Saved to Save?
‘Wait, wait, wait – some say, we’re
here to serve, not to save.’
Some might note that even official SA
publications make the ‘serve’ mistake.
Our quick response is, ‘are you allowed
to do that?’ This is a fundamental dictum of The Salvation
Army. Can you slide in and decide to make other
‘improvements’? Maybe you figure that the ‘blood’ in our
slogan is a bit too gory and crude so you decide to ‘improve’
it as a painter once did by mistakenly painting ‘Flood and
fire’. Is that legitimate?
Or what if you figure that ‘others’ is
going to dissipate concentration and focus on making ourselves
everything we ought to be by sucking energy and resources that
could be used to prepare/ maintain/ bless ourselves SO THAT we
are in a position to help/serve/save others? So ‘Others’
quickly is ‘improved’ to ‘Ourselves’.
Or what if we conclude that ‘Heart to
God and hand to man’ is just a little offensive to both
non-religionists and women? So we ‘improve’ it to ‘Heart open
and hand out’ or something?
Or what if ‘the world for God’ is just
a little too embarrassing when we’re in conversation with
church types who don’t buy it or with non-church types who
just don’t get it at all? So we ‘improve’ it to ‘The Salvation
Army exists to share the love of Jesus Christ, meet human
needs and be a transforming influence in the communities of
our world’ (one territory’s mission statement, which, by the
way, is a vast improvement on an old committee-speak,
politically-correct statement full of conditions and allusions
to religion and race and gender and so on, that, if I
interpreted it correctly, said, in essence, ‘please don’t sue
Or what if being ‘ready to preach, pray
or die at a moment’s notice’ just seems silly now so we
‘improve’ it to ‘ready to help, hope, or harm reduce at a
moment’s notice’? (or at least, during office hours… AND, no
matter what you do, DO NOT EVEN THINK about having a ‘client’
over to your quarters, let alone LIVE there!)
Or how about ‘fire a volley!’? Surely
that could be/has been (in most places) ‘improved’ to ‘hmmmmm’
(accompanied, in some cultures, with a head nod)?
Or, finally, let’s hit closer to today:
‘save souls, grow saints, and serve suffering humanity’. But
maybe General Gowans, a celebrated wordsmith, was just working
the alliterative angle and rhythm a bit overtime here. Maybe
we should simplify things by ‘improving’ it to read simply,
‘serve suffering humanity’?
How can we change ‘this is our
speciality - getting saved, keeping saved, and getting someone
else saved’, to ‘getting served, keeping served, and getting
someone else served’? Or, how can we change ‘go for souls and
go for the worst’ to ‘go for (government?) service contracts
and go for the biggest’?
It SOUNDS like a subtle difference.
After all, The Army is famous for its effective service. And
we intend to glorify God in and through our lives (sometimes
However, the result is a completely
One is to save our family members; the
other is to serve them.
One is to save the marginalised; the
other is to serve them.
One is to save gross sinners; the other
is to serve them.
One is a Salvation agency; the other is
a service agency.
One is to save the world (from sin);
the other is to serve the world (in its sin).
So, an addict stumbles in off the
street. ‘Saved to Save’ preaches the Gospel as a means of
becoming a new creation through Jesus’ forgiveness and
deliverance. ‘Saved to Serve’ detoxes and teaches that he is a
recovering addict forever.
And so on. Not only does mere ‘Serv’ice
without salvation do a disservice to the one served in that it
leaves them bound for hell, but it does a disservice to our
Lord who came to seek and to save us all. It ends up not
helping us much either, in that we’ve proven disobedient and
ineffective (if our service does not include the goal of
Does the ‘Saved to Save’ serve as well?
Yes. Of course.
Does the ‘Saved to Serve’ save as well?
Maybe. Who knows? It is not guaranteed from that motto (Praise
God that thousands get saved through some aspects of our
service). General William Booth, writing in ‘The Salvationist’
in 1879, summed up our purpose in the following simple but
“We are a salvation people - this is our speciality - getting
saved and keeping saved, and then getting somebody else saved,
and then getting saved ourselves more and more until full
salvation on earth makes the heaven within.”