Founder Of The Salvation Army Believed In Participatory Church

William Booth, co-founder (along with his wife) of The Salvation Army, believed that church meetings should be participatory and not just involve one person running the meeting and doing all the ministry.  Here’s what he said:

“Some murmurs have reached us as to whether ‘The Officer’ (magazine) may defeat its good intentions and cut its own throat by converting officers into preachers. It is rumored that at some corps (Salvation Army churches) the soldiers (members) never have a chance except in the open air, the Captain reserving all the indoor meetings to himself. Surely this is an exaggeration. The General is going to deal with this danger. Let us be awake to it, and do our utmost to avoid the snare.” –William Booth (co-founder of The Salvation Army)

“I have lived, thank God, to witness the separation between layman and cleric become more and more obscured.” –William Booth (co-founder of The Salvation Army)

“I found that a sermonic address is but of little service. A random talk is the most effective.” –William Booth

“We have no very definite plans. We shall be guided by the Holy Spirit.” –William Booth

“‘The (Salvation) Army has at least one point of supremacy over the church, for no one ever goes to sleep in a Salvation Army meeting.’ (quote from Rollin L. Hartt, 1893). People stayed awake because the meeting was full of intensity and variety, requiring the active participation of the ‘saved’ and the full attention of the casual attendees.”
From the book “Come Join Our Army” by R.G. Moyles (Crest Books, 2007)

So perhaps we should not limit the voice of God in a church service to just one person, while everyone else merely sits, watches, and listens.  God once spoke through a donkey, so He can speak powerfully through any person in a church meeting, even the least likely ones; if we will just allow Him to.

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About Steve Simms

I like to look and think outside the box. I have written two books: Mindrobics: How To Be Happy For The Rest Of Your Life and Your Sperm Won--Experiencing Your Value As A Championship Human Being. In college I encountered Jesus Christ and I have been passionate about trying to get to know Him better ever since. My wife and I lead a non-traditional church in Nashville based on open participation and Spirit-led sharing. We long to see the power and passion of the early church come to life in our time.
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8 Responses to Founder Of The Salvation Army Believed In Participatory Church

  1. Nathan Odell says:

    Very interesting post. I feel like I should read up on some of the history of the salvation army, since I know very little about the movement.

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