Did We Go Forward?
by Major Stephen Court
I’ll come at this challenge from a
different perspective than the other contributors.
The raw numbers will give us some context.
When Paul Rader was elected General of The Salvation
Army, 348885 junior soldiers and 797910 senior soldiers
attached to 14907 Corps and led by 25391 officers fought in
100 countries. By
the end of his five year term (1999), 400078 junior soldiers
and 947603 senior soldiers attached to 15669 Corps led by
25475 officers fought in 107 countries.
The senior soldier total was very soon to creep over a
million. In 2017,
396130 junior soldiers and 1130400 senior soldiers attached to
14389 Corps led by 24888 Officers fight in 128 countries.
But now I’m going to comment on various
statements of General Rader’s speech with the benefit of two
decades of hindsight.
PAR: As together we look toward the year
2000 and beyond, are we not sometimes gripped by the sense
that we may well have begun a final march to Armageddon?
Sometimes the signs seem starkly evident. If not toward the
final confrontation with an evil empire on the Plain of
Megiddo, then Armageddon in the streets of our strife-torn
cities. In homes rent by bitterness and moral failure. In the
clash between moral relativism and biblical morality. In the
relentless invasion of our homes and the minds of our young by
the godless media. In the battle for decency and justice for
the poor, the homeless, the hungry stripped of their dignity.
Along the border of Tanzania and Rwanda and now in Zaire a
million Rwandans have fled their homes.
sec- tragically, most of the horrors to
which Rader alludes in the start of his speech have been
equaled or surpassed in the intervening decades.
And Jesus still tarries, supernaturally patient with
us, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.
God help us accelerate the advance of the salvation war
and speed His ultimate return!
PAR: These times call for a fighting force
– furiously aggressive – a militant Army, disciplined and
determined to proclaim Jesus as Lord amid the meanness and
misery of our world. These times call for an advancing Army –
an Army of aggression. Our field is the world and that world
is aflame! Our sinning, suffering planet is exploding in
crisis, while also bursting with opportunity.
sec – bracing stuff!
Are we a fighting force today?
How many of the million and a half soldiers (senior and
junior) are furiously aggressive in our war fighting?
How many ‘disciplined and determined’ to proclaim
Christ as Lord?
How many in our ranks, let alone society in general, see us a
‘an Army of aggression’?
We’ve made advances.
We tackled Rader’s challenge to a million marching into
the new millennium – hallelujah.
And we’ve advanced such that we’re now fighting in 128
season’s US SA campaign is FIGHT FOR GOOD (ties in with the
Christmas kettle campaign and America’s ‘Doing The Most Good’
slogan) so there is intentional and public association with the
struggle for righteousness.
But we’ve still a ways to go, God helping.
PAR: The stranglehold of communist
domination has been broken for millions. Events such as those
in North Korea – for 40 years cut off from the whole of the
free world, including the South, just minutes away – gives
some glimmer of hope for a final breaching of the Bamboo
Curtain. And what shall we say of China, and Bramwell’s
promise to his dying father to remember China? Africans are
turning Christward in unprecedented numbers, and the
evangelical church awakening in Latin America desperately
needs the balancing emphasis of the Army’s ministries of clear
gospel proclamation, social concern and Christly compassion.
And what of the challenge of the increasingly secularised
societies of Europe and North America? A very different
sec- This paragraph addresses current
Korea ominous threats have increased.
The Salvation Army has just this season been officially
welcomed back in China.
Rader’s depiction of Latin America in need of balance
could have been written yesterday.
And the increasing secularization of Europe and North
America is at the point of requiring supernatural intervention
to reverse the declension.
The Salvation Army has been unable to date to win these
battles. God give
us wisdom and power in these coming years.
