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, 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?
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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.* 

Dear Salvation Army, 3 Smart Strategies To Army Mission…

Dear Salvation Army Soldier & Friends, our mission doesn’t exist without those that push the mission and strive to see it succeed!  Without soldiers and friends working so tirelessly together in an effort to meet human need in Jesus’ name, we will fail and our efforts will be in vain.  With that being said, we serve more than just the army ranks.  For officers come and officers go, and our appraisal of those wearing red may increase or decrease depending on the character of each.  But collectively we are the army.  But without Christ at the head of our army we will be without direction and hope.

It is my prayer that we keep our eyes ever on Christ as we dole out our policy and mission steps in our world.  Dare I say that there have been times when policy and administrative decisions have not made sense and/or were not made with Christ in mind at all.  Such moments in our history, I would hope are few and far between and I am instead given over to the notion that we ought to pray for each and every leader that is appointed to lead this Army.  I cannot imagine the enormity of such a mantel, yet it is thrust on many who would deem themselves quite unworthy of it.  But, beware to those who think they deserve such a mantel, even power and leadership in our army can corrupt.  So pray in earnest for one another so that we do not fall into such a temptation of pride, ego and personal ambition.

Here are three smart primer strategies to our Army mission.  There are more subtopics and conversations to be had within this pondering…after you read these starting points, why not tell us what YOU think and what we can add to this list!

1.  Leaders – listen to the “Boots on the ground!”  

bootsI cannot stress how important it is for leaders of all positions to listen to those who are actively engaged on the ground in the fight!

There are certainly Church roles that we possess in our movement, some are appointed and gifted in: administration, some in pastoring, some evangelism…and so on, yet we all must do our very best within the positions that we have been given to glorify God and to edify and encourage each other!  Leaders who simply dictate and dole out policy but rarely listen to the boots on the ground will eventually be resented and our mission will become bogged down.  Take the time to listen to those who see the need every day!  Sometimes we as leaders have to have the guts to admit when the plan we plotted isn’t working and perhaps there is a better, more effective way.  Swallow your pride and adapt!  This goes for every position of leadership from the corps setting all the way up!

savesWe cannot afford to have polarizing visions when we should all be seeking to remain mission minded and focused.  There’s no time for that!   Leaders who listen and then lead have a better chance at successfully navigating and accomplishing their objectives in mission!  If leaders only dictate from their offices that are tucked away from mission we will fail because administration can only meet mission when it has its ear to the ground and a heart to serve in the capacity of servant-leader.    Enough with the old guard of “my way or the highway” brass!  Yes be strict on mission-mindedness but compassionate on leading and shepherding!  Be a shepherd first and listen!

2.  Boots on the ground – Pray for and love your leaders, trust them and then engage in the spiritual warfare while befriending the lost!  

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There’s no time to jostle about and deciding which leader you will follow or trust.  There is too much at stake, too much to lose in forward progress as an army!  If we spend too much time worrying about the internal workings of our army, we will lose sight of those we are entrusted to serve and love!  Bring the mission of the lost into focus – make it your priority to keep this mission going!  Be the gate keepers of Hell so that no one slips by you and into that place of ultimate depravity!  Stand as the bridge builder who brings hope to your community!  Worry less about what others (even leadership) might think and more about what God might think with our inactions!  Get on with it!!  Fight on and be the voice for those without one.  The very progression of our army depends upon the movement of these vital infantry boots!  You will stand knee deep in the muck and mire of people’s sin and sadness.  You will witness the hopeless single mother who is struggling to put food on the table, or the children who come to your program that you know are currently living in awful places and conditions.  You must take action!

Love those who lead you.  Trust that God has placed them there to help you accomplish this mission together!  Pray for each other and for those who will come knocking on your door in search of help!  We cannot progress the good news of Jesus Christ and bring hope to a dying world if we are not first Holy people who are taking up our crosses and following Him!  We cannot look like the world and act like the world.  We are set apart to do mighty things, we cannot lack anything especially faith that God will pave this path for us!

