It’s 1/1/2000: Which way do you look?

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by Robert Docter – 

The events of the past can be important contributors to our present. But do not shape us–unless we allow them to. The Salvation Army in the West is on the verge of dramatic change. It’s risky, but invigorating. This is no time to be focusing too heavily on the past. Certainly it contributes to what we are, but now is the time to look ahead.

As junior soldiers are enrolled in individual corps, standing crisply in their white shirts and blouses and red ties, we suddenly realize that these children will live most of their lives in the 21st century. What we perceive now as new will be perceived by them in very different ways. How can we continue to attract them–hold them–inspire them and assure them that they will have a growing relationship with God as well as a love for all his children?

Each individual Salvation Army unit has been asked to define its vision for the future. The territory has melded these into a manageable summary, but the territorial vision does not supplant the ones developed in each program. It simply allows the program to examine itself in relation to the general statement.

Each department and unit at territorial headquarters is now developing its own vision as it seeks to assist the Territory in beginning the process of actualizing its vision for the future and making it a reality. They are asking themselves how they can better provide service to the “field”–how they can help each corps, center, unit, program achieve its own vision. Headquarters units move from positions of requiring, im-posing and checking to a posture of facilitation, assistance and service.

It is, therefore, the responsibility of each local unit throughout the entire territory to assess carefully what is working and what is not working in relation to its own vision of itself as a Salvation Army of the 21st century. This kind of honest self-evaluation can result in a list of wants–specific desires and goals for ourselves and for the Army where we live.

When we choose behaviors that fail to achieve what we want, we feel unsatisfied and ineffective. When we choose the opposite we feel like achievers–successful and effective.

The wants, growing from the collective vision within each corps, will help us move toward an action plan. The development of such a plan demands involvement from everyone affected by the plan. If we love the Army and its commitment to Christian principles, we will want to be involved in helping it develop and move toward its goals.

Each plan must also be able to deliver some short term wins to assist the group in maintaining long term momentum. Without some short term wins every 10 or 12 months, the drive toward achie-vement and success begins to falter.

Wins aren’t the only indicators we need to develop. We must also develop some evaluation strategies to help us be assured we are on the right track. If what we are currently doing is not helping us achieve our goals and realize our vision, we need to have the courage to change.

If there ever was a time to take stock and plunge ahead, the calendar has told us the time is now.


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