by Commissioner Paul R. Seiler
Central Territorial Commander

In May of 2010, taking on the appointment of territorial commander, I promised to listen to input from officers, soldiers and employees. I value and respect the contribution of those who give significantly of their time, heart and soul for this Salvation Army. It is my desire to work and rejoice together as a territory in the years ahead, always depending upon the Lord for wisdom, strength and guidance. Holding to Matthew 10:16-20 with The Message paraphrase: “Stay alert. This is hazardous work I’m assigning you…Don’t be naïve…and don’t worry...the spirit of your Father will supply the words,” I share from my heart.We are a Movement with a mission given by God.

I deeply desire The Salvation Army Central Territory to continue our privileged work, moving forward with core principles.We are truly “creating a shared future,” whether we know it or not. With God’s help, let’s make that future count!While we have areas of vulnerability, we are not even close to needing to resort to “defensive reactions” to external forces. The Salvation Army in this territory greatly benefits from strong mission-minded individuals who are proclaiming the gospel with compassion and integrity. We flourish when we have bright and committed officers, employees, soldiers and volunteers working side by side for the Lord.We have a shared future because we collaborate rather than compete. This Army must be more interested in making a difference in the lives and communities around us than in outdoing each other. Each of us is integral to this faith community. Together we will accomplish more for the glory of God.

“We need leaders who listen with empathy but also leaders who will push us forward with hope.” —an officer

We are on the same team and want the best for the mission entrusted to us. Our work will be carried through with intelligent, Spirit-directed grappling with issues. We will not allow ourselves to be destroyed internally by self-centered behaviors but will be people of integrity and transparency. The Salvation Army has a history and heritage we value and love, but we believe the future is not given the best advantage by relying strongly on tradition. Let me explain these five principles further.

Pursue mission is intentionally first.


Pursue mission

Just to be clear, using the words of General John Gowans (Rtd), we are to save souls, grow saints and serve suffering humanity. We’re an Army in the business of faith in a personal salvation, reconciliation and restoration, peace-making and purity through holy living.We’re an Army in the business of living life with hope—for this day and the next.We’re an Army of men and women who draw upon the strength of the Holy Spirit through spiritual disciplines and sleeves-rolled-up action.

  • We will rigorously ask ourselves how our actions, programs or plans contribute to the key outcomes of this mission.
  • We will actively seek new opportunities to connect with people as an Army of compassion, and to connect people to Jesus as their life-giving Savior.
  • We will pursue mission in a manner that is passionate, measured, and scrutinized because we cannot afford to be side-tracked.
  • We won’t settle for complacency or lack of impact on people’s lives but will be accountable for stewardship of resources and effective mission.
  • We won’t settle for seeing no one find the Savior, or for slow painful corps closures.
  • We will make every effort to intentionally engage officers, soldiers and employees according to gifts, skills and passion.
  • We will be more intentional about how we spend our time and money rather than wringing our hands and watching mission disappear.
“The goal shouldn't be just about numbers but about mission and growing God's Kingdom...” —a soldier

The pursuit of mission can be owned and accomplished at all levels of engagement in this movement. In Matthew 10:5-10, Jesus sent out his 12 harvest hands, saying: “...Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. Tell them that the kingdom is here. Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons…you don’t need a lot of equipment. YOU are the equipment… (The Message) With that in mind, every soldier and member, every employee and volunteer, is a valued contributor to God’s Kingdom.


Ignite Creativity

Complex organisms that thrive are creative in response to challenges. If we went “back to our roots,” we would find a creative and innovative movement that used whatever it took to capture people’s attention and spoke to their spiritual and physical needs. It might take a bit more “due diligence” in the 21st century than in 1865, but creativity is still vital. We celebrate past successes that give us a strong present that allows for innovation and risk without recklessness.

We will not engage in impulsive actions or just tolerate the status quo, as both methods waste mission resources.

We need to acknowledge that a “stable movement” (intentional irony) can foster fear of change, rigid thinking and strong reactions against creativity, but then we need to move on with courage and faith.

We resist repeating what has become comfortable and familiar, striving to be a learning organization.

We believe entrepreneurial creativity can be smart, innovative and propel mission forward without compromising the essence of the Army.

