Goal Setting In The Work Of God: Part 2

By: Dale D. McConkey


The church is concerned with two different, but very much related, types of goals,-long-range and short-range goals. The distinctive characteristics of both types are highlighted in illustration 3.

Long-range goals (objectives) are completed and approved first. They help insure the growth of the church over the long pull and provide guidance for short-range planning. The relationship and interaction between long-and short-range goals can be illustrated by the following example:

Long-range objective

Build a new church within the next three years.

Short-range goals

1st year – Secure funds and design the church.

2nd year – Complete one-half of church construction.

3rd year – Complete the remaining construction.



TIME SPAN COVERED PURPOSE WHO’S INVOLVED LONG-RANGE 3 or more years Establish the Primarily the direction and governing body, guidelines. pastor, and Minimize short-term committee chair- decisions. persons with advice and recommendations from the congregation.

SHORT-TERM 1 year or less Provide step-by- The pastor, com-step means for mittees, and all reaching for members of the long-term congregation. objective.


Illustration 4 outlines the step-by-step process for goal setting for a local church. It also indicates who in the church is primarily responsible for carrying out each of the three major phrases in the sequence.

As in the section on “Ownership,” it is emphasized that goal setting will be more successful if the ideas and recommendations of the greatest possible number of people are actively sought and considered in each step of the whole process. A high premium should be place on getting maximum involvement by all members of the congregation.


Establish overall objectives: Pastor, Council, Planning Committee

1. Clarify Identity

2. Determine Mission

3. Assess Needs

4. Appraise Resources and Conditions

5. Set Key Areas and Target Period

6. Establish Overall Objectives

Establish Program Goals: Committees, Boards, Staff

7. Set Program Goals

8. Plan Activities and Budget Resources

Adopt Annual and Long-Range Plan: Congregation, Council, Staff

9. Consolidate Goals and Plans

10. Set Feed-Forward Methods

11. Renew Each Year



Steps in the Goal-Setting Process

Phase I: Establishing overall church objectives
Who’s involved? Primarily pastor and governing body

1. Determine church’s mission

2. Select key result areas

3. Complete situational analysis (needs)

4. Establish overall church objectives

5. Enunciate overall church objectives to congregation

Phase II: Establishing individual goals for members of congregation
Who’s involved? All members of the congregation

6. Members write individual goals

7. Program (plan) individual goals

Phase III: Consolidating all goals and plans
Who’s involved? Pastor and governing body

8. Consolidate all goals and plans

9. Establish feedback methods to measure progress

10. Repeat each year


Overall Church Objectives Come First

The first major phase in the goal-setting process is to establish overall objectives for the total church for a particular period of time.

As noted in section II, church goal setting is concerned with two different, but related, periods of time-the long-range and the short-range. The former is completed and approved before undertaking the latter.

Usually these are established by a working committee composed of the pastor, planning committee, and the governing body. The more “in tune” the people are with the ideas and views of the congregation the more successful the whole approach will usually be-especially concerning objectives which will require the later support and work by members of the congregation.

The goal-setting process begins with the writing of the mission of the church. The mission statement, which clarifies the primary purposes of the church’s life and work, provides the long-range guidance for all planning efforts.

Once the mission (step 1) has been agreed to, the following step-by-step procedure is used to arrive at the overall objectives of the church:

Step 2 – Select the “key result areas” in which it is necessary to ultimately establish goals for insuring the future growth and progress of the church. These are the major thrust and initiative areas.

Step 3 – Complete a situational analysis to analyze the capability to achieve results in each of the key areas.

Step 4 – Establish the overall church objectives.

Individual Goals Are Next

Once the overall objectives for the total church have been established, they provide:

A. A commitment for the total church – they state what all of the members working together aim to accomplish.

B. Overall guidance and direction for all members of the church as they establish their individual goals to achieve the overall church objectives.

It is important to remember that the overall objectives for the church as a whole are not the responsibility of any one individual but the collective responsibility of all. Getting action on these objectives means translating them into individual goals which enumerate who is responsible for what, and when. These are discussed in Step 6.


Determining the Mission of the Church

The mission statement of the church serves two valuable purposes:

1. It clarifies the primary reasons for the existence of the church or the major purposes of the church. It helps answer questions like “What part of God’s work do we want our church to accomplish?” and “For whom does the church perform its services?”

2. It provides a framework within which all other planning takes place.

Why a Mission Statement?

God’s work is so vast that a church might engage in literally millions of activities to carry it out. While commendable, usually this is not possible. All churches are limited in the amount of people, time, talent, and funds available to them. Thus, it is necessary to confine the church’s work to a more limited number of endeavors.

Thus, the mission statement serves to highlight the major thrust areas in which the church wishes to concentrate its efforts.

Content of the Mission Statement

The mission statement usually answers three questions:

1. The purpose of our church-the major parts of God’s work which the church will undertake.

2. Whom we serve-for example, the population of the city south of the freeway.

3. The major services provided – such as adult and youth services, or social services.

Examples of a mission statement

The following are actual examples of mission statements written by three churches:

Mission Statement A

The mission of the XYZ Church is to:

* Enrich and salvage families and the lives of individual children and adults;

* Strengthen and promote the responsiveness of social institutions to changing conditions;

* Encourage and support the renewal of the church in its concern for individuals and society.