PAR: Can we believe that this is a day, an
hour, for retrenchment? Is this a time for settling down
comfortably, for bringing up the drawbridges over the
defensive moat and hunkering down against the storm of an
unfriendly world in our citadels of safe spirituality and
Salvationist camaraderie, isolated and effectively neutralised
as an aggressive spiritual force? It was the Army Mother’s
greatest fear for the future of the Army. What would the
Founder say to us here? I think he would say one word:
sec- Look, the retrenchment / settling down
/ drawbridges option is one that some of us have taken in the
The ‘greying of The Salvation Army’ has seen the boomer
generation dutifully and habitually keep their schedules while
tragically losing ground as the generations that have followed
have slipped spiritually or gone elsewhere to advance.
And that point is primarily about ‘the regiment’ –
The story of first generation salvationists is
wonderful – in some places.
In others, it is unusual (not quite fable or old wive’s
tale status, yet, we hope).
Booth says, ‘Forward’.
Rader says, ‘Forward’.
Have we obeyed the command?
In some places, yes.
We have expanded into more countries, with more
soldiers than we have had in the past.
So advances are being made.
But there is significant decline in traditionally
strong regions that cause pause.
PAR: I am not a proponent of mindless
expansionism. I recognise we have commitments to our existing
work, often struggling financially, which we cannot afford to
ignore. But I am committed to strategic advance. And I believe
resources can be found to meet the challenges before us.
sec- We suspect that Rader had to include
this cautious paragraph to mitigate the fears some might have
had of an ‘American’ becoming General, particularly one with a
record of such aggressive goal-setting advance.
PAR: We must go forward:
finding cost effective, supportable means for entering new
areas of ministry;
sec- officially, we still have a system
that seems to require a significant commitment of capital –
facilities, quarters, operating budgets – and people
(typically, vocational Christian leaders) for such
unofficially (maybe for a few more weeks or months?) we have
the Army Base Network which has an early track record of
success that requires no facilities, no operating budgets, no
vocational Christian leaders, none of the typical barriers to
the simple formula – Base = cells + hubs – streamlines
salvationism, bypasses bureaucracy (did we tell you the 1943
O&R for DCs indicates that societies – which have been
missionally rebranded as Army bases – do not require
headquarters approval?), is rapidly replicable, and
revitalizes the revolution!
This is an early answer (well, late in time since he
made the challenge, but early in proof and acceptance and
application) to Rader’s challenge.
PAR: We must go forward:
in developing more adequate, equitable and strategically
responsible patterns of funding – and we must work for
understanding and ownership of strategic commitments, within
zones, surely, and around the world;
sec- Up until this year the USA Western
Territory had a department dedicated to helping other
territories gain financial self-sufficiency.
Their success is an answer to Rader’s challenge.
PAR: We must go forward:
compassionate and creative response to the AIDS pandemic. In
this regard the IHQ technical assistance team is breaking
sec- As we understand it, Rader set up
international health teams to address this and similarly
significant challenges and they made an important contribution
to addressing these problems.
PAR: We must go forward:
our efforts to find and enfold the lost and then to enlist
them in our great cause;
sec- Since the Year Book won’t publish
(and, I guess retroactively report) statistics IHQ DOES
collect of first time seekers of salvation, we cannot say how
we’ve done in response to this challenge.
We are going to guess that Rader’s evangelistic
emphasis had a positive influence during his term.
PAR: We must go forward:
aggressive and innovative approaches to evangelism and Corps
growth, including the more effective use of the media;
sec- I have been an active officer since
before Rader was elected, but I’m not sure I can point to
whole-sale adoption of aggressive approaches to evangelism (we
can point to some approaches but not whole-sale adoption) or
innovative approaches to Corps growth (again – it is the
‘whole-sale’ but that is difficult).
For evangelism (we’ve blogged heaps on this, so if you
are interested, go to the blog and search ‘evangelism’) one
innovation has been spiritual readings tables.
For Corps growth (term no longer used widely), we’d
point to Majors Linda and Kevin Jackson in USA Eastern
Territory taking creative approaches to changing communities.
PAR: We must go forward:
our efforts to sensitise and mobilise our people to confront
the moral crises in our communities;
sec- Again, I’m not sure how we can measure
success on this one.
