Why One Army?
Commissioner Robert Street: In recent years, The Salvation Army has moved into more and more countries—usually by request or because Salvationists have moved country and taken “the Army” with them. It is now in more than 125 countries—and growing. As it expands, it is crucial that it stays united, grows authentically and continues to be what it was always meant to be.
An expression of the one church universal, showing the heart and love of God! Its motto throughout the years, “Heart to God and hand to man,” puts what Jesus called the two great commandments, into action— “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, and your neighbour as yourself.” If the Army keeps doing that, it won't go far wrong.
So how will the teaching help?
One Army looks not only at what we were called to be but also at what we are meant to do and the way in which we should do it. It's designed for all cultures and ages. It gets to the heart of who we are in simple, clear, uncomplicated ways and invites participation.
How does it do this?
First, there's the main script, accompanied by discussion points, Bible references and prayer subjects. The level of discussion can be adjusted according to the group. To help with this, additional material is being supplied on our One Army website, salvationarmy.org/onearmy, including worship ideas, extracts from Army books and publications, as well as recommending other books and resources on specific topics. The resources will expand as more people interact. There is also a leader's manual, giving ideas for people to study together. Some ideas will suit one culture while others will suit another.
Catering to all cultures must have its challenges.
It does. There are two things that help in this respect. Each booklet—and there will be 13 of them when the resource is completed—has an “In Culture” feature, in which people describe what it is like to serve Jesus in their own culture, giving insights into their world. Questions at the conclusion of this section offer opportunities for comparison between your own culture and the one described. In this way, we learn about others while also being helped to understand ourselves better. The other plus is that I have been blessed to see the Army at work in 50 of its 126 countries. I know many of the cultures for which we are writing, and what can hinder or help in understanding. If those who use One Army really want to broaden their horizons and understanding, they will find the cultural aspect illuminating—and challenging.
You mentioned 13 booklets...
Yes. They are written to follow the book title. The introductory booklet is called One Life, then the others follow: One Army—In Calling, ... In Covenant, ... In Christ, ... In Truth, ... In Purpose, ... In Prayer, ... In Fellowship, ... In Service, ... In Faith, ... In Holiness, ... In Hope and ... In Love.
Are they all being released at the same time?
No. We are launching the first four now. Each booklet is designed to be studied in five or six sessions. The next three to be published—One Army—In Truth, ... In Purpose and ... In Prayer—will be available by July, well before they should be needed. The following two groups of booklets will be released near the end of 2014 and in the first part of 2015. And throughout this time, the website will be interactive and growing in resources.
Can you tell us more about the website?
Every booklet will appear on the website as it is published. The first four are there now. Each booklet also has a youth version. In the printed copies, the youth version opens at the back of the booklet as if it is a book in its own right. It is based on the main script, but has its own ideas that will unite young Salvationists and friends around the world. It provides a way for young people to share faith and questions with each other. Young people will play a great part in helping the Army develop. We have also made films.
Each of the 13 booklets has its own corresponding film. We produce them as DVDs, and the films are also on the website. The DVDs are being launched with four and then eight language subtitles. We are currently working toward 20 subtitle languages on the web. It is a large undertaking that is already producing positive contact around the world. It's not difficult to get a growing picture of the vastness of the Army when you're engaged in producing something to unite everyone. Our film producer has been given quite a headache!
Translations are important to One Army then?
Absolutely! It's vital that this is an international resource. It comes from International Headquarters. The General calls it “IHQ's gift to the world.” We have film footage from countries in all continents. Some territories are also printing booklets in their local languages. Linking with them all to achieve the best results is necessarily time-consuming and demanding, but working together in this way makes One Army all the more real.
So what is your target audience?
Every corps. Corps are where people are. Each one is the spiritual home of Salvationists. It is where faith can be learned, shared and put into practice. The material can be used in cell groups, Bible studies, Sunday and weeknight meetings, and by individuals, of course. Our leaflets—also available in Spanish, French and Portuguese—are aimed at corps, but I hope and fully expect that other centres will also want to use One Army, too.
How will you measure success?
I won't—God will do that. But I'll be happy if people come to understand their faith better and know Jesus more fully. If these things happen God will ensure he makes and keeps us One Army.
Information kits have been sent to corps across the Canada and Bermuda Territory. Contact your corps officer for details. To learn more about this global initiative, go to salvationarmy.org/onearmy.