My Thoughts on The Salvation Army in Australia right now

These are very interesting days in The Salvation Army in Australia. 

Some, I have heard, are struggling with the changes, and whilst I get that, because change isn't at all easy for any of us at times, it nevertheless is critical to our ongoing viability as a movement of God.

As soon as I start writing my thoughts and feelings here, one way or the other, I know that it will alienate a group of people, and that isn't my intent.  So if that is you, I apologise, but would you please just read on and try and see what I am getting at.





I have been a Salvo all my life, I was born into it...I am currently 57 years of age, so that means I have been a Salvo for 57 years.  When I was around 15 years I became a Soldier to go into uniform and play in the band at Perth Fortress. A lot of us did that, and it was a ritual for some of us, a means to an end.  A way of conformity if you like.  As my life went through my teen years, I was involved in the same way as many others, not particularly spiritual, but a good salvo ( well maybe not so good) but I did look the part and no one would have known any different.

One day in my late teens, I became aware of God calling me by my name, getting my attention and calling me to a more real Salvo existence.....  and not playing games anymore. Making it real.

                                      I did.

Over the past years and in my growing up in TSA I noticed that we lacked something that other churches had.  I couldn't put my finger on it exactly, but it was sure different to what I had experienced as  a Salvo .... when I became a Youth Pastor at the Fortress, we decided that the approach had to be based upon discipleship and a discipling model for ministry and we gave it our very best shot.  It had some success in those days and it has shaped me ever since, but I also noticed that people were falling through the cracks.  

As a kid growing up there was around 100 others in our youth group and most are not Salvos anymore.    I discovered that what we were doing, based on events wasn't cutting it anymore and it needed to have more substance than that, it had to be based on Jesus, and whilst  it may have been and I missed it, it certainly seems as though way more importance  was placed on conformity and activity and keeping busy.    

I wasn't personally that aware of supernatural power in my life in those days. Or of it being taught and shared and observed.

So let's fast track to today.  Where are we at today ?  

Mostly our corps are shrinking, the things that used to hold people  in TSA don't do that anymore... our retired officers feel like they have failed (and they haven't),  its just that they did what they knew to do, we all do that... but the world has changed too much, and what was,  now isn't.  

So if we think that the old ways will still work, we are kidding ourselves and we will keep on shrinking into non existence and wonder what the heck happened.

It is definitely - " if we keep doing what we've always done, we'll get what we  have already got ".

Everything we have done up until this point has led us to this point.... and if we are to have a different end result than the one we have right now, then we need to change our methods ...quickly. 

The message never changes,  but the method must continually change, so that we actually impact our ever changing world, and that is not meant to be a cliche, but it is the absolute truth.

I have a grand child ( our first) about to be born any day now... 
the world he/she will be born into is different to the world I was born into. 

What will be normal for this child... drones, mobile phones, the internet, digital TV, driverless cars, wireless tech as well as many other social issues that we humans now face.  

None of which existed when I was a child growing up.  

To try and define this, is near impossible, but it is the reality of this current world and if we want to impact this world with the love of Jesus one life at a time...then we will surely have to think differently and outside of the box of how we used to think.

Regardless of who we are, and our personal history and ministry.... things have to change, there isn't any time for any of us to carry a grudge or hurt about this, humanity is too important and our message too vital.

There isn't any time to feel that any of our work as TSA in the past has been about us...to my knowledge it has always been about Jesus and helping others find Him as Saviour. That's why I got my act together in the first place when I was a young teen.  And those people who impacted my life back then, at Perth Fortress are the heroes of my faith...

but we cant stay back there, we must move on and into this world.... and keep impacting this current world, where my grandchild, and millions of others like them, will either never hear about Jesus, or be impacted by Him by those around her/him in a relevant and real way everyday.

If you are feeling hurt by what is going on in Australia right now with TSA, please don't be hurt...please understand the absolute critical nature of the change... that our history is something we build upon  to impact the future.

But if we leave it as it is ? Well we are relegated to the past.

 A few years ago I preached a message, based on this T shirt..... "Forever has no limits", but if we choose to stay living in the past, then of course we limit our future. That is just common sense.

None of this is easy for any of us... all of us face change every single day...  but be assured of this... the never changing God, the endless love of the Father will never change and is as a real today as what it was 2000 years ago and what it will be in hundreds of years from now when we have all move off this world.


    Let's just get it all about Jesus and we will win. And so will thousands of others, one life at a time.



















Comments

  1. While the impact of Australia One is yet to be fully seen, as it is a work in progress, I agree totally with your post Gary. My primary concern for The Salvation Army in Australia is that there are deep divisions within our movement that will not be resolved through the Australia One process alone. Therefore, my prayer is that during this process there will be a fresh encounter with the Holy Spirit that will break down the barriers that divide us and a spirit of humility will refocus our attention on Jesus across every area of TSA so His prayer, "that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you" may be fulfilled in our movement "so that the world may believe that you have sent [Jesus]" (John 17:21). I will continue to pray for this important period of change in Australia from afar.

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  2. While I like where the Army is headed, I don't agree with this (though I respect your opinion). The solution (in my opinion) is far simpler.

    Our Corps has nearly doubled in size over the last 3 years. One third are kids under 10 years old, and we have new soldiers, adherents and junior soldiers on the way.
    However, we have less than adequate facilities, no worship band, no whizzbang programs or play spaces, and we even sing occasional songbook songs!

    What made the difference?
    Actually inviting people, and a healthy, inclusive fellowship.

    Some say no - but most are willing to try it. Some come and leave. But we keep praying and inviting - and praying and inviting - and then some!
    For example, over the last week, I personally invited 5 families to join us on Sunday morning. 1 came, 3 are considering it. This week, I plan to invite 5 more - with this success rate, there will be 40 new families by Christmas.

    The Spirit does the groundwork. The harvest is plenty, but the inviters are few!

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  3. Andrew... I am unsure that actually we disagree. You see the problem is that we havent been anywhere near as intentional as we could have been and as you are being. well done. !!!
    In my opinion, church success is less about facilities and equip and location and more about prayer and intent. So dont stop, keep at it... its making a Kingdom difference.

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