Dear Salvation Army, 3 Things About The High Council…

Greetings fellow Salvationists and friends!
I wanted to delve into the topic of the High Council in this post, and perhaps share in your thoughts, opinions and hopes for what is to come.  It has been announced that in May of this year (2018), the High Council will convene to prayerfully elect new General of The Salvation Army.   I have seen some interesting polls being passed around on social media as to who the new General might be, and perhaps who some hope it will be.  What we know is that Territorial leaders from around the world have been summoned and will travel to London, they will meet at the Renaissance Hotel near Heathrow Airport.  This is the second time that this location has been used for the convening of the High Council.  general
3 Observations About The Salvation Army High Council & Election of our new General…

1.  Fastest Growing Regions…ten forty
It would be quite remarkable if the new General were to come from a place in the world where the Army is growing in leaps and bounds.  Countries in Africa and South America, and Asia spring to mind.  Isn’t it interesting that the Army is growing remarkably well in many places where financial resources are thin or nonexistent?  There is something to be learned in this, and perhaps we shall explore that topic another day.  But, the High Council were to elect our new General from one of these regions, it would certainly be remarkable and offer a true representation of a growing army.

2.  The Majority – A Safe Election…
westA vast majority of our Generals have been Westerners.  I am not saying this as an incendiary comment, it is simply fact.   The top percentage of our international leaders are those who hale from the Americas, Australia and the United Kingdom, save for a few.  This is not to say that there are not leaders who come from other regions in the world, but by and large most are Westerners.  This is where a majority of the Army’s funds come from, where world services support is raised.   I do not presume to know much of the politics in our army, but I do know that prosperous territories generally have a larger, albeit unspoken, sway to how the army operates.  The power of the resource can often dictate the direction in which those resources are utilized in the world for the purpose of the army.  Thus, if this was to be a “safe” election at High Council, the election choice could follow suit of so many other past Generals in terms of nationality and region of origin.

3.  The Holy Spirit…high council2
I have been told by multiple sources that these places of election have also been very holy places of worship first and foremost.  It is not that these spaces were already sacred, but rather the leaders who come to High Council do so in prayerful reverence and at the moving of the Holy Spirit.  If we are truly a holiness movement, then it would make sense that our seats of highest authority be seats of holiness and humility.  Is it always so?  Of course not, but may we as an army place this event into our prayers and ask the Holy Spirit to lead those who will come to High Council.  Secondly, may we fervently pray for our next General!  When we allow the Holy Spirit to move within our army, all other agendas and ambitions will fade and His direction will provide us the appropriate leader for such a time as this.

It’s Your Turn…
What are your thoughts on High Council?
What do you expect to see coming from the election of our new General?
Does this have any impact on your life, or the life of your home corps?
Is there a need for a more aggressive mission and vision in our army today?  If so, what should this more aggressive mission and vision be?   Tell us what YOU think in your comments below either via this blog page or on this social media thread.

Additional News Links on this topic:
IHQ Announcement

https://www.salvationarmy.org/ihq/highcouncil

Wikipedia on High Council
https://salvationist.ca/articles/plans-under-way-for-2018-high-council/

Something more for our Army to ponder today.
-God Bless you!

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, Is The General Right?

This quote has bothered me, perhaps more than it should.
Is there more to this conversation that has not been quoted here that would cast a different light on this subject?  I do not presume to know everything, but I would like to attempt at interpreting this soundbite with your help.

Are we splitting hairs here, or is this a general assumption?
Photo Apr 25, 7 05 35 AM
I have seen this quote floating around for a day and a half, and I wonder if, perhaps some context is required before jumping to conclusions.

What does this quote mean?
What did the General mean when he said “Worshiping community”?
Are these two mutually exclusive or interconnected?

If I were to simply interpret this quote/sound bite, I would have to wonder why shouldn’t they be interconnected?  And also, what is so bad about being a worshiping community?
Another thought that comes to mind within this pondering then is this; wouldn’t a worshiping community’s bi-product or outpouring/ evidence of fruit be in the complete submission to God and the service of man – thereby being also a serving community?

If, I have interpreted this correctly, (and if I haven’t please correct me) I would have to disagree with the General.  I do not believe the Army’s paradigm has shifted nor has it’s hand to man.  This army of salvation certainly has an ever evolving identity within this world, but it’s mission, in my opinion, still remains firmly intact.

Is there fear that The Salvation Army is yearning to become a full-fledged Church somewhere?  From my small context of the Army world, I do not see that as an issue.  In fact, just the opposite would be my fear – we become, or have become far too Social Work heavy and lacking the “Heart to God” in our service.  With the ever increasing funding sources coming from governmental entities(at least in the U.S.), sometimes there is the fear that our hands become tied to preach the Gospel in His name while meeting the physical needs.

The Balancing Act…
I understand what the General is saying, if the context is correct, but I would have to counter with the notion that this is certainly a balancing act.  We serve the Almighty and through our discipleship, fellowship and worship we begin to understand how to better serve the world around us.   The pendulum certainly can sway in either direction and we must be mindful of it.  If we are properly aligned as an Army,  our worship and adoration of God will lead to the outpouring of service to man.

So is the General wrong?
Perhaps in places of the world this is true, but in this little corner of the world, I just don’t see it.

What do you think ?
Leave your comments below, share your thoughts on this and tell us what you think this means?

Something more for our Army world to ponder today.

*Disclaimer, this blog’s opinions and content does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of The Salvation Army.*

Dear Salvationist: “Those People”

A New PonderCast – (an Audio Pondering) is available to listen today.
Today, hear the words of General William Booth and ponder with me on the topic of “Those People”

Or Click Here to Download & Subscribe to our PonderCast: “Those People”

Transcript of today’s PonderCast is here as well:

                                                                    “Those People”

Dear Salvation Army,
Dear Salvationist,
I would like to take a moment and talk to you about what this Ministry of the Salvation Army is and isn’t – at least from my experience.

