The most I’ve thought of the Salvation Army is around Christmastime when you see people ringing a bell in front of department stores to raise money. The Salvation Army is considered a denomination, started by William Booth in 1865 in the UK. They’re now in 125 countries with the mission to “preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.”
In addition to helping those in need, every “corp” of the Salvation Army has a church with weekly services (throughout the years I’d have Salvation Army subscribers to my HymnCharts website and wondered why they’d need music, now I know.)
Last Sunday I visited the Salvation Army Church in Anaheim, CA. It appeared to be like any contemporary church you’d visit in the country – praise band, modern music and lighting – but I’d say the worship was actually a few steps above most churches. The volunteer musicians were excellent and I heard great congregational singing and good worship flow (Lauren Flores, wife of worship leader Aaron Flores, has an exceptional Christy Knocklesque voice every music director would want on their team.)
Singing is a good indication of the spiritual health of your congregation. The people attending the Salvation Army Church sing loudly – many have been saved from addictions or are currently struggling. Their worship was passionate and contagious.
What we can learn from the Salvation Army Church:
Tailor music to your community: I told Aaron I noticed many of the songs spoke to our brokeness and dependence on God. He explained how he’s shifted his thinking from merely picking songs he likes to picking songs his congregation needs. He’s using music from Bethel Church in Redding, CA (Jeremy Riddle.)
Encourage acapella singing: Even though I’d rank the Salvation Army Church praise band up with the most contemporary churches in America they do a hefty amount of acapella singing at the end of songs. The congregation’s unaccompanied voice is a beautiful sound – especially at the end of a rocking tune. Variety is the spice of your worship life and acapella singing is one way of obtaining it.