PAR: We must go forward:
our commitment as an Army – east and west, north and south –
to world evangelisation.
sec- We’ll say that in the past couple of
decades we’ve heard leaders talk about winning the world for
Jesus more than we did in the couple of decades preceding
It is to the point that a nominee at the next High Council who
doesn’t indicate a commitment toward winning the world for
Jesus will not be seriously considered (my take).
PAR: We must ask ourselves, how big is our
world and our understanding of the place of the Army in it?
How big is the ‘world’ of our people? Is it as big as our
Saviour’s? We must move toward understanding our place – the
place God envisions for us in the ‘do-able’ task of world
evangelisation. It is only as internationalism becomes for us
all an experience of joining hands across the world to march
forward together in fulfilment of our Lord’s Great Commission
that we can continue to generate the resources for global
advance in mission.
sec- Remember that as Rader is making this
speech the Internet has just been born (we’ll guess that few
of the delegates even used email – in that era I’d email my DC
and he’d have a secretary print it off for him; then he’d
scribble his response on that sheet and have her fax it back
to me!). So Rader
is anticipating the operationalization of the global village
that occurred during his term (and has intensified since!).
He was a long-term reinforcement officer in a
significantly different culture.
And he got us up and running on Lotus Notes (which, I
know, those on it today see differently than it was
appreciated in the 90s).
PAR: We must advance in a continuing
renewal of faith and spiritual vigour, reflected in the
vitality of our response to the word of God and its authority,
and our capacity for sacrificial commitment. I believe we
should revisit the use of small, task-oriented elite forces
within the Army – special forces which, for a limited time,
might give themselves to high-risk, sacrificial, innovative
evangelistic strategies and services – whatever it takes! It
might serve to raise the whole level of our commitment and
help to break us out of a defensive and conservative mode,
lest, in some places, we die of our own dignity!
I love this.
I’d love to see it.
The rule of life we crafted – INFINITUM
(infinitumlife.com) – was originally inspired by William
Booth’s vision of the Companions of the Cross of Christ (which
is very similar to what Rader is calling for in this
paragraph!)! So, there
has been A response (not a complete one) to Rader’s challenge.
PAR: We must move forward together in all
our rich cultural diversity, women and men, the young and the
aging and those in mid-life searching for ministry
opportunities which might give their lives new meaning. We
have much ground to cover on the issue of women in ministry.
But one senses that there is much greater unanimity among us
and a rising tide of commitment to finding solutions. Clearly,
action is required.
sec- Rader gave married women their ranks
(if you were married to a man who was a captain, you were also
a captain, as it should be, of course, but this was one of the
things he improved), and doubled the size of the high council
in doing it (all of the ‘commissioners’ wives’ becoming
commissioners themselves and thus qualifying as delegates to
the high council).
And he and Commissioner Kay Rader worked and continue to work
toward an egalitarian realization of the official SA ideals on
this issue. But
there is heaps still to do.
Today, we’ve got one married woman officer who serves
as CS in New Zealand.
She is the second married woman CS (following a recent
one in Germany).
To our knowledge, these are the highest command appointments
for married women in history (with the notable exceptions of
Emma Booth-Tucker, co-national commander with her husband, and
Florence Booth, the British Commissioner).
We expect much more.
PAR: The young continue to be our greatest
challenge and our most profitable investment in our future as
a Movement. The remarkable thing is that against the tide of
the culture and its obsession with things, thrills and getting
their own way, young people continue to respond to the call of
God and come bearing the reproach of Christ. Not in the
numbers we would like. But they come.
Since this speech we’ve seen boot camp and battle
school and the war college on our local front, and much more
in different places around the world.
Young people typically BUY INTO a huge challenge.
It’s on the rest of us to live such lives that we’re in
a position to throw down those kinds of challenges.
God help us.
