Dear Salvation Army: Is The Holiness Movement Dying? Then Perhaps This is Why…

I continue to dream and pray about a revival of holiness in our day that moves forth in mission and creates authentic community in which each person can be unleashed through the empowerment of the Spirit to fulfill God’s creational intentions.” John Wesley

Dear beloved Army,
This holiness movement used to be so much grander than it is today.
Are we a dying breed?
Is this movement more of a nod to a bygone era?

More and more, we find that Holiness is being preached less and less, and even more praytroubling is that holiness is not being lived out or made into something real and tangible for the world to see.  The notion of being set-apart is both vital and necessary for the purpose of entire sanctification.   Being set-apart means that we wash the feet of those who have only experienced religion with strings attached.  For we are not a religion, we are a movement that preaches about this holy relationship we can have with the Almighty!  We are a movement (or at least we used to be) that lived out holiness and preached it from our pulpits.  If this is missing in our corps and in our witness then perhaps we have lost a step and are no longer a moving, passionate movement…but instead could it be that we are static and floundering about trying to define our identity apart from Holiness?

Have We Forgotten The Power Prayer?  
couttsGeneral Frederick Coutts once said:  “To pray together is to be shielded from evil, not only from the perils which beset the body, but also the dangers that assail the soul
Coupled with this near extinction of the Holiness movement, have we lost sight of the power of prayer?  Has prayer, and prayer meetings become a thing of the past in our corps?  I am sure that some will write me and proclaim that their corps still holds prayer meetings, this is wonderful news to hear, but for every one corps that proclaims this, there are most likely three or four more that will admit to its vacancy.   Have we stopped praying for one another?  Have we relinquished this vital weapon of spiritual warfare?  An Army no longer on its knees in prayer is an army who ill-equipped for the battles ahead.  How can we march out into the streets and boldly proclaim “the world for God” when we have not been earnestly praying for each other in our corps buildings as we individually engage in spiritual battles no one is willing to talk about let alone confront?

holiness.jpgI believe that if that we are to experience a revival again as a movement, it will only come when we begin to take our prayer lives more seriously.  This spiritual discipline is vital to both the corporate worship setting as well as the personal one done in those private moments.  Let me ask you this, how often to you pray for your fellow soldiers and officers? How often do we lift up our concerns before the Almighty and continue to wait on Him?  In our fast paced lifestyles we have grown impatient and we lack attention to prayer.  We need more prayer warriors in our Army and less prayer worriers.  We need authentic, vulnerable moments in our pews as much as we need real, genuine times of solitude in our homes devoted to prayer.

The disciples, post ascension, waited on God…only when they waited and prayed and longed for His presence were they able receive His holy presence and go out and proclaim the resurrected and transformational Christ!

prayerSomewhere along the line did we get ahead of Christ?
Did we leave Him in our upper rooms?  Did we rush out to do good works and forget to bring Him with us?  We can certainly fix the brokenness of physical needs through charity and social work, but we cannot bring the cure to sin-sick habitual living if we ourselves have forgotten about the need for entire sanctification in our corps and in our lives.  The uniform means nothing if we do not first have this yearning to become the very image of Christ in our living and in our breathing.  Apart from Him we can do nothing.

So let me ask you this:  Is the Holiness movement dead?
Is it on life support in our army?
Or is it thriving in your “neck of the woods”?
If it is indeed thriving, please tell us about your experiences!
I would never presume anything about your corps, and I am not saying anything other than what the Lord is convicting me of in my own life right now.
It is my belief that if we are not continually laying our all on the altar in full-surrender to Christ, and if we are not giving ourselves continually to the discipline of prayer – we will in affect have sounded the death-knell of this Holiness movement.

Dear Salvation Army, if we have been asleep to these disciplines, I pray we wake up and shake off the polarizing agendas and the distractions and get on with being Holy…from this act we can then do this holiness through the mission of our movement.

Something more for our Army world to Ponder today!
To God be the glory!

*Disclaimer: These thoughts and opinions are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of The Salvation Army.  Reader discretion is advised.* 

Finding the Melodies of Life (a metaphor of holiness) – Chapter 4 “Blaring for Jesus”


Chapter 4

Anything Blaring for Jesus”

(Corporate Holiness)

No one can whistle a symphony. It takes an orchestra to play it.” -Halford E. Luccock


Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishment toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”  -Andrew Carnegie


There’s an old saying about playing music that goes like this; “If you can’t hear the person next to you, then you’re probably playing too loudly.”  This applies in life under so many different categories as well.  There is a vast difference between hearing something and listening to something.  We can hear background noise, but hearing something does not mean that we are actively applying our sensory perception to that sound.  We hear a multitude of sounds every day all around us, yet we seldom apply our ears to actually listen to these sounds and noises, they are just background noise. 


