God is knocking…
BY LT. JOHN VAN CLEEF –
God is knocking at the door of his Salvation Army. While he is patiently knocking (for the time being) we are behind closed doors in town hall meetings, task forces, forums and committees. But will God’s Salvation Army be prepared for the day when the knocking isn’t so patient when he will require an answer of those who call themselves Salvationists?
He does not want the answer to funding challenges. He is not preoccupied with the rising cost of “doing business.” He is not concerned about depletion of material support, the deterioration of property, or the erosion of public support. He is not even overwhelmed by the impingement of immoral causes upon our moral fiber.
God wants to know why we have become more professional and less passionate. He wants to know why so many of his soldiers sit and soak, while our employees’ work and sweat. He wants to know why we talk so much and do so little. He wants to know why faith has been replaced with feebleness. Why ingenuity has been replaced with bureaucracy. Why flexibility has been replaced with rigidity.
He wants to know if we remember who we are, and whose we are. How will we answer him?
Every mission team needs to evaluate its mission and mission field. What do we do? What don’t we do? What do we do well? Whom do we serve? What do they need? How are they hurting? How can we help? We can’t seem to accept that, while we want to be all things to all people that we might win some, we can’t do all things. We are finite, limited people, and we have finite limited resources.
With the Holy Spirit’s direction, we can take our finite reality and: evaluate who we are, whom we need to reach and how we’re going to reach them. Let’s survey our neighborhoods and clients. Let’s talk to our soldiers and friends. Let’s make a list of assets and liabilities. Let’s be honest. Let’s be realistic.
Once we’ve evaluated our resources, we need to embrace our plan. As mission teams, we need to pick a few things that we’re going to do, and do them well. It doesn’t have to be grand. It can be simple. In a combat platoon of 30 military police, there are ten teams of three M. P.’s. Fully loaded, each team is the most heavily armed team of three soldiers in the United States Army. They are highly mobile, equipped with excellent communication, and can do anything the Army asks of them. But they don’t do just anything, and they don’t try to do everything. M. P.’s are responsible for base security. If they leave their post, they leave everybody under their watch vulnerable to enemy attack. Each team does only what it is charged to do.
Behind our embrace of mission, is a basic spiritual law of stewardship. God has entrusted so many talents to us and that according to what he knows we can bear. If we work with what we’ve got, he’ll double it for his Kingdom. If we bury what we’ve got, he’ll take it away and give it to someone else.
Next, as mission teams, we need to equip each team member to fulfill his and her mission. We need to train, and train, and train, and train, and train… Each training session needs to reinforce the previous and push each team member into unexplored areas of service and ability.
In a recent conversation with my brother, I shared with him that we were experiencing a season of peace and wonderful fellowship within the life of our congregation. It feels biblical. His reply was quick and pointed, “God gives us seasons of peace so we can prepare for battle. Think of it,” he continued, “soldiers who are back on base aren’t just sitting around they’re training for the mission.”
The training must be specific. It must be targeted at making sure each team member has the equipping and equipment necessary to fulfill the mission. If it’s League of Mercy, we need compassion and understanding of the aged. If it’s homeless feeding, we need compassion and food. If it’s evangelism, we need compassion and the ability to communicate the gospel.
“Plan the work, work the plan.” “Just do it.” “If you’re gonna talk the talk, you’ve gotta walk the walk.”
All of the evaluating, embracing and equipping are nothing without the engaging. It’s paperwork. We move from theory to reality. As God’s Army we must move onto the battlefield of the Great Salvation War. God is engaging us in new dimensions of service, identity, and mission fields. He will not let us sit on our laurels. He will not let us rest content. He will not let us be done.
God is knocking, and asking if we will engage. How will we answer?