Cut a mouth hole so that it comprises a moustache and beard.  Using the threat poke a hole on either side of the beard in order to tie it around the back of your head.  Wear your beard with pride!

Talk about:
Talk about the “hairy Ishmaelites”  who took Joseph off to Egypt and sold him as a slave:
Scripture:  Genesis 37:25-28
25 Then, just as they were sitting down to eat, they looked up and saw a caravan of camels in the distance coming toward them. It was a group of Ishmaelite traders taking a load of gum, balm, and aromatic resin from Gilead down to Egypt.

beard3

26 Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain by killing our brother? We’d have to cover up the crime.  27 Instead of hurting him, let’s sell him to those Ishmaelite traders. After all, he is our brother—our own flesh and blood!” And his brothers agreed. 28 So when the Ishmaelites, who were Midianite traders, came by, Joseph’s brothers pulled him out of the cistern and sold him to them for twenty pieces[d] of silver. And the traders took him to Egypt.
beard2
Questions:
What do you think it was like for Joseph being sold into slavery?
What do you think those hairy Ishmaelites were like?
Do you think Joseph was afraid to be away from home?
Do you think God was with Joseph even when we was a prisoner and slave?
 

 

Celebration: (back to Chapel or Fellowship Room)
Need:  Artwork and colorful mosaics, Egypt pics…all decorations and songs link to the activities  of the stations.

We sang these songs for the celebration/closing:
Just a closer walk with Thee, Jehovah Jireh.

Say:  
Joseph had 11 brothers.  Maybe you sometimes quarrel with your brother or sister.  Well, Joseph and his brothers often quarreled, partly because Joseph’s brothers were jealous of the beautiful coat that their Dad, Jacob had given to Joseph.

Bring a bright coat or robe out of a box

Also, Joseph had dreams they didn’t like.  For example, he dreamed the sun and moon and 11 stars were bowing down to him.  His brothers thought he was showing off.  So the brothers plotted to kill Joseph.  They threw him down a dry well, but then instead of killing him, they decided to sell him into slavery when a caravan of slavers traveled by.  To cover up their crime, they killed an animal and poured its blood onto Joseph’s beautiful colored coat and told their father Jacob that Joseph had been killed by a wild animal.

Bring out a small knife from the box…
In Egypt, Joseph was sold as a slave and, although he was very hardworking, he was thrown in jail for something he didn’t do.  While he was in prison, he told some prisoners what their dreams meant, and later he told the Pharaoh what his dreams meant:  that the harvest would fail and there was going to be a famine, so Egypt would have to stock up on food.

Bring a small loaf of bread out of the box…

The famine came to the whole area – and Egypt was the only place with food, thanks to Joseph.  Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt to buy food, but they didn’t recognize joseph.  What would Joseph do?  Should he get his revenge on them for being so mean all those years ago?

No!  He told them who he was and forgave them.  “Even though you meant to harm me, God made it all turn out well so that everyone would be saved, “  he said.  So they brought Jacob their father, to Egypt and God reunited them all.

Bring a picture of a smiling face out of the box…or a family photo…

God can take things that go wrong and mend them and turn them to good.  He wants to bring us together as his Christian family.  Think of someone you’ve quarreled with recently.  Let’s say sorry to God and ask him to help us forgive them and to make up.

Closing Prayer:
Lord, thank you that we are one big family of your people throughout the world and throughout history.  Help us to live as one family, loving each other through thick and thin.  Amen.

Benediction:
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ
*Hold out your hands expecting a present.*

And the love of God
*Put your hands on your heart*

And the fellowship of the Holy Spirit
*Hold hands*

Be with us all now and forever.  Amen!
*Raise hands together on the word ‘Amen’*

Adapted from the book:  Messy Church: Fresh ideas for building a Christ-centered Community.  Messy

Dear Salvation Army: 4 Mistakes New Officers Make

“Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one’s mistakes.”― Oscar Wilde

Dear Salvation Army, it has been a while since we last spoke.
Today let us explore the topic of mistakes in relation to Officership.
It is never a comfortable conversation, but in reality these conversation are here to encourage, challenge and push us to improve our ministries.

Question:  Are mistakes always bad?  No.
Mistakes help us, and sometimes in the process of making mistakes we discover a whole new world of opportunities and possibilities.  Mistakes are just opportunities to improve and learn as we grow in our ministries.

Before we haphazardly jump into this list of mistakes, I am well aware that this list is for anyone in ministry, regardless if you wear red trim or not.  These mistakes can be made by anyone including seasoned officers.  My primary purpose for writing these down is not to demean or discourage, but as I have already said,  to encourage and challenge!

