Article of the week: Unveiling our values
23 April 2022
Major Beverly Baker talks to Emily Bright about the new book Big Questions for Small Groups: Our Values
BOLDNESS, passion, respect, compassion, integrity, mutual accountability – these are the core values of the UK and Ireland Territory, as highlighted in the 2 April Salvationist. First developed in 2009, they lie at the heart of the Army’s mission. They are also the subject of the latest Shield Books release, Big Questions for Small Groups: Our Values.
‘The values are being promoted as helpful tools for us to think about how we fulfil our mission and how we build good relationships,’ explains Personnel Officer Major Beverly Baker (THQ), who has written the foreword in the book. ‘It’s really important that there’s time, focus and intention given to not just what we do but how we do it.
‘Sometimes, there might be an unintentional incongruence between what we say and what we do, and this is about helping us to notice that. The values aren’t just something that we should aspire to or take for granted, but something we are actually checking in on.’
Beverly says that promoting those values is key to ensuring that everyone across the Movement – whether they are a Salvationist, employee or volunteer – is united in understanding what the Army stands for.
‘We’ve got lots of people working and serving with us who are not Christian,’ she says. ‘If we talk about living out Kingdom values, they will not know what we mean. But outlining the ways we should be behaving and demonstrating our mission of loving and living is a helpful way to bind us together. It can help us understand and be accountable together for how we’re doing that.’
The new book devotes a chapter to each of the six values, written by Salvation Army contributors. There are questions at the end of each chapter to spark further thought and discussion.
‘Big Questions for Small Groups: Our Values is about trying to provide a resource that helps us to talk more and think more about how we live,’ says Beverly. ‘It’s a tool for reflective practice and conversation, as we challenge ourselves about how we’re behaving. Hopefully it’ll help us gain courage to work it out together and have difficult conversations when our values aren’t being lived out.’
The book can be used to stimulate discussions in different contexts.
‘It’s designed for small groups,’ explains Beverly, ‘but people could use it for reflection on their own. It could form a series of sermons or even feature in a corps newsletter.’
One of the things Beverly most appreciates about working on the book is ‘that there are different perspectives from different people’. She continues: ‘We need to listen to more diverse voices and open up our conversations so we’re not living by our own exclusive way of seeing and hearing the world.
‘However hard we try, we’re not the finished article – God is still working on us, so let’s be open to his shaping. Some of the perspectives offered by the writers can maybe help us with that.’
She adds that the values complement each other, so each one shouldn’t be seen in isolation or work to the detriment of other values:
‘We can be strong in one area but weak in another, such as when being passionate about what we believe means we show a lack of respect for people, or when we’re so bold in what we’re doing that we lack sensitivity and compassion. But if we are engaged in our mission in ways that lack respect, compassion or integrity, we’re not going to be very effective.’
What anchors these Salvation Army values, Beverly says, is the faith that defines them. The book contains a table setting out the scriptural basis for each of the six values, as well as the desired behaviours and outcomes.
‘As Christians, we know the source of these values – they are grounded in Scripture,’ adds Beverly. ‘We should be careful to look at all of Scripture and particularly the words and life of Jesus as he calls us to live a life of love. Hopefully these Bible references can call us to live in ways that demonstrate the love of God.’
- Big Questions for Small Groups: Our Values is available from sps-shop.com priced £3 (plus postage and packing) or by calling SP&S on 01933 445 445. A Kindle ebook is available from amazon.co.uk priced £2.