Beyond Dynamissio

Sometimes words grow on you. The message you hear is like a potplant that is put into the ground, where it develops roots and spreads out into new meaning.

At the Dynamissio conference in Berlin I heard the speaker Ruth Padilla DeBorst talk about the event described in Luke chapter 4, when Jesus spoke in the Synagogue of his home village.

He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

18 ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19     to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’[f]

20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’

The speaker commented on the fact that the listeners were aware of God’s promises and they expected that they would be fulfilled. However, the expectation was mainly about THEM being blessed. God’s people in a land occupied by the Romans, should be first in line when it came to freedom from oppression.

They didn’t expect God´s love and favour to include all sinners, like Roman soldiers and people from Samaria, as well as the crowd of the poor and sick that Jesus hung out with.

That was then, and how is it now?

I find myself thinking that I have a tendency to expect the same things, the same blessings as the people in Nazareth.

In theory, I am all for Jesus coming to the poor, the prisoners, the blind and oppressed, but what do I and the established Christian fellowship really long for, pay attention to and dream about?

We want our meeting halls and churches filled with people, we want new soldiers and members and followers of Jesus. We pray for leaders and generous supporters. Yes, the truth is that our hopes and expectations are that God will move in this country and keep our organisation, our church going and growing. Bless us! Come to us!

Ruth Padilla DeBorst said that Jesus came to go beyond human expectations and desire for comfort. She said “Life can only be enjoyed by sharing, not hoarding or consuming”.

If I reflect on the language that we sometimes use in churches and The Salvation Army today, we often have a tendency talk about expecting more and better things from God for ourselves. That might not be completely wrong, as such, but the proclamation in Nazareth reminds us that we FIRST shall share hope, life and freedom in Jesus with all those who go without these things.

“We shall not save the world. Jesus has already done that. We need to be saved from a world of overabundance and self-reliance.” This quote from her speach summarises that we can trust God to build his church as we go with his revolutionary love and grace to where it is needed.A tool that the Salvation Army has developed to address this issue, of keeping our focus where it should be, is the Journey of renewal material.

Das Geben. / Why should I give? Prepare for joy. (4/4)

The video is in German. English text below.

Self-Denial time is also the time of Lent. It is a time for personal reflection and prayer, as well as preparing my heart for the reality of the Easter events. I would also encourage you in the holy habit of putting aside a sum of money every week, in order to be prepared for the offering on Easter Sunday.

Our giving should not be an impulse of the moment but, as in all important things, well prepared.

The message of Easter has a serious tone to it. We are reminded of the confrontation between God’s will and human ambitions. We consider the pain and loneliness of Jesus and the bewilderment of the disciples.

But, ultimately, it is a time of great joy and transformation. The new life of Jesus brought his followers together in a new, deeper fellowship.

That reminds us of how much more we can achieve together. During this time, leading up to Easter, I encourage you to be inventive in inviting others to contribute to the Self-Denial Collection. Make it fun to give! For example, bring some Self-Denial material and a collection box to your workplace. Let the young people get involved and come up with some unusual ideas.

In addition, when the Sunday arrives when you collect the contributions, rejoice together in the giving and give thanks to God when the result is announced.

More information in German on this link.

Das Geben. / Why should I give? More blessings (3/4)

the video is in German. English text below.

Why should I give of my personal income to people I do not know?

Jesus gave us the answer to this question: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” One interesting thing about this saying is, that if I asked you to find it in your Bible, many of you would look for it in the Gospels, but it is not where you would find it.

What does it mean “is more blessed”? Well one way is to remind ourselves about children at Christmas. They can get pretty excited about getting presents, but when they have prepared a present for someone else, they can hardly contain themselves and find it very difficult not to tell the others about it before they get to open their presents.

As we grow up, we start to change. We look more and more after number one: ourselves. But look around you: If the more you take for yourself really made you happy, rich people would look so ecstatic, you could not bear to look at them. But this is not what happens, is it?

Jesus explained why: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Mt 6:21) So, if we turn this verse round, we could say: “Teach your heart to give. Give regularly, give generously, give to build God’s kingdom here on earth. Give money, yes, but give also affection and love, and lots of your time.

Before you know it, you will realise that you will have amassed a treasure you knew nothing about: A treasure of blessings and friends, and brothers and sisters in the family of God.

And that’s only the beginning. Only eternity will reveal what turning our heart to the things of real value will have achieved. Will you open today a saving account at Heaven’s Bank?

This is a contribution from Lt.Colonel Hervé Cachelin.

Das Geben. / Why should I give? The story of Self-Denial (2/4)

The video is in German. English text below.

Do you know the story of the Salvation Army’s Self-Denial?

