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Transformational mission: a new strategy for mission

9 December 2014 - 4:41pm -- Ann
Author: 
Alan Burns

Transformational Mission is the focus of a new strategy for our Territory, centred around four priorities — Transformation, Integration, Discipleship and Effectiveness — that spell out the word TIDE.

From 2012 to early 2014 we took a fresh look at how we deliver and support the Army’s core ministry to save souls, grow saints and serve suffering humanity. What we’ve learned, from many months of discussion with all aspects of our Territory, has shaped this new strategy, which will launch in 2015.

Our Territory will commit to delivering four mission priorities: bringing about lasting Transformation in lives and communities blighted by spiritual and social poverty; engaging every aspect of our movement in our Integrated mission of physical, emotional and spiritual health for every person; nurturing and equipping people in their faith to commit to lifelong Discipleship; and Effectiveness in how we support and deliver mission.

Four priorities for our Territory

Transformation — life in all its fullness, for people and communities, is the aim of all that we are and do

Integration — engaging the whole of the Army to reach the whole of the person through the whole of our mission

Discipleship — equipping and inspiring people to be passionate followers of Jesus Christ

Effectiveness — in the delivery and support of God’s mission

Changing our form but not our essence

Transformation, which is the central theme of the gospel message, means ‘changing forms’.  (‘If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.’ 11 Corinthians 5:17).

The message of Jesus is that God loves people. Because of what God has done in and through Jesus, people, communities and nations can be transformed by his love and grace. This message has the power to change the world — and both you and me!

Transformation is not so much about ‘doing to’ someone else, as we discover that we are also changed as we embrace God’s plan and purpose. For the follower of Jesus, every day presents an opportunity to allow the grace of God to change us. We present ourselves (see Romans 12:1) to God so that we can live for his loving purposes. We’re being changed as we follow!

Fit for Mission is about bringing change to the Army so we are more effective in God’s mission; to do so we need to be open to transformation. Importantly, to transform means the change is in form not in essence. The essence of who we are, what God has called The Salvation Army to be, remains constant — God never changes! This is always true in transformation.

Jesus’ own transformation on the mountain involved a change in form while remaining the same in essence (‘His appearance changed from the inside out, right before their eyes.  Sunlight poured from his face. His clothes were filled with light’. Matthew 17:2). After the resurrection, the risen Jesus was still recognisable (actually by his wounds which is interesting… but for another article perhaps!).

As a movement we may have to transform to be more effective in our mission but this is stated with a prayerful realisation that the change we need is to renewed by the Holy Spirit so that we can be effective participants and partners in the mission of God.

Our ambition is that every local expression of mission, every HQ, department and unit will use this new strategy to produce their own mission development plan. We have a long way to go and your contribution is immensely important as we journey together. While the ultimate accountability for delivering the strategy rests with senior leadership, the actual delivery of this strategy is the responsibility of everyone in our movement.

Help us to place God at the centre of all that we are as The Salvation Army, so that we are truly a movement that is mobilised and ready for mission.

Developing the strategy

The contents of the strategy have been developed after input from the whole Territory: divisional Mission Development Plan (MDP) documents, THQ departmental MDP documents, the Territorial Strategy Steering Group, Divisional Leaders, Territorial Leadership, Territorial Leaders' Councils and the Great Mission Conversation.

The Great Mission Conversation from 10 January to Monday 03 March (after the deadline was extended to accommodate late returns) involved a survey, distributed online via Survey Monkey and via paper to those without internet access. We received  2,462 responses, of which 67% were fully completed. This was supplemented by focus groups across the Territory attended by around 2,000 people who added further insight about the questions posed. As Fit for Mission continues, we hope the tide will flow and that the two-way exchange of information will improve.

For the question around the priorities for ensuring the Army is fit to achieve its mission, the majority of responses called for more emphasis on prayer and being Christ-centred, a focus on the Bible and investment in theological training, discipleship, spiritual development, and relevant worship to equip Salvationists in their everyday situations.

Respondents also referred to the development of community, adoption of inclusive values, the empowerment of service users, effective and strong leadership, and caring for each other. Many called for a stronger public voice and impact in communicating our mission to the public, and a willingness to risk our reputation and funding for the sake of those who need it.

Considering areas for change, the overwhelming suggestions were around removing perceived barriers to growth and innovation, putting ‘Christ first and then the Army’, fulfilling our potential as a holiness movement with members who were spirit filled people. For many this required a shift in thinking about what is fundamentally important, away from some traditions of service which are necessarily fruitful in bringing people to Christ.

Copies of Transformational Mission will be available to download from early 2015.

 

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