3.  Look outside “The Bubble”!  

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Lastly, do not get bogged down in your own bubble that you become ignorant of how God might be working in our world!  Be in-tune with Him!  Do not live in your corps buildings and your Divisional or territorial offices and forget to peer out the windows and walk the streets!  God is not static and He does not want us to become static!  Look beyond what we have already accomplished!  Don’t just maintain and do the same things over and over again especially if these things (or programs) are not bringing people to Christ any longer! Explore, study, become students of knowledge and strategy!  Read!!  There is this notion that any organization and mission can become so internal that it’s almost incestuous in developing its methods of mission, evangelism and mission.  Break this mold!  Take risks, and don’t be afraid to fail – even a hundred times (or more)!   We cannot live in our Army bubbles and expect people to come to us!  We have to go to them!  We have to think outside the box (or corps).  We have to stop living in the past or the glory days all the while missing countless opportunities to make history and break new ground!  If we expect revival we have to make revolution happen in our army!

pop I think sometimes what keeps us in our bubbles is the fear of what leadership might do if we try new things that don’t necessarily “look Army”.  Is there fear of reprisal and punishment for not maintaining the status quo?  Perhaps it’s time to pop the bubble!
Perhaps it’s time to refocus and realign our motives and mindsets on the mission of this world-wide movement!  But we cannot do that unless we become risk-takers and break the bubble comfort and tradition.
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Something more for this Army to Ponder…now, tell us what YOU think by leaving comments and questions below or in your discussion feed!  I can’t wait to hear from you!

*Disclaimer:  The thoughts and opinions written on Pastorsponderings are not necessarily the thoughts and expressed opinions of The Salvation Army, reader discretion is advised!*

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.* 

Dear Salvation Army, Is It Time For A Uniform Update?

Dear Salvation Army,
I see an inconsistency and I’m wondering if you see it too.
I have been to some divisions and locations where uniform wear is enforced almost militantly and there has been a real lack of grace when someone falls out of line.  Flipping the coin, so to speak, I have also witnessed in other areas of the country and world where the uniform is stressed less, and I would imagine not “policed” like others clearly are.  I have even witnessed territorial and some divisional officers in other places being publicly photographed in “Army” polos and other “not full-uniform” wear, or in casual uniform wear.  uniform5

I am most certainly not criticizing this practice, nor am I railing against the uniform, but I wonder if a shift has begun in what the army deems as “appropriate uniform attire”?  It most certainly is not universal anymore, and I am rather happy to see women being able to “buck the trend” and wear suit pants instead of polyester skirts if they so choose.  Is this also a trend that will continue until suit pants are considered for full uniform for Women?   Some might consider the staunch supporters of the full uniform wear to be old fuddy-dutties or too stiff in a swiftly shifting organization.  I am not so sure about that either.  But I do wonder if we should consider a universal change given the fact the times have changed as have styles of most of the world’s militaries -from which we were modeled after.  I might sound a bit progressive here, but why haven’t we adapting and changed yet?  Is it that hard to do so?  Beyond the rationale “this is what it is” can we clearly articulate why it is so difficult to change it?
(names of subjects separated by commas)
Questions to Ponder:
Is full uniform still practical?
What purpose does it serve to the world around us?  Do they see and understand what it is we are wearing and why?  Do we simply wear it because it is what we do?
uniform2
Beyond these questions, and the practical applications of uniform wear, can or should the Army be pursuing modern updates or allotments?  Has this already begun?  Perhaps I serve is a moderately more conservative part of the Army world than you, and you are already seeing this trend…help us out and tell us about it!  Historically uniform wear was cost effective to many who could not afford certain “richer” clothing, but the uniform costs today have gotten more expensive, tunics ranging from $200 – 300…these uniforms are not cheap and that historic purpose, at least in my “neck of the woods” is now obsolete.

Someone will inevitably write me (and probably criticize me…again) and say, “But you’re missing the point, there are far more pressing matters to address”  to which I would say you are correct…but then why do we spend so much time on the emphasis of uniform?  Others might argue that it is our witness as those who are Saved to Save (or Serve, which ever you like) and is represented in our obedience to the uniform…quite right, but it goes deeper than that doesn’t it?  We aren’t necessarily obedient to the “Uniform” we are first and foremost obedient to God and then from Him all other forms of obedience flows.   One wonders if the uniform is a detractor or an attractor for others to join our ranks?  I am not saying that I hate this uniform, please do not take that from what I am saying here, I am merely wondering to what end does our uniform wearing take us?  Why do it?  Who are are impressing?  The General?  Our Leaders?  God?   Of course I am being facetious here, I know why we wear it…but is this a general consensus?  Or is it part and parcel to something deeper, more lasting within us?  Can you tell me its purpose?  And do YOU believe this purpose is lived out in your use of the uniform?