PAR: I continue to feel that there is great
merit in the idea of convening a cost-effective International
Youth Forum, perhaps somewhere in the developing world, with
less of an emphasis on costly extravaganzas and more on
confronting young people with the challenge of the word of God
and the world of human need – perhaps along the lines of the
student missionary conventions which have been held in
different parts of the world. Summer service Corps have proved
to be a valuable recruiting tool for officers. I would explore
the possibility of forming international youth service Corps
teams, which could bring together teams of Salvationist youth
from both supporting and supported territories.
sec- Of course, Rader did throw an
international youth forum (one of my quarters mates attended
and married a guy she met at it [she didn’t married him DURING
the event!] and moved continents!).
And one of the organisers of the event is currently the
TC in UKI Territory (for a few more weeks).
PAR: We must share a common strategic
vision as we move aggressively toward the 21st century. The
All-India Strategy Commission concept should be utilised
elsewhere. Much will have been learned from that initial
effort at such an approach. An International Conference of
Leaders must be convened at the earliest feasible date,
hopefully before the autumn of 1996. It should focus on
sec- International Conferences of Leaders
have become a thing, with the most recent one in November 2017
(a handful of months before the next high council).
Challenged and answered.
PAR: Sure theological foundations are
critical if we are to move with confidence into the future. I
would favour the convening of a consultation on the
theological foundations of Army identity and mission. Among
other things it might well address the issue of our
ecclesiastical identity and the extent to which we may wisely
identify the local Corps with the New Testament concept of the
sec- Now, spiritual life commission was
instigated by Rader and its influence has seasoned the
generation that has followed.
This is one of his larger legacies.
His last sentence there is timely for me these days as
I wrestle with seeing Ephesians 4 (apostles, prophets,
evangelists, shepherd\teachers) manifest properly in The Army…
But Rader answered his own challenge here.
But let us be Army! Were there not one, God
would raise up a Salvation Army for just such a time as this.
We are only a ‘people of power’ if we are pure, continuously
renewing our confidence in the privilege of all believers to
experience the cleansing, empowering and en-gracing spirit of
holiness, sanctifying our hearts by faith and calling us to a
lifelong questing for higher ground.
sec- Keeper quote there: “Were there not
one, God would raise up a Salvation Army for just such a time
as this.” Praise
God. But how are
we leveraging, today, the divine DNA of the Army for world
conquest? Are we
lacking the power to which Rader alludes for the reasons he
outlines (lack of purity, lack of continuously renewing our
confidence in… holiness, lack of sanctification, lack of
lifelong quest for higher ground)?
He walks us through the solution.
We just need to follow the instructions.
PAR: If we find ourselves where God wants
us to be in the year 2000 – ‘should Jesus tarry!’ – in
strength and deployment, in understanding and efficiency, in
purity and devotion, then we must advance on our knees.
sec- Colonel Janet Munn wrote a book ‘Army
On Its Knees’ based on Rader’s famous call to prayer (which he
promises in the lines immediately following).
PAR: I would issue a worldwide call to
prayer and intercession, which can be coordinated with
established territorial emphases, with a focus on worship,
spiritual combat, claiming of new ground in prayer by actual
visits and on-site prayer offensives in spiritual oppressive
and resistant areas targeted for advance, on concerts of
prayer and a renewed emphasis on the soldiers’ disciplines in
sec- this came and was answered, and has
been answered. And
Munn (again), took this challenge to the next level in her
non-stop prayer that began a decade into the new century.
It remains the challenge.
And we believe that prayer brings revival that lack of
prayer makes necessary.
PAR: Let the Army in the developing
countries of the world and those areas emerging from spiritual
and political oppression teach the developed and increasingly
secularised nations of the West the secrets of prayer, its
discipline and dynamics, which they have learned in the
cauldron of suffering!
We have heaps to learn.
God help us.
Rader led us to new heights statistically.
He led us to new depths spiritually.
He led us to new frontiers ethically.
Those of us old enough can just thank God for the
privilege of fighting under his leadership.
Glory to God.