Kiss the future!
“We have to work at transforming our dreams into reality.” –Commissioner David Edwards Vision 2000 & Beyond
Some of you may have read Captain Geoff Ryan’s Sowing Dragons. If not, you need to do so, or at a minimum secure and read a copy of the March 6, 2001 New Frontier center section that previewed his book.
Geoff says, “In our youth we innovated and customized. In our old age we imitate and franchise. Then we led, now we follow. We were prophets. Now? Now we are conformists. We were dangerous, now we are safe. We’ve become soldiers with our eye on the army, on the church and not the battle, that is the unsaved.”
I cannot think of a better statement of need for visioning, transformation and change than Geoff’s comments. Even so, there are those who say our visioning initiatives have become stuck, stalled, bogged down with too much process and not enough results, too much emphasis on innovation and not enough recognition of traditional values like Geoff highlights.
For some it may be so. So how do we get unstuck? The flyleaf of Leonard Sweets’ latest book, Post-modern Pilgrims: First Century Passion for the 21st Century World, has a great illustration. “There is a legend of a Welsh Prince Madoc whose ship became stuck in Chesapeake Bay. After trying unsuccessfully to escape, he had his men row out with the anchor, drop it as far into the sea as they could, and then the ship winched its way forward. The image of the church as a boat and tradition as an anchor is prevalent in Christian art. If we examine the biblical view of an anchor, we find, like Prince Madoc, we are to cast our anchor into the future and pull the church (our Army?) forward.” This book addresses and answers the tension that exists between tradition and innovation by offering a biblical view of both, working together for the maturing of the church.
I particularly found Sweet’s comments on kissing to be quite interesting. He mentions there are two great kisses in Christian theology. The first is when God breathed into humans the breath of life; the second is when Jesus breathed into the disciple’s new life in the Holy Spirit. He later states that “Jesus, (is) God’s Kiss to Earth.” Furthermore, like Jesus, like the apostles, our lives are to be a kind of “kiss of love” to the unloved, the untouchables. There are no untouchables for Christ.
In this “hands off” culture in which we live, we are to reach out and touch the untouchable and to “kiss the culture.” Says Sweet, “Parents kiss their kids good night. Christians kiss their world awake.”
Folks, we know how to “love the unloved, never reckoning the cost,” to extend our “Heart to God and our Hand to Man,” to show concern for the community of the unsaved. And, lest we forget, Diane Winston in her book, Red-Hot and Righteous, reminds us that American “Salvationists sought to saturate the secular with the sacred.” Or, put another way, “kiss the culture.”
I believe there are Salvationists who still want to kiss the world awake to the love of Jesus. There are Salvationists who long for us to grow up, mature, and quit the incessant battle of either or: tradition or innovation, past or future, and ask us to be fixed in purpose and fluid in practice. These Salvationists are finding new ways to apply old values and truths to the current culture. These Salvationists belong to seventy-five percent of the corps across the territory that are doing well in setting corps goals and doing visioning locally. Our command evaluations showed only twenty-five percent are struggling significantly with visioning.
Everywhere, I see vision champions: at THQ, at DHQ and in corps. In one sense, visioning began in the program section at THQ. It has spread to the business section with some of the most creative thinking and doing taking place there. Quickly, let me add that all department heads, in all sections are working at doing business differently. Divisional commanders encourage us to “stay the course;” the new emphasis on local goals and corps health is catching on. These leaders recognize, “We have to work at transforming our dreams into realities.” The command and corps evaluations show corps are hungry for the Word, desire more resources for leadership identification/
development, discipling, goal setting and measurement. Corps officers are reporting greater participation and ownership by soldiers of corps program and goals.
So, for those with future fatigue, tired of visioning, take hope. Your dreams may yet become realities. By casting our anchor forward, continuing to kiss the future world awake, and staying the course on visioning, we may come to understand 2 Peter 2:11-12. “…what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live bold and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed it’s coming.”