A Picture and a Plan
Vision and goals
It’s that time of year. You’re getting ready for fall kickoff. As you work through plans, you come across a folder labeled 2013. Inside you find a neatly typed laminated document. At the top it reads “GOALS 2013.” A wealth of emotions floods your heart and mind: excitement, anxiety, stress, and possibly even psychotic laughter. You had so many ideas. Looking back, you haven’t started on many of the initiatives around those goals. After all, the 2013 goal-setting meeting seems like an eternity ago. Since then, you’ve seen your church change in certain areas, while other aspects remain the same. At the bottom of the goals sheet it reads, “Five-year goals.” Looking at them now, many of them don’t make sense. So much has changed in the last six months.
While this may not be your exact story, it’s probably not far off. Your team had plans for the new year, creative ideas sprung from fresh initiatives. Despite the best of intentions, they have fallen by the wayside, just like that 4-day gym routine you were going to implement on January 2. Don’t despair. The year isn’t over. Today is a new day. At the minimum, you have direction. However, if you find yourself without a starting point, this may inspire you to re-evaluate your goals or establish new ones.
It is commonly known in ministry that the fall season is a great launching point for new initiatives. There’s a jolt of momentum just around the corner. It’s my goal to convince you to join that momentum with the time and effort necessary to meet your 2013 goals.
Change the Way You Look at Goals
Before you get too deep into the new plan, make sure you maintain proper perspective. Paul’s goal is Christ’s goal for him as seen in Philippians 3:14-16.
“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.”
Our church is in a constant state of evaluation. We love numbers and data. During the short seven years of our existence, we have seen God move in a powerful way. As a church, we have shifted from one-year goals to six-month goals. Each July and December we reassess and plan for the next six months. More often than not, it’s incremental change that makes for long-term success. Things have changed. Goal-setting isn’t what it used to be. The culture of our society moves too fast to look at goal-setting with a long-standing mindset. When you work on goals, remember to keep your list of long-term goals short and short-term goals clear and faith-filled.
Please understand that goal-setting is not an annual or semi-annual exercise in futility. Goals are not a suggestion. We must operate with the mindset that the goals are the plan. If you have taken the proper approach to planning your goals, then you should do everything in your power to reach them.
The following questions are helpful to approach ministry goals for the fall in a fresh way.
Where am I now?
It’s important to understand your current circumstances and limitations. It will inspire your greatest creativity. Famed basketball coach and leader, John Wooden once said, “Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”
What am I doing?
This question is to help you examine your ministry and remind you to evaluate what’s working and what’s not. Don’t waste time trying to fix things that have never found success. Don’t commit time and energy to a flailing project simply because the routine is easier than the alternative.
Where am I going?
This is not the time to start something new because you saw another successful ministry doing it. What has God called you to do? Know where you are going before you plan your trip.
How am I going to get there?
This is the fun part. Start working on the initiatives that are going to move your ministry forward this fall. Some of the most effective initiatives are found in the basics: making phone calls, sending letters, and pouring into volunteers.
Get started. You’ve determined what God has called you to do. Now, go do it. Stick to it. Goal evaluation is just a few months away … how will you measure up?
Goals and Your Vision Statement
Within five minutes of getting into the car with my kids, two questions are asked, “Where are we going? When are we going to get there?” It’s a fair question. They want to know what to expect.
Having clearly defined goals allows you to give clear direction and expectations to staff, volunteers, and the families in your ministry. It’s hard to cast vision when your goal is to do everything and be everywhere. There is a certain level of reassurance and confidence that comes from knowing where you are going and what you are going to do next. Have you ever followed someone who didn’t know where they were going?
Your vision statement is a perfect goal if you want a target so big you can’t possibly miss or hit it. Thirty-one years ago a guy named George Doran wrote that goals should be SMART: Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely. Your vision statement may be some of these, but it certainly isn’t all of them. Always go back to prayer and God’s Word before you set your goals, and use your vision statement as a filter, not a catch-all.
At Elevation, our family ministry vision statement is to see people far from God raised to life in Christ by engaging kids and empowering families. The vision statement gives us clear direction. We also have another filter for everything that we do at the church. It’s known as The Code. The Code helps us maintain our unity, tone, and trajectory by determining the values of our church.
Using our vision statement and The Code we have clear guidelines for potential initiatives. We then use these initiatives as a roadmap to reach our goals. If the goals and the initiatives supporting them do not align with the vision of the church, then we start over. Goals are set solely as a means to find the place that God has called you to.
At some point, you will sit down and look at your goals for an evaluation. There will always be external factors that affect the outcome of your goals. That’s not an adequate excuse; it’s simply a reality. You must personally commit to do everything possible and operate under the assumption that you will reach the goals you and your team has set.
Someone once said that people overestimate what they can do in a week and underestimate what they can do in a lifetime. Let’s start with solid progress. Keep moving forward. The best is yet to come in your ministry.
Frank Bealer is the Family Pastor at Elevation Church in Charlotte NC. Frank and his wife, Jessica, have 3 kids and love engaging kids and empowering families in an incredible move of God. You can learn more about Elevation Church and The Code by visiting elevationchurch.org