It started in 1886. The Salvation Army was growing at a phenomenal rate. In order to keep up its expansion, the Army needed money, so a collection was taken up at officers’ councils. Major John Carleton had no money at the time, so he wrote on his note that he would go without dessert for a year. He hoped to raise 50 shillings  this way (the equivalent of €260 today) which he then would give to help the Salvation Army grow. When General William Booth read the note, he did not like the idea that any of his officers should go without dessert for a whole year, so he had yellow pieces of paper handed out on which officers could write what they were willing to forego (deny themselves of) for one week. And so the Self-Denial week was born.

It is still maintained today, and it is not just the rich countries that give to the poor countries. Every salvationist in the whole world take part. Even our partner territories, Zimbabwe, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Malawi and Latin Amerika North contribute to the self-denial fund.

In one country, a small amount might be a genuine sacrifice, because they have so little from the beginning. That challenges us in Europe to give generously. Although my offering would be large in comparison, to many of of our comrades in other countries, it would still just be a bit of our surplus.

However, it is not just about finances. There are things that are way too important to us, and it is only when we have to do without that we realise this. Renouncing something like social media can free up time for prayers for others or for sharing in fellowship with others. All this contributes to mobilising the worldwide Army of God.

This text is the contribution of Lt.Colonel Hervé Cachelin.

More info in German on this link.

Das Geben. / Why should I give? (1/4)

The video is in German. English text below.

Why should I give money from my personal income to people I do not know?

There is of course the fact that there is a need. Someone needs my help to send children to school or to give the officers a minimum allowance.

But the first reason to give is actually because it is the natural, almost automatic outcome of God’s love in me.

Love that is sincere makes us generous. You want to do good things for people you love. You happily buy gifts for people you love.

If God’s love is in me, his love will be visible in the way I love others.

God himself loved the world so much that he gave us his only Son.

Love like that is never only words – it is also visible in action.

So, the first question to ask myself as the Self-Denial time starts is: Is the love of God filling my heart?

More information in German on this link.

IBAN: DE28 3702 0500 0004 0777 02
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Stichwort: SVW

Female leadership

There are still many professions in Europe which are dominated by either males or females. The reasons can be biological but in many cases they are just based on tradition. Sometimes tradition is based on religious convictions. Some churches and religions do not accept women in the role of a priest but gladly appoint them to lead and teach children and adults outside the priest’s role.

catherine-booth

Catherine Booth

The tradition of both male and female leaders and preachers in The Salvation Army originates from our historical roots and the example set by William and Catherine Booth. When Catherine, in 1860, was prompted by the Holy Spirit to say a few words in a public meeting, William had not until then been in favour of female preachers, but the power in her speech and the impact it had on people made him change his mind.

This incident set the pattern for The Salvation Army and its tradition of female leadership, even when that was unusual in society in general. However, even with our historical record, the need for promoting equality in leadership is not over. My expectation is that our Territory will continue to see many good examples of joint ministry, where husband and wife each do the part they are gifted for, and that it sometimes can mean giving the woman a more senior role than her husband.

For single people the leadership challenges can be different, but the point is that everyone should be able to contribute to the fellowship and mission in accordance with ability.

So, what is my experience as a female leader? Perhaps I am fortunate in the sense that, coming from Sweden, I have always been a leader alongside men. From a young age, as a scout leader, I always found it was a case of men and women working together. As an officer, I have experienced both good male and female role models. All of my training on leadership has also been with both men and women. Perhaps this explains a little why I personally have never had the feeling of competing with men.

leaders

Leadership is also fun. I’m enjoying myself with Commissioners Brian and Rosalie Peddle.

I read a comment that came across social media that girls should not be told that they are bossy, but that they have leadership potential. I think that is true. But that potential has to be nurtured and groomed. Some people remain “bossy” in their leadership and that is destructive.

It is interesting to reflect on leadership. I think that most of us do that. We all meet and work with many leaders. We can reflect on what makes some leaders attract people and achieve good results, while others do not. We can reflect on good leadership from seemingly shy people as well from the more lively ones. We see good leaders getting followers and we see bad leaders getting followers, and we wonder why?

The foundation for Christian leaders, male or female, is always found in Jesus. In his life and teaching I found this perfect balance of denying oneself and standing up for oneself. He teaches about not expecting rewards, putting others first, being an obedient servant and other characteristics that, if isolated, can become very passive and subordinate. But, on the other side of the scale, he also demonstrates focus and determination. He is living, leading and teaching with a clear purpose. He is going to fulfil his Father’s will, whatever the cost. He combines sharp truths with an abundance of grace and he equips his team of followers to take over without competing for positions.

By now, you will have come to the conclusion that I do not see male or female as a special definition of leadership styles. We can all learn from each other and we should always learn from Jesus.

This text has been published in Die Heilsarmee Magazin #3/2017.