Let’s dig in…
4 Mistakes New Officers Make:

1.  Go It Alone Cowboy…cowboy
If you want to do a few small things right, do them yourself. If you want to do great things and make a big impact, learn to delegate.” ― John C Maxwell

The art of delegation is vital in ministry.
Admittedly we who minister in The Salvation Army realize that sometimes those we minister to are not capable of taking on any leadership responsibility, but can we give some of our corps people small tasks to do?  Could it be that we are attempting to do everything on our own because we have this perfect image of what Sunday worship should look like, or how bible study/prayer meeting should run?   Perhaps in an attempt to have this perfect notion of “Corps” we pass over the chance to invite others who are in our corps into the small opportunities to serve.

New officers (as well as older officers) are tempted to become Cowboys/ Cowgirls in their ministries.   By this I mean they go it all alone.  They ride off into the Sunset onto the next task or mission…all alone.   Ministry cannot be done without including others into it.  We will only experience minimal success in our ministries if we continue the mistake of the
go it alone cowboy.

2.  The Overnight Express
trainI recall when I was a young officer (*shocked*  wait, I’m not anymore?  Am I really that old?)  I was ready to win the world for Jesus and I was going to conquer my new appointment and get all of these perceived improvements completed overnight.  So I set out to do just that.  The funny thing was all of my efforts were not always welcomed or liked.  Why?  Because I failed to include others (Soldiers, volunteers and adherents) into those plans.  Instead I attempted to do everything myself and all in one week of arriving at my new appointment.  *Mistake*

Change takes time.
Yes, make the vital improvements and necessary cleanings of your buildings right away, but take your time in implementing new ministries and vision casting.  Tell the story.  Explain the vision to those you ministry with.  If you fail to include people in the vision and try to change things in the “overnight express” you will face more trouble and opposition.  That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t make changes and cast a new vision, just get the “movers and shakers” in your corps on board first!  It’s easier when you have advocates and backers walking alongside you rather than just changing everything on your own and right away.  Remember – change is never easy for anyone.  Some of your corps members have lived through multiple officer changes and those adjustments are already hard of your corps people.  Love them.  Get to know them.  Learn from them.  Include them in your vision and mission for your corps…don’t leave them in your dust!

3.  Wide-Angle Lens world
There is such a thing as casting too big of a vision for your corps!
It’s the wide-angle lens that captures everything, but fails to include the details of small victories!  When we only cast the wide-angle lens vision, we lose out on celebrating the smaller victories of accomplished goals in the corps.  Don’t lose sight of these victories.  We lose the trees for the forest, and if our focus is too broad.  We can also frustrate our corps people with the high expectations of massive visions when they haven’t had the kind of recognition that they desperately need in what we perceive as the mundane things of Christian faith and practice.   This mistake has more to do with only seeing the big picture while neglecting the small processes and goals necessary to fully realize the broader goals.   While seeing the big picture is important, without the details, we will never see these become reality.  Slow down, take your time, and acknowledge the small “baby step” victories with your people!

4.  Set-Apart…But Not The Right Kind.

alone

 

Lastly, there is such a thing as the wrong kind of “set-apart” in Officership.
Life as an officer is difficult and time consuming.  We may at times be tempted to become separated from our corps members.  We can sometimes perceive the people we minister to as a compartmentalize area of our lives – where we have our “home life” over here, and our “corps life” over there.  This can sometimes translate even in our work days where we are pulled in so many directions that all we want to do is stay away from people and hole ourselves up in our offices in order to avoid them.  This can translate into a perception that the corps officer isn’t accessible and shouldn’t be bothered.  As I say this, you must recognize that there will be times when you must get work done and things have to be accomplished in your office, but don’t make this the standard of your  ministry.  Be mindful of the people you are ministering to and with.  We must be intentional is getting out of the “Set-apart” mentality – and connect with people in our corps and our community.  This mistake will rob you of wonderful fellowship opportunities and limit the impact you could have on those you serve.  Carve up your “work” time and your “connection” time.  Make sure that neither are neglected, but be aware that the best laid plans will sometimes have to be altered.

There are more mistakes we can sometimes make along the way.
Pray for discernment and wisdom as you begin to minister to your people.  Love your people, and be the hope of Christ to those who will meet you.

Something more for The Salvation Army to ponder today.
To God be the glory!

Dear Salvation Army: Serving Water and Cookies at Gay Pride Parade…

First of all, I have to tell you that I am very reluctant to ponder anything on this topic because it seems to be quite the hot button topic, and as of late many harsh things have been said from various perspectives.  I offer you this pondering as simply an objective observer and I will do my very best to present both sides of the conversation.  My approach to this pondering has, and always will be with grace and love…okay, here goes:

Recently on social media, The Salvation Army in Metro Chicago (in conjunction with CFOT) posted photos of Salvationists serving refreshments to people while they participated in the gay pride parade in the Wrigleyville/Boystown area of Chicago.

serveThe Facts…
What began 15 years ago as a means to offer kindness and grace to pride participants, has in some ways become quite a polarizing topic.  The location of the College for Officers Training in Chicago is directly in a predominantly gay and alternative lifestyle community.  Thus, this is the neighborhood Cadets and members of the CFOT staff do evangelism within.  Sadly though, on social media conversation threads, individuals have criticized and questioned the motives of those who distributed the water and cookies.  Some have asked, “Does serving these items mean that The Salvation Army is now condoning or accepting these alternative lifestyles?”  While others who are on the other end of the ideological range are simply flabbergasted by harsh comments and the overall sense of harsh criticism.

