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Thursday, April 21, 2005


Post Modernity, Emerging Church and the Salvation Army

This morning I was directed to an article in the current issue of 'the Officer' magazine (a Salvation Army worldwide publication) that was written by my old minster.

It was entitled 'Great Aunt Sally?' and asked the question "is the Salvation Army just like our Great Aunt Sally? She is wonderful, whe would do anything for anyone - but she's a bit outdated and unusual."
He then moves to unpack whether the Army has kept up with Post Modernism and the culture and world that operates outside of its buildings. His challenge is to mission and to reconnect with the founding principals of the Salvation Army -incarnational mission, messianic spirituality and entrepreneurial leadership - but to reengage with them and rediscover them for our post modern world. Change or be irrelevant is the thrust of his article. A common theme in the church today.

This morning on my way to work I read through the Articles of War. The Articles of War is the document that a Salvation Army soldier signs to commit to becoming a soldier. Whilst not wanting to enter into my opinion on soldiership, I will say that I was challenged as I read through my Articles of War.

The first half of the document is the Doctrines of the Salvation Army. A pretty standard thing to have on a church document. Nothing peculiar about signing a document to say you agree with the beliefs of a movement or church (depending on your definition of our organisation).

What for me is challenging about the Articles of War is that at the bottom of the doctrines it has in bold


and continues with what these doctrines look like when practically outlived by the Salvationist soldier:

I will be responsive to the Holy Spirit's work .......
I will make the values of the Kingdom of God and not the values of the world the standard for my life.
I will uphold Christian integrity in every area of my life .....
I will maintain Christian ideals in all my relationships ......
I will uphold the sanctity of marriage and of family life.
I will be a faithful steward of my time and gifts, my money and my possessions, my body, my mind and my spirit, knowing that I am accountable to God.
I will abstain from ...... and all else that could enslave the body or spirit.
I will be faithful to the purposes for which God raised up the Salvation Army, sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, endeavouring to win others to Him, and in His name caring for the needy and disadvantaged.
I will be actively involved, as I am able, in the life, work, worship and witness of the corps ..... (& tithe as much as possible)
I will be true to the principles and practices of the Salvation Army .......

My first question with regard to all the discussion on the relevance of church and the best way of doing things is a bit like this:
are we putting the cart before the horse?

We need to get the church to live up to the things it believes.
The Salvation Army needs to hold its soldiers to the things they have signed to.

Incarnational mission is precisely about living out the things we say we believe.
Messianic spirituality is about acting how Jesus acts.
Entrepreneurial leadership springs from passion, which comes from living out a life of passionate Christian discipleship.

Living it is 90% of the battle for relevance that our churches face.

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