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    Help! I Hate My Corps!

    How to have a positive impact in a church with problems. May 14, 2014 by Jonathan Taube
    Filed Under:
    Opinion & Critical Thought
    Have you ever felt frustrated or dissatisfied with your corps? Present, but not planted? It's easy to see the flaws and failings of the church, but much more difficult to confront those same sins and shortcomings in our own hearts and lives. So how can we have a positive impact without becoming bitter or hard-hearted? How can we serve Christ in a church with problems?

    One of my mentors has often reminded me that when I stand before the throne of God in heaven, I will not be asked to answer for the actions or inaction of others, but I will certainly be held to account for what I have done or failed to do with what was given me. We must live out our God-given calling regardless of our feelings about our individual setting.

    Pray

    William Booth once said, “Work as if everything depended upon work, and pray as if everything depended upon prayer.” We're no strangers to work in the Army, but we don't often gather solely and specifically to seek the Lord's guidance and empowerment. And it shows.

    If there was ever one thing in Scripture that led to amazing, at times unimaginable, changes in our world, it's prayer. Pray for the Lord to reveal his will to you and to your corps leadership. Pray for those with whom you disagree. Pray for more than just a nice, stable corps; pray for victory in the salvation war for your neighbourhood.

    Prayer invests our hearts in a way that little else does. Let's root ourselves in our corps communities by faithfully interceding for them.

    Give Anyway

    While we're talking about investment, make sure you're giving even when you don't feel like it. Give your time, your gifts, your tithe and your very best without expecting anything in return. Give regardless of whether or not you are thanked. When Jesus sent out his disciples for the first time in Matthew 10:8, he told them, “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.”

    If we refuse to give because things aren't going the way we like, or even if we feel our voices aren't being heard, we're reducing a beautiful act of worship to an economic transaction. We're holding on to our own power rather than living the humble servant life modelled by our Saviour. Jesus talked about the impossibility of serving both God and money (see Matthew 6:24; the Greek word translated as money, mammon, means trusting in wealth and possessions). He also counselled his followers to serve those who could not repay, removing worldly economics from the equation and instead building social interactions on love and grace (see Luke 14:12-14).

    A clear mark of Jesus' disciples is that they reject worldly power dynamics and give without expecting repayment.

    Mentor Someone

    No problem—big or small, real or perceived—can stop you from evangelizing and discipling others. You might feel hesitant to invite others into your corps community if it's an unhealthy environment (a valid concern), but don't let that stop you from witnessing, loving and reaching out to others. Prayerfully ask the Lord to lead you to someone in your corps, school or workplace that he might use you to minister to.

    If we all worried less about politics and programs, and focused on making disciples of Christ, we'd probably fix all the issues we have with our corps in the process. We have to remember that none of us are called to build The Salvation Army or spectacular corps; we've been charged with making disciples. But to make a true disciple, we have to first be a true disciple. We have to regularly ask ourselves if we're really in love with Jesus, clear about his call on our lives, free from worldly pursuits and passions, and intentional in our efforts.

    Pray More

    So I say again: pray. The Apostle Paul counselled the Thessalonians to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 KJV), but unceasing prayer begins with regular, intentional prayer. As we pray, we become aware of God's presence in all things. We learn to recognize his voice and develop “eyes to see and ears to hear” (see Mark 8:18). If you don't feel connected at your corps, focus on connecting to Christ.

    The bottom line is that the church is full of imperfect, sinful people, and so it shouldn't be a surprise when we find imperfection and sin in the church. Catholic activist Dorothy Day expressed it well when she said, “Though she [the church] is a harlot at times, she is our mother.” We are called together to be the family of God, under one head—Christ himself. We should not easily criticize the church, because we are the church. If you're waiting for the perfect corps to come along so you can focus on building the kingdom, you're missing the point. Pour your whole heart into wherever God leads you to serve his people, and make sure your focus stays on him. Then you will find fulfillment despite your circumstances.

