The Second Coming of the Territorial Visioning Process!

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by Lt. Colonel Raymond Peacock – 

We did it before. We are about to do it again. The last time we did it we called it “MISSION2000.” The architects of that vision set our territory on a course of growth that has changed our Army in the West in some profound ways. We have experienced some real successes and, truth be told, some colossal failures.

Since we are about to experience the second coming of a territorial visioning process, we must learn from our past failures in order to plan strategically for the future. We are not a people who like to talk about failures and mistakes. Driving home in the car the other day I heard the announcer describe something called “non-results oriented sports.” The idea here is no one wins, no one loses, and there is no score or results. The talk show host was against this method, indicating that unless we are willing to make mistakes, even to risk losing, we cannot learn.

Not only must we learn from our mistakes, we must recognize there is an urgency driving our vision this time that was not present last time. Christian sociologist George Barna says, “…our culture essentially reinvents itself every three to five years…I believe the Church in America has no more than five years–perhaps even less–to turn itself around and begin to alter the culture, rather than be affected by it.” He further believes today’s church is incapable of responding to the present moral crisis. It must reinvent itself or face virtual oblivion by the 21st century.

So, the key to reinventing our Army and to doing a better job of visioning second time around is learning from our past mistakes. We must talk about some things we would prefer left unsaid. Here are five from my list. Perhaps you have some you would add. In carrying out MISSION2000…

1. We mobilized half our fighting force.
The recently conducted territorial survey of attendees indicates only 46 percent were familiar with MISSION2000. That means more than half responding either never heard of it or did not know what it was, even if they had heard of it. Would we have grown more if we had better educated the soldiers and corps attendees regarding the goals and intentions of MISSION2000? I think so. Next time around, we need to make sure the other half gets the message.

2. We created worship wars.
MISSION2000 unleashed the most recent round of contemporary worship styles that were different from traditional Army worship formats. Sally Morgenthaler in Worship Evangelism reminds us that “worship has always been a controversial subject with the church. Historically, whole movements and denominations have been birthed over what did or did not happen on Sunday mornings. The way we worship is often as much a part of our Christian identity as whom we worship–sometimes even more so. Consequently, worship arouses intense personal feelings, and we tend to get defensive about it.”

Our friend Barna tells us that the number one piece of information that interests an unchurched person when he or she looks for a church is not the worship style that is offered. Rather, it is a church’s specific beliefs and doctrines. Seems we need to invest less time second time around in debating contemporary or traditional and focus more on retrieving Biblical worship and emphasizing sound doctrine. We need to realize that while worship comes in different sizes and shapes there are still key essentials that form all worship services.

3. We did not agree on the negotiable and the non-negotiable.
It’s true that on July 20, 1991, a Mission Essentials Workshop was conducted. It’s true that the primary mission essentials, beliefs, and values of The Salvation Army were broken down into three categories: essential, equivocal, and expendable items. But it is also true that these essentials were not widely shared, known, nor owned. In many instances they were debated and divisive. This was particularly evident in the area of experimenting with New Model Corps. Out of 16 New Model Corps, six remain. The pace of new model openings has nearly ceased, with only one opened this past year. We have not yet experienced a new wave of new model openings, nor agreed on what we have learned.

4. We paid more attention to the quantitative goals than we did to the qualitative goals.
MISSION2000 contained five numerical goals. We basically projected a doubling of growth in the areas of corps openings, new officers, Sunday worship and Sunday school attendances, and social services. There were nine goals that talked about the quality and texture of our Army if they, too, were attained. There was a real emphasis on getting the people in and a less emphasis on what we got into the people. Next time, let’s do better on both emphases.

5. We visioned top down.
The architects, the Mission Council, the Territorial Executive Council defined MISSION2000 goals and objectives. This is not a criticism; it is an observation. This time around we have already reversed the process by including grass roots involvement in the recently conducted territorial survey (over 7600 respondents), upcoming fall visioning rallies and construction of corps vision statements. This time around, it is very much intended that “top down is out” and that the process is from the bottom up, from the trenches to Territorial Headquarters, from the front lines to the top lines of leadership.

We need to pray that this time around God will give us clear 2020 Vision!

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