Questions to Ponder…
Does this type of event, which offers water and cookies, condone alternative lifestyles or is this simply an act of kindness and grace?  Is this, as some have angrily inferred, just another way for progressives to push this agenda of acceptance, or are we in need of more of these intentional, public acts of kindness to ALL people from ALL walks of life?

The Murky Waters…
The current position of The Salvation Army on the topic of Same-sex attraction and/or marriage is fairly common, but in a number of places in the Army the views on LGBT seems to be a murky water of ambiguity and inconsistency.

My Take…
We must be very careful not to become finger pointers and look down our noses like the Pharisees did in Jesus’ day.   They (the Pharisees) even witnessed Jesus’ disciples picking grain on Sabbath and about lost their ever-lovin’ minds.  The key, before any kind of discerning thought of judgement should be to soberly consider the state of our own hearts first.

Secondly, I think we as a Church (or Movement)  can be so quick to criticize without first trying to understand and ask the important questions.  We are far too quick to jump to conclusions and slow to consider what we might do in our own communities to provide such acts of kindness to the whosoever.

Lastly, how do we convey the grace of God to those we meet?  Are we to throw our bibles at people who do not live as we do by quoting scripture AT them?  Or do we show compassion, hope and grace to anyone who is willing to receive it?  Is there an intersecting line here that cannot be crossed?  Where does compassion and acts of kindness end and acceptance of lifestyle begin?  Is there a place when we might become stronger together instead of divided (division is perhaps what Satan would love to see in our Army)?  If so, how do we get to this point of unity within our courageous acts of compassion?

Conversely, how do we approach family?
By this I mean – I know Officers in The Salvation Army who have children who are either gay or in an alternative lifestyle.  How do we approach family in this context?  We (as people) can be so quick to assume that this subject is black and white, but it is much more complicated than that!  How we convey compassion and grace has to be wisely consider for fear of alienating our families and loved ones.

I know that this topic is a rather complicated and sensitive one, and can cause polarizing opinions and often brings out the worst in people, but please do not use this pondering as fodder for your case.  Our army is much broader than any one person’s view, opinion or agenda.  But here’s my take – Let’s err on the side of grace and compassion and leave the judgement to the One who will eventually judge us all.  Let’s support one another’s ministries including ministries into alternative lifestyle neighborhoods.  Let’s offer support to officers and staff who strive to live out the “without discrimination” from our mission statement.  Let us strive to live out holiness in how we love and serve in our neighborhoods and mission fields.  From this place, the Lord can and will impart His wisdom and guidance.

-Something more for our Army to ponder today.

Dear Salvation Army, Correcting Mission Drift

Without careful attention, faith-based organizations will inevitably drift from their founding mission.
― Peter Greer, Mission Drift: The Unspoken Crisis Facing Leaders, Charities, and Churches

In a previous pondering:  “Dear Salvation Army, Is this mission drift“, we explored the topic of mission drift and the question – “are we as an Organization/Movement experiencing mission drift right now?”  I received numerous comments via social media as well as this blog’s comment section.  There were many who felt that there is a current drift or a very present danger of drift taking place.  We as an Army and a movement are at a crossroads…this crossroads will determine if our mission and vision for this global army remains intact as our founders intended it to be or if we will realign, readjust or even throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater and start in a whole new direction of mission and purpose.

It should be duly noted that not all mission drift is bad, sometimes the drift occurs out of necessity for change.  Organizations have rebranded themselves or sought out strategic planners to help them shift or reinvent themselves to better suit the needs of the consumer or market.

But what happens when mission drift takes us into waters that we, as an Army should never have gone?  Are there places like that?  What are those places?

doWilliam Booth worked with lawmakers of his day to change policies and laws in order to help the common person, but have we at times dabbled too far into politics and government?  Have we assumed leadership roles within communities that have compromised or limited our ability to be Christ’s ambassadors?

Have we shifted this holistic ministry approach and only provided the soup and soap while leaving salvation in our corps chapels?  Where has mission drift occurred?