    Jonathan Taube works and worships with The Salvation Army in the U.S.A. Central Territory's youth department and as a soldier at the Des Plaines Corps in Illinois. God has grown a deep passion in his heart for discipleship, world missions and incarnational expressions of the gospel. Taube is also a big fan of the Chicago Cubs. Read his blog posts at centralyouthnetwork.com/author/jtaube.

    Comment

    On Tuesday, May 26, 2015, Dee said:

    When Jesus was asked how would we know your disciples, I believe He said, "by the love they have one for another." My sincere belief is that there are wonderful loving Christians among us as there are angels. While I appreciate the compassion Nancy has regarding abuses happening within the sheep barn where the sheep gather to be cared for and fed; it has been in my experiences over many, many years that my conclusion is; it is the only army that destroys itself from within, "the christian army." if an army is divided it will be conquered. Gossip, tale wagging, judgement, pointing fingers and most of all the cliche. If you don't fit in, you are out. Did Jesus say, He will leave the ninety nine and seek the one lost. . Nancy my story is not a glorious one, as every abuse you mentioned I have seen or witnessed personally in many organizations.. May God continue in His love and grace and mercy toward us all.. There are many wounded soldiers seeing fellowship and kindness most of all love. "Love the greatest weapon and power that is ours and everything in and from hell cannot stand ii it's light.. May we get the message, "Love is the greatest of all."

    On Tuesday, September 23, 2014, Lee said:

    Catherine Booth's book 'aggresive Christianity' is available as an audiobook at sermonindex.net. You will be blessed hearing this account of one of the greatest Christian women to ever have walked the earth. I will never forget the woman who approached and told her that she had asked Jesus to be her Lord many times and still nothing had happened. Today, some milk toast back slapper would assure the hellbound wretch that everything was fine, thankfully Catherine was made of better metal. She told the woman that it is seldom lack of faith but some secret sin, some 'thing' that the sinner is unwilling to let go of. She encouraged the woman to pray in this manner 'Lord, even if you never choose me, still I will follow because it is better'. That very night that woman was born again and became a different person. This is the gospel today's church has forgotten. When a person is born again, they are transformed immediately, they are released from the power of sin, they have a love from God in their heart. Sadly, the church today is the hardest mission field of all, how do you tell the lost who think they are found that they are still lost?

    On Tuesday, September 23, 2014, Gary said:

    In my experience, it's not the officers that are the problem. It's the retired officers.

    We have several - I've often thought just one, all by themselves, would be fine. But, we have several.
    They ALL suffer from "in my day we didn't" syndrome. They all realise that the current officers have the support of DHQ, the more up-to-date training, and knowledge of current Army rules and regulations. So, they know that confronting what they see as "the problem" (i.e. things have changed since the 1950s/60s/70s/80s) isn't going to work. So, they mutter. They sow dissent. The best way to describe it is, they plot mutiny.

    In the time I have been with my current corps, I have seen three "sets" of married officers leave in a state of depression, disillusionment, and, in one case, suffering stress-induced health problems. All because this lot cannot accept the fact that they are RETIRED.

    Attempts have been made - lots of them - to accommodate, to include, to communicate. At the latest Corps Council, we were told in no uncertain terms "I am not here to negotiate".

    Our Corps has gone from numbers approaching 200, to a current membership of 14. And still, they mutter. They moan. They outright sabotage. And, one day, when our doors close for the last time, they will stand outside, and tell anyone who will listen that it was the officer's fault.

    If I sound bitter, it's because I am. I'm giving it until the end of this year, and then I'm off to look for a Corps who are actually there to serve God, because this lot are only there to serve the rulebook.

    On Saturday, September 20, 2014, Jac said:

    I think it's easy to place blame on officers as has been suggested in one of the comments, While I would not want to defend the army in every single case, my understanding of the article is that even when we are disappointed we can take some ownership to make things better.
    Are officers flawed? Of course they are, they are human beings, so are soldiers of the army, but as God's people we are called to do everything we can to make his community work. Sometimes that means swallowing our pride and praying and giving anyway. I think this is possible when we realize that life is about doing the best we can to glorify God, and not about ourselves at all. We will always find disappointment in corps if we are only focused on ourselves.

