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Using SWOT, SMART, and MILE -- But.... Remaining 'Easter People'
January 25, 2017, 2:39 PM

Recently, I stopped by a local sandwich shop for lunch and found copies of all three military bases' newspapers.     Here's what I discovered, upon perusing them:

1. Our military leaders love to use acronymns--that funny stereotype holds quite true! 

2. Military officers and enlisted make New Year's resolutions. They also struggle to keep them, like we do! 

These two tidbits explain the title of this Blog post, and I will get into what the acronymns mean. Then, I hope to write a few intelligent thoughts about our mission at church, and how we can move step by step to accomplish it. We already are. Perhaps it's best to start there, then: at the Great Commission / sending of Jesus' church, for his mission, into his world. 

I am frequently amazed that, when I reference "the Great Commission" among Lutherans, there are some who know exactly what I mean and probably an equal number of people in the group who have: No. Idea. What. I'm talking. About. 

Thus I feel it's important to stop and speak the words of our Lord's "commission" to the Eleven disciples at the end of Matthew: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And, lo, I will be with you to the very end of the age." (Matt. 28:19-20)

Now, don't get lost in the many words! Here are two simple verbs: Baptize and Teach. These activities, then, are HOW we "make disciples." And, what's a disciple? One who follows Jesus without question, hears often from his words in Holy Scripture, prays to him, expects deliverance from him in this life and the next, and confesses/speaks of him before the world.

So, that is our mission.

And when there is a mission to accomplish, who does it better than the U.S. Military??

To get us into this topic, I will quote Lt. Col. Gregory Karahalis, deputy commander-50th Operations Group, from the Schriever Sentinel:

"Goal setting is traditional in January. Take the time now to think ahead about your year and what your team needs to do to take advantage of the the opportunities ahead. SWOT, SMART, and MILE provide you a structured set of tools to develop, define, and prioritize strategic goals."

"Huh?!" You might be saying to yourself. Let me explain the acronymns therein. 

SWOT = forecasting tool that looks at our Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats

SMART = goal-setting tool that requires all goals to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound

MILE = assessment tool that helps us remember to look at how we are: Managing resources, Improving the unit, Leading people, and Executing the mission. 

Forecasting, goal setting, and assessing. How often to we do these in the church?? It seems like we often do the goal setting. But our goals OFTEN (not always) suffer from being too general, abstract, and obtuse to serve us that well. And...the other two? I can remember assessing things occassionally, but not in a way that could be called detailed or thorough. 

Now, lest you think this is an article for the church council only, let's take a personal example. I like this inspiration from the Lt. Commander, don't you? 

Take this time to prayerfully try again with the toughest of personal goals AND your goals at church, if you are involved in a project here--and yet, through it all, remain an Easter person!

Huh? What do I mean by that?

If you think about it, the techniques that we can use for forecasting and planning and doing things are actually NOT the things of faith! Let's take one passage for example:

"Now to him who is able to do more than we can ever ask or imagine, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen." (Ephesians 3:20-21) This "power" is via his "Spirit, in our inner being" (verse 16) so that Christ may dwell in our hearts (verse 17). 

The power by which God raised Jesus from the dead is the SAME power by which he sustains us, feeds us, leads us, and uses our hands and feet for his mission. 

Thus, we should plan and work as hard as we can. But BELIEVE as though nothing at all depends on us, our planning or working. We should hear these words of the preacher St. Paul and smile at the old joke, "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans." 

Once I prayed that God would lead me, step by step, through the minefields of ministry. I think the Schriever Sentinel article is one way God has now answered that prayer, yet again. 

Focus. Learn. Study. Grow. 

Set goals, or close down. 

Close down, or live as Easter people! 

I much prefer the latter, and I hope you do as well. 

"All engines high gear"

Pastor Joel

"...that I may know him and the power of his resurrection..." Philippians 3:10

"I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:14