• Print this page

Mission - a doing word

11 July 2017

Founders Day Book Launch

National training principal Major Gregory Morgan* says that ‘when it comes to “faith and works” – the spiritual and material aspects of life – we need “both/and”, rather than “either/or”. There has been a long battle within the church; The Salvation Army chooses not to adopt a narrow, dualistic focus on eternal salvation, but to worship God who displays an all-embracing love of all creation, both now in this life and outside of the notion of time.

‘To be an effective missional church is to recognise that humanity has both spiritual and material needs, and to assist in the meeting of those needs.’
* Major Gregory Morgan spoke to e-connect. This article is based on reflections upon, quotations from and inspiration by Partnering with God: Being a Missional Salvationist (2017), written by Majors Lyn Edge and Gregory Morgan. Read More Below
Download the article

Gregory Morgan* talks mission, body and soul

Mission, as we understand it in The Salvation Army, is primarily perceiving what God is doing in the world, and looking to join in. 

For us as Salvationists that means to both ‘worship’ God and work to help human beings, and all creation. As humans we are hardwired to ‘worship’, but the concept of worship is not in and of itself ‘evangelical’ or insular, nor is it solely geared towards social action.  Rather, as Lyn and I have written in our book*, it is that together we ‘celebrate the mighty deeds of God in the midst of the world’.

That’s our motivation as Salvationists, to find joy in the beauty of God’s creation; we believe that God’s mission is at work all around us, and that God is busy ‘the whole world redeeming’. Mission is a doing word.  But good practice should always be informed by good research and good thought.

Mission is not something that we invent or call into being through a program. God is active in the world God created, in a variety of ways, of which the church is one. We are called to recognise God’s mission and partner in it, with God our Creator.

God loves the world – all of creation – and God desires the very best. That’s good news. While there are various terms that we could use, such as prevenient grace, the simple truth is that God has the desire to see His kingdom come and His will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. God desires ‘fullness’ for us and all creation.

When historians and theologians look at the birth and growth of Christianity, they often attribute it to the existence and ‘persistent activity of individual Christian communities’. Over millennia, though demonstrably flawed and fallible, the church has offered charity (love), joy and peace. Hope, hospitality, and health. Solidarity, mercy and equality. In its time, it has broken down segregations, vanquished slavery and dispelled old hatreds.

Grace is the key to unlocking the church’s origins and longevity; God’s grace. A lot of historians today, when they view the massive impact and growth of the early church in the brutal culture of the Roman empire, recognise the attractiveness of the ethical, loving lifestyle of those early Christians. They lived differently and quite literally transformed their world.

Where and when the church has had an impact, it has been because of lives lived selflessly, counter-culturally; meeting the needs of others with love and grace.

This has, of course, not always been the case. During the years of ‘Christendom’ – when the state and the church were one entity throughout much of the world – the idea of salvation, of ‘being saved’, was largely seen as a spiritual, future concept. As a result, evangelism and social action became torn apart; the concept of salvation was no longer big enough to hold them both together in the creative tension of holistic mission.

But The Salvation Army, at its best, knows that mission is broad and inclusive.
When it comes to ‘faith and works’ – the spiritual and material aspects of life – we need ‘both/and’, rather than ‘either/or’. There has been a long battle within the church; The Salvation Army chooses not to adopt a narrow, dualistic focus on eternal salvation, but to worship God who displays an all-embracing love of all creation, both now in this life and outside of the notion of time.

To be an effective missional church is to recognise that humanity has both spiritual and material needs, and to assist in the meeting of those needs.

* Major Gregory Morgan spoke to e-connect.This article is based on reflections upon, quotations from and inspiration by Partnering with God: Being a Missional Salvationist (2017), written by Majors Lyn Edge and Gregory Morgan.