I am inspired and deeply encouraged by courageous leaders who have a strong faith, clear vision and firm convictions! The Salvation Army was founded by such leaders and it's advancement depends upon such leaders.
It is exciting to look around The Salvation Army today and see an emerging generation of leaders who are filled with the Holy Spirit and possess a spirit of 'Primitive Salvationism' - which has been described as, "Charismatic-flavoured, mission-focussed heroism; Term describing a strain of Salvation Army philosophy based in 19th century fundamentals of Booth, Railton, Booth-Tucker, and others, and re-emerging in the late 20th century throughout the west." However, it is frustrating to see another generation of Salvationists who cling to traditions that have long passed their used-by date and are culturally irrelevant. They resist the very essence of what made The Salvation Army an 'unstoppable force' in advancing the kingdom of God. They fight so hard to protect what we have become and forget the level of risk, reckless abandonment and raw faith that earned us the reputation we celebrate today.
Therefore, as a leader who is uncompromisingly committed to God's calling to lead The Salvation Army into the future, I find myself drawn to like minded and spirited leaders who have the courage to challenge anything that inhibits The Salvation Army from being all that God has raised us to be. One such leader, Major Gary Grant, wrote a blog post recently that has generated quite a lot of debate about these issues - What Got Us Here, Will Not Get Us There. His post expresses a heart and will to reverse the decline and reposition The Salvation Army for revival! While his message is provocative and has evoked many strong emotions among supporters and critics, I believe it is a prophetic voice that should be echoed throughout the Army world.
This blog post serves as an echo to that voice!
Gary's post, "What Got Us Here, Will Not Get Us There," speaks soundly into what needs to change: "It's insanity to think, that if we keep doing the things we have already done, that we will get a different result. All that we have done so far, in previous weeks, months and years and even decades have given us the results we are seeing right now. If we think for one moment that things are going to change, by doing the things the same way as we have already done them, then there may be a need for seeing a therapist."
This post, "He Who Got Us Here, Will Get Us There," speaks into what needs to remain. While this might sound like a contradiction on the surface, it is far from it! For it has nothing to do with 'what' The Salvation Army has done, but everything to do with 'who' has led us to this point in our history. When we discuss the rich heritage of The Salvation Army and the formation of our mission we naturally think of people like William and Catherine Booth, Samuel Logan Brengle and the like. However, the central "person" who inspires and empowers who we are as a movement across all generations is the Holy Spirit! It is the Spirit who stirred the heart of William Booth in East London. It is the Spirit who empowered Gore and Saunders to leave their homeland and expand the mission of The Salvation Army into Australia. It is the Spirit who motivates Salvationists to enter into some of the darkest places and stand alongside some of the most broken people in our society. Yet, it is the Spirit who is resisted, grieved, and dare I say, disobeyed every time we allow our past to inhibit our future!
The Holy Spirit leads those who will listen and obey into an adventure of faith towards an unknown future of hope and promise. This future may be unknown and scary, pulling us away from all that is familiar, but the same Spirit who went before us goes ahead of us, so we can be "confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:6). If we want to finish the journey the Spirit has started, then we need to be prepared to go where we haven't gone before, do what we haven't done before and be who we haven't dared before!! Let us resist the Spirit no longer and believe that "He who got us here, will get us there" - wherever there may be.