Mission Statement B

WORSHIP: The corporate worship life in our congregation should seek to meet people where they are and allow them to grow so that they find in our corporate worship that which enables them to see and appreciate their whole lives in worship.

WITNESS: We seek to affirm that our people do witness and help them to feel good about this witnessing they do, and grow to express their own genuine personhood.

EDUCATION: We seek to help adults to feel a need for learning and develop a commitment for learning, to provide support and resources for child rearing in all aspects, including a quality education for the various needs of all our members.

SERVICE: We seek to help people to recognize areas where they may provide services including areas of community service.

Mission Statement C

Our Christ-centered and Spirit-directed mission is:

1. A lifelong commitment to hearing and doing the Word of God, using formal and informal settings and through individual and family experiences.

2. To minister to one another and to cooperate as a responsible, ecumenical partner in helping others locally, regionally, and worldwide.

We seek to-

* include and involve all members of the family in Christ in worship;

* integrate the wholeness of our mind, body, and spirit and discover the variety of contexts for learning;

* embrace one another as fellow learners;

* provide opportunities for growth as a person in Christ to all;

* expand the concept of witness that embraces the natural and daily witness
of people in Christ;

* commit ourselves to the biblical concept of servanthood in word and deed.

Step 2

Select “Key Result Areas”

Next the general mission is broken down into key result areas.

These are the major areas in which the church must achieve results if it is to survive and/or progress. They may also be referred to as the keys to success – the areas in which high performance is necessary for success.

Key result areas for a typical church might include:

1. Level of membership

2. Level and sources of funds

3. Neighborhood acceptance

4. Youth participation

5. Quantity of programs

6. Quality of programs

7. Leadership effectiveness

8. Quantity and quality of services

As can be seen from the above list, key result areas flow out of the mission statement and indicate the major areas in which the church should concentrate its efforts during a particular target period. They result from determining the specific subjects on which the church will work in order to carry out the mission.

Step 3

Complete a Situational Analysis

In this step the group analyzes its capability to achieve results in each of the key result areas selected in step 2.

One way to do this is to take each key result area, one at a time, and
discuss it in light of-

1. strengths

2. weaknesses

3. opportunities

4. threats

Example: Key result area #1 – Level of membership

Other factor for the church to consider in the situational analysis are illustrated in the following example titled,”Our Congregation’s Needs.”


A thoroughly completed situational analysis, on each of the key subject areas, should provide excellent guidance as to what kinds of objectives may be included in Step 4.

For example, the strengths and weaknesses should give a picture of the current situation: this is what we have to work with. They should help answer the questions:

1. Should we have objectives which will help us capitalize on our strengths?

2. Do we need objectives to minimize our weaknesses?

The opportunities and threats are future-oriented. Questions to ask include:

1. Should we have objectives to help us take advantage of our opportunities?

2. Do we need objectives to help us minimize the impact of the threats?

Establishing Priorities

Once a situational analysis has been completed for each key result area it is time to establish priorities. It would be neither possible nor desirable to take future action on each piece of information contained in the various situational analyses. Human and financial resources are always limited. In addition, some possible actions are less important than others.

Thus, at this juncture the church faces these questions:

1. Of all the possible courses of action, which are most important?

2. Which should be done first?

3. Which can be delayed until later?

The answers to these questions will serve as the basis for determining the subjects of the objectives which must be established in step 4.


Establishing Overall Objectives

Having determined the major directions (mission) which we want our church to take and having arrived at a prioritized list of the key result areas in which we want to achieve better results, we are now ready to begin writing objectives and goals:

Example: We have determined that one of the key result areas which we want to concentrate on during this year is “a higher degree of participation by the congregation in church activities.”

The next step is to write a goal covering this key result area.

What Is a Goal?

For our purposes, we may define a goal as: a specific statement of a desired result to be achieved during a stated period of time.

A goal should always include the what (the desired result) and the when (a target period or target date.

Example: Our key result area is “a higher degree of participation by the congregation in church activities.”

The resulting goal might read:

By December 31 increase Sunday school attendance by a monthly average of 10% above the monthly average for last year.

The date of December 31 tells by when the goal will be achieved. The 10% increase tells the what.

What Is an Objective?

An objective is a long-term or broad concept goal.

Two Main Categories of Objectives

Although there are several different categories of objectives, we shall consider only two. They may be identified as:

Unit objectives – These include those which apply to the church as a whole (or to a unit of it). They are not the goals of any one individual but are the broader objectives of the organization. They set the theme and direction and provide guidance for writing individual goals.

Example: Increase total church membership by 100 people by July 1.

Individual goals – As the name implies, these are goals which apply to an individual – those which he or she will personally carry out.

Example: Personally secure 10 new church members by July 1.

Individual goals usually are a smaller piece of unit objectives. When the individual goals of each member of a unit are added together, they should result in achieving the broader unit objectives.


Unit Objective – Secure 100 new members

Individual Goal of Members of Congregation – 25 new members
30 new members
20 new members
25 new members

Making Objectives Effective

Effective objectives and goals should meet several criteria. They should be:

1. specific and measurable;

2. realistic and attainable;

3. supportive;

4