I am sure you know the differences between managers and leaders, but let me refresh your memories:  Here are 9 differences between managers and leaders found in the Forbes article: 9 Differences Between Being A Leader And A Manager by William Arruda.  (I recommend you reading it yourself)
1. Leaders create a vision, managers create goals.
2. Leaders are change agents, managers maintain the status quo.
3. Leaders are unique, managers copy.
4. Leaders take risks, managers control risk .
5. Leaders are in it for the long haul, managers think short-term.
6. Leaders grow personally, managers rely on existing, proven skills.
7. Leaders build relationships, managers build systems and processes.
8. Leaders coach, managers direct.
9. Leaders create fans, managers have employees.

If any of those “manager” qualities resonate with you or you see evidence of management in the army you aren’t alone.  We cannot be maintainers of the status quo nor can we afford to insulate, direct people and think in the short term because appointments aren’t forever…unfortunately I believe some of our mission drift stems from this misconception and lack of vision for the future.

2 Prescriptions for Correcting Mission Drift:
Let me first say that although we are a top down Army (in terms of our leadership model), that does not mean that a lowly lieutenant, captain or major (or even a soldier)  are powerless and unable to change this environment of mission drift.  We all can do our part to course correct when drift is leading us mercilessly away from Holiness, helping the marginalized and poor.  Substandard mission drift must be addressed in order to stave off organizational death.  So how do we course correct?  How to we change the flow of direction in order to get back to the basics of our true Salvation Army purpose?

Account1.  Live our Mission, our Vision and our values!  
We cannot change the world if we are not willing to allow the Holy Spirit to first change our lives.  We cannot preach this gospel of hope and grace unless we first live it…so too our Mission as an Army has to be practiced in every facet of our lives.  We cannot expect this drift to be course-corrected if we aren’t willing to live Holiness in our lives.  The best sermon ever preached wasn’t from the pulpit, it’s from living it out-loud in our lifestyle.  If we want this mission of the Army to remain strong and true, we have to embrace, live and be the mission of the Army!  Most importantly – We must have a consistency of faith in Christ, from this, all other things will fall into place.  We cannot recognize mission drift when it occurs if we aren’t first fully invested in the current mission of this Army.

2.  Teach our Mission, our vision and our values! 

passing the baton
The second prescription sounds a lot like discipleship…that’s because it truly is!  I firmly believe that if we are to live out the core foundations of the Army, we will find that at our base is Christ…He is (or should be) our Cornerstone!  Without Christ this Army of Salvation would only be a social organization dedicated to doing good things.  We must never become this especially if Christ is at our center.  If we live it, then it only becomes natural to teach it and share it with others.  Discipleship is more than book work and chapters to finish in a class room; it is living side by side other believers and helping each other along in this journey.

Do we know what The Salvation Army mission and vision statements are?
Can we clearly articulate these to others?
How does this translate into living?
What obstacles prevent us currently from living missionally?
Are there tools that we need in order to help other people understand our mission as an Army?

Let me conclude this second entry on the topic of ‘mission drift’ but reiterating the point that everyone within this army has a role to play in course-correcting mission drift!  This is not just the General’s job…or the Commissioner’s job, or the Divisional Commander’s job…this is the life blood of a forward moving Army!  So what are you waiting for?  Get on with it!  Do not allow mission drift to become the vice of Satan that breaks us apart!

Something more for our Salvation Army world to ponder.  God Bless you!

*Disclaimer:  the thoughts and opinions express here are the thoughts and opinions of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of The Salvation Army. Reader discretion is advised.*

3 Resources to help you become a better Salvation Army Officer…

Let’s face it, the role of a Salvation Army Officer is difficult.  I know…understatement of the century!

There are certainly joys…along with heartache and sorrows – it’s a mixed bag sometimes.  We all wish that things would go according to plan, but most of the time we look like this:
spinningAnd, we hope nothing gets dropped along the way…

The question doesn’t become what can we do less of, but rather how can we do the good things better?  How can we begin to focus on the strengths of our corps and our corps people?

If I have learned anything from Officership it is that we are very, very good at doing many things, but we do not do many things well.  Perhaps it is time to stop meeting the average expectations, stop doing mediocre work because we’re spread far too thin to do anything well; and instead, focus on the things that make our corps or ministry unique and successful!  To do this, sacrifices might have to be made, we might have to eliminate or reduce the amount of ‘spinning plates’, but we do no one any good if we implode from over-extending ourselves.

It would be so easy to simply offer you some amazing new Apps that will help you in your ministry.  It would be simple to offer this new thing I found of the internet that other pastors are using…instead let me offer you 3 Resources that you already have and will not cost you a dime (except for your time and effort).

