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.


There’s no question that General and Founder of The Salvation Army William Booth was a man on a mission.  He and His wife Catherine Booth were pivotal in starting something powerful within the World, yet I have to wonder if there was ever a trade-off with his passion.  We know some of the famous speeches like the “I’ll fight to the very end” speech and the phrase “do something” in speaking to Bramwell about a homeless situation.  There is no doubt both William and Catherine Booth were visionaries and innovators within a mission that ignited the foundation of this Army.  They are both revered and loved…


There is a danger of being a visionary.
There can be a trade-off and sacrifices can be made along the way of blazing a trail. 
Without a doubt we know Booth to be a great General, albeit our first general, but was he a good father as well?   From most historical accounts one might draw a startling contrast from founder to father.   


If Ballington Booth had not resigned within the Army the Volunteers of America would not have been founded, but why did Ballington leave the army?  He and his father did not see eye to eye.  Sure disagreements happen in families, but basically William Booth labeled his own family member a deserter to the cause.  In essence Booth excommunicated his own kin.  I certainly don’t think this is “father of the year” material.  However, in the heat of the moment, I can see regrettable comments being said and the damage being done.  

Family is our first ministry, our first priority.  I am not blaming our founder, but I do see warning signs of overworking oneself and sacrificing family for the sake of a cause.  Two things can take place when we overwork ourselves – 

1) Loss of perspective.


Have you ever worked on a project so hard that you just had to step back from it to gain better perspective?  It seems to me that everyone of us can be guilty of tunnel vision from time to time because we are so success/vision focused.  If Jesus had to get away and be alone with the Father, so too must we.  We need to have a clear perspective, but if we overwork ourselves we will sacrifice something in the process.  It is like staring at the bark of a massive tree, but we wouldn’t know how great a tree it is until we took a few steps back so that our vision could refocus and we gain a broader outlook.  

2) Misalignment of Priorities


Secondly, we can lose the true order of priorities when we overwork ourselves.  Suddenly the mission becomes the only thing that is important, and we begin to lose the support cast (and family) around us.  God first, family and then our mission…if we discombobulate these we run the risk of losing everything.  

These are just two lessons that I see when I consider The Salvation Army’s founder William Booth.  Yes he was a great man.  Yes his wife Catherine was the true driving force.  Yes an Army grew and lives were changed…but could family matters have been handled better in the process?   Is there something for us to learn from this as well?  Perhaps for starters stop placing Booth on some sort of deified platform.  He was, after all, still a man with imperfections like the rest of us.  I’m not saying don’t admire what he and Catherine accomplished, but be careful how much you revere the man.  Secondly, yes hard work does pay off, but be careful not to sacrifice your children and families in the process.  

Live a disciplined life but find rest and grace in the process.  

-Just some random ponderings of The Salvation Army today.  


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