Distinctly Army

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THE BODY BUILDER

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by Major Terry Camsey –


My wife and I are members of The American Society for Church Growth and one of our privileges is to receive their journal which we always read with interest. The most recent issue has just arrived and includes two particularly fascinating articles, one by C. Peter Wagner and the other by Christine K. Eubanks.

Wagner’s article is excerpted from his book “Apostles and Prophets: The Foundation of the Church,” due for release in the summer of 2000 by Regal Books. Part of the reason it is fascinating is because of his references to the “numerical” order given to spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:28. He draws attention to the fact that Ephesians 2:20 indicates that the foundation of the church is “apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone” and that 1 Corinthians 12:28 confirms that in saying “And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers….” The gift of administration, he points out, comes later. He then points out that “most denominational executives are administrators, many of them excellent administrators…but administrators will only do all they are supposed to do if they work under apostles and prophets.”

As I say, verrrry interrrrresting! But that is not the main point of this article. Wagner also suggests that some extraordinary things are happening as the church passes from the second to third millennium. He lists some of the developments during the last century that, he feels, have prepared the church for what is to come. In that list he includes this…

“During the 1960s the Spirit began speaking strongly to the churches about our responsibility to reach out in a meaningful way to those less fortunate than we. Christian social responsibility, already present in some segments of the church, began to become widespread.”

We, The Salvation Army, can include ourselves in the “some segments” since we have had such sense of social responsibility for many, many years and have acted on it in a positive way, putting our actions where our mouths are. (As it were!)

Now, the other article entitled “Distinctly Vineyard: An Identity in the Making” is an assessment of where the future of the Vineyard Christian Fellowship lies following the resignation and death of John Wimber and the leaving of Carl Tuttle. The book, as the title suggests, lists some Vineyard distinctives and includes ­ as Distinctive #4 ­ “Doin’ the Stuff: Ministry to the Needy.”

Wimber became convinced of the urgency to focus on social services and decided his church would devote itself to the needy. So, there it is again, social services ministry. In the margin of the article I again penciled in “SA” since Booth was “there” many years ago.

When I was “deep in the mire” of collating and distilling corps and division/command vision statements in preparation for drafting (with the Guiding Coalition) the territorial vision, I was working on my “white board” trying to bring some random thoughts together. I was asking myself how we could link our past to the present and to the future. The verse from Mark 7:14 popped into my mind “The poor you will always have with you…”

We were raised, initially, to significantly improve the lot of the poor. Almost 50% of our present congregation (total, all corps) have received social help from the Army, so the Lord is still sending them to us for holistic healing. And, the poor will still be there for the future Army. Where lies our destiny?

The Vision says it best…”Above all else we will be people who care…helping the helpless, offering hope to the hopeless and bringing healing to the hurting in Christ’s name.”

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