  1.  Pastoral Partnerships: 
    pastorsThe unfortunate side of ministry, it would seem, is that many churches and pastors are in competition for parishioners.  It isn’t always intentional, but many churches have created their own silos, including The Salvation Army.  Sometimes it’s pride, and self-reliance, but these silos prevent us from truly experiencing the fellowship of other ministries and resources because we cannot work with others.  Visit other pastors in your community.  Go to their churches (but not on Mondays = Universal Pastoral day off) and meet fellow workers in the fields of souls.I recently visited the pastor of our local Wesleyan Church.  He called me up to donate some food to our soup kitchen, and I had not had the chance to meet him yet…so I personally went to see him.  What I experienced in talking to him for only 45 minutes was not only refreshing to my soul, but it encouraged me greatly.  We also struck up some commonalities, and resources were exchanged for the development of future partnerships together.

    Fellow Officers, we are so much stronger together than we are by remaining in our individual denominational silos.

    2.   Community Connections  Puzzle
    This resource is closely related to #1 as well as the continued need to get out of the silo…(perhaps you are picking up on the theme of this particular article).  There are many people in your community right now that love The Salvation Army and they just need an invitation to help out.  Be mindful that business professionals are very busy, so make sure the buy-in request is tangible, well thought out, and clear.  You are looking for pieces to the puzzle to help with the over all mission, that Bank president can help in great ways provided that you put that ‘piece’ into the right place.

    3.  Leadership Development, Empowerment & Delegation!
    The last resource (at least on this list, because there is SO much more that we could cover) is, in my opinion, the most important resource that your corps or ministry has – people who are already invested in the mission!!  We are only as strong as the team around us.  We as Officers are good at trying to do everything on our own, so much so that we often face burnout.  In Exodus 18, we find a workaholic named Moses who is wisely counseled by his father-in-law Jethro.  Jethro tells Moses; “what you are doing is not good.  You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out.  The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.” (Exodus 18:17-18)

    This is extremely wise advise to Moses and to us.  We cannot do it all ourselves, so why do we try to be SuperOfficer?  Why do we think it all has to get completed by us?  This is where leadership development, empowerment and delegation comes into play.  We owe it to ourselves and the future development and growth of our corps to raise up leaders who can help us.  Perhaps those leaders are already there, they just don’t know it yet.  This type of development and action will take time and patience, but your ministry will be stronger because of it.

    Just think, every time we ‘go it alone’ we are potentially robbing someone of the opportunity to learn, lead and grow!  Do you need help developing your team?  Having struggles figuring out how this ought to be done?  Consult your divisional staff, ask for help from other pastors, and perhaps do some research on how other corps are appointing leaders and developing them.  MinistryHere is one resource that the Central Territory is using, and I know that there are other resources just like this in other territories.

    Do not leave your corps members behind while planning for the future!  Raise up others to help you accomplish the mission of the Army!  It might be easier to do everything yourself, but entrust, empower and lead others to become better invested in the mission of this Salvation Army!

    These are just three resources to help you become a better Officer, naturally, never discount or take for granted the power of the Holy Spirit in all of these ventures!  He will empower you to do what must be done, so above all else, humble submit yourself to Him daily!

    Something more for the Army world to ponder today!
    God bless you!
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Dear Salvation Army, How Accountable Are We Really?

Last year (2016), General Cox set forth an initiative called Journey of Renewal.
This initiative has been created to encourage, grow, and tackle many of the struggles our Army faces today.  In some countries in recent years there have been horrific criminal events that have taken place, and in some regards this is the Army’s response as a preventative measure for the present and future.

I am greatly encouraged by this initiative, and see the possibilities of being truly transparent…but please afford me a small measure of cynicism too.  I am hopeful, yet I am unsure if this can, or will actually work.  (I really, really hope it does!)

I want transparency and accountability for all leadership. salvation army
I believe that this is not only biblical, it is also ethical.
Yet, I am unsure how this will be done from every level, when the accountability of all leadership is not currently in place yet.  Sure, there are the yearly reviews and the audits and so on, but how does one thoroughly weigh the performance of Army personnel from afar?

We must tread carefully as we throw the word accountability around, because, as this initiative states, we must have proof with facts and not just rumors.  Accusations and rumors can destroy leaders from every level if wrongfully accused, this we must be mindful of.  On the same token, our accountability of leadership MUST encompass every level of authority from the top down.  We cannot have true accountability until every rank, position and appointment are held to the same level.  We cannot sweep things under the rug for one and enforce disciplinary measures for another.

We also should recognize that every level of leadership is fallible and is sometimes subject to making mistakes.  A level of grace must be given while these measures of accountability are kept.  Without grace, all of us fall short of the glory of God!

Please allow me to quote a portion of this initiative from General Cox:  
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Being open and transparent.
The Accountability Movement encourages people to be more open and transparent. Leaders should not ask ‘why do they need to know?’ but rather enable an open, transparent culture of ‘why shouldn’t people be told?’

Salvation Army leaders at all levels should encourage people to think, discuss and debate how the Army can be more effective, efficient and faithful in doing God’s will in our communities.

