After his Resurrection and Ascension to heaven, Jesus left a relatively small band of followers to start a movement that God would use to transform the world. When a movement understands its mission as the reason it exists and has captured a vision of what can be when the mission is accomplished, a strategy is needed to achieve that vision.
Jesus gave his disciples a vision of the kingdom of God. Through his teaching, miracles and example, he showed them what the kingdom of God was like. He left them with a clear mission, to go into all the world and make disciples. And he gave this fledgling movement, still trying to fully grasp the vision of this new kingdom, a strategy to guide them in fulfilling his purpose for them. “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised … you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:4, 8 NLT).
But along with understanding their mission, grasping the vision of the kingdom of God and following Jesus’ strategy, there was one more critical piece for this movement of Christ-followers to be effective: kingdom culture.
Culture has been defined simply as “the way we do things around here.” The behaviours that demonstrate how we do things around here are, in fact, a reflection of our values.
In his time on earth, Jesus challenged the established answers to the question of “how we do things around here.” The Sermon on the Mount became the manifesto of how things are done in the kingdom. His interactions with people modelled the values of this kingdom culture. He rejected a business-as-usual approach. He turned the law on its head. He included the outcast and cast out the in-crowd. He loved people with a love that would die for them. He called his followers to love the way he had loved them.
Jesus knew that without a kingdom culture, reflecting his attitude and actions, they could never fulfil their mission and realize the vision of God’s kingdom on earth. A strategy of being witnesses, starting in Jerusalem, moving outward to Judea and to the whole world, would not be enough without kingdom culture. The followers of Jesus, now entrusted with a message of reconciliation and hope for the world, would have the Holy Spirit to guide them into kingdom culture.
The Salvation Army in Canada and Bermuda has a clear understanding of our mission, and a new territorial vision. In the coming months, a territorial strategy will be released.
Our effectiveness in living out our mission and seeing that vision become a reality, in life after life and community after community, will depend on our culture. Our strategy will assist us in making decisions and pursuing actions, but our culture will define us and our success as God’s Army.
Our culture is the expression of our values through our attitudes and actions. As we rely on the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we demonstrate our value of HOPE. Each time we reach out to support others without discrimination, we reflect our value of SERVICE. As we respect and value each other, recognizing everyone’s worth, we express our value of DIGNITY. We responsibly manage the resources entrusted to us because of our value of STEWARDSHIP. These kingdom values, expressed in our behaviour, build a kingdom culture.
Committed to the mission that God has given The Salvation Army, we will strive after the vision God has shown us, as our strategic plan provides direction and supports decision-making. If “culture eats strategy for breakfast,” let us hold fast to our values so that “the way we do things around here” truly reflects Jesus and his kingdom.
Commissioner Floyd Tidd is the territorial commander of the Canada and Bermuda Territory.
The Salvation Army exists to share the love of Jesus Christ, meet human needs and be a transforming influence in the communities of our world.
We are an innovative partner, mobilized to share hope wherever there is hardship, building communities that are just and know the love of Jesus.
Illustration: VectorInspiration/DigitalVision Vectors via Getty Images
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