We will seek to find ways to reward creativity that are meaningful and sincere.

“When creative ideas are reacted to rather than respected, the creative process stalls.” —an employee

The Wright brothers were risk takers in the flying business, but they didn’t jump off buildings thinking they might grow wings! They studied aerodynamics of birds, and built and tested until they flew the first plane.


Uplift Consistently

This is a call to commit to uplifting prayer, uplifting worship, uplifting conversation and uplifting behaviors. “Uplifting” means encouraging, strengthening, enriching and stirring times together when God is honored.

We will uplift holiness teaching and living in this faith journey.

We will understand and demonstrate the hope that is found in Christ even as we are realistic about life that hits us in any manner of ways.

The Salvation Army in the Central Territory will build up and not destroy.

We will first uplift each other in prayer and then uplift each other with concrete actions when we are faced with significant challenges.

We will lift our individual and corporate worship as a sweet fragrance to God.

We will seek to strengthen and encourage for the week ahead those attending worship.

We will welcome stranger and friend into our congregational life, knowing that when we begin to focus on “caring just for and about ourselves,” we run the danger of becoming comfortably lukewarm as Christians.

“When individuals feel encouraged they will be more eager to serve vigorously, more willing to take creative risks, and they will invest intentionally.” —a soldier

For this Army, the day we stop honestly bringing our challenges—our opportunities —to a common place, that is the day we are no longer a Movement but simply fragmented ministries. It is uplifting to come together with common purpose to resolve critical issues and hold each other accountable.


Serve Vigorously

“…if you're put in charge, don't manipulate; if you're called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don't let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face. Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it.” Romans 12: 7-9 The Message

When we pursue mission rather than satisfy a good feeling, we will serve vigorously. A hallmark of the Army’s spirit and role in the universal church is the priesthood of believers meeting needs without discrimination.

We will compassionately work with people not just to give charity, but to change circumstances with grace and dignity.

We will engage in sustainable service locally and globally that does not “flash burn,” but sheds the light of Christ steadily.

We will promote the development of individual character and skills which will push us toward more thoughtful and challenging efforts.

We will retain this Army’s vigor by being a “fighting force” that is spiritually nourished, emotionally mature, relationally healthy and physically prepared for the demands of Kingdombuilding work.

We will acknowledge that God is not honored by His people being spiritually exhausted or shallow.

We will resist spiritual stagnation in our understanding and application of God’s word at all levels.

“It is much harder to change circumstances than it is to simply give charity. It is so much more rewarding when we can look back and see how tough decisions and actions made a huge impact on lives.” —an officer

Invest Intentionally

The placement of quality people with the skills needed for mission outcomes is critical. The responsible use of funds entrusted to The Salvation Army is critical. I believe wise investment is a stewardship responsibility. This requires thinking carefully about the future, and understanding that everyone may not agree on the potential benefit or opportunity. Thoughtful, considered investments need to be part of handling funds and the deployment of people.

We will be as intentional about stopping as starting, when it appears that we are putting time, money or people in a bottomless pit at the expense of more credible mission outcomes.

We will handle our stewardship of all resources seriously, recognizing that there is always the possibility of unknown factors.

We will examine our financial patterns to identify where existing and new funds can be more fruitful.

“If investments are not paying off, it’s crucial changes are made as soon as possible. I’m frustrated with bad or poor stewardship.” —an employee

Some people would be glad to see The Salvation Army falter as a relevant instrument of God’s purpose, putting a huge wedge of doubt and discouragement in the hearts of Christians.We commit to principles that operate from courageous faith in God’s redeeming plan rather than from fears of our human frailty.


Summary

Although I am sharing these principles with you in 2011, they have been part of our thought process and internal discussion at territorial headquarters this past year. They have also been part of decisions made as we tested applicability. Cabinet has referred to them. The Bridgespan initiative on “doubling our impact” in the emergency assistance area is related to these principles. Upcoming changes to the corps review material respond to this focus as we build capacity throughout the territory. Decisions made weekly can be tied to these principles. I have attempted to communicate at almost all the officers’ councils my passion and commitment to be an Army that is a Kingdom building instrument of God.

Let’s move together to create a shared future.