5 Goal-Setting Principles Every Church Leader Should Know

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With the start of a new year, it can seem like everyone is setting a resolution to lose weight, break a bad habit, or start a new hobby. It may feel like setting goals in January is more of a fad that we quickly forget once February arrives. 

However, there is value to setting goals during the start of a new year that shouldn’t be ignored.

Whether this is a new year or just a new season at your church, today we want to share a few goal-setting principles every church leader should keep in mind when setting goals:

1) Setting goals is an important part of spiritual leadership.

As a leader in your church, people will naturally look to you for guidance and clarity in what direction the church is taking. You have a noble calling to lead and shepherd these people toward Christ and to reach the surrounding community. But this doesn’t just happen. It requires an intentional plan. As such, you should take time to set goals for yourself, your church, and how you will reach others.

In the end, it is God that will bring fruit to our efforts but it’s our job to partner with Him by creating a plan, setting goals, working the plan, and then seeing how God uses those efforts.

2) Don’t just make a to-do list; cast a vision.

It’s easy to set a long list of things to do, but that isn’t actually the point of setting church goals. Not to mention, you’d have to create unique to-do lists for each area of your ministry. Instead, you should focus on casting a vision. Help people see how the goals that the church is setting are actually helping the ministry move towards the overall vision.

This is an opportunity to inspire rather than just inform.

3) Don’t be afraid to reach for the stars, but make sure your goals are still realistic.

Michael Hyatt has said, “You can’t get where you want to go unless you start with where you are.” When setting goals, it’s hard to find that middle ground. We want to be ambitious and set near-impossible goals. Or we want to be realistic and don’t dream big enough.

A good goal will stretch us beyond what we are capable of, and will require God to show up in order to achieve it, but it remains in the realm of possibilities. “By next year, our church will take our attendance from 500 to 5,000” is an example of a near-impossible goal (in that timespan).

4) Be sure your goals are SMART.

If you aren’t familiar with the acronym of SMART goals, here’s a quick breakdown:

Specific
Measurable
Achievable
Relevant
Time-bound

The purpose of this acronym is to give you a tool to not only plan, but also achieve your goals. It’s one thing to say, “We want to reach our community.” It’s another thing to say, “By December 31, we will see 100 new connect cards filled out by first-time guests.” One is time-bound and measurable, and the other is not.

Utilize SMART church goals in your planning!

5) Check your progress.

Just like those that make New Year’s Resolutions, if you don’t make a plan to follow through on your goals, you will tend to forget about them. The purpose of goal-setting is to keep you accountable to the mission as you move through the year.

Take the time now to set up times to review how you are doing with each goal. Make a reminder in your calendar now so you can look back at your goals and continually track your progress.

Goal-setting can feel like a heavy responsibility and a lot of work. The truth is that it is both of those things! It takes time and effort to set meaningful goals for your church and that is not something that should be taken lightly. The effort is well worth it! 

So this month, feel free to dream big, set goals, cast vision, and get excited about how God will show up to help you meet those goals. Setting goals is a necessary part of being a church leader, and you are equipped to dream about a potential future to pursue alongside your God.

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