When I was first able to play my cornet in a band setting, I was so proud of myself!  The practices alone in that little chapel had been paying off, and I was getting better at playing that brass instrument.  I could now play my “C” scale with very few mistakes, and my embouchure on that small metallic mouth piece was getting stronger with more confidence.  But there was a real danger in this overconfidence of mine; I wanted everyone to hear how good I was sounding.  I had these dreams of people standing up and applauding my amazing musical abilities, and so when we began to play our first song, “Anything for Jesus” in that little beginner band, I played as loudly as I possibly could.
too loud

I don’t think that the musical terminology “triple forte” could even begin to describe how loudly I played that song.  Perhaps a more appropriate description of that moment would be that I blasted the song “Anything for Jesus”…it should have been renamed “blaring for Jesus” right then and there.  The bandmaster stopped the song midway through a measure, and I thought to myself “he’s going to congratulate me on my performance, I hit every note and it sounded great!”  Instead of congratulating me, however, the bandmaster looked at me and said quite solemnly, “Scott, you are playing too loudly, so loudly in fact that I cannot hear anyone else!”  Then he looked at the entire band and said, “If you can’t hear the person next to you, then you are playing too loudly.”  His words stung me for a moment.  I thought I would receive a compliment for all of the hard work that could clearly be heard in the proficiency my playing, but instead I had been told to play softer.  I was so conscious of my own abilities and my own progress that I had failed to see the big picture in this beginner band.  I wanted everyone to hear ME and to say how greatly I had improved but I had failed to understand how important it was for the rest of the band to be heard as well. 


The disciples were arguing among themselves as they tried to figure out who would become the greatest in the kingdom.  They had been with Jesus for a while now and perhaps they felt that it was time to have some sort of “disciple midterm exam” to see how they ranked.  What I would have given to be a fly on that wall during that heated discussion, each disciple comparing their accomplishments and achievements, all the while vying for status a position, fame and recognition.  They didn’t get it.  Jesus had not selected His disciples for the purpose of notoriety and fame; instead He had selected those who were willing, those who were available and those who would serve.  Jesus interrupted their dispute because He knew what they were thinking and He responded to their shallowness and appetite for attention: “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”       (Luke 9:48)


Jesus still calls us to serve Him and to spread the good news of His mercy and salvation.  But our service isn’t about tooting our own horn for the sake of our glory and positional aspirations!  Corporate holiness has little room for “blaring for Jesus”, but has concert halls ready for the symphonic sounds of togetherness as we collectively strive to reflect Christ. 


Much Later

These same disciples, post Ascension of Jesus, were gathered TOGETHER in prayer and complete submission before God.  As they yearned to hear from Him, they were united and joined together, prepared to play a tune that would shake the very foundation of the world…and still that tune is being played.  We call this moment Pentecost, for as they gathered together and yearned and prayed the Holy Spirit fell upon them and they were able to speak in the various tongues of those who had gathered in Jerusalem that day.  How were they able to do such an amazing thing that day?  The Holy Spirit did the work, of course, but how did the Holy Spirit fall upon them?  The answer is that they were together, united under one holy purpose and they had become the least of these in their humility and their service before God.  They had stopped blaring their own tune and begun to play the music of a holy calling.   

Ephesians 4:15-16 (NIV)
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”


There is no doubt that individual holiness is crucial and should always precede corporate holiness, but without corporate holiness the band cannot improve, cannot become cohesive and cannot become synchronized.  We not only have a responsibility to play the music that God has called us play as an individual, but we have a responsibility to play the music in unity, together as a cohesive band.  When we can play the notes as a synchronized, single minded orchestra, the music then can become fuller and more pronounced as does the message of Christ. 


What we can learn from the Old Testament Hebrews

The people of Israel, God’s chosen set-apart people, were to exercise qadosh not just as individuals but as a corporate body.  Sometimes we miss the point of why God had called His people to be set-apart.  We often misunderstand this to mean that the Jewish people were the only ones worthy enough of this claim, yet time and again they failed to live up to their calling.  We often misunderstand that their “setting-apart” to mean that they were some sort of exclusive club in which they were to look down their noses at others nations living in that same time and space.  The truth behind God’s purpose for setting the Jews apart was to show the rest of the world how to live.  God was showing the rest of the world how to be restored to their original created intent.  Being set-apart as a corporate body isn’t so that one part of the body can be “blaring for Jesus” and be seen by the rest of the world, but instead the corporate body can properly display and reveal the Holy Christ who brings restoration to everyone seeking Him.  Jesus came for the least of these, and still He desires this reconciliation of the world to Him regardless of race or creed. 


