Christianity with its sleeves rolled up

from the desk of…

by Donald Bell, Lt. Colonel – 

The Salvation Army has sometimes been defined as “Christianity with its sleeves rolled up.” More often the reference is in relation to our social work and our response to human suffering following a local, national or international disaster. With the young people today, I definitely sense a desire for the same fervent spirit with our evangelical work. There is a passion to be equipped to live out the Great Commission every day.

This desire is clearly demonstrated at our youth councils and young adult retreats, as well as training conferences and programs including Revolution Hawaii, Project 1:17 (in the USA Eastern Territory), the former LEADS program, and ROOTS conferences throughout the Army world.

At several youth councils, as well as Western Youth Institute and Western Music Institute, opportunities have been provided for hands-on ministry, acts of kindness, and traditional open air ministry. Last month, WYI concluded by joining the San Francisco Chinatown corps 120th anniversary March of Witness through the streets of San Francisco. Delegates participated in the open air meeting, where over 800 people were in attendance.

Chris and Erin Wikle are currently developing a ministry in Seattle, sponsored by the Seattle Temple Corps. They will be living in the neighborhood where they are ministering, and at the same time training other Salvationists in this ministry. The final week in October, young people from throughout this territory will gather in San Francisco for an Aggressive Christianity Conference. Speakers from around the world will include General John Gowans (Ret.).

Catherine Booth, the Army mother, wrote in Aggressive Christianity, “People in this world are so busy with needless stuff that they do not realize the need for Jesus. It is our job to go and bring it to their attention.” Catherine Booth goes on to say what church growth principles still teach us today: “There may be that one person that you have a greater influence over than anybody else does. Are you doing all you can to get them saved?”

Who, in your circle, have you talked to about Jesus? Your mother, father, sister or brother, your best friend, your boss, your next door neighbor, the clerk or kid bagging your groceries? What about the lady who makes your coffee, or if you are a commuter, the guy in your carpool or on the bus? How about the man who asked you for change on your way to work?

In this communication age with the world at our doorstep, we seem to be increasingly isolated from personal interaction. Since the addition of ATM and EFT machines, we no longer have to communicate with people at the bank, grocery store, or gas station. On-line buying minimizes the need to even leave the house. Praise God for new techniques in communication with personal blogs and podcasts (remember to listen to Commissioner Swyers’ podcast, Spirit of the West, accessed through the territorial website).

However, we need to be more proactive in sharing the reality of Christ. I fear that in some places, we may be losing opportunities that early Salvationists fought and sacrificed for. I fear that we are consumed with the busyness that surrounds us, and we do not take time for important matters. I fear that soldiers are becoming observers in our ministry rather than a front-line fighting force. We live in a media age, constantly surrounded with entertainment. I fear that some are expecting that same level of entertainment at the corps rather than being fully engaged in the ministry.

What an opportunity we have with resources that have been provided to us! May we take advantage of the opportunity to demonstrate our Christianity, with our sleeves rolled up. I pray that we become aggressive in the proclamation of what Christ has done in our life, and what he can do in the lives of others. Pray about it. Ask the Lord to lay the name of someone on your heart who needs to hear the Good News, then share that Good News. Win someone to the Lord and the Army. Don’t wait!

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