by Terry Camsey, Major –
I remember an occasion, many years ago, when our ever young New Frontier editor, Bob Docter, gave a sermon at Hollywood Tabernacle Corps. If my (occasionally “senior moment”) memory serves me right, that message was entitled “Leave it to George!”
A reference, I guess to then Major (or was it Captain?) George Church, commanding officer at the time. The gist of the message was that we should not leave it all to the corps officer, but get involved in ministry ourselves.
As with all good ideas, that message sparked my thinking off in a number of related directions. In fact, some years later, I was still recalling it and pondering the deeper implications of the message, “Leave it to George!”
I often challenge corps with which I am consulting to make a list of all the things they feel the officer is responsible for doing. It soon becomes obvious that it would take more than one person to satisfy all those expectations.
And yet, one of the most frequent needs expressed by congregations is for more people to get involved in doing more than merely attending Sunday morning worship. “Sitters and soakers” is a term I have heard to describe such Sunday-only Christians—people who want to receive, but not to give. The implication? ”Leave it to George! or any other Georges willing to get involved, but don’t ask me.”
But people who come into contact with the Army, whether as visitors to a Sunday service, a corps program, at one of the corps front line ministries or elsewhere, see individual Salvationists as representative of The Salvation Army…making judgments on the Army itself based on such interaction.
From now on, wherever you see “you,” let’s all apply it personally:
• You are the Salvation Army in the eyes of those you meet.
• Your attitude (and, therefore others’ perception of the Army’s attitude) is reflected in the way you deal with them. Would you, as a visitor, want to talk to you? If not, maybe it’s time for an attitude adjustment.
• People not too familiar with the Army will base their judgment of the quality of service provided by the Army, against the service provided on the Army’s behalf by you.
• They may not (certainly initially) want to “buy” what you (representing the Army) want to “sell” to them. But they may see you (the Army) as a resource to meet needs they know they have. See those problems through their eyes… help resolve them, and you may then earn the right to introduce them to other things the corps has to offer.
• Your words need to reflect a seeking to understand what they are really saying. If you listen carefully, you may see opportunities for quantum improvements in the way we serve people. You can, and should, feed back to the Army things we need to hear and respond to.
• The more deeply you yourself have “bought into” Christianity and the Army, the more authentic and appropriate will be the help you can offer and your representation of the Army.
• If you really want to help people more (and not just “leave it to George!”), learn all you can about the faith, about the Army and about the vital role the laity plays in ministry.
In summary, “Don’t just leave it to George!” because, as the old cliché reminds us:
“If it’s to be, it’s up to me!”
Or…as the old song admonishes:
Stand up! Stand up! For Jesus.
If it’s to be, it’s up to me!