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3 Tips (and 2 Myths) When Setting Goals In Your Ministry

Uno's tips and tricks

As the founder of Flocknote, many have shared their wisdom and experience regarding goal setting in ministry – and how difficult it can be! Based upon the wonderful insights and best practices we’ve learned; I want to highlight 2 myths and 3 tips on that topic that I think are worth sharing.

Myth #1: Numbers aren’t important. 

These days, the typical “numbers” we measure (like attendance, donations, baptisms, marriages, etc.) are often trending the wrong way (i.e. down), so it’s tempting to diminish their importance and focus on other things. But if we ignore them, they are only more likely to keep going down. Just because they aren’t most important, doesn’t mean they aren’t still important and helpful. Track them, face them, know them, and strive to improve them. Instead of diminishing their importance, commit to knowing them all the more. But then, more importantly, dig beneath them to the more meaningful metrics that drive them (which are often more difficult to measure, but worth trying).
How many relationships have you deepened? How many people started leaning further in to your community vs drifting away? How many volunteers stepped forward? How many questions were asked? How many marriages were improved? How many eyes glazed over? How many more families prayed together this week? How many children inspired? Confessions heard? Hearts moved? Truths learned? Beauties shared? Faiths strengthened? Opportunities for healing offered? Prayers prayed? Whatever you think is most important. Figure out what you want to improve and then figure out how to measure it in some way. If you do that, no matter how clumsily, it will likely improve.
Furthermore, the very process of paying attention to these kinds of details—even the metrics you can’t control—will provide untold insights and opportunities to better serve and engage your people in meaningful ways.

Myth #2: My goals don’t matter because they are nothing compared to what God is up to.

It’s true, the Holy Spirit is up to Something Bigger than whatever you think you’re doing. God is doing more than we can ever measure, calculate, or even know about. But that shouldn’t dissuade us from setting our own big goals and working toward them. God wants us to give him something to work with, something to multiply (our five loaves and two fish…everything we’ve got!). You still must lead your people somewhere meaningful—get them up and moving toward a goal together. 
If you don’t know what that is yet, then your first goal could be to figure that out. Commit to a goal of praying 10 minutes per day to discern your goals. Do it as a team. Hold each other accountable. Ask for clarity. Find out what concrete, big thing God wants your ministry or church to do in the world. What is your inspiring vision for the future that is going to move your people to engage and act?

TIP #1: Just get around to doing it.

Sometimes we just don’t get around to setting official goals for our ministry. We have some ideas…then the busyness of the year sets in and we never get around to making it official. It’s never too late. Put a date on your calendar right now to meet with your team and make your goals official. Discuss as a team, get buy-in from everyone, and commit to them together.

TIP #2: Get the Big Thing right first

Vision and mission come first. And I don’t mean some vaguely inspiring statement about your community. I mean where exactly are you leading your flock (how is the future different)? And in what specific, concrete way will you help get people there (i.e. achieve that thing)? This clarify is essential. You can’t set short-term goals unless you know the longer term ones first. Define with specificity what you want to achieve in the next 1 year, 5 years, 10 years. That vision may change over time, don’t worry about that. You’re not predicting the future, you’re picking somewhere to aim. 
And make sure it’s something your flock is passionate about doing together. Get input from your leadership/volunteer team. Find out what they want to achieve together, write it down with specifics, and all commit to its priority. Everyone should know it by heart. Have a different person read/recite it at the beginning of each staff meeting, or find other ways to repeat it regularly and make it ever-present. It should frame and inform every other thing you do. That kind of radical focus is powerful.

TIP #3: Break it down into quarterly actions


Once you have your Big Thing (the big objective you want to achieve), then break it down into definitive actions your team can take. What concrete actions will lead to achieving your big goal? Break it down by year, then by quarter. What actions should you take this quarter (the next 3 months) to move toward your goal in a meaningful way? Without an action plan, the big goals remain wishes and dreams. Create an action plan and hold each other accountable to it. Communicate the plan to your flock, explaining how these actions will lead to the big vision everyone is excited to achieve.

None of this is rocket science, of course, but it does take time and practice to develop the habit of sticking to it. Keep trying and let us know how it goes!

– Matthew Warner