The Salvation Army is more than just a church first and foremost.
Our ministry takes giving within the context of ministry a step further than most churches do.
I’m not saying we are better than other churches, I’m just saying that our scope of the Great Commission has more of an aggressive tone than other churches.  We claim the old motto “Soup Soap & Salvation” and we attempt to live it out in our ministry.

The very fiber of our being, of who The Salvation is can be wrapped up in that phrase of William Booth – when He said, “Others”.

The funny is we still live in a very divided world – even amongst Christians and Church.
We even have this division in our corps sometimes.
We can become so comfortable in our services and in how things operate but when new families start coming we get a little nervous and sometimes even upset.

It’s like when the disciples and others watched Jesus go to Zecheus’ house – there were some who complained because Zecheus was a tax collector and he was reviled by people.  Why would Jesus go to that person’s house.  Why would he go see “those people”

Another of “those people” that Jesus visited was the Samaritan woman at the well.  Even his disciples kind of shook their heads at this encounter.  Why would Jesus go to “those people”?  And besides that a man, let alone a Rabbi wouldn’t be caught dead talking with a woman – and a Samaritan woman at that.

But you see Jesus came for the least of these, those who were searching.
He didn’t care where they came from or where they had been…you see “those people – were His people!”

And sometimes in our corps – when we get too comfortable and suddenly “those people” show up, it sort of disrupts our flow…It upsets the apple cart…and we have to wonder sometimes, even in our uniforms if we haven’t become that clique –that exclusive social gather fighting for a cause so everyone can see us and pat us on the back…and when genuine spiritual need comes to our corps building – do we shun it?  Or welcome it?  Do visitors to our corps buildings feel like “guests” or do they feel like outsiders…because the ones in uniform are giving them sideways glances, shaking their heads at the unchurched, unfamiliar new comers…

Ah Salvationists…Dear Salvation Army – “Those People” are our people too!
The drunk that smells like the fumes around his body might spontaneously combust at any moment and he is shaking so bad that it’s visibly noticible in the seat next to you.  Yeah, Jesus says “that’s my people too”.

That older lady who come occasionally just to see what she can take with her after the service – She’s one of “those people” and Jesus says that “She’s one of His people”.   That young scary looking young man who wanders into your service half way through who smells and is wearing a questionable tshirt with offense material on it – “We look at him and think THOSE PEOPLE” AND Jesus says “He’s one of my people.”

Salvationist –
Our halls are emergency rooms for the spiritually afflicted.
And we are all “those people”…we all came searching for hope and love and acceptance.
We do not look  like other churches because the least of these are our regulars.   It is a shame when we try to become like other ministries and churches when our calling as an Army is has a specific target and ministry already.

We don’t look like other churches because the Salvation Army shield is like a beacon of hope, a lighthouse to many of “those people” who have lost their way.  It is a safe-harbor for many to come.  It should be a place where “those people” don’t feel as if we’re looking down at them – because we have all been there.

Where other places have turned “those people” away – we must accept them, welcome them offer them love and hope and in turn – eventually show them what Christ’s transforming power looks like.

 

A Prayer For The High Council and our future General

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It would be foolhardy of me to elevate another humble servant of Christ in such a way that they eclipse Jesus himself.  We in the Army are certainly not seeking to deify a human being in the promotion/election of General.  There will not be any white smoke going up to the heavens as the High Council eventually elects its next General.  We will not seek to promote a General into Sainthood here either.

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But our identity does change to some extent when a new General takes office, so to speak.  We do need leaders who will cast our Army vision and purpose for the years to come as well as work with national/international leaders to further this mission of Christ.  The office of General is important in this respect.  We most certainly don’t view our General as omniscient or infallible either but scriptural speaking we do acknowledge that we are to obey and listen to our leaders:

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” -Hebrews 13:17.

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That being said, here is a prayer for our Army:

Dear Lord, you know each precious soul who is a part of this army.  We are your servants seeking to preach Christ crucified to a dying, sin sick world.  May your light continue to shine on our paths as we listen to the proddings of your Spirit.  I ask that you guide our leaders who will be gathering soon for the high council.  Please provide them safety as they travel, discernment as they pray and consult you for directions.  We humbly acknowledge that Your will be done in and through Your people…may it be so also within the high council.  

We also ask that Your servants will hear Your voice in the election of our next general.  That You will gently guide these proceedings and that You ultimately appoint this leader.  We serve a world of vast diversities, issues and conflicts and in the broad global view,  help and equip us for the mission yet ahead.  It is in your name we pray all of this.  Amen.”

As the days leading up to this appointed time quickly speeds by, please continue to pray for all of the Commissioners, lift up The Chief of the Staff, Commissioner André Cox as he makes these preparations and offers his guidance on the onset of the high council.  Prayer is a vital and formidable weapon that we as saints of God are called upon to utilize.

We are most likely unsure of how this whole thing works, but we are trusting in the One who will guide each and every leader.  We also further acknowledge that Christ is first and foremost the head of our Army…and in that regard we already have the victory!

Encamped along the hills of light,
Ye Christian soldiers, rise.
And press the battle ere the night
Shall veil the glowing skies.
Against the foe in vales below
Let all our strength be hurled.
Faith is the victory, we know,
That overcomes the world.

Refrain

Faith is the victory! Faith is the victory!
O glorious victory, that overcomes the world.

His banner over us is love,
Our sword the Word of God.
We tread the road the saints above
With shouts of triumph trod.
By faith, they like a whirlwind’s breath,
Swept on o’er every field.
The faith by which they conquered death
Is still our shining shield.

-Just a thought.

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