Dear Salvation Army, 10 Evangelistic Ideas For Your Corps

Today’s pondering is a slight deviation from the normal format…sorry.
With that said, however, I would like to offer some realistic evangelistic outreach ideas that could (emphasis on could) revitalize your corps’ ministry.  Please recognize that these are merely suggestions and they may not all work in your specific location.  It should also be noted that true evangelism must be a passion that your corps has before you can actually go out and reach into your neighborhoods and communities.  Also, as far as I know, some of the best forms of evangelism happens on an individual basis not so much the “event” oriented methods.  With that having been said, don’t simply replace your individual/personal evangelistic attempts with these suggestions.  The idea today is to provide you with some unique and creative means of sharing the gospel with your community…so here goes.

1.  Prayer Walksprayer
This evangelistic idea is probably the least invasive idea for evangelism and involves your current soldiers and adherents.  This notion literally is what it says…go out and walk your community and pray for specific people as you go.  These prayer walks are generally done in pairs or “prayer teams”.  Walk the streets around your corps.  See specific homes and families and pray for those homes and families as you walk by.  This type of personal evangelism allows your corps members to truly SEE the people living around your corps and community.

Before starting, make a plan.  Don’t just go out.  Instruct your corps members how this should be done.  There are numerous resources online for this type of evangelism.  Help them catch the vision and then ask them for a commitment to walk and pray.  Assign, if needed specific times for these prayer partners to walk.  Perhaps it can be done during the lunch hour once a week, or after work for just an hour.  Never underestimate the power of prayer!  Mighty things can and will come if we would just cover our community in fervent prayer.

fam12.  Family Movie Nights
Understandably you might run into copyright issues with this one, so be careful!  Creating family times together can be very rewarding for your corps.  I know of some corps who started a Wii bowling league a few years ago and people thoroughly enjoyed that type of event.  Casual events where we aren’t trying to “sell” Christianity but rather allow our Christian relationship be seen tends to make new comers more at ease.  Sometimes I think we try too hard to impress the guest that we come off as phony or a group with ulterior motives.  Pick movies that are kid friendly and not overly saturated Christian films.

3. Block Partyparty
The block party idea has been around for years…so it’s not a new one, but with some fresh paint it can be a healthy way to get to know families in your neighborhood.  These events can lead to some wonderful connections while over the barbecue grill or around picnic tables.  Plan it wise, make sure you have plenty of time to send out invitations and remember to engage and enjoy this family fun event!

4. Art Showart show
Bring some culture into your corps buildings or local park venues by hosting an Art Show.  These art shows could be individuals from your corps, a local college or high school in your area or even elementary school age children.  Parents will want to come out and support their children along with the rest of the family.  Plan to meet people at the door, welcome them, prepare of invitations to worship, and provide an atmosphere of welcoming and family friendliness.

5. Parents Night OutBlack family relaxing on sofa together
If you have been or are currently a parent you will understand the necessity to just get away from the crew for a while.  We all need to unplug, unwind and go out with our spouses for a date that doesn’t include highchairs and making huge messes in public (been there have the stains to prove it).  Set up a babysitting event in your corps where corps members will come and host a kids friendly event while Mom and Dad enjoy a night out.  Understandably ensure contact numbers are exchanged and parents understand that the event is NOT A SLEEPOVER for their children.  Set the hours, assign the volunteers and staff for child care and invite the parents out.  This could be a wonderful followup after a block party or another event listed here.


mom26. Mom’s Night Out

There are many single parents out there, including many in our corps.  Host a similar event to the one above for the purpose of Moms (as well as single Dads) to enjoy some time away without having to worry about their children.  If you host this sort of part for single parents in your community, you might be surprised at the response you will get.  Again, it does depend on the community that you live in.

7. Free Finance Classes or other free educational offeringsmoney1
One of the biggest challenge in marriage and life in general is how to manage your money.  Create a six week (or less) “how to manage your money” workshop to help families learn about personal finances.  Make it fun, because 9 times out of 10 these workshops can become boring and labor intensive.  Get the word out, this could be an opportunity to help a parent, family or individual struggling right now with this physical need.

8.  Specific Need Based Ministry for Your Communitycommunity
Do some research.  Ask hard questions.  Study your community and discover what needs people around your community currently without.  Can you meet these needs?  Do you have the resources or personnel to help assist you?  Is this a short-term or long-term “need-based” ministry?  Perhaps you have a lot of single teen moms in your community that have no where to go to connect with other single teen moms.  Perhaps there’s an educational need like a GED program for graduate certificate curriculum you could offer.  Find what’s missing in your community and try to fill that gap and meet that specific need!

baby9.  New Born Gift Ministry
Perhaps you have elderly men and women in your corps and they feel that they can no longer contribute or be useful anymore.  Here is an opportunity to engage an elderly crowd.  Have them make blankets for newborns at the local Natal/Maternity wards at the hospital.  Make little stockings or a simple “New Mom’s” care package with thoughtful gifts and cards of encouragement in them.  Make it a clear ministry that involves praying for the new moms and dads.  Some new parents may not have thought of church before or currently have family to encouragement them.

