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By being both innovative and faithful to tradition, we follow the pattern of the creating and redeeming God of Scripture, writes C. Kavin Rowe.

Churches, schools, businesses, families -- all areas of human life -- face the question of how to live toward the future in light of the past. Leaders will live out their answer to this question by the way they conceive of the world. Inevitably some will say “everything must change” and others,  that “things ought to be done as they always have been.” But neither is a real or even desirable option, for the world in which these pronouncements make sense does not exist.

Considered theologically, the future and the past belong together, tradition and innovation hand in hand. Traditioned innovation is a way of thinking and living that points toward the future in light of the past, a habit of being that requires both a deep fidelity to the tradition that has borne us to the present and a radical openness to the innovations that will carry us forward. Traditioned innovation names an inner-biblical way of thinking theologically about the texture of human life in the context of God’s gracious and redemptive self-disclosure.

The Bible is a vast, sprawling book replete with countless winding trails. Navigating its story is best done with a compass whose points are creation, fall, election, redemption and consummation -- the theological framework in which traditioned innovation gets its meaning.

Creation: Creation is the original innovation. God begins the world’s life out of nothing. Creation is thus the moment of givenness, that which provides the “tradition” upon which all human innovation is founded and dependent -- the giving of life by God. We cannot make ourselves. In the face of modern claims to self-autonomy, self-made people, radical freedom from limits and the like, the book of Genesis lays bare the fact that we are always preceded. All human endeavors enter the world in a context of a fundamentally prior reality. In this sense, failure to attend to the traditions that come before us and shape us is a failure to acknowledge the depth of our dependency as created beings.

The flight from givenness inevitably involves wreckage because it wipes away an essential feature of what it means to be human. The attempt at “pure innovation,” the doing away with all tradition, is ultimately an inhuman and impossible endeavor, one that shapes its practitioners and victims alike into something far less than human beings were created to be. Pure innovation simultaneously negates the givenness that underwrites human existence as such -- the fact that we are here at all, rather than not -- and the ethical demand of this givenness: the need to recognize our historically and materially deep ties to all created life. From first to last, human beings are tradition-dependent.

Fall: The narrative in Genesis of the fall powerfully illustrates that the givenness of creation is no longer simply good. It has become fractured by our refusal to acknowledge our ultimate dependency on the world God made and our attempt to become self-made creatures -- as the Bible puts it, “to know as God knows.” Recognizing the destruction that occurs when we deny our embeddedness in created life should cause us to be wary of attempts to dispense with everything in the past (regardless of the particular shape or kind of institution). “Everything” cannot change. We cannot rid ourselves of the world.

And yet, the fall also points directly to the necessity of innovation. Tradition is no longer sufficiently sustaining in itself. We cannot simply declare, in imitation of God’s view of original creation, “this is good.” And, therefore, we cannot fully rest. We must toil and move on. The character of fallen creation forces us to improvise, to try to move again within the goodness of God’s originating purpose. Innovation thus becomes a necessary way of life in a world of sin and shortcoming, of brokenness and the need for new life. Adam and Eve must make their way outside the garden.

Election: The election of Abraham illustrates paradigmatically how God responds to the way we have marred the goodness of the gift. Instead of destroying his creation, we can see God’s overarching response in the Old Testament in the calling of a people whose vocation is at once to embody the enduring goodness of the gift and to testify to the universal need for redemption. God does not, that is, simply scrap the world and make it all over again. Rather, God innovates. He responds to the brokenness of the world with a creative, new act -- indeed, one that could not, at least on the face of it, have been anticipated from the primeval history in Genesis.

This divine pattern of innovation on the basis of tradition is repeated throughout the Old Testament, perhaps most apparent in the giving of the Torah (Law). The Torah is the defining feature of Israel’s life. Israel would be indistinguishable from the nations without it. But this does not mean that the Law was seen as a static deposit of rules -- a kind of inflexible, unworkable and ultimately unlivable way of life. To the contrary, the mere existence of the book of Deuteronomy -- the name literally means the “second law” -- presses the point that to know the Law rightly is to grasp its fecundity for new situations. The Torah is living tradition. As even the author of Lamentations might have put it, the Law is not only tradition from of old. It is also new every morning.

Redemption: To think about redemption in the biblical sense is to see that this divine pattern of “newness without completely throwing away the old” culminates in Jesus Christ. According to the New Testament, God recreates the world in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Those who live in the pattern of life made possible by this death and resurrection participate most fully in the newness of the world. Whoever is in Christ, says Paul, is a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). In Christ, that is, the innovation of God is at its peak. In Christ, he remakes the foundations of human life in the very midst of the ongoing, long-running and everyday traditions of the world.

