As with many of these articles, hear me out before you tell me how outraged you are that I would say such a thing.
Let me start by asking you four questions:
1. What is your Sunday service called? Is it called a Holiness Meeting or “Worship Service” (or perhaps even Church Service)?
2. Is Holiness lived and taught in your corps?
3. Is Holiness a focal point of your corps and it’s ministries?
4. What is the thrust of your local mission in your corps/appointment? Is Holiness a portion of this?
If you can’t honestly say “Yes” to these questions, then perhaps we ought to see where the grave of holiness is located in your building. The Salvation Army was a large part of the Holiness Movement. I do not believe that our numeric and spiritual growth stemmed from obedient officers or because we had a “tighter” core group of leaders in our Army world, instead I believe we as an Army, recognized and believed in the transforming power of the Holy Spirit in people’s lives. I think the crux of our present age is that fewer and fewer soldiers have this realization any longer. Dare I say this is true for Officer and Soldiers in the corps. I am not questioning our salvation, for I think this remains intact, but I am questioning whether or not we believe in an Almighty God who still performs miracles in the worst of sinners?
Brother and Sisters in Christ, we cannot live and die by our seeker’s registry. This is a tremendous indication of changed lives, but it MUST not stop there. We ought not to simply celebrate the statistical measure of our seekers at the mercy seat. We ought to be discipling those newly saved souls. This is where I believe the Army has fallen short and is in dire need of changing. There has to be more than just converting people to Christ…once they get up from the mercy seat what do we do with them? Do we have measures of accountability? Do we have saints who can mentor and disciple them? Salvation at the altar is only the beginning!!
(Let me also interject for a moment that statistics can become a poor surrogate for a disengaged style of leadership. What I mean by this is, statistics by themselves can be a helpful tool when used correctly, but a harmful tool when context is not considered).
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?
I pray that we can bring the dead back to life!
I pray that we would wake up and recognize the deep need of a Holiness Army once more. I pray that we would wake up and recognize that in all of our strength and power and might we are nothing apart from the Holy Spirit’s leading. In my American slang, perhaps we have “grown too big for our britches” and in our pride and even arrogance we have begun to lead ourselves instead of allow the Holy Spirit to lead us.
Make no mistake, the enemy, The Father of lies is perfectly content in watching us self-destruct in our polarizing visions and missions and efforts. Satan would celebrate in our death as a movement in exchange for another social service organization or social club. But with God all things are possible! With His power we can come to life again in the places of dormant holiness and floundering mission. We do not need more meetings to do this. We do not need more programs to institute this. What we need are soldiers willing to commit to prayer and discipleship. We need soldiers committed to living lives of holiness, which is very contrary to the society around us today! We need an Army mobilizing on Holiness and not just a march in uniforms. There has to be an inward change before we can externally represent His presence in the streets!!
Lord resurrect our Army!
Resurrect this passion in me!
I want to be Your reflection
Resurrect your presence in me!
Something more for our Army world to ponder today!
Now, tell us what YOU think, leave your comments, questions and snide remarks below.
**Disclaimer: The thoughts and opinions expressed here are that of the writer’s and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts and opinions of The Salvation Army. Reader discretion is advised.**