Church Restructured As An Xtreme Army by William & Catherine Booth

Xtreme sports are a recent invention; however Xtreme church has existed from time to time since the earliest Christ-followers were scattered out of Jerusalem, became extreme, and turned the world upside down.

One example of Xtreme church began 150 years ago (this year/2015) in London by William and Catherine Booth.  It restructured church into an extreme army for God expressed in military terminology, which they called The Salvation Army. In the early Salvation Army:

* Members were made into soldiers;
* Pastors were turned into officers;
* Hymns were replaced by popular bar songs sung with spiritual warfare words;
* Church organs were exchanged for brass bands playing military style music;
* Quiet religion was replaced by aggressive Christianity:
* Prayer meetings were transformed into knee drills;
* Going to Heaven was called Promoted to Glory;
* Evangelism was changed into invading neighborhoods, cities, and countries;
* Testifying (or individual/free expression in a meeting) became firing a volley.
* Church buildings were called citadels; and churches became corps;
* Church services became corps meetings;
* Enrolling new members was replaced with swearing-in new soldiers;
* Membership requirements were exchanged for a Soldier’s Covenant;
* Tithing was called firing a cartridge;
* Ministry students were turned into cadets;
* Seminary became officer training college;
* Ordination became commissioning;
* Regional meetings were turned into war councils;
* Newsletters/magazines became The War Cry:
* Parsonages became quarters;
* Many other aspects of the military were adopted in order to reach and serve non-believers, including: A) a spiritual warfare battle flag; B) open-airs (outdoor) meetings; C) military style uniforms for soldiers; D) Articles of War; E) a Disposition of Forces; F) farewell orders; G) disaster relief; H) soup kitchens; I) homeless shelters; J) a crest; K) military ranks; and L) a Red Shield.

All of these developments were a radical departure from the traditional church of the time period.  However, these changes turned The Salvation Army into a powerful Christian movement that spread around the world.  Today the Army is serving in more than 120 countries and has 1,150,000 soldiers around the world.

Perhaps the 21st Century church could learn from the Booths’ innovations and once again restructure itself into Xtreme faith. An example of contemporary restructuring of the church is participatory/organic church.

William & Catherine A

Read more about Xtreme church in my book, Beyond Church An Invitation To Experience The Lost Word Of The Bible–Ekklesia @ this link. Also, check out the War Cry review of Beyond Church in their Intersection pull-out section by clicking here.

If you would like to experience a participatory church meeting (where ordinary people show and tell what God has done) visit The Salvation Army Berry Street, 225 Berry St., Nashville, Tennessee, 37207 on Sunday mornings at 10:45 am.

beyond church amazon

About Steve Simms

I like to look and think outside the box. 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 co-lead a non-traditional expression of the body of Christ in Nashville based on open participation and Spirit-led sharing. We long to see the power and passion of the first Christ-followers come to life in our time. I have written a book about our experiences called, "Beyond Church: An Invitation To Experience The Lost Word Of The Bible--Ekklesia" that is available in Kindle & paperback @
This entry was posted in Articles of War, brass bands, commissioning, crest, disaster relief, firing a cartridge, knee drills, Nashville, open airs, Red Shield, Salvation Army Flag, Salvation army officers, Salvation Army USA, Soldier's Covenant, soldiers, training college, turned the world upside down, Why should the devil have all the good music and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Church Restructured As An Xtreme Army by William & Catherine Booth

  1. Pingback: Free Gas For Your Think Tank (A blog to jog your mind and unclog your heart . . .)

  2. Marshall says:

    what remains of the Salvation Army organization may itself reconsider for how far things have moved away from what William & Catherine Booth first advanced in London.

  3. Pingback: Religious Form or Forum For Fiery Faith? (The “Blood & Fire” Flag) | Free Gas For Your Think Tank (A blog to jog your mind and unclog your heart . . .)

  4. Roland Abeysekera says:

    I don’t understand how you could call the Army an extreme Church when the congregational base is so small, and many corps/churches are neither dead or alive. Has the Booth’s aggressive use of military terms made the church any stronger?

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