Yet the discontinuity -- the creation of a new world -- includes, rather than excludes, a continuity with what preceded Jesus. The Law and the Prophets testify to the coming of the Christ, even as that coming itself provides a new foundation on which the life promised by the Law and Prophets ultimately depends. Christ is not the “end (telos) of the Law” (Romans 10:4) in the sense of terminating it or displacing its reality, but is instead the deepest purpose or goal (telos) of the Law, that toward which it points or strives. In short, new creation does not abrogate the old but takes it up inside the new and in so doing remakes it. Tradition literally is made new on the basis of God’s innovation.

Focusing on redemption thus discloses a productive tension that marks all life until the end. To remain in what is already known of the tradition is to refuse the priority of new creation; and yet, that which is new includes the old. Radical innovation? Yes. Radical continuity with tradition? Yes.

Consummation: Consummation points to the hope that creation and redemption will finally coincide, that the world’s traditions will, as it were, catch up with the reality of a cosmos remade -- that God’s founding innovation and tradition will be one with his most radical innovation in Jesus Christ.

Thinking about traditioned innovation in light of the hope of consummation shows that tradition and innovation are not finally two different ways of being in the world. They are instead a helpful way to speak about the fundamental manner in which the Triune God graciously relates to the world he made and to which, in the face of its profound brokenness, he remains everlastingly committed -- anew. We cannot think, therefore, that tradition and innovation are opposites. In the Bible, tradition and innovation are realities of our common human life, inseparable aspects of participating in the world God made and is redeeming. Tradition and innovation go together in the divine purpose that leads toward the final restoration of God’s good creation.

To the extent that we both remain faithful to tradition and innovate -- even radically -- we will follow the pattern of the creating and redeeming God of Scripture, and will, therefore, flourish. This is not to say that the flourishing of human life will be apparent immediately to us in the present. After all, flourishing in the biblical sense is frequently counterintuitive. Israel wandered for 40 years in the desert, Moses never made it to the promised land and Jesus was killed -- to take only a few striking examples. But it is to say that the underlying and ultimate purpose to which our lives will be oriented will be in harmony with the work of the God of the Bible.

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By Simone Worthing, originally published in "Others"

The Salvation Army has released $2 million for the first six months of 2019 to create opportunities for new expressions of mission in local communities across Australia.

This is in response to the “Innovation Fund” announcement by Commissioners Floyd and Tracey Tidd at Still Others in December,

This funding is to “enhance innovation at the front line of mission and serve as a catalyst for fresh and creative expressions of mission with ongoing contribution to the fund in the annual budget provision,” said Commissioner Tracey Tidd, in announcing the Innovation Fund at Still Others (Watch the full video here)

The “creative expressions”, aligned to the national strategy, will enable progress in the “encourage innovation” imperative, under the pillar “We will pioneer”.

Commissioner Floyd Tidd, Territorial Commander, encouraged people to “start dreaming, start thinking, about how we can innovate our mission expressions”.

The $2 million fund, being administered by the Army’s Enterprise Project Management Office, is initially for ideas requiring up to $20,000.

For those wanting to apply, a checklist must first be completed. Applicants can also discuss their ideas prior to application to ensure they are aligned with the fund goals.

For more information and a copy of the checklist, email innovation@aus.salvationarmy.org

Notification of the first tranche of funding will be on 25 February. There will be further tranches depending on the response received.

“We are working on a complementary process for larger innovations over $20,000,” said Chief Secretary, Colonel Mark Campbell. “The Army needs to start to consider new ideas to be able to grow as a movement and be able to respond to Australia’s changing social and political environment,” he added.

Salvos Ready To Pioneer

Posted by Neri Morris (Admin) 6 months ago

By Claire Hill, originally published in "Others"

When I look into the future, I see the Salvation Army in Australia courageously breaking new ground. Our vision is big and bold, and in order to see it fulfilled we will need creativity and outside-of-the-box thinking,” says Commissioner Floyd Tidd, National Commander of The Salvation Army in Australia. He sees innovation as part of The Salvation Army’s DNA.

“The Salvation Army has always been a movement with a pioneering spirit. Some of our most impactful work in Australia has occurred in an innovative space.”

The Salvation Army’s commitment to transforming Australia one life at a time has often resulted in the breaking of new ground. For instance, in 1890, during the Depression, the Salvos established Australia’s first employment bureau; in 2004, we set up Australia’s first centre to address problem gambling; and in 2005, we established a first-of-its- kind, award-winning law firm, using profits from business clients to fund free legal assistance for those who could not otherwise afford it.

At the commencement of The Salvation Army’s national transformation journey in Australia, “Increased Innovation” was articulated as one of six core objectives. Further emphasis has since been placed on the importance of innovation, with “We will pioneer” announced as one of the four strategic pillars in our National Strategy.

Reflecting on this particular strategic pillar, National Chief Secretary, Colonel Mark Campbell, says, “We want to improve our capacity to think differently and act strategically by building on our movement’s best and brightest people and ideas. And we want to form partnerships that help us do that. We are looking to embed innovation throughout the Army. We’ve seen that in order to keep transforming the lives of Australians, we need to keep transforming ourselves.”