    On Wednesday, May 28, 2014, 313 4 CHRIST said:

    All I know is that the Army are very different breed of Christians. Although ive meet some awesome folks in The Army, they seem to me they only care about their doctrine and getting people to by into the army and not Jesus. On one hand they say they are not against water baptism and Communion, but on the other hsnd if you do it your fired. I hope soon the officers get there act together and stop being so entitled to everything and start being Pastors.

    On Tuesday, May 20, 2014, A salvaationist said:

    What an interesting conversation! I have to agree with a lot that has been said. At the moment I have not heard of so many corps that have problems among themselves. and corps officers in many cases are to blame.. They have become too friendly with certain people in the corps and when a problem arises they are not able to solve it because there is one against the other. Only last week I saw that happen in a corps. Neither should the Army appoint an officer who attended a corps for a year or two to that same corps in the next change. They become friends with certain people which is a conflict of interest especially when they appoint their friends on boards so that they get their own way. No board should make a decision on anyone in the corps unless that person is there to defend themselves. The Army is losing out in many ways. Even long time Salvationists are, should I say, "Fed Up" with what is going on in the Army today. What is our focus.or do we have one? Someone mentioned no testimony period, no Sunday School, no open prayer. When was the last time we saw people being saved in our corps. What is the success of a corps based on? What about our Orders and Regulations? You can't even buy them at the Army Book Stores. It seems that you can do as you please.. No one is accountable anymore and unless our leaders take the bull by the horn and show some leadership we are only going to get worse and they should start with their officers. Many people are asking what the cadets are being taught in the Training Colleges today. If William Booth were to come back today, I believe he would do what Jesus did when He went into the Temple and found them buying and selling. He would cast us all out and start over again. We are not fooling anyone but ourselves. May God the Holy Spirit open our eyes to what is going on and let us be up and doing before it is too late because I believe Jesus will soon return and each one of us will have to give an account of what we have or have not done.. I'm afraid there will be many red faces if we don't start to do something now.










    Colleges

    On Tuesday, May 20, 2014, Buck said:

    Do something about it too. Honestly, commenters, just leaving is rarely the answer. More often than not there is a part of your corps that needs to be excised. When my corps had an exodous of trouble-makers everone was happier, they went to a new corps and didn't seem to feel the need to make trouble and we grew spiritually and closer as a congregation. Find those people and kindly suggest that this is not the place for them. You're not being a good Christian by just walking away yourself (unless you can see that it's actually you causing the problem).

    On Saturday, May 17, 2014, Dawn Green said:

    I do someone what agree with the article but do have to say there is a lot of hurt out there and I am one of them. I am praying about it and believe that it is in God's hands and His hands are quite capable. I went to a corps in and I won't say where, where there were many problems and it wasn't always a corps officer it was the people who decided they didn't like a certain officer and turned on them. I moved to another part of the country and of course I started to go to another corps, where well I didn't feel much of a warm welcome my first Sunday. Welcome was said at the pulpit but not a soul even came over and said hello and where are you from? Do I have to be noticed, no because I am not an attention getter. That is just the tip of the iceberg. I went to someone who I felt I could talk to and shared my feelings. I also told that person that I left for a while and was asked was it any better my reply was no. Also someone told me it was my fault and I have to say maybe partly but not all of it. I can't make people speak to me . We speak of the body of Christ and have a hard time seeing it. I love the Salvation Army and it's beliefs but feel some things have fallen by the waist side like reaching out into the community, the disappearance of Sunday School, Prayer which during the services there is no open prayer only the leaders, no testimony period , those who are soldiers only wear their uniform we they feel like it. I am not trying to complain but don't change so much that you don't stand out or nobody really knows the Salvation Army and what they stand for such as saving souls. I am not saying that there hasn't been Salvation messages but the are were times no. I do not know what William Booth would feel but I don't think he would be really happy or not just him the one that we serve Jesus Christ. I am not trying to whine or as they say complain but the things I have witnessed needs to change.

