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New Salvos message like a breath of fresh air

Major Peter McGuigan says our new catchcry is a call to transformative action for Salvos and the world at large.

MAJOR PETER McGUIGAN* writes personally about The Salvation Army Australia’s new message for the community: ‘Believe in good’.


I’ve been a Salvationist most of my life – you could say the whole of my life, given I was born into a Salvation Army family. Not only that, but I’m a blueblood Salvo, sold out to the Army’s mission to transform the world by sharing God’s love in word and deed. I’ll give up lots to play my part in seeing the fulfilment of this great goal.

During my lifetime, many phrases have been employed by the Salvos to engage the community in supporting their mission. Perhaps the most memorable was ‘Thank God for the Salvos’, a line we still sometimes hear from community members when they see us in action.

Others have included ‘We’re all in this together’, taking its lead (with permission) from the number one hit song by Ben Lee. And ‘You can give hope where it’s needed most’, one of our more recent mottos using the Red Shield in place of the ‘o’ in hope.

But last month, for the first time in a long time, I felt inspired by a message from The Salvation Army that is much more than a cry to support our work. Last month, my organisation, my church, released a statement of encouragement for humankind to believe in something that transcends everything that weighs us down, destroys people’s lives, and keeps humanity from thriving.

Believe in good

‘Believe in good’ were the words that rang out from the Salvos like a church bell ringing across a valley on a Sunday morning, calling people to believe, experience and share the goodness of God amid uncertainty about humanity’s future. “Whatever happened to good” goes the ad that hit our TV screens late last month. “It’s a word that gets thrown around a lot … At the Salvos, we believe ‘good’ deserves better. Let’s reclaim its true meaning …” (to see the ad, go to

“If ever there was a time for the individuals, families and communities of Australia to draw a line in the sand and believe in good, it is now.”

‘Believe in good’ is a statement for our times, coming from the heart of The Salvation Army. Listening to the 5am news last week, and already aware of this new message, it was noticeable that the first five news items were about bad things happening in the world. I considered how easy it is for us to be personally stressed about our global and local state of affairs. It conjures a feeling of helplessness – not knowing what one can do about it.

If ever there was a time for the individuals, families and communities of Australia to draw a line in the sand and believe in good, it is now. To believe in good is to lift our heads above the cultural gravity line and choose to be no longer pulled down by the negative, the bad, the gloom and the foreboding that seems to hang in the atmosphere.

It is to create a culture of good in the world that resists all that destroys the human spirit and takes positive action towards ending the bad things – things like homelessness, racism, poverty, family violence and environmental decline.

It’s about no longer giving way or accepting trends on social media that gravitate towards infamy, scandal and false premise. Believing in good, we choose to see through the eyes of God and give ourselves towards making the world a better place for all. It is going to a deeper place and recognizing and entering into the source of goodness – the unmitigated love of God – even if we don’t fully understand the goodness and the love of God or don’t think we deserve it.

A multi-dimensional message

The Salvos’ new message is multi-dimensional. Its first goal aims to raise the spirit of Australians amid challenging times and point them to the ultimate source of good. Introducing the Salvos’ new message last Sunday at Tuggeranong Corps in Canberra, Major Dean Clarke said that ‘Believe in good’ opened the door for conversations about belief and goodness.

At Parramatta Corps, Major Kylie Collinson said she was “a little emotional” when she first saw the ‘Believe in good’ video produced especially for Salvos (go to Believe in Good - YouTube). “I love that The Salvation Army helps somebody every 17 seconds … We believe in this transforming good. We believe in the hope that comes from [good]. We believe in the hope that Jesus brings.”

‘Believe in good’ also encourages people from every corner of the community to join us in believing in good and making it happen, particularly in the dark places of the world where one too many people struggle with life in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges. By believing in good and acting on it, together, we can make a difference. That’s what the Salvos are saying on this level.

Then, ‘believe in good’ is also a message for the Salvos themselves – their internal public or stakeholders, public relations linguists might say. And I’m talking first about fully signed-up Salvos. These are people who, like me, have signed up to experience and share the goodness of God in both word and deed. It is about following the example of Jesus Christ, who introduced humanity to a new way of living, including how we think about ourselves and our actions.

“... at the heart of ‘Believe in good’ is a strong call to renewal.”

It was Jesus who gave us the example of the Good Samaritan. And to a question that was put to him about healing people on the Sabbath, he replied, counter-culturally, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath” (see Matthew 12).

Like it has been for many charities and churches in the 21st century, things haven’t been easy for the church side of The Salvation Army. A confluence of changes in the world – including those brought about by the pandemic, the impact of social media, and people questioning the relevance of traditional church sub-culture – has resulted in significant challenges for The Salvation Army.

But the Salvos are reimagining themselves in this vastly different world to the one where they first set out on their mission more than 150 years ago. ‘Believe in good’ captures the essence of this re-creation, both for themselves and the world. The source of the good we espouse remains the same, and at the heart of ‘Believe in good’ is a strong call to renewal. How we communicate and share goodness is under renovation. Our new catchcry is a call to transformative action for Salvos and the world at large.

By the way, this past month, I’ve been personally challenged by Psalm 119:68, a heartfelt prayer given up by the ancient King David amid his own challenging circumstances: “You are good, and the source of good; train me in your goodness.”

* Major Peter McGuigan is The Salvation Army’s Head of Government Relations for Australia, based in Canberra. Additionally, he is a writer for Salvos Online and Salvos Magazine.


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