Setting Church Goals to Help Your It Grow
We all know setting goals is important, but setting church goals for growth is a little more involved. By identifying your struggles and pain points, you can determine how to set church goals that will truly be effective.
A few years ago, we did an informal survey with hundreds of churches by asking this one simple question: What’s your biggest struggle in ministry? Some of the most common answers were something like this:
- I can’t get my ministry attendance to increase.
- I want people to grow spiritually but I’m not sure it’s working.
- I need more volunteers.
- My attendees, families, teenagers, or parents just don’t care.
Maybe you’ve experienced some similar struggles in your church. Our team sure has. But each of these struggles can be hard to address, because it’s not always clear how to solve them or what ministry goals need to be put in place.
Sure, your “goal” might be to see more people show up, or recruit more volunteers, or see people grow — but you can’t actually make any of these things happen without achieving some objectives first. “Goal” isn’t the right word for these end results, but “outcome” is. You can’t create growth (numerically or spiritually) because growth is simply an outcome.
So your “goals” must include things you can control, habits you want to create, and actions you want to take that will lead you toward your desired outcome. Let’s think about how we can incorporate outcomes into church goals…
- Want more volunteers? Your goal should be to create a ministry environment and culture that volunteers are excited about participating in.
- Want parents to care more about what your family ministry is doing? Make it your goal to better understand their needs and build better lines of communication.
- Want to see people grow spiritually? Maybe your goal should be to create a clearer or more effective path for discipleship.
- Want to see your church grow in numbers? Well, don’t we all? But instead of making it your goal to grow numerically (which you can’t control), what if you made it your goal to grow your church’s health and effectiveness? As a leader in your organization, that’s something you can control.
So let’s talk about creating goals for your church that you can actually achieve — and that will lead you toward your desired outcomes.
WHAT MAKES A GOOD GOAL?
Let’s start with the basics. How do you define a goal that is actually achievable and measurable, whether it’s a ministry goal or other goal?
A popular goal-setting framework is SMART goals. SMART goals are:
- Specific: Make sure your goal isn’t too broad or overarching.
- Measurable: Decide on the best way to measure the outcome to determine success.
- Achievable: Make sure your goal is a realistic and reachable one.
- Relevant: Goals should align with your ministry’s long-term vision and mission.
- Time-bound: You need to add a deadline to your goal that is doable.
If you look at our example of getting parents to care about family ministry, from the above section, setting a SMART church goal might look like this:
- Increase parental engagement in family ministry by 15% in Q1.
- Is it Specific? Yes, we’re talking about just one aspect of family ministry.
- Is it Measurable? Yes, but we’ll need a baseline measurement of percentage of engagement currently (manual count? surveys?) and then measure it again later.
- Is it Achievable? Yes, assuming that 15% is a reasonable number to achieve.
- Is it Relevant? Yes, in order to emphasize the importance of family ministry, we need parents to care.
- Is it Time-bound? Yes, we want to achieve this increase by the end of 1st quarter.
Now that you have a better idea of how an effective ministry goal should look, how can you make sure all your goals will fit into this framework?
HOW DO I SET A GOOD GOAL FOR MY CHURCH?
Here are some questions to ask about the church goal you’re setting. If you can’t answer these 4 questions, your goal needs some work.
- What? What needs to be done and is it clear?
- When? When does this goal need to be finished?
- Who? Who will be responsible for achieving and assisting with this goal?
- How? What are the steps (or objectives) needed to complete this goal?
Let’s talk about objectives for a minute. In order to achieve the SMART goal you’re setting for your church, you will need to break it down into steps, or objectives that will lead you to achieving the goal and your desired outcome. This is almost like sub-goals or baby steps and each can have their own timeline as a part of the bigger goal. This will also help you decide who should be involved in which steps of the goal.
Now that you understand goal-setting in general, what church goals will you start with? We’ve got a few ideas about what ministry goals are important for this year, if you need help getting started [link to 2nd post about goals for the year].
WHAT’S YOUR NEXT STEP?
So what’s your next step? Work on setting church goals that answer the questions above, fit the SMART framework, and are broken down into manageable steps.
