The Salvation Army Does Not Belong in a Box
by Captain Pete
created the heavens and the earth from nothing.
Hillsides. Lakes. Rivers. Forests.
then created living creatures. Fish. Cows. Birds. Alligators.
then created humans.
Fingers. Toes. Ears. These things we call noses.
After the creation narrative we push a little further into the
Pentateuch (first five books of the Old Testament) and we hear
about Noah and a humungous flood.
We read about Moses encountering God through a burning bush.
Then we picture those plagues that tore apart the lives of the
What about the parting of the Red Sea
and water gushing out of rock?
go on, have you captured the point yet? God is an
out-of-the-box kind of God. The miracles and encounters of God
are often different, unexpected, dissimilar from the previous
encounter. Let me go on:
The banking up
of the Jordan river at flood time
The walls of
Jericho coming down after a shout to the Lord
from heaven to consume Elijah’s offering
Chicken from heaven (ok, that hasn’t happened, but I’m
Are any of
these encounters the same? No. Do many of these take people by
surprise? Yes. Let me go on, there’s more:
His shekinah glory as a pillar of fire
shining across Moses’ face
A dead person
coming to life after Elijah lay prostrate on top of them
Jars of oil
miraculously being filled up
encountering Christ on the road to Damascus and going blind in
Spitting in a
person’s eyes and curing blindness
God is an out-of-the-box
kind of God!!
is the same. Every encounter is different. God is creative,
innovative, adaptive, imaginative, inventive, visionary,
artistic, original and full of ingenuity.
So let me
ask you a difficult question.
our Salvation Army Corps so boring?!
Why do we lack so much
creativity? Why are we so content to do everything the same,
year in, year out, while serving a God that is the complete
the first to admit this. And if you’re real with me, you’ll
realise the same. We serve a creative God, who solved problems
in different ways at every juncture. Yet we just copy the
ministry of the growing church down the road, or simply
replicate a ministry from a previous generation.
by and we look the same, smell the same, act the same, talk
the same and then we look around and we wonder why we are
put God in a box?
we have said, you’re welcome to draw people to church Lord, as
long as they sing like us. You’re welcome to save the lost, as
long as they understand how we do things here. You’re welcome
to help us reach youth, as long as they don’t destroy the
carpet. You’re welcome to have people serving, as long as they
conform to our ways. You’re welcome to let your Holy Spirit
move as long as it’s in our predetermined Protestant rule
if you think I’m being rash.
have a holy discontent. We need to release God from the box!
historically The Salvation Army kicks goals. We have all heard
stories of ingenuity, raw passion and determination and
Spirit-inspired innovativeness of the early Army.
for a moment, The Salvation Army opening the lime-light
department to present the gospel using the latest technology
of the day. What about the donut girls in World War I, feeding
military personnel on the frontlines? What about in 1883 when
James Barker introduced the first permanent Salvation Army
social institution, namely the “Prison Gate” programme based
at Melbourne Gaol (Victoria, Australia)? Think about the match
factory where the new style of safety matches meant employees
weren’t subject to life and death working conditions. In 1885
Josephine Butler (a women’s rights activist) spurred The
Salvation Army on to raise the age of consent in English law
for young girls from 13 to 16. What about Frederick Booth
Tucker, who in 1882 took with him three Salvation Army
officers and landed in Bombay to open the work of The
Salvation Army in India.
highlight some practical ways we can be out-of-the-box:
Discover new solutions to
Einstein said that we cannot be solving our problems with the
same level of thinking that created them. This means you have
to THINK outside the box. Easier said than done. Try
brainstorming some ideas. Try gathering around you people who
you wouldn’t normally consider to get their feedback. Find a
person of peace and ask them to help you. I mentioned the
donut girls, who when faced with a situation of not having
enough dough mixture, made a hole in the donut to spread it
further (creative and innovative!)
Be willing to take a risk
out into a new venture is always risky. Having the young punk
playing drums on Sunday will rock the boat (plus it will rock
the music). Inviting the Hindu man out for coffee might be
misinterpreted, but if God leads you, you do it anyway.
something new will always cop some criticism. There will
always be someone waiting to tell you how it didn’t work when
they tried something similar. You need to know who you are in
Christ, and be willing to take a risk. Assess your motives,
and if it is about Kingdom growth and the salvation of the
world, and the Lord is leading you, then what is stopping you?
You may gather advice from trusted mentors and leaders, but in
the end you have to choose to step into the metaphorical
Jordan river and watch God bank the river up behind you.
again the historical roots of the movement to which you are
invested in. Salvationists by their very nature are willing to
try to do what they can to reach the lost and bring
restoration and healing to broken people. They will hear the
cry of William Booth to his son Bramwell, ‘Do something!’
Do not fear failure
likes to fail. You can picture people behind your back saying
things like, ‘I told them that it wasn’t going to work!’
Though we need to stand tall, understand we serve a creative
God, and move forward into new endeavours. We cannot fear to
fail, or more strictly speaking, we cannot allow the fear to
cause us to stop moving forward, even if it means we may fail.
Salvation Army we must champion those that try, and cheer on
those that are willing. It may seem counterintuitive, because
if something is declining, we do the opposite; we play it
safe, we create more paperwork, we unwittingly develop more
layers of bureaucratic process to protect us from failure. We
say that it hasn’t worked the way we had hoped, and so then we
pull the plug and give up. But the problem is because of
failure, we become comatose, unable to move out of our comfort
zone, too afraid to try anything out-of-the-box, lest we fail
is though, if you’re not failing occasionally, you’re probably
living your Christian walk in a proverbial bubble of safety
ingenuity came thick and fast in the early days of our
movement. The Salvation Army was known for being radical,
different, passionate, sold-out for Jesus, a little eccentric
and little bit controversial.
that’s the kind of God we worship.
I dream of
a Salvation Army convinced of its calling. I dream of a
Salvation Army willing to lay aside religious and cultural
popularity for the work of the Spirit. I dream of a Salvation
Army that will put aside petty arguments and win the world for
Jesus. I dream of a Salvation Army that will stop talking
about how much things have changed and enact change. I dream
of a Salvation Army that will be infused with the same
creative spirit that rose Jesus from the grave.
God is an
out-of-the-box kind of God and if we are to best serve a God
of that nature, we should well be out-of-the-box ourselves.
Salvation Army’s growth depends upon it.
Captain Pete Brookshaw is
the Corps Officer of The Salvation Army Craigieburn alongside
his wife Captain Jo Brookshaw. He has a Bachelor of Business
and is passionate about the church being dynamic and effective
in the world and creating communities of faith that are
outward-focused, innovative, passionate about the lost and
committed to societal change.
He has been blogging since
2006 at www.petebrookshaw.com about leadership and faith.
Reach him on twitter: @petebrookshaw
Exodus 7:14 – Exodus 12:26
Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44,
Luke 9:10-17, John 6:1-15, Matthew 15:32-39, Mark
Matthew 8:28-34, Mark 5:1-20,