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Meeting Community Needs


Theological framework for meeting community needs

The Salvation Army’s Soldier’s Covenant states:

I will be faithful to the purposes for which God raised up The Salvation Army, sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, endeavoring to win others to him, and in his name caring for the needy and the disadvantaged.

TSA has great potential to speak and act prophetically within our society. Our history of showing practical concern for the needs of suffering humanity and our solid reputation makes us particularly well suited to speak publicly on issues of concern. In addition, our continuing focus on mission makes social action1 a necessary outworking of the faith that is foundational to The Salvation Army’s ministry.

In the complex and beautiful world God created there is much turmoil and oppression with many hurting and vulnerable people. Into such a world we are called “to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly…with God”2. In response to God’s call and with the assurance that God is with us, we work in a broken world with confidence and courage.

Through the Holy Spirit, God empowers us and others to grow and become partners with Him in bringing about transformation, peace, reconciliation and justice. The Spirit offers comfort, encouragement, challenge, and new insights to enable us to move forward. The Salvation Army, as heirs3 and co-labourers in Christ’s mission, is called to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ4, which is the good news of hope and healing. We are also called to challenge the social, cultural and political practices and power structures that leave people poor, imprisoned, suffering and oppressed.

The Salvation Army is the very embodiment of integrated mission… Ideally every unit, every programme, however specialised, should reflect to some degree the breadth of vision that integrated mission represents – salvation as physical, mental, social and spiritual health for every person5.

Therefore, every Salvationist and every ministry unit within TSA has a special calling to:

• live out God’s presence in the world…6

God’s presence is celebrated directly as the hungry are fed, strangers are welcomed, the naked are clothed, the sick and imprisoned are cared for, and as the systems of oppression are challenged. Recognizing the face of Jesus in the oppressed as we engage in community ministry, we open up the possibilities for God’s presence to be experienced and for transformation to take place in communities, families and individuals.

• to live with respect in Creation…

As God’s stewards of the created world, we are called to honour the social and physical environment, to use material resources diligently, and to renew and recycle goods and services7.

• to love and serve others…

Jesus has commanded us to love one another as we love ourselves8. We affirm the self worth and dignity of others9 and wish to promote an environment where people may grow and empowerment may happen. We seek to serve with empathy and compassion.

• to seek justice and resist evil…

God calls us to work for justice and for the well-being of all people, especially the oppressed and disadvantaged10.

It is not acceptable to simply remain silent in the face of blatant evil when we have the God-given power, authority and influence to be active agents of change11.

We recognise

…that it is not just personal sin that holds people back in this world but also that there are structures within society that can prevent genuine transformation12.

We live and work in the midst of people who experience suffering and death every day. By means of our incarnational presence in communities, we offer support, witness to the power of the resurrection, celebrate God’s continuing presence and power to transform systems, communities and individuals, and hold out God’s promise of hope for the future. We know we are not alone; in life and death, God is with us13.

[1] James 1:22
[2] Micah 6:8b
[3] Rom 1:5,6, Rom 8:17
[4] Luke 4:18,19
[5] Larson 2006, p 3
[6]2 Cor. 2:14-15
[7] 1992, Positional Statement on responsibility for the environment, Australian Territory
[8] Mark 12 :30-31
[9] Gen.1: 27
[10] Luke 4: 18-19
[11] Tuck 2001, p 15
[12] Shaw, 2010, p 6
[13] Matthew 1:23, Heb 13:11-13


  • Shaw D 2010. Christian Social Action: Is it worth the effort?
  • The Salvation Army, Australian Territories 1992. Positional Statement: The environment.
  • The Salvation Army 2006. Mission in Community: The Salvation Army’s Integrated Mission, with preface by John Larsson.
  • Tuck T 2011. Human Dignity in an Oppressive World. The Salvation ArmyInternational Theology and Ethics Symposium 2001.