10.  A Community Day of Caring (I’ll Fight Day)
This is an up and coming event each year in December here in the United States…but it could be done any time during the calendar year.  Get out with your corps people and help neighbors by cleaning their homes, raking leaves, help elderly people with groceries and many other community caring events.  Be strategic.  Plan and inform the neighborhood of your caring event.  Take time to show the community how much you care for them through works of kindness and charity.  Be mindful that not everyone will be receptive to your acts of kindness, but think of the seeds you might plant when getting out of the corps building and into the community to offer such acts of love?!

These are just ten evangelistic ideas to help you dear Soldier in this fight for the spiritual lives of many.  Use them if you can.  Devise some authentic, caring moments to reach out to people in need.  Get out of the corps.  Learn who lives around your corps.  Be aware of the needs of your community…and get on with loving the least of these!

Just another thing to ponder for our Army world today!
To God be the glory!

Perspectives Day 2 – Featuring Stephen Court (Major) “Semantics Antics”

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“SEMANTICS ANTICS”
(Stephen Court)

Words have power. Yes, this truth is usually used in the context of either speaking life instead of death (see James on the tongue) or of the prophetic (see the creation account of God speaking things into being).

 

But it also goes for semantics – the meanings of words.

 

When we use certain words we imply and apply certain meanings. When these words enter the general vocabulary they shape the meaning of the things they describe. Words have power.

 

We (The Salvation Army) have been using some words and terms far too carelessly. Here are some examples:

 

lay (as in ‘lay people’ and ‘laity’): this refers to people who are not ordained and otherwise qualified to participate in Christian service. It is carelessly applied to everyone who is not an officer. This is poor theology and terrible history. Despite the spiritual inferiority complex-induced mistake of the late 1970s and the ‘ordination’ of officers, there is not some mystical abracadabra ‘ordination’ that accompanies commissioning. All of our generals and the vast majority of our commissioners (in all of history) have not been ‘ordained’ in the mistaken sense that the relatively recent commissioning exercise has appended. By the loose use of the term ‘lay’ that means Booth, Railton, Booth-Tucker, Higgins, Carpenter, Orsborn, Kitching, Coutts, Wickberg, Wiseman, Brown, Wahlstrom, Burrows, Tillsley, Rader, Gowans, Larsson, Clifton, Bond, and Knaggs were/are ALL ‘LAY PEOPLE’. The term is ridiculous in a Salvationist context. There are no ‘lay people’ in The Salvation Army. There are converts, recruits, soldiers, and officers. That’s it.

 

Words have power.

 

clergy: Official SA websites (AUE, USE, C+B, among others) as well as influential sites (e.g. wikipedia) define or equate officers as and with clergy. This is evil. Officers are not clergy. Officers are soldiers who have given up secular employment and covenanted to make themselves exclusively available temporally and geographically for the salvation war in vocational leadership. ‘Clergy’ by definition requires ordination.   Watch the end of the faulty reasoning:

If ‘officer’ equals ‘clergy’; and,

 

‘Clergy’ requires ‘ordination’ (which it does by definition); then,

 

All the generals (but our current one) and most of the commissioners were not/are not officers.

 

By using words like ‘clergy’ and ‘laity’ we are reinforcing the unbiblical clergy/laity split, one of the key strategies of the devil against the people of God.

 

Words have power.

 

pastor: These are the four New Testament ‘offices’ Paul outlines in Ephesians 4: apostle, prophet, evangelist, and teacher/shepherd. The last – teacher/shepherd – includes a word that is translated only once in the whole New Testament as ‘pastor’ but clearly means ‘shepherd’.[i]

 

Those covenantally involved in vocational Christian leadership – our leaders – are called corps or commanding officers, divisional commanders, territorial commanders, and general. They are not formally called evangelist, apostle, prophet, shepherd/teacher even though many fill one or more of these roles. To pick one out of the hat (with the increasingly rare exception of ‘evangelist’ as in ‘territorial evangelist’, the chosen term is always ‘pastor’) is to call hockey hall of famer Wayne Gretzky a penalty killer. Now, Penalty Killer Wayne Gretzky certainly was efficient in killing penalties but to limit his impact on the ice to penalty killing is ridiculous.

 

Why then do officers (and lots who attend meetings) call officers ‘pastors’? Excellent question, no good answer to which is available, but some explanation is possible:

A. we have an inferiority complex when compared to churches;

B. we have an identity crisis in which we don’t know that we are not a church (see below);

C. we are catering to a church subculture instead of fighting to rescue lost people from hell;

D. we are overwhelmingly influenced by non-Salvationist Christian content (books, conferences, TV, radio, podcasts, blogs, etc.).