So  I guess this pondering is two-fold: skirt
1) Should the Army consider adapting and updating the uniform universally (understandibly there are certainly culture issues at play here as well)?
2) What is the spiritual benefit to the use of Uniform in our witness to ourselves (Ecclesia) and to the world around us?  To the last point, the uniform is certainly recognizable to some places of our world and to the poor and downtrodden.

What do you think?
Tell us your thoughts, concerns, gripes, Ideas, convictions…let’s hear it!
Ponder with me on this if you will!

Something more for the Army world to ponder today.

5 Ways To Combat Salvation Army Burnout…

With all of the news of mega church pastors leaving, taking sabbaticals and burning out, I thought it fitting to discuss helpful ways that The Salvationist can combat burnout as well.  Burnout is real, it is not something imagined or evidence of a weaker person simply giving up.  We all face exhaustion from time to time, and we also face critical, stressful situations that leave us looking for the exit sign…trust me, I’ve been there on numerous occasions.

But as an Officer and Salvationist, we have a mission to serve, but what if along the way we face difficulties, discouragements, and suffer depression and loss of passion?  What then?  I can assure you this is nothing new, and many have been to this point…many have also walked away because of it.  fire

I will also boldly say that The Salvation Army must recognize some of the lasting structural inconsistencies.  The quasi military approach that once thrived is not as appealing as it once was to a very individualistic thriving culture.  Sometimes old models of leadership need to be challenged in order for real change to take place and so that we can once again get back to mission instead of policy.  So, right off the bat, understand the Titanic turning of a large, global organization (movement) is daunting and sometimes frustrating to face.

Harvard Business Review had an article that identified six virtues of a dream company, which was compiled by hundreds of business executives.  For our purposes, imagine this “dream company” to be The Salvation Army…see if these virtues match:

1.  You can be yourself
2.  You’re told what’s really going on.
3.  Your strengths are magnified.
4.  The company stands for something meaningful.
5.  Your daily work is rewarding.
6. Stupid rules don’t exist.
(Source: HBR Article Link)

Apart from the organizational issues, what can individual salvationists do to combat burnout while serving within its ranks (soldier, officer, employee ect.)?  Here are just five ways to combat burnout in our Army.  Take them for what they are, a primer that allows us to face real life issues happening all around us.  This is just a “starter list”…there is much more that can be said within this topic.

5 Ways To Prevent Salvation Army Burnout: 

flame1. Have an Identity apart from the Army
Sometimes this goes against conformity doesn’t it?  We are told to dress alike, be of one army, one mind, yet we are also people who need to know who we are as God’s children who are called by Him.  We must find out who we are apart from the uniform, apart from the mission.  Sometimes this requires us to take a step back and reevaluate who we are and why we do the things we do.  Self identity is vital to combating burnout because without knowing who we are we can become washed away by the powerful tides of stress that are rampant in any organization.  When you go home, when you spend recreational time away – be yourself!

2. Find Hobbies To Enjoy smoke
Not everything is about mission sometimes (gasp!), in order to combat burnout is a fast paced thriving movement such as the Army, we must be able to relax from time to time.  Some are excellent wood workers and carpenters and they relax by doing what they love.  If you paint – then paint.  If you enjoy geocaching, then get out and do that!  Find things to enjoy, to look forward to on your next unscheduled day.  Plan for these hobbies.  Be intentional in taking the time to enjoy them.  This will enable you to disconnect from the everyday stress of “work”.

3. Leave Your Work At The Office!! work
Seriously, we have a lot of work-a-holics in our Army.  That’s not all bad.  Hard work is wonderful!  But when it jeopardizes your families, when they don’t know who you are anymore because you constantly work, there is something wrong with that!  I would even go out on a limb and tell you overworking yourself is a sin.  STOP IT!  When you can, leave the work at the office.  This will not always happen, I know that, but when you can leave it! Combating burnout requires us to take drastic steps, and for some of us, leaving unfinished work at the office is very, very drastic!

4. Switch Things Up!  change
We all get stuck in ruts sometimes.  So change up your schedule.  Go for a walk, spend more time talking to people instead of staring at your computer screen.  Flip your schedule so that some of your work gets done at the end of the day.  Do something different so that the ruts are broken, and in so doing, you might experience a little bit of perspective within your day.  When you do this, take time to breathe.  I own an apple watch and I laughed at first at the new update on it.  It’s a new app called “Breathe”…what it does is remind me to take a full minute and focus on my breathing.  It was dumb at first, but then I started doing it, I switched up my schedule in the process…but now I look forward to that moment where I just breathe and relax.  Combating burnout in your life takes an effort to switch some things up.  So don’t just talk about it…do it!!

