Churches are certainly unique in the context they serve and in their congregational makeup.  At the same time, they have some commonality.  Most every congregation I work with has a desire to reach new people and certainly was initially planted with the same purpose of being disciple-making disciples.  


Yet, many churches today struggle with how to actually accomplish this core purpose of their existence (the mission being disciple-making disciples).  For the most part, it’s not for a lack of desire or activity.  Most often, I find churches lack focus and direction. Churches get tied down to certain methods (ministries, events, programs) rather than the mission. Furthermore, they often allow relationships with one another to trump their responsibility and accountability to the mission. These obstacles can be overcome by unleashing the power of goals in your church.


In strategic planning, leaders often pull goals out of thin air. Instead, goals should be based on the faithful next steps to live into the church’s vision (God’s preferred future for the church’s unique way of living out the mission of being disciple-making disciples over the next couple of years in their context). In other words, what are two or three different things that the church could focus on over the next year that would cause the vision to become more present – more real?  Once those are identified, the ministries and activities of the churches are planned and implemented around them. The budget is aligned accordingly.


Here are the three ways the power of goals unleash remarkable church effectiveness:


  1. Ministries are the methods used to live into God’s preferred future (church’s current vision) of how we are to make disciples in our context over the next couple of years.  We mustn’t get tied down to our methods.  Instead, we must be sold out for our mission of being disciple-making disciples and set intentional goals of how we plan to do so each year.


  1. Goals help us hold one another accountable.  Goals are set by the council/board.  With the leadership of the pastor, ministry team leaders plan the ministries based on the goals.  The pastor holds the ministry team leaders accountable for the ministries being effective.  The council/board holds the pastor accountable for the goals.  The board/council is accountable to Christ for leading the church in its mission of being disciple-making disciples.


  1. Goals provide us with missional focus. Relationships are obviously very important in the life of the church. However, too often we allow relationships to stand in the way of being faithful to the mission – the Great Commission. Leaders are sometimes reluctant to make the hard decisions that might hurt another person’s feelings (i.e., stop funding an ineffective ministry of a beloved congregant).  Having goals based on mission and vision helps leaders stay missionally focused and accountable to one another and to Christ and keeps ministry decisions from being so personal.


Fall is the perfect time for churches to set goals for the upcoming year.  By setting goals, the leaders will set the church on a pathway toward more missional effectiveness.  If your church is ready to set goals but is looking for some assistance in doing so, check out these resources:


Strategy Matters – A book on strategic planning


Strategic Ministry Planning – An on-demand webinar outlining how to set goals in a retreat setting


Gear Up – A book identifying the nine essential processes a church needs and how they align for church effectiveness


Accountable Leadership – An on-demand webinar explaining accountable leadership, its importance for today’s church, and how to implement the model


Consultation or Facilitator – Request a consultation to help you to lead a goal-setting session with your leaders or Request a facilitator to lead a goal setting session for your church