    On Friday, May 16, 2014, Jonathan Taube said:

    Hey Gary,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Firstly, just to be clear, I'm neither an officer nor a TSA hand holder. I love The SA, but I'm not interested in ignoring or defending The SA's shortcomings. I want to see us be The Salvation Army that God would have us be.

    I actually wrote this article because I was asked about this specific issue by some young adults in my territory. I didn't see it as relevant to discuss the option of leaving, since I think most people understand that's always an option and many are quick to do so. No one's being held at their corps by gun point, right? This was really written more for the folks who stay in spite of all they hate about their corps (and The SA more generally). I'd include myself in that group. Again, I'm no TSA apologist.

    I have a pretty high view of prayer, so in the original incarnation of this article (here: http://centralyouthnetwork.com/2014/03/help-hate-corps) I suggested prayer twice. There are two headings missing from this post for some reason; my advice was pray, give anyway, mentor someone, and pray more (Now updated --editor). Dallas Willard once said that human problems cannot be solved by human efforts. That's why I'm serious when I advise prayer as not just a practical, but a necessary step. How else shall we discern God's will? How else shall we achieve Christian unity and charity?

    You're also missing the point of the give anyway part. I only even mentioned money in reference to Jesus' consul that his followers can't participate in worldly systems and serve God whole-heartedly. Writing a check is easy. Giving your gifts, time, talent, and pouring your heart into a place or ministry where you feel unappreciated is a great act of worship. Only giving when we get something out of it is Pharisaic (and not worshipful).

    If complaining about crappy officers was helpful, I would have included that too. I've yet to see that work though, have you? I'm personally in a situation right now where in one area of my life I'm under really great officers who love and appreciate me, and in another area of my life I'm under officers who have literally told me to my face, "We don't need you." So, honestly, I'm convicted just reading these words I wrote awhile back because I believe them, but I don't always live them. I'm the chief of sinners my brother.

    Blessings on you all for sharing! Email me if you'd like to continue the conversation at all? I'm always available.

    On Friday, May 16, 2014, Gerard said:

    The option is also there to go to a different Corps or church.
    There is ONLY one God.
    I personally think it's healthy to go to different places and connect with other Christians.
    Ecumenism at its finest. I often go to Catholic and to Pentecostal, just for the diversity.
    Where you pay is irrelevant. If you're contributing to the work of God - which isn't limited to the Salvation Army, btw; than that's all that matters.

    On Friday, May 16, 2014, omokungbe albert said:

    D ARMY IS A WELL DISPLINED ORGANISATION WHOSE RELIGIOUS BELIEF HAS MADE THE ORGANISATION STAND OUT AMONGST OTHER RELIGIOUS ORGAGANISATION IN THE WORLD TODAY

    On Thursday, May 15, 2014, gary said:

    Really? You couldn't come up with some original suggestions besides praying and giving regardless? This article really hasn't got any bones to it. It's not addressing the bigger picture ---- and that's WHY? Wouldn't it be better to tell ppl to pray, asking God why they feel so disconnected.... and to look for tangible ways to get involved (and to get connected)..... Seems to me all this article is addressing, is the Army wanting its regular dollars. Everyone has their Spiritual ebbs and flows... Spiritual maturity is what a person ought to be striving for, not devout loyalty to making the Army's wallets fatter. If you ask me, the mere fact you felt the need to write this article says a whole lot about a bigger issue the Salvation Army has. Why, is it do you think an individual doesn't feel fulfilled within their Corps? What's lacking? What are you not teaching? What are you not doing? Could it be the Shepherd tending to the flock is too busy doing stuff the Shepherd shouldn't be doing, and therefore the flock are mal-nourished? The Salvation Army has a lot of good attributes, but it also has a few festering sores that it needs to address - and a good place to start would be its leadership. The people don't care how much you know, until they know you care.

    On Thursday, May 15, 2014, Jenny said:

    ....or the other option is: Leave, especially if the reason you're not happy has anything to do with an Officer abusing authority. Some people in leadership ought not to be in leadership.

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