Raising up the age-old foundations
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of
Broken Walls, Restorer of Street with Dwellings.”
(Isaiah 58:12 NIV)
Continuing with words the Chief of the Staff (Commissioner John Larsson) has suggested are the principles that underlay Booth’s methods and which can guide the Army as we move into the future…
- The early Army (in its first 21 years) desperately fought not to settle down to traditional forms.
- We are unique and have the freedom to be ourselves.
- We need to be willing to rid ourselves even of Salvation Army customs… “If traditions hinder mission, we must let them go!”
(Commissioner Larsson illustrated how easily we settle into traditions by pointing out that within the space of a few years we have determined we must all stand to sing worship choruses! A tradition interestingly formed by younger Salvationists).
- Early missioners were fed up with the way The Christian Mission was run and wanted Booth, a charismatic leader, to lead. “A committee of one gets things done!”
- This has been the Army’s style for years, a gift the Army received from the Booth family. But, not all gifts are given to one person and one-man bands can be a hindrance if there is not strong leadership at every level.
- God gave the Army a spirit of boldness, not timidity.
- We need to be free from criticism inside the movement as well as from outside. The Commissioner quoted former General Albert Orsborne as saying “The Army is like a centipede. You can’t move without treading on someone’s toes!”
BALANCE (IN MINISTRY):
- We must not leave out any one of General John Gowan’s three emphases: Save souls, grow saints, and save suffering humanity.
- The early Army released the unsuspected potential of its people putting them to work immediately, not insisting they be “tested” for six months. Booth knew that trusted people would rise to the challenge.
- Booth put new converts to work whether they were soldiers or not (even sent one to open the work in part of Africa!)
- Everyone in the Army is a “sent” person.
DEPENDENCY (ON GOD):
- Early day prayer battles, believing God would answer, were common.
- Prayer was part of the planning at the beginning, not after!
- There is a danger of doing too much study to “get it right” and of leaving God out, of being too busy to listen to God.
- Souls of men were Booth’s passion over his whole life.
- “Evangelism is a passion, not a program!” (Commissioner Joe Noland)
The final quotation shared was of Lord Hattersley:
“BE what you were called to be, and DO what you were called to do.”
Good advice which, coupled with Commissioner Larsson’s nine “principles” (dynamics) gives us much to ponder as we strive to find a way through the “wilderness” of the times in which we live.
“Are we what once we were,
Have we that ground maintained…?”
(Adapted from TSA Songbook #409 v.2)