Remember, you can’t force anyone or anything to grow. That’s not in your control. But what you can do is create an environment where that growth is more likely to happen. Rather than focusing on outcomes you can’t control, focus on creating a healthier church in ways that you can control. Because healthy things grow.
Once you understand the basics of setting church goals, you might have trouble deciding on what goals are important this year. We’ve got a few ideas…
SOME CHURCH GOALS TO SET THIS YEAR
So what are some quality goals to set this year? Well, that of course depends on the outcomes you’re looking to achieve! But we’ll give you some examples.
When trying to set goals that will lead to greater health and effectiveness for your church, it’s helpful to think about your ministry in 7 key areas. If you’re familiar with the Grow strategy, these 7 areas will be familiar to you.
- ANNUAL PLANNING: Schedule an Annual Planning Meeting in order to develop a plan for your ministry for the entire year. Example ministry goals might be:
- Identify 5-8 key ministry areas that need an annual strategy 4 weeks ahead of the planning meeting.
- Plan, prepare for, and schedule the annual planning meeting by 8 weeks ahead of potential meeting date.
- TEACHING: Plan your ministry teaching goals around developing a weekly, monthly, and annual teaching strategy. Example ministry goals might be:
- Develop 3 month-long series ideas for teaching teen ministry, within 2 weeks.
- Within 5 days, create a list of 10 activities that can be tailored to any children’s ministry monthly theme.
- DISCIPLESHIP: In order to help children, teens, and adults experience spiritual growth in your ministry, consider helping them focus on these 4 spiritual habits – Spend time with God; Spend time with others; Share your story; Use your gifts. Example ministry goals might be:
- In the next 3 days, choose 1 spiritual habit to focus on in each ministry, per quarter.
- Within 1 month, choose an appropriate gifts assessment for teens to use to determine their unique gifts and how best to use them.
- EVENTS: In order for your events to make a bigger impact, choose to do fewer but with more intentionality. Example ministry goals might be:
- Decide on 4 quarterly children’s ministry events to develop and plan, by the end of the month.
- Within 3 weeks, create a teen summer camp ministry outline, timeline, and volunteer needs list.
- PROGRAMMING: Come up with weekly ministry programming that’s structured in a way to help kids and teenagers learn more effectively. Example ministry goals might be:
- For children’s ministry, decide which Bible stories to cover and when for the entire year, in the next 3 weeks.
- In the next 30 days, come up with a master list of 50 games to play with teens in youth ministry.
- FAMILIES: In order to improve parent engagement and investment in family ministry, try working on these 4 tactics – parent events, parent discussion groups, parent tools, and parent communication. Example ministry goals might be:
- By the 15th of next month, plan a date, location, format, and number of parents to invite to a parent discussion group.
- Grow your list of parent emails by 30% within the next 4 weeks, by collecting addresses, verifying and updating old email addresses, and asking children and teens to encourage their parents to participate.
- VOLUNTEERS: In order to grow volunteer teams, focus on creating systems and strategies that connect with your volunteers. Example ministry goals might be:
- Increase number of volunteers by 5% in the next quarter, through planning a fun way to highlight and celebrate with volunteer teams on a monthly basis as well as individual weekly volunteer recognition.
- By the end of the quarter, send out a survey to volunteers, with at least 50% participation, in order to determine what volunteers enjoy and any concerns they have that you may be able to address in your volunteer strategies.
We know that’s a lot! But you can choose where your ministry needs to be focused this year in order to work on setting church goals (SMART church goals, of course! We’re here with ideas to help you get the ball rolling.
WHAT’S YOUR NEXT STEP FOR CHURCH GOAL SETTING?
Work with your ministry and church to determine which of the above strategy areas are priority for you this year and focus on those areas first. Start with a planning meeting if you haven’t had one recently and then start working on church goals within the strategy areas.
Grow Curriculum can help with this process – we do some of the work for you! Be sure to check out the Grow Curriculum and Annual Strategy for the age group you’ll be working with.
We created Grow Curriculum — because we know goals aren’t easy to set or achieve without some help. The Grow Curriculum and Annual Strategy (now available for kids, students, or adult small groups) is designed specifically to help you set and achieve your ministry goals and more by giving you all of the tools, teaching material, discipleship activities, volunteer training, family resources, and planning assistance that you need.
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