The Salvation Army was founded as an evangelical organization dedicated to bringing people into a meaningful relationship with God through Christ. The word salvation indicates the overall purpose of the organization—to motivate all people to embrace the salvation provided to them in Christ.

Within The Salvation Army Church, Christian faith is expressed through active service. The vision of The Salvation Army has always been to lead men and women into a proper relationship with God. The Army recognizes that a physical, emotional and social restoration must go hand in hand with spiritual rebirth. The Army practices an integrated ministry, uniting spiritual, social and physical support.

Operations of The Salvation Army are supervised by trained, commissioned officers who proclaim the gospel and serve as administrators, teachers, social workers, counselors, youth leaders and musicians. These men and women have dedicated their lives, skills and service completely to God.

A distinguishing feature in the religious life of The Salvation Army is the active participation of its members. Corps community centers provide church services and are the hubs for spiritual development. In typical Salvation Army pragmatic style, the church is organized in a military manner, using military terms throughout.

The Corps building is sometimes known as the "Citadel." The pastor serves as an "Officer." Members are "Soldiers." This sphere of activity is known as the "Field." Instead of joining The Salvation Army, members are "Enrolled" after signing the "Soldiers Covenant."

Soldiers are expected to accept responsibility in the work of The Salvation Army, and whenever possible, participate in Army meetings. Soldiers may teach Sunday-school classes, play musical instruments, join the band, assist the Corps officer in visitation among the poor and sick, or aid in general social work. Soldiers abstain from the use of alcoholic beverages, drugs and tobacco.