Mutual respect and truth.
There must be a culture of mutual respect and truth-telling between Army leaders and those under their command. Developing this culture means that if leaders or followers behave badly there must be consequences. The General has made it clear that everyone needs to be held to account – but fairly.

The practice of complaining secretly or writing anonymous letters has to end. A new accountability culture will require effective processes to address the concerns of whistle-blowers – but allegations must be backed up with facts, not rumours.” http://accountability.salvationarmy.org/

I must tell you the portion that I am most wary of: “complaining of secretly  or writing anonymous letters has to end…”  I understand that there have been many forms of accusation in various places around the Army world, some legitimate while others slanderous and maliciously false.  One of the causes of such a practice in our army (letter writing and secretly complaining) is that there is a very real fear of reprisals or punishment for those who would cry foul, and the fear is this punishment will be handed out by leaders in authority.  Perhaps an officer has complained about leadership, and so without any investigation, that officer is either directly dealt with or sent to a punishment appointment in the hopes that they will then resign and then the “problem” officer is gone.    Our Army is very good at holding our cards tightly to our chest.  We are not very good at transparency, although at times we talk a good game…much improvement needs to take place in order to actually be transparent, and I think General Cox is right in talking about this and starting this initiative.

With that being said though, if transparency is to be fully realized there must be a level playing field for all Officers and soldiers (which I really hope this initiative produces). Some people in our Army do not have any way in which they can safely respond to improper use of authority and maltreatment.  Where does a soldier go to report the misuse of authority by their Corps Officer?  Where does a Corps Officer go to report the misuse of authority by their Divisional Officer?  The list goes on.  Who will really listen to them and actually take them seriously and look into it?  And if something is found, will anything really be done unless it becomes a legal issue?
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Please do not misunderstand me, I am not advocating any kind of witch-hunt in our Army by any means, all I am inferring is that everyone who holds a shred of authority from the General on down to the local officer in a corps should be held accountable in the same way.  Yes, the level of responsibility is different, but everyone should be striving for the same goal:  Christ-likeness and Kingdom building.  If another ambition or goal has been improperly submitted, then hold that person accountable and measure the fruit that each produces.

new accountability culture will require effective processes to address the concerns of whistle-blowers

I am very curious to know what “effective processes” actually means?
Dear Salvation Army, if you want to be truly transparent, then these effective processes will be explained in greater detail in the near future.  I am encouraged by this initiative “Journey of Renewal”!  I see great things taking place if this is followed through with.  If we want to see real change and renewal in our Army, we must make the hard decisions; we must confront sin issues and deal with them, but we must also do it with grace and love.  We have to take responsibility for our actions from the top down and the bottom up!  No one is more important than the next, and if we are leaders, we must be servants first.

Please pray for your leaders, the greater the responsibility of leadership one assumes the more temptation there is, and they face a lot more pressure as well.

May we hold each other accountable for no other purpose than to see lives transformed by the renewing power of the Holy Spirit and to witness the lost being found by a mighty, mighty God!

Something more for the Army world to ponder today!
Tell us what you think!  Do you think this new initiative will work?  How can we make it work in our community/ministry?  How are you already doing “accountability” in your appointment, corps, ministry?
Leave your comments, questions and thoughts below.
Thanks!

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Disclaimer:  “The thoughts and opinions written here are the writer’s and not necessarily that of The Salvation Army’s, reader discretion is advised.”

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.
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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?
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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?
Mercy
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.
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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.**

Dear Salvation Army, Why We Should Get Rid of “Church”…

The primary purpose for our founders in creating The Salvation Army was to be a Lighthouse, a beacon to the lost.  We were founded to help the lost, the drowning the marginalized in society…those who were not welcome in Church.  We are a holiness movement, and our origin story is all about gap ministry.   We go to places that the Church has forgotten or, in some cases, refused to go.
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Why then do we make it such a focus to emulate or replicate the Church?
I do not wish to disparage any church but as a practice, many times Church (big C) gets it wrong.  The Salvation Army was created to be a “door-opener”  – a ministry in which people felt comfortable with, where lives were being touched because the physical needs were met first.  But over time, I feel that we started looking around at the explosive growth of churches and mega churches and longed to be like them…when our mission and vision is nothing like them.   It’s like this:  We are all a member of the Body of Christ, some are the hands, some are the feet…but what happens when the hands look over and see the feet and they begin to try and act like feet?  What happens is we have a polarizing body that is not functioning as it was intended to function.  This is what I believe has become our downfall as an Army.  We were called to be the hands of Christ to the unchurched, to the depraved, to the marginalized of society…but we are trying to act and look like another ministry.