How is your corporate holiness today?  Is there cohesiveness and unity in the body of Christ where you serve?  Or are there many cornets blaring for Jesus, out of sync and far too loud for anything else to be heard?  Jesus desires us to play the music He has called us to play.  He desires us to become His reflection in this world and to be joined/grafted into His body which is His mouth piece here on earth.  Unfortunately, this synchronized unity rarely remains intact in churches today.  Oh if we would just humble ourselves, become the least, ready to serve instead of being served.  Perhaps like me you need to stop playing at triple forte so that others in the band can be heard.  Remember, if you can’t hear the person next to you then perhaps you’re playing to loudly.  


(tune Anything for Jesus)

Jesus thou hast won us,

Saved us set us free

Now Thy hand upon us,

Bids us follow Thee.

Sin’s dark ways forsaking

Filled with new desire

We, our vows are making

‘Neath the blood and fire.



Lord our vow performing

We will fight for Thee

Hell’s dominions storming

Other souls to free


2.  Comrades here remind us

We are not alone,

Thou to them dost bind us,

They and we are one;

All, our vows observing,

One great Army make;

Praying, fighting, serving

For thy Kingdom’s sake.


3.  On to full salvation,

This shall be our goal;

Thine in consecration,

Body, mind and soul;

On to holy living,

Weakness left behind;

Perfect service giving,

Perfect joy to find.

Previous Chapters:

A Holiness for 1


Holiness is often something Christians view as the Everest of the spiritual realm.  It is formidable, the price is steep, and many turn back within its clefts and craggy cliffs.  Why is this misnomer on holiness so prevalent?  Corps members whom I’ve spoken with tell me that holiness is impossible or just too hard…I am shocked when I hear them tell me this.  Commonly I will ask them why they think that holiness is impossible, and usually there will be those who respond by saying because to be holy you have to be perfect.  But is that correct?  Holiness is perfection?  I would have to say a resounding ‘no’! We are still sinners saved by grace, and ultimate perfection or total sanctification will only take place when we finally come face to face with Christ in Eternity.  But though we are still imperfect, the Holy Spirit is making us perfectly into the image of Christ if we allow Him to do so.

Holiness first and foremost is submitting to the will of God in every aspect of our lives.  We say to the Lord, “Not my will but Yours, and you can have all there is of me.”  Does this imply that we automatically become perfect?  Absolutely not.  We still struggle, we still ought to pray “Lord lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil…” Because the fact of the matter is we will still face temptation in this life.  Holiness isn’t about automatically living in perfection, but rather about walking in the footsteps of Jesus and allowing His Holy Spirit to transform you into the image of Christ in this life.  We reject the old sinful self, as well embrace the new creation which is Christ in us.

Another aspect of holiness that I feel we often get wrong is this notion that it’s a corporate holiness.  Meaning that holiness is first done as a body of Christ.  I think we get this backwards.  We have to first be transformed and sanctified individually before we are holy in corporate fellowship.  General Shaw Clifton once put it this way in reference to Samuel Logan Brengle:  “His (SLB) constant emphasis was upon personal holiness.  Now we hear much today about institutional holiness but I cannot help thinking sometimes that this misses the point.  There can be no institutional holiness without your personal holiness and mine.  Only then can institutional holiness flow through an organization.” (Select Writings, Clifton. pg.181)

So what does this holiness for one look like?

Like Daniel of old, do we have a prayer closet?  A place where we daily kneel before our Lord and pray and fellowship with Him?  These moments of solitary fellowship are vital to our personal holiness.  Do we allow Him the first fruits of our time, our talent and our treasure?  Is He included in everything that we do or do we often leave Him at home with our devotions or bible by the night stand?  I believe Brother Lawrence had it right as well, and let me take his ideology one step further.  We practice the presence of God in every moment of every day…is it possible?  Yes.  Difficult?  Of course!  But transforming holiness in our personal lives ought to be moment by moment within our day and not just during our devotions in the morning or evening.  Our fellowship with God on a moment by moment basis draws us closer to Him and to His very will for our lives.

These are sacred things should not to be trifled with or taken lightly.  If we, as His people, are truly serious about living holy lives and embracing this theology of holiness then, as difficult as it is, we ought to practice living within His presence on a moment by moment basis.  This is a holiness for one!  We invite Him into our thoughts, every corner of them.   The Holy Spirit will bring conviction when areas yet to be surrendered are brought into His light.  He will also provide affirmation to us when we are growing and on the right path.

When this intimate setting for one is preserved in us and our lives are His, then and only then will can we begin to look at the corporate body of Christ through the lens of holiness.

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