Do you see The Salvation Army as a movement of prayer who are on their knees "praying in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests"? (Ephesians 6:18)
Do you see The Salvation Army as "an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church [whose]
message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by love for
God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and meet human
needs in his name without discrimination"?
Do you see The Salvation Army as a charity who "is one of the world's largest Christian social welfare organisations with more than 1,650,000 members working in over 124 countries"?
The truth is, The Salvation Army is all three! However, the image you see more often will be the image that largely determines how you perceive The Salvation Army. At this time of year on The Salvation Army calendar in Australia the third image is the one that will most likely shape the way the majority of people see The Salvation Army for the rest of the year, as our collectors saturate the community to collect money for the Red Shield Appeal. This is indeed a very important activity that partly funds our ability to "meet human needs in [Jesus] name without discrimination."
However, it is only part of the picture. It only tells part of the story about who we are and why we do what we do. For a complete image of The Salvation Army the other two images need to become an integrated part of not only how we behave in private but how we engage in public. Once upon a time it was very common to see The Salvation Army gathered on a street corner preaching the Word of God and praying with people for their salvation. Today, this image is rarely seen publicly in traditional or contemporary forms.
I believe it is time for Salvationists to rise up and redeem an image of The Salvation Army that clearly communicates in public what we celebrate and worship in private.
I believe it is time for Salvationists to no longer be "ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation of everyone who believes" (Romans 1:16).
I believe it is time for our Salvation message to be seen in everything we do so "that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:10-11).
I believe it is time for Salvationists to realign with our evangelical mission, to rediscover how to engage with our community beyond the collection tin, and to restore a holistic image of God in our neighbourhoods by being an active presence of Jesus Christ!