Getting Rid of “Church”
1.  Stop labeling “Worship” only what we do with music…
worshipWe need to rid ourselves of the Church of the worship of music!
Worship is so much more than music on Sunday mornings.  Worship is not just your praise band or your brass band and special music.  Worship IS holistic and it encompasses every aspect of who we are as Soldiers of this Army, just as Holiness is our aim in every facet of life!  Worship is the response to God’s wondrous love for us.  We worship in the van as we pick up people for Holiness meeting.  We worship as we go to midweek bible study or other such programs.  We worship as we clean the corps bathrooms (this might sound funny, but we once had a blind janitor who could be heard singing hymns of praise while he clean the toilets and washed walls – he taught me a lot about worship).  brass

2.  Stop thinking Church as only what we do on Sunday…
This notion of “Church” really should be eliminated so that we can get on with going for souls and going for the worst!  Church is NOT what we do on Sundays!  We worship the Lord on our Sunday Sabbath day.  We collectively get together on this day and sing, pray, encourage one another and hear a message…but Church is not only a Sunday thing.  We we have this mindset that Sunday is separate from the rest of the week, and that “Church” should only occur on Sunday then we have lost our mission as an Army.  Getting rid of this notion of “Church” will open up the possibilities that our Soup Kitchen days, and our Food Pantry days, and our youth program days…IS ALL MINISTRY!!  Every facet of these vital “soup, soap, salvation” elements is another opportunity to share Christ, disciple lives and encourage the downtrodden.  This is what Church should’ve been…and what we ought to strive to BE.    Your congregation is NOT Sunday, but everyday – everyone who comes to your corps, who receives services, who asks for help, They are your congregation!

3.  Create Community Not Programs!
programsWe as an Army are so good at creating programs.
We have programs for everything – we even have programs for programs.
It is not the Army’s mission to create more programs, it is our mission to create community and save souls in Jesus’ name!  When we aren’t engaging our community with the elements we are using, perhaps it’s time to rid ourselves of the Church of Programs!!
Programs can become our Church and we are so caught up in our program bubbles that we cannot see what families and individuals are truly in need of.  We think, we’ll just start a new program to reach them, when in reality what every person craves is a place to belong and to find encouragement and feel that they are a member of the community.

4.  Create an Environment of Ownership!own
Lieutenants, Captains, Majors & perhaps a few Colonels & Commissioners – We must stop trying to run everything ourselves.  Stop micromanaging.  The Army, at times, worships at the Church of the Micromanagers and we must rid ourselves of this Church!!  What we do by micromanaging is create a corps of dependency.  By this I mean is the attitude or belief becomes “since the Officer runs keyeverything, we can sit back and watch since they don’t need me anyway.”  If you have doers in your corps, they will quickly become frustrated and perhaps seek somewhere else that they will be used.  Stop micromanaging and start delegating leadership and other duties to others in your corps!  Begin to create the environment of ownership.

Do you remember what Jesus did when they were facing a mass feeding problem of about 5,000+ people?  He didn’t immediately take charge, instead he went to his disciples and said, “feed these people”.  Of course the disciples were in shock and did not know how to proceed, the cost was too high and they only had five loaves and two fish.  But do you remember what Jesus did with their effort?  He multiplied it.  

In a very real sense, the Holy Spirit will do that in our corps too when there is an investment and ownership by others.  We as officers and leaders have to relinquish our drive for perfection and our grip on authority and allow others to be discipled and in turn they will own their shared portions of responsibility.

I know there is much more to cover on this topic.
What other Churches do we worship at that we should rid ourselves of?
We are a gap ministry, a safe harbor for hurting people to come and find a home.
The Salvation Army needs to rid itself of Church so that it can fully embrace its Holiness as a Movement of Christ.

Something more for our Army world to ponder today.
What do you think?  Tell us by commenting, offering your thoughts and opinions.

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

4 Reasons The Salvation Army Is Losing Millennials

 

I’ve been doing some research on Millennials…I happen to have two living in my home.
More and more I see young people reaching a certain age in our corps, perhaps around 16 – 18 and then they simply vanish from our doors.  They might reappear from time to time, but they never stay.  It saddens me to see The Salvation Army (and most North American denominations) experience this.  I felt led to explore this topic, not with any agenda other than trying to understand why we are losing such an important generation…a generation that will one day run our Army.  What I found was alarming, and I simply want to transplant some of these findings on The Salvation Army in the hopes that we can recognize and perhaps help stave the exodus of an entire generation.  I also want to firmly acknowledge that not every Millennial falls into these category, but a majority of those who leave our corps and its ministries perhaps might have the following reasons for doing so, (whether true or assumed truth by the one doing the leaving).  hello

