Sitrep (Situation Report)

“Sitrep” (“situation report”) is a military term, referring to the data & analysis given to decision makers in tactical settings, so that they have accurate, actionable information that they need.

What is the sitrep for your church or organization, and the community you are attempting to serve?  Seth Godin’s Four Questions can drive your tactical and strategic decision making.

Here is my adaptation of Seth Godin’s four questions, to help you develop your sitrep and see your situation more clearly. If you want to hear Seth’s explanation of them–and his explanations are brilliant, you really should check them out–then go to and listen to his podcast episode, “5 Monkeys”.

1. Who do you serve? 

This is your base.  It’s hard to change your base; not impossible, but difficult, and success probably depends on factors you can’t control.

It’s important here to be accurate; if you’re going after customer A or client B, but not having any success reaching them, it may be that you’re not really serving who you think you’re serving.

2. What do they need? 

You really should think through both what they need and what they THINK they need, because the two are not always the same.  When they differ, we need to be aware that they are different.

This does not mean that we give in, and just give them what they want, especially in a missional organization; we answer to a higher authority than the “customer.”  But you have to be aware of the distance between what they need and what they think they need.

I believe it was Mike Breaux who said, “Are you gripe about not having the church you think you should have, or are you going to minister to the church that you have?”

3. What do we own?

What resources and connections are at your disposal?

True story: I did something incredibly stupid last December. (You’re shocked, I know.) I was getting frustrated with politics and twitter.  Actually, that’s not the whole truth; the first stupid thing I did was I was EXPRESSING my frustration with politics on twitter.

And then I did something really dumb.  EXTRA stupid.  I deleted my twitter account.

I could’ve suspended it, or done other things to force myself to take a vacation from it.  But I didn’t, I deleted the twitter account that I had had for over ten years, the account that had (as I recall) about 700 followers.

See what I lost?  I had entree into the lives of 700 people (or 600 people and a few Russian bots.) And now I don’t.  I restarted my twitter account, same name (@plstepp), same dumb takes on sports and religion and music and (sigh) politics.  But I no longer have the access I had three months ago.

The point: take stock of what you have, the resources and connections that can help you carry out your mission.

4. What do you know?

What you know is a subset of what you own.  It merits special mention because what you own and what you know are easier to change than who you serve or what they need.

It’s easier to add knowledge, to learn something new, to train and develop a new skill, than it is to get a new customer base or a new community to serve.

It’s less easy (but still quite possible) to buy new equipment, or hire for strategic change, when you see that what you own doesn’t meet the needs of the people you serve in an optimal way.

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