Leiterin sein

In Europa gibt es immer noch viele Berufe, die entweder von Männern oder von Frauen dominiert werden. Manchmal gibt es biologische Gründe dafür, doch in vielen Fällen liegt es einfach an der Tradition. Manchmal spielen religiöse Überzeugungen eine Rolle. Einige Kirchen und Religionen lassen keine Frauen im Priesteramt zu, beauftragen sie aber gerne, Kinder und Erwachsene außerhalb des Priesteramts zu leiten und zu lehren.

catherine-boothDie Heilsarmee-Tradition, dass sowohl Männer als auch Frauen Leitungspositionen und Predigtamt innehaben, geht auf unsere historischen Wurzeln zurück und auf das Vorbild von William und Catherine Booth. Als Catherine sich 1860 vom Heiligen Geist aufgefordert sah, ein paar Worte in einer öffentlichen Versammlung zu sagen, war William noch kein Befürworter des Predigtamts von Frauen. Doch die Kraft in ihrer Ansprache und die Wirkung, die sie auf die Menschen hatte, brachten ihn dazu, seine Meinung zu ändern.

Diese Begebenheit stellte die Weichen für die Heilsarmee und ihre Tradition der Frauen in Leitungspositionen – auch wenn das damals in der Gesellschaft insgesamt nicht üblich war. Und trotz unserem geschichtlichen Hintergrund ist es nach wie vor nötig, Gleichberechtigung in Leitungsaufgaben zu fördern. Meine Erwartung ist, dass unser Territorium auch weiterhin viele gute Beispiele des gemeinsamen Dienstes von Ehepaaren erlebt, wo Mann und Frau jeweils das tun, wozu sie begabt sind. Manchmal kann das auch bedeuten, dass die Frau eine höhere Position erhält als ihr Mann.

Bei Alleinstehenden bringt das Leitungsamt manchmal andere Herausforderungen mit sich, doch wichtig ist, dass sich jeder seinen Fähigkeiten entsprechend in die Gemeinschaft und die Mission einbringen kann.

Was sind nun meine Erfahrungen als Leiterin? Vielleicht habe ich es in dieser Hinsicht gut getroffen. Da ich aus Schweden komme, habe ich immer Seite an Seite mit Männern geleitet. Schon in meiner Jugend, als ich Leiterin bei den Pfadfindern war, haben immer Männer und Frauen zusammengearbeitet. Als Heilsarmeeoffizierin habe ich gute männliche und weibliche Vorbilder gehabt. Meine gesamte Ausbildung als Leiterin verlief auch sowohl mit Männern als auch mit Frauen. Vielleicht erklärt das ein bisschen, warum ich persönlich nie das Gefühl hatte, mit Männern zu konkurrieren.

leaders

Leitung macht auch Spaß.

In den sozialen Medien habe ich einmal einen Kommentar gelesen, man solle Mädchen nicht sagen, dass sie rechthaberisch seien, sondern dass sie Leitungspotenzial haben. Ich glaube, das stimmt. Doch das Potenzial muss gefördert und gepflegt werden. Manche Leute bleiben als Leiter „rechthaberisch”, und das schadet nur.

Es ist interessant, über Leiterschaft nachzudenken. Ich glaube, die meisten von uns tun das. Wir alle begegnen vielen Leitern und haben mit vielen Leitern zu tun. Wir fragen uns vielleicht, woran es liegt, dass manche Leiter Menschen anziehen und gute Ergebnisse erzielen, und andere nicht. Wir denken vielleicht über die gute Leitung durch scheinbar schüchterne Menschen nach, und über die von eher temperamentvollen Leitern. Wir sehen, dass gute Leiter Anhänger finden und wir sehen, dass schlechte Leiter Anhänger finden. Und wir fragen uns, woran das liegt.

Das Fundament für christliche Leiter beiderlei Geschlechts liegt immer in Jesus. In seinem Leben und seiner Lehre habe ich dieses vollkommene Gleichgewicht zwischen Selbstverleugnung und Selbstbehauptung gefunden. Er lehrt uns, keinen Lohn zu erwarten, andere an die erste Stelle zu setzen, gehorsam zu dienen und andere Eigenschaften, die für sich genommen sehr passiv und unterwürfig werden können. Doch auf der anderen Seite der Skala zeigt er auch Zielstrebigkeit und Entschlossenheit. Er lebt, leitet und lehrt mit einem klaren Ziel. Er wird den Willen seines Vaters erfüllen, was es auch kosten mag. Er verbindet harte Wahrheiten mit einer überreichen Gnade und rüstet das Team seiner Nachfolger aus, damit sie sein Werk weiterführen können, ohne um Posten zu konkurrieren.

Nun werden Sie sicher verstehen, dass ich männlich oder weiblich nicht als eine besondere Definition von Leitungsstilen sehe. Wir können alle voneinander lernen, und wir sollen immer von Jesus lernen.

Dieser Artikel wurde im Heilsarmee Magazin Nummer 3/2017 veröffentlicht.