4 Reasons The Salvation Army Is Losing Millennials: 

  1.  “God Can Be Found Elsewhere”
    GodIn a 2015 Barna study, nearly 39% of Millennials believed that God could be found elsewhere and one did not have to attend church in order to find Him.  This is troubling in that our Corps ought to be a place where God is very real and present.  Is He in your corps?  How can we impress upon our young people that God might not be tied specifically to our corps halls but to sacrificial living?  Perhaps it has to begin by living that belief out.  I wish to applaud those in my life who became that example for me.  Many wonderful officers and soldiers displayed their holy living through their kindness, grace and love.  Perhaps we need less rhetoric and cliche mottos and more evidence of belief in those mottos being poured out into our lives and spilling itself out into our communities.  No, God can certainly be found elsewhere, but is He evident in us?
  2. Millennials Can Spot Fakes fake
    We’ve all seen the televangelist on TV with the gleaming porcelin teeth and the empty messages of prosperity and joy without ever mentioning godly principles, character and sin.  There is a deep longing amongst millennials for the return of the sacred to our churches and corps.  The message of wearing a uniform as our only testimony to an inward change is not enough, we must enact that change and live it out.  This is of course true for every generation, and the necessity for Holiness in our movement is vital for all.  Thus, when we talk a big game but nothing ever materializes or happens millennials will spot the phoniness and run for the exits.  We can dress the part, we can say all the “hallelujahs” and “fire a volleys” until we are blue in the face, but if none of it translates into Holy living, you can bet that sort of fakery will be seen and once seen very hard to recover from.

    What Millennials want in its officers and soldiers are people who are real, people who are genuine.  They want to see real people struggling with real stuff and not hiding or pretending everything is fine.  This is extremely vulnerable for both sides:  to admit that though we live out holiness we still encounter hardships, doubt and fear.  Soldiers, be real…don’t put on masks, don’t lie when things are not going well.  Live Holiness out even when the ugliness of life can be seen.

  3. Hypocrites In Uniforms
    hypoCoupled with spotting fakes, Millennials are repulsed by hypocrites who preach one thing but live another way.  The “do as I say, not as I do” motto needs to die not only in the Church but in our Army as well.  If it exists, stamp it out, address it, don’t let it fester and lead to the spiritual death of your corps body.  I have heard of corps (years ago) who had bandsmen who would dress up in their uniforms just to perform in the band and as soon as their part in the service was complete they would rush out the back door and leave – what kind of witness is that to our young people?  Millennials have also seen moral failures in society, and perhaps even in the Salvation Army.  Divorce rates have been on the rise and half of millennials will be coming from either one parent households or having split their time in two homes.  Some have witnessed the effects of moral failure first hand in family members and most deeply desire to change that narrative in their own lives.

    Other instances could involve Officers and soldiers forming intentional or unintentional private/exclusive groups in the corps, and fail to include others seeking fellowship.  Perhaps some have experienced mean people in the pews of our corps and wondered to themselves “is this what The Salvation Army is all about?”

    I will guarantee that #3 rubs many of us the wrong way – good, because it ought to.  We should never be perceived as hypocrites in uniform.  If we aren’t inclusive of people from all walks of life, then we really have no place being an army of Salvation.  All are welcome into our services in order to experience the love of God.

    Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.”  Matthew 6:1-5

  4. Lack of Ownership passing the baton
    Millennials want to belong to something great.
    They believe in charity, giving and helping people in need.  There is a real passion to serve within causes that matter and make a difference.  When we emphasize world services – they want to contribute and help out in tangible ways.  When we do not allow them to participate because they are young, do “don’t know anything” we are essentially closing the doors to their future in the Army.  Millennials want to have an invested interest in the Army – but how can we empower them and raise they up to lead?  There needs to come a point, and perhaps in some places this is already happening , that we not only invest in the younger generations as an Army, but we allow them to take leadership positions in our corps and relinquish our grips on some roles of authority and allow them to help.  When we grant a genuine investment piece for our youth, they will have a sense of belonging and a deeper desire to serve and to be use – because they will be making  difference.

    These are just four reasons the Salvation Army is losing millennials.  I fully acknowledge that churches in other denominations are facing the same crisis.  But for just a moment, let me ask you – What is the Army doing to ensure the next generation doesn’t flee its ranks?  What can be done?   More importantly, what are YOU doing?  Because our Army is only as strong as its members are proactively engaged in its mission.

    We don’t need to spruce up our worship bands, or make sure we have attractive looking corps or programs, what Millennials (and non-millennials) are looking for is a warm, inviting place to belong – is YOUR Corps that place?

    Something more for our Army to ponder today.
    For more reading on this topic check out these links:
    2015 Barna Study:  “What Millennials Want When They Visit Church

    5 Things Millennials Wish Church Would Be

     

    4 Things Millennials Wish the Church Would Be

    How Does the Church Reach Millennials? Hint: It’s Not Flashing Lights or Rock Band Worship

    *Disclaimer:  The Views and Opinions of the writer of this blog are not necessarily the views and opinions of The Salvation Army.  Reader discretion is advised.” 

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.*

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