 

Remember, words have power. What are the effects of officers being called ‘pastor’?

 

i. we sabotage our mission because, among the people we are trying to rescue from heading to hell, ‘pastor’ generally has negative connotations. So we inaccurately identify with something that is unpopular in trying to reach the people with whom it is unpopular. Ridiculous.

 

ii. we change what it means to be an officer from some heroic combination of apostle/prophet/evangelist/teacher\shepherd leading troops in a salvation war to some bad-breathed, shellac-haired, touchy-feely stereotype aiming to keep the pews warm.

 

iii. we limit Holy Spirit, who actually works through all FOUR offices, not just a distorted half of the teacher/shepherd one.

 

Only church people seem attached to terms like ‘pastor’.

 

Could it be that we use a term like ‘pastor’ because we want church people to attend our meetings and don’t really care about people who are lost?

 

Words have power.

 

church: For centuries we have understood the ‘Church’ to be a place where the gospel is preached and the sacraments are administered. However, The Salvation Army is a revolutionary movement of covenanted warriors exercising holy passion to win the world for Jesus.

 

Based on these definitions, is your corps a church?

 

No. (unless you are surreptitiously passing around bread and grape juice and splashing your people with water)

 

So, by definition, your corps is not a church. Why call it one?[ii] Why identify with something that is manifestly unpopular with the people who are headed to hell that we are trying so hard to reach with the Gospel? Why sabotage your local mission and the mission of our global movement? Your corps is not a church despite what someone stuck on a sign or put in a magazine or said from the microphone.

 

Words have power.

 

service: This one is hilarious. Just this Sunday afternoon a salvationist took a phone call at the hall. The person had been calling, apparently, for the last hour but our explain, “we’ve been in service for the last hour and a half… we were in service… we were in service…”

 

Well, this person was evidently LOOKING for some service and it made absolutely NO SENSE to him that The Salvation Army had been ‘in service’ and yet had neglected to pick up the phone to SERVE him! Now, our friend had been taught that what had just happened was a religious ceremony (that is the definition of her use of the term ‘service’). But to the people going to hell, ‘service’ means service – the act of being served – and we’d not been serving them.

 

So, for the record, The Salvation Army does not hold ‘services’. We have what are called ‘meetings’. Check out your history. We have holiness MEETINGs and salvation MEETINGS and soldiers MEETINGS and all kinds of meetings. But we don’t ‘have services’. As the sign on the way OUT of one garrison said, ‘The service begins when the meeting ends’. Let’s keep our serving in VERB form, please.

 

Words have power.

 

Do you get it? The words you use affect what we are. When you use terms like ‘church’ and ‘pastor’ and ‘service’ and ‘clergy’ and ‘lay’ you are watering down The Salvation Army and compromising the testimony of salvationists and insulting soldiers and limiting Holy Spirit and sabotaging our mission and hindering our effectiveness. Stop it, please.

 

Don’t even get me started on ‘members’, ‘ministry boards’, ‘sanctuaries’…

  Endnotes

[i] 1. ‘Pastor’. For some reason, people like this term. In KJV it comes up once – Jeremiah 17:16 (NIV renders it ‘shepherd’); in NIV ‘pastor’ turns up once – Ephesians 4:11.

 

But the word in Ephesians 4:11 is ‘poimen’ and it actually appears 18 times in the New Testament, 17 times being translated ‘shepherd’. So it seems like ‘pastor’ is a biblically rare synonym for the much more popularly used term ‘shepherd’.

 

Since ‘shepherd’ actually means something, apart from being a synonym, and since ‘shepherd’ lacks the negative connotative accretions of ‘pastor’ in today’s society, it makes much more strategic and biblical sense to use that term instead of ‘pastor’.

 

This says nothing of the replacement of CO with ‘pastor’ (‘pastor’ is not nearly synonymous with CO and so is an even worse replacement for CO than it is for shepherd).

 

So, let’s agree that ‘pastor’, being unbiblical and unpopular, is a term we should avoid.

 

[ii] ‘church’. The Bride of Christ? Metaphor. Flock? Metaphor. Building, temple, body? All metaphor. But the Army of God? The Salvation Army? We’re not a metaphor. We’re not a comparison to something that we aren’t. We’re an army. ‘Church’ carries negative connotations throughout the West. The large majority of populations in developed countries vote with their feet that ‘church’ is irrelevant and unimportant and marginalised. Why on earth would we rush to pretend to be a ‘church’ when it is, a. not accurate, and b. not effective? Why on earth would we forfeit our God-given, biblical identity as an Army? (possibly because we got the ‘prophetic trumps relevant’ principle backwards and we have a spiritual inferiority complex).

Catch Major Stephen Court’s Blog Writings at – http://www.armybarmyblog.blogspot.com/

 

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