Faith Goal Setting Only Works When You Do It
By Tim Massengale
Someone far more successful than I once said, "people seldom have trouble reaching goals, they only have trouble setting them." I have been working with churches on church growth for 40 plus years, and I can tell you without hesitation, those who grow are avid goal setters. They often have both a five-year and a ten-year growth plan. They can tell you what their goals are each year for attendance, members and converts – and they have these numbers projected out for five years. Then, each year, they set goals for key areas of evangelism: church visitors, home Bible studies, home fellowship groups, bus ministry, new convert retention, and more. They also set goals for program improvements several years out: resurface the parking lot, reroof the fellowship hall, purchase additional buses, hire new staff, etc. They dream and strive to turn those dreams into reality.
These pastors tend to see goal-setting differently than most. They understand, as far as the church application, goal setting is simply an expression of faith. Faith "is 'the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Heb. 11:1) They know that the goals they set are not their goals, but God's goals. Like the Apostle Paul, they ‘press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus’ (Phil. 3:14). The goals they set are a matter of prayer. They have sought God for direction and feel these are the goals God would have them reach for by faith.
Churches that believe in goal setting are also careful to apply faith principles to each goal. The world likes to “shoot for the stars in the hopes of hitting the moon.” Faith-based goal setting only sets goals they know, without any doubt, they can reach. "Hope so" and "maybe" do not work with faith. Faith has no doubt (Matt. 21:21). So the goals they set, they know, beyond any doubt, they can reach, with God’s help. Then, they sit back and watch while God does “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20).
Faith-based churches also know that simply setting a goal is but the first step. They must also develop an action plan to see that goal realized. To reach attendance goals, they must attract more visitors. To reach home Bible study goals they must train more HBS teachers. To reach bus and van ministry goals they must start new routes and train more workers. To reach home fellowship group goals they must provide plans for HFG outreach and start new HFG sites. To reach new convert retention goals they must have a solid discipleship plan implemented and strive to perfect it. And perhaps most importantly, they know that the pastor can’t do all of this without lots of help, so they are constantly training new workers and leaders that can take ownership of these goals from inception to completion.