5.  Take Your Sabbath Seriously!
restThis, I consider to be one of the biggest sins in our Army.
Far too few of us really take a Sabbath.  Yes, it’s our day off, but we’re still “catching up” on work.  If God rested on the seventh day, don’t you think we should too?  Or are we essentially saying, “I’m better than God” in our actions?  When you plan your Sabbath days – TAKE THEM!  Don’t bring work or ministry into your Sabbath!  This is the time that you need personally to recharge your “batteries”.  You need to plug yourself back into the Power source which is God Himself!  Whatever that reconnection looks like to you, don’t take it for granted!  Get alone with God, find the time, stop sinning in overwork and do it!  If we really want to combat burnout, we must begin to realize just how important that Sabbath is for us.  It’s not just another day off, it is a day (or a matter of hours) to recharge and rest.

I know that there are other ways that will help combat burnout, what are some tools that you have used in your ministry?  What has helped you?  Why not share them here and help all of us as we ponder this together!  As always, thanks for reading!  Something more for our Army to ponder today!

God Bless you!

Dear Salvationist, Does Nepotism Still Exist In Our Army?

nepotism
From the start, some of us might shirk at the idea that nepotism still exists in The boothSalvation Army.  But we must recognize that even the Booths promoted family to places of authority.  William Booth viewed his Generalship to be something he would pass along to his children, and perhaps his children’s children.  Could it be that this sort of family promoting still occurs in our Army today?  And if so, should it?  Are there checks and balances in place to prevent nepotism in our Army?

Growing up in the Army, I recall many times where my parents were extremely cautious with even the appearance of favoritism towards my sister and me.

Speaking of Favoritism…can this type of behavior come into play with promotions and appointments in our army?  Should it?  Another question to ask along this line of pondering is – if favoritism does occur in our army – aren’t we then shortchanging our movement of possible movers and shakers who could make a difference, but some have chosen to choose people who are familiar and even safe?   crown

The argument can be made that we in the Army ought to trust and leave this up to God to sort out and perhaps these appointments are “His will”.  Honestly, I don’t know how I feel about that.  I have sincere faith in a Mighty God that He can make something that was meant to harm into something beautiful.  I believe God makes all things new, and He provides in spite of our own efforts and human decisions.  But I don’t know if I really trust human authority as I do God’s authority (nor do I feel we should)…for that matter what defines “God’s Authority”?  I’m curious what your answer might be to that.  I’m not looking for a fight, I’m genuinely interested in how we define this!   I have to be honest, I have always been suspicious of human authority in the guise of being 100% God’s authority.  It’s not that I’m overly cynical of leaders and authority, I just question sometimes if our personal feelings do not play into many of the decisions that are made on the behalf of others – and thereby we sometimes or often show favoritism.
favor
Submission to Authority
Does this mean that I do not submit to authority?  Absolutely not!  We are told to submit to authority in numerous scripture verses.  For example:1 Peter 2:13-17 says;  Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority:whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. 16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.

Does this mean that we aren’t allowed to query decisions and ask pertinent questions?  Of course not!  It does, however depend on our attitude and motivation!  I am certainly not proposing that we become rebellious by any means, please do not come away thinking that at all!  I will say that as a leader of sorts in my own right, I do recognize that I will never please everyone by the decisions that I have to make from time to time.  This is the heavy mantel of responsibility and leadership that is thrust upon us.  It does take a toll, and I would ask you to be in constant pray for your leaders, whether it be at the corps level, the divisional, territorial, national and international levels.

Back to the initial question:
Does Nepotism and Favoritism still exist in our Army?
My short answer is yes it does…
But I would also caution anyone from making rash judgments unless you have all of the information.

favor2Questions to Ponder:
Does Nepotism still happen in our Army?
Should it happen?
If so, what does this say to those who aren’t related or chosen for specific duties or tasks?
How can we sidestep issues like this?  Is it possible to sidestep them?
What about favoritism?
Could showing favoritism diminish the ranks our ranks and morale?
Can we submit to authority and still question?
How do we reconcile some experiences of flawed human authority with the expectations of God-led authority?
Am I praying fervently for my Corps Officer, Local Officer, Divisional, Territorial, Leader?

