How to Kill Your Corps!

howtokillyourcorps

There’s nothing more time consuming, exhausting, and fulfilling as being a part of ministry in a vibrant and healthy body of believers. If you’re into that sort of thing… For the rest of you, here are just some friendly tips to ensure your Corps dies a slow, fruitless death, giving you plenty of time to focus on taking care of what really matters–yourself. If you’re looking to enjoy a safe, comfortable, stress free life, then simply use these four easy steps and you’ll find yourself with plenty of time to kick back as your ministry dies.

1) Don’t Pray

Samuel Chadwick once said, “The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, and prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray.” So the most important thing you can do to kill your Corps is make sure everyone works really hard in their own strength until they’re burnt out. That way, they’ll either leave or they’ll become so bitter and angry they’ll just tear each other a part. A lot of Corps have stopped at this step and they’ve had great success at quickly falling into obscurity.

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2) Don’t Plan

You’re good at figuring out what to do as you go along. Who’s got time to sit around being still and waiting on the Lord? You’ve got errands and programs and stuff. And TV! You do have a lot of TV to catch up on. After all, like Proverbs 29:18 states, “where there is no vision, the people perish,” so if you’re trying to kill a Corps make sure to coast as much as you can. Sure, you can flip through the lesson plan during Sunday School opening, or throw your sermon together at the last minute (it’ll probably come together by the end, right?). Heck, pick out the songs while everyone is filtering in–just keep coasting. If you really gave the Lord your best effort, he’d probably just bless it and you’d be back to square one!

3) Don’t Change

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Your Corps has been in steady decline for a few decades now, so you must being doing something right. Along with not planning or visioning, ensuring that an honest assessment of strengths and weaknesses is neglected will keep you on track to the imminent demise you’ve worked so hard for. Honestly evaluating the efficacy of your work might lead you to try new things, or invest resources differently, to reach people for Christ in your community. Just keep your head in the sand and you’ll do just fine.

4) Wear Your Uniform Proudly

You know how Jesus, when he washed the disciples’ feet, disrobed and basically put on the garment of a slave? That’s how the uniform is meant to be worn, as a mark of our humble place in the Kingdom, backed up with a real and genuine humility. But while others might have been ‘saved to save’, or ‘saved to serve’, you were saved to swagger! If you can make the uniform simply a symbol of status, position, or membership, no one will work that hard to join your weird club. So wear it with pride baby! Pride in yourself that is–but only when it benefits you, and make sure you don’t get yours dirty or ragged actually getting out into your community (unless they’re handing out trophies or something).

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Respond:

  • Have you seen any of these things kill a Corps (no specifics/names please)?
  • How can we change some of these attitudes?
  • Have you personally overcome any of these pitfalls in your ministry?
The 4th point was edited for clarity. It originally read, “Others might have been ‘saved to save’, or ‘saved to serve’, but come on! You were saved to swagger! Sure the uniform used to be the mark of a crucified life submitted to the Lordship of Jesus, but if you can make it simply a symbol of status, position, or membership, no one will work that hard to join your weird club. So wear it with pride baby! But only when it benefits you, and make sure you don’t get yours dirty or ragged actually getting out into your community (unless they’re handing out trophies or something).”
  • John Aho

    Can I add one please?
    5) Wait for someone else to fix it or better yet: let it fix itself. Just find somewhere that has it all right so you don’t have to get your hands dirty.

    • Jonathan Taube

      Amen. Cynicism and apathy are really the root causes of all of these things. I love what Maj. Stephen Court is fond of throwing out, that a person doesn’t have to wait until they’re in a perfect Corps to start making converts and disciples. Our duty is not to build a nice church, but to be the church. The easiest way to kill your Corps is to aim too low and just play church.

  • Misha

    I loved that you started with prayer. There’s a story that Martin Luther King got up one day and realized his schedule was packed with many important events. He began the day with three hours of prayer, later mentioning to his busy, anxious staff that he spent more time in prayer because he was “too busy not to pray.”

    One thing I’ve seen be effective in overcoming these pitfalls is the idea of “apprentice leadership” or “coaching relationships.” There is a book called “Exponential” written by Jon and Bob Fergusen that describes a model of church leadership where every leader has an apprentice. Whether you are a teaching pastor (corps officer), Sunday school teacher (small group leader), coffee maker or bulletin passer-outer, the goal is you are training someone else to do what you are doing. It keeps the church two-deep in every leadership area and allows for accountability, since training someone else requires planning ahead and being prepared. Training new people to serve how you serve creates fresh ideas and fights against apathy as well.

    This leadership model also helps with encouraging “discipleship” or “mentoring” as well, which is basically life-apprenticing. The hope is that every leader has an apprentice and every believer has a mentor.

    While this won’t solve all the issues, it is one thing i’ve seen effective. It all starts with modeling vision from the top with 1) a focus on prayer, 2) carefully planned opportunities for people to grow in relationship with Christ and people in order for them to better serve their families and communities, as well as 3) the maturity to “not to think of [ourselves] more highly than [we] ought to think.”

    Thanks for this, Jonny!

    • Jonathan Taube

      Great input! I do love Luther’s view on being “too busy not to pray.” I’m convinced that the issue with the American church is a discipleship issue at its core. If we leaders aren’t both growing spiritually (through intentional practice and devotion) and pouring into someone else intentionally, then how should we expect the church to grow in a healthy manner?

    • John Aho

      Wait Misha, were talking about killng the corps, your way off track.