Prophetic Hindsight: Debriefing 2020 in 2030
They say ‘hindsight is 20/20’!
Probably (I heard it said of a well-known, long-retired
Salvationist recently that we'll be discovering the extent of
his impact over the next century; but we'll stick with a
'decade' since we hope to have won the world for Jesus within
the next century).
But surely reflecting on the significant changes
birthed a decade ago, in 2020, can still prove an edifying
part of our ‘drill / deploy / debrief’ micro modus operandi.
We made those decisions back then.
And it is helpful to debrief on them now.
And just to make sure we’re all on the same page here,
this is the definition of ‘debrief’: ‘question (someone,
typically a soldier or spy) about a completed mission or
What was the undertaking?
Well, we all remember getting stomped by the pandemic.
It shut down so many of our traditional spiritual
rhythms and practices.
For some seasons during its greatest intensity, in
different parts of the world we weren’t even meant to leave
home except for groceries and health care appointments (and,
don't forget, dog walking and exercise!).
The social policy reaction to the virus was such that
most of our habitual spiritual activity ground to a halt.
By necessity, we began exploring
different ways of connecting, discipling, worshipping, and
What began in different local areas as
tentative experimental steps into online community established
a precedent and foundation for face-to-face community as
social restrictions loosened.
New relationships and activities on the screens
transferred fairly smoothly in most instances to living rooms
And so the transition of the nucleus of
public SA activity from Sunday-at-the-building to several
different times in several different places marks a seismic
shift in praxis – a ‘fundamental reorientation of a state of
Yes, in 2030, we still have buildings
in most SA cities in which we gather to worship at the usual
yes, those building are still optimized when used throughout
the week for food banks and family and community services and
Pathway of Hope and English-as-a-Second-Language, and day
cares, and more.
But more and more, the basic building block of The Salvation
Army structure is the Army(‘s) Base Network.
The rebranding of The Army’s
‘societies’ as bases, with that simple formula ‘base = cells +
hubs’, proved practical and fitting in that crisis season.
The flexibility of the ‘open’ cells and the
accountability of the set-membership Infinitum hubs joined
together to streamline salvationism, replicate rapidly, bypass
bureaucracy, and revitalize the revolution.
And it continues to expand, extend, and multiply!
It turns out that Jesus was not
surprised by the crisis, and that He could (and can) save
people, heal people, deliver people, free people, sanctify
people, disciple people, speak with people and heaps more with
or without viruses, in traditional or unconventional means,
inside or outside dedicated buildings (and even with or
without 'official' approval, through young or aged, newly
arrived or multi-generational, in any language, and more)!
Glory to God!
To look back even further, the effects
of pandemic are reminiscent of the effects of persecution in
Jerusalem that scattered the disciples throughout Judea and
Samaria (see Acts 8:1-4).
And we all know how that's turning out!
In modest ways, the years following 2020 reflect some
of the same explosive expansion of Jesus’ love as the chapters
following Acts 8.