All the Good News
by Captain Terry Camsey –
What’s it all about…?
Do you remember the song? I imagine that those words have been running through the minds of many corps officers and soldiers as they have wrestled with their corps vision statement. “What is this visioning process all about?”
I guess that, first, it’s about results. I remember well the introduction of MISSION2000 to the territory and the trauma it caused in some quarters. I was sitting close to a former divisional commander when the first draft had been shared and heard him say “Thank God, I’ll be gone before this happens!” There was a prophetic statement if ever I have heard one, because something did happen!
Apart from our own territorial vision goals, national headquarters also set visionary goals for each territory. I was reminded of this while recently pulling together a report for the territorial Program secretary. As of the end of 1998, the territory has achieved 99 percent of the goals set for it in the areas of number of “corps community centers” and “officers and auxiliary captains.” We have also, to date, achieved 88 percent of the “soldiers and adherents” goals and 74 percent of the “Sunday Schools and holiness/salvation meetings attendance” goals.
I asked my wife what the figures would be had we not been challenged with a vision embracing specific faith goals to strive for. What do you think? For many years officers were encouraged to “maintain, maintain, maintain.” It’s amazing what can happen when the rally cry turns to “grow, grow, grow.”
So, what’s it all about? Well, it’s certainly about results…people added to the Kingdom of God. Is that a noble cause, or what!
|How’s Your Pulse?
Give Yourself This 5-Minute Check Up
“When I Grow too Old to Dream…”
How about that song. Do you remember it? I do, so I guess I am showing my age!
“When I grow too old…” A funny thing happens when you grow old. Your body starts to disintegrate and–as many retirees tell me–it also can affect your mind as you experience “senior moments”! when you forget the names of people you know well, or why you walked into a room, or where you put your glasses when they’re sitting on your forehead. It can be very upsetting, especially when your mind says, “do it” and your body says “you’ve got to be kidding!”
Trouble is, there is so much that can go wrong. Our bodies, for instance, are regulated by a number of systems…the nervous system, the respiratory system, the circulatory system, the digestive system, the reproductive system, etc…If any of these is not functioning well, we have a sick body. Which brings us to a second explanation for “What’s it all about…?”
It’s about healthy corps, because healthy bodies reproduce…naturally! If the ultimate focus of the emerging vision were not to do with healthy corps then, I fear, we shall “miss the mark” which would be a sin.
The church is the Body of Christ, to represent him to our communities and to carry on the mission he started. We are the means through which God is presently accomplishing his purpose…sharing the gospel that the “whosoever” might have eternal life. The church should not only model the message; it is also the means by which God’s message is delivered to the target population…lost people. The Body should, therefore, be kept in peak condition, its systems all functioning as they ought. Shouldn’t it?
So, what does staying in “peak condition” look like for the Body of Christ? We might start by looking at the “prototype”…Jesus Christ.
“I Did It My Way…”
He did! And, in three years of public ministry, Jesus accomplished what he set out to do…so effectively that he could, on the cross, say to his Father “It is finished!” He made choices. He didn’t heal everyone; he didn’t do everything others expected him to do; yet he completed his task. Think about it…
He knew when to re-create, meditate and rest for continued health and growth. He also spent time with his disciples. In other words, he nurtured himself and his disciples.
He pursued a mission to improve the quality of people’s lives in this world and the next. In other words, he evangelized.
He had a clear sense of purpose and communed regularly with God. In other words, he worshiped the Father.
He enjoyed social interaction with others…went to parties, spent time with both crowds and individuals. In other words, he promoted and enjoyed fellowship, encouraging and caring for other people, and…
As he went, he improved not only the quality of their spiritual lives, he healed physical lives on the way. In other words, he ministered to the whole person.
Nurturing. Evangelizing. Worshiping. Fellowshipping. Ministering. Balanced life of the Founder of the Christian Church.
“The Head Bone Connected to the Neck Bone”
Now, since the church is the Body of Christ, it is not surprising that the early Jerusalem church, described in Acts 2, reflects the same balanced priorities as Jesus himself:
“They spent their time learning from the apostles (NURTURED), and they were like family to each other (FELLOWSHIP). They also broke bread and prayed together (WORSHIP). Everyone was amazed by the many miracles and wonders that the apostles worked (MINISTRY). All the Lord’s followers often met together (FELLOWSHIP), and they shared everything they had. They would sell their property and possessions and give the money to whoever needed it (MINISTRY). Day after day they met together in the temple (WORSHIP). They broke bread together in various homes and shared their food happily and freely (FELLOWSHIP), while praising God (WORSHIP). Everyone liked them. And each day the Lord added to their group others who were being saved (EVANGELISM).” Acts 2: 42-47 (CEV)
What does a healthy corps look like?
Like the Jerusalem church that, in its actions, reflected those of Christ whom it represented to its community. It will be Nurturing its members, Evangelizing the unsaved, Worshiping God together, fellowshipping (each member caring for, encouraging and Serving the rest of the congregation), and ministering (Serving the needs of people) in the community. NEWSS, the acronym, “Good NEWSS” the secret.
And just look at the results that balanced Jerusalem Body saw… “…each day the Lord added to their group others who were being saved.” THAT’S AT LEAST 365 CONVERTS A YEAR! As the church did its part, God did his and added to their numbers…daily.
“Do You See What I See…?”
The visioning process is an ideal opportunity for a check-up of the health of the Body, as well as an opportunity to dream of what might (and can, with God’s help) be.
Those visions will undoubtedly reflect the characteristics of the Jerusalem church…Nurture (teaching and discipling), Evangelism (winning the lost), Worship (encounters with God), Serving the Body (fellowshipping and encouraging each other) and Serving the community (meeting needs).
As they do and strategies to achieve those visions are developed, maybe we too shall see others added to our corps…daily!
Could God do it for us? Absolutely!
Would he? Why not?