I look forward to your constructive conversation on this topic!
Something more for our Army world to ponder today.
*Disclaimer: The thoughts and views of the writer are not necessarily the thoughts and view of The Salvation Army, reader discretion is advised.

Dear Salvation Army, Answering The Call

Here is the principle – adapt your measures to the necessity of the people to whom you minister. You are to take the Gospel to them in such modes and circumstances as will gain for it from them a hearing.” –Catherine Boothcatherine

How far do we go in answering the call for help?
Are we truly listening?
All around our communities, there are hurting people.
Regardless of their backgrounds or circumstances, our mission is to help, and in so doing, we can open the door to offering spiritual aide as well.  But how far will we go?  Do we still adapt our measures to the extreme of the need of people?

A Snoozing Army ?
snoozeAre we alert to the ever present need to adapt to our changing communities?
Are we awake?  Or are we happily slumbering in an Army of bygone eras and rusting instruments in a chapel only marginally attended?  This may sound harsh, but perhaps we have been caught snoozing.  In our attempts to play “Church” which we are not, or more than – we have forgotten this principle plainly outlined by our Co-founder Catherine Booth.  While we have been polishing our awards and photographs of yesteryear, we have lost sight of the present dangers ruling our streets and pulling the helpless into the very pit of hell, lined with addictions, abuse, pornography, apathy, hatred, human slavery, and all kinds of other horrors.  Is this you?  Is this me?  I pray it is not.  I pray if it is, we would wake up and recognize the reasons we may be dying are directly related to our missing vision and mission.  Our origin story.  Our principle for being an Army in the first place.  To go for souls and go for the worst.  To combat the forces of evil that still ravage our communities, and do so without fear of reprisals and attacks of the enemy.

I fear we have slipped because we have failed to adapt.  adapt
I fear we have stopped being revolutionary in our methods to reach the lost.
Perhaps we have grown too comfortable in our offices and in our perceived places of power and authority.  Perhaps we have grown lax and lost some of our vigilant passion.  If we are to continue winning souls for the kingdom, we won’t find them banging on our doors to be let into our Sunday services – No!  We must adopt other means to seek souls out.  William and Catherine Booth didn’t start the Christian mission in a pristine church ornately decorated with stained glass, NO!  They went to the Pub, they went where no other church would go.  Are we as bold as they were?  Can we, perhaps, pray for such a boldness in our Army today?  Oh Lord, grant us the courage to go where you send us, and the conviction to remain steadfast despite the intimidation of the evil one.  For I fear that currently the evil one is perfectly happy with our lack of zeal in the streets, as we usher ourselves away quietly in our corps halls to worship and nothing more.

No, a new revolution must be waged!  
soldierA new passion for souls must be prayed for, not just in our hearts but in every soldier’s heart.  This isn’t just an army that preserves a heritage of the yesteryear, this is an army that carves out its destiny in the present and future through faithfulness and reliance on the Holy Spirit!  We must recognize this need!  We must reorganize, realign, re-imagine and act upon this mission of ours!  We are not an army to sit on our backsides and do nothing!  No! We MUST be a forward moving army, who has accepted and adapted to this modern spiritual war we are in.  We cannot capitulate, grow soft and comfortable – to do so will bring about our fall, and someone else will take our place!  I say we still have a war to wage!  I say we support our Officers not just in prayer but action.  I say we support our Soldiers not just in flowery words on Sunday mornings behind the pulpit but with deep compassion, love, truth and by God’s authority.  When we are united as one Army, we are so much more effective than just solitary entities running around in the streets trying to do good.

Are we ready?
Let’s Go!
Let’s fight to the very end!
Let’s continue to wage this war – and through God’s power, we will prevail in this generation…and the next!!!

Questions to ponder: ponder
What can we do that is revolutionary to reach our community?
Are there “out of the box” methods we have yet to employ?
What is holding us back from employing them?
How much prayer to you devote to your mission and your community?
Are there burdens or unaddressed issues in your corps that need tending so that you can unite and move out into the streets?

I know it is easier said than done.
I know we all have so much to do.
I realize there are programs to “maintain”…but can we do ONE thing that impacts new lives for Christ?  Can we focus on individuals, not numbers?  Can we develop connections with people, not statistical figures?  Perhaps set a goal with your corps council or your local officers…or even just with yourself – to make one impactful relationship in the next three months.  Pray about who that will be.  Ask the Lord to lead you to that one person…and watch out!  When we are alert and aware of our surroundings, those people God places in our path will not be too hard to find.

Are you ready to answer that call?!

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

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