The Third Act
by Lieutenant Jordan
Glen Eden Corps & Hamodava Coffee Company
New Zealand, Fiji & Tonga
So much of how we understand hope is grafted
from the stories we tell each other, and this is not a new
practice. The ancients told stories of their heroes, unlikely
and overlooked, called by God to a task seemly beyond them….
and just when the odds are against them, hope breaks like
dawn. The stories we’re often glued to on screens and pages
remain the same. Similarly flawed, unlikely and overlooked
heroes are called to a task seemly beyond them, a threat
rises, the tension of the second act is created… and the third
act breaks like hope. My trade was in films, and the art of
story telling, so I understand much of life through this lens.
I see our primal need for hope in the stories we tell each
Can I speak to you for a moment from my own
vantage point in this Salvation Army? I feel increasingly that
we are living somewhere within the second-act of our own
story, and that there is a strong sense in which those around
me who are living within the story are looking to the horizon.
A bit of relatively recent history.
In the 1970s/ 80s
my territory experienced a spiritual renewal as an overflow of
the charismatic revival movement that righteously tore through
many churches and spiritual groups in this country. Our faith
communities were given a gift, which presented us with a sense
of task and a way forward. In the late 80s and then into the
90s, once again we received a gift in the form of the
church-growth-movement. Our faith communities grasped once
again at methods that gave us a sense of task and a way
forward. Those waves came in great sets, and we rode them
while they lasted. The 90s was almost 20 years ago, and in
that time the next gift was promised by many people, though
none came so easily. The way forward has since seemed not so
clear. Perhaps you’ve felt this from where you stand? The odds
have seemly started to build against us.
New leaders, new seasons, a new General. A
new term. These often give to the imagination that spark of
hope, and that perhaps the light is waiting just beyond where
we can see. Here’s the caution for myself, and maybe for you.
Its all too easy to place every possible expectation on the
shoulders of one leader, methods and our mission, or even our
systems old and new. So if I have hope, I want to place it
where I see it is needed most. I want to share what I believe
lies out there, that flint of hope that I see.
Repeat after me.
If we’re looking for a leader who’s going to
tell us exactly what the next chapter is going to look like,
and what is the way forward, a sort of ‘master-plan’. Nobody
knows. I want to take comfort in those words. There won’t be a
new purple book, or a ministry model based on a metaphor. No
one fix-for-all program that will sweep the church. Nobody has
it. I need to hear that.
But, I see hope. I’m hoping instead for the
permission to take risks. I want the next season to be one
where leaders give that permission, and find every way
possible to remove the hurdles and the barriers that kill the
spirit of those who dare to try. I hope for a culture shift
where we honour and celebrate our missional innovators and our
entrepreneurs. We’ll try and fail, and I hope that our
conversations change from ‘See, I knew it wouldn’t work’ to
‘we still believe in you, lets regroup, and try again!’.
Perhaps then we shall begin this time round to write our own
book, rather that borrow it from someone else?
I hope for a move of God’s Spirit in my own
territory in the way that He is moving in other parts of the
Army world, like Papua New Guinea and Africa. I hope we can
find ways to part with the abundance of material resources
that we have here that those who are Spiritually rich simple
don’t. There should be enough of God’s Spirit and resource for
all in a truly globally connect Army of Salvation.
I hope that we remember that the same Spirit
alive in an adult is alive in a child - that our youth have
not been given a junior Spirit. That we follow Jesus, who
was/is Himself a young man; who called teenagers to follow
him; who changed the world; who inspired a young man and woman
to start the Salvation Army, who inspired other teenagers and
young people to storm the world for Salvation. I hope we
capture this again. Can we let our young people lead us again?
Maybe the hero is down, having taken the
punches and the dirt kicked in our faces. The odds are
stacking against her. But we know how the beats of this story
go. We know there is a third-act. The hint of something new is
stirring the imagination. Hope beckons with the first glistens
on a dazzling horizon.