How to set church goals for the new year

How to set church goals for the new year
How to set church goals for the new year

With the new year comes new goals. But New Year’s resolutions aren’t just for individuals. Equally important are resolutions or goals for the church.

Why should the church set goals?

Many individuals set New Year’s resolutions to help plan positive changes for the upcoming months. The same can be true for churches. Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is quoted as having said, “Goals transform a random walk into a chase.” For the church, this means that setting goals can help your congregation pursue its Godly mission with even more enthusiasm and direction. Goals are vital in helping congregations to grow.

What kinds of goals should the church set?

Establishing a goal often begins with a simple statement regarding something that is desired. The key is to think about your “wish” or “want” statements. They aren’t goals in themselves, but they are the first step. For example, personal resolutions often begin with statements such as the following:

  • I want to lose weight.
  • I wish I had more money.
  • I would really like a better car.
  • I need to get in shape.

In the same way, church goals can begin with statements like these:

  • We want to increase our Sunday morning attendance.
  • We would like to see our congregation give more money toward ministries.
  • We wish more youth would become involved in our mid-week worship services.
  • We need to do more to alleviate the problem of homelessness.

Of course, church goals will be as varied as the congregations themselves. So, to get started, you need to gather a group of church leaders and brainstorm. Create a list of these types of statements. After much time in prayer, prune your list to a few statements that you feel your church needs to pursue in the coming year.

Since too many goals can be overwhelming, you will probably want to keep your list to around two to five.

How do you set goals?

Once you have narrowed your wish list down, it’s time to get to work on creating those goals. Because there are critical components to creating church goals, you need to take your statement and rework it.

First, your ministry goal should be clear, specific and measurable. Let’s say you start with the statement, “We want to increase our Sunday morning attendance.” To make this a specific and measurable goal, you would need to say, “By the end of 2018, we want to average 250 people in Sunday morning worship.”

However, goals also have to be realistic. If the current size of your Sunday morning congregation is 100, then this goal would mean that you will need to more than double your attendance. Ask yourself if that kind of goal is really attainable. If you live in a growing community, the answer might be yes. If your community is rather rural and small, the answer might be no.

Think carefully when setting a goal. While you want to be ambitious, you also need to make sure that you can actually reach it.

In addition, it’s very important to make sure that any goal you set pairs with the mission of the church or ministry for which it is being set.

For example, let’s say you set a goal to increase your mid-week youth attendance; you desire to see 100 teens in grades 9-12 in church every Wednesday night. That would be awesome! However, if your current youth ministry has a mission of ministering to youth “one-on-one” via a mentoring program or in small groups, there may be a conflict between your goal and the mission itself.

Make sure that you understand the ministries for which you are setting goals and that the leadership for those specific ministries are on board.  

What’s the next step?

Once you have set your goal (or several goals), the next step is to develop objectives or a plan of action for each target. List various steps that will help you reach your goal. If you were trying to lose 20 pounds, your action steps might look something like this:

  • Eat 200 calories less per day.
  • Exercise 30 minutes five times a week.
  • Weigh regularly, the same day once every week.
  • Get a physical to make sure there are no health issues.

These would be specific steps that would help you reach your goal of losing 20 pounds.

Once you have set a church goal, you also have to create steps that will help you reach that goal.
Perhaps you would like to see $500 in the church offering plate every week. What actions can you take that will help reach that goal?

  • Preach a series of sermons on giving.
  • Make giving easier; create new avenues to give online or through texting.
  • Start a promotional program to encourage your congregation to give.
  • Publicize your goal and regularly update the congregation on the progress.

Remember, creating a goal and even establishing a plan for a goal is only the beginning. The objective is to take action to reach your desired outcome. This means dividing your overall goals into more specific objectives and breaking those down into smaller, goal-oriented tasks, assigning those tasks to volunteers and team members, and setting deadlines.

Marketing calendars and content calendars are great tools to help break down the process into more manageable bits and to help everyone stay on target.

Of course, there are a variety of online tools to help with goal-setting. There are many great apps and programs that make the process more rewarding by offering visual displays for goal tracking, to-do lists that correspond to your action steps, and a variety of ways to track your progress. Some of the best goal-setting apps help track habits that pertain to your goal and even offer time management tips.

The new year is an exciting time to think about the previous year’s successes and to plan for the future of your church. Goal-setting can be a fun and productive way to see positive changes in your ministries.

Remember, your goal is the destination; your plan of action is the map that tells how to get there. So, start planning your next journey today!

Tricia Brown has been a freelance writer and editor for more than twenty years, ghost-writing and editing for individuals as well as for health, education and religious organizations. She enjoys reading, writing and public speaking commitments in which she teaches and encourages other women.

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