Colonel Campbell adds that as we capitalise on the huge potential for innovation, we will “see even more lives transformed with the love of Jesus”.

Cabinet Secretary for Business Support, Lieutenant-Colonel Stuart Evans, agrees. “This national transformation journey provides a unique opportunity for us to innovate, and we are grabbing hold of that,” he says. “I see us deploying national systems and processes that will enable and support frontline mission in ways we have never done before.”

So how has the national transformation journey helped us see increased innovation so far?

According to Commissioner Tidd, “much of the work so far has been about preparing the soil, addressing the drivers and barriers to innovation within territories, divisions and departments: breaking down silos, connecting different parts
of The Salvation Army that were previously disconnected. It’s taken some time, but we’re doing the groundwork to help ensure that innovation will 
be our habit, our normal behaviour going forward.”

In addition to this groundwork, The Salvation Army in Australia has committed to implementing a “centrally coordinated, geographically dispersed” model within business and support services. We will locate people where they can best support frontline mission, utilising technology in our interactions so that we can accommodate a nationwide footprint.

“God has positioned The Salvation Army at the forefront of our nation as a key solution designer to assist in the solving of complex problems,” says Commissioner Tidd. “I am excited by what lies ahead of us. The Salvation Army will continue to pioneer and innovate to ensure all Australians can discover the full and abundant lives that Christ has come to bring.”

This is part 1 in a series on the ‘whys’ of the national transformation journey. Read about the national vision statement here.

Claire Hill is the Communications Coordinator for the Transition Support Team

It may seem a little strange given the age of the Salvation Army, but innovation is not a new idea for Salvos globally. A culture of pursuit to bringing hope to where it’s needed most for the glory of God has always run deep within the Salvation Army.

The roots of innovation run deep as can be seen when looking back of the long history of the Salvation Army globally. From culture changing moments like Catherine Booth firmly establishing equality for women within the Salvation Army through her 1859 pamphlet ‘Female Ministry’ which was truly ahead of its time, to launching people focussed services like Legal and Aged Care. History tells us that the Salvation Army really was raised on a ‘diet of faith-filled risk and outrageous innovation.’

Below is just some highlights of some of the most innovative initiatives the Salvos are responsible for:

-       The world’s first feature film: Operating from 1897 to 1910, The Salvation Army Limelight Department was Australia’s first film production company. Among its many achievements, The Limelight Department is credited with producing the world’s first multimedia presentation using the moving picture film technology of the day. The film, ‘Soldiers of the Cross’, was produced during 1900 and the Limelight Department also recorded the birth of the nation at Federation in 1901.

-       Australia had the world’s first Social Program: In 1883, Major James Barker led the way to establish the first Salvation Army social institution anywhere in the world on a permanent basis, known as the "Prison Gate" programme. Barker saw that prisoners being released from the Melbourne Gaol had nowhere to go and no work, so they inevitably re-offended and returned to gaol. Barker leased a small house in Lygon Street, Carlton, to provide accommodation for prisoners discharged from Melbourne's gaols. This led to the formation of the Prison-Gate Brigade, the members of which met discharged prisoners upon their release and offered them a home and the prospect of a job.

-       The Red Shield Appeal: In 1965, after a great deal of consideration and thought, the first Red Shield Appeal was run in Sydney as a doorknock. Never before had a fundraising appeal been held in the form of a doorknock, with friends and family of The Salvation Army banding together to visit homes across the city. The idea caught on like wildfire in The Salvation Army, with parts of Tasmania, Melbourne and wider Victoria holding their own “Red Shield Appeals” in the months and years afterward. The appeal inspired the best in the Australian people, who not only donated much needed funds but their time, effort and their talents.

Innovation, which can be described as a new idea, method or product, was present even in the early days of Booth’s ministry. When Booth found himself without a church to preach in, he became a travelling preacher, spreading Christianity wherever he could and on the streets. In 1865, he was invited to preach in London's East End and was provided with a piece of land on which to preach, which just so happened to be situated in a graveyard. Despite the melancholy surroundings, the graveyard sermons became a big success and the location became the first Salvationists' base of operations, providing an unlikely point of origin. 

With such a deep history of innovation, one could be forgiven for thinking innovation just naturally happens. But what we can glean from these stories is that innovation comes from those who have an idea. Who see a need, an issue or problem and have a thought or idea about how it can be addressed.

IDEAS is a platform designed to facilitate the next era of innovation for the Salvation Army.

To remain committed to our innovative roots, it was realised that there needed to be a better way to capture these ideas. So, the first Innovation Department was born and has been charged with task of enabling the growth of the innovative spirit within the Salvos.

We invite you to take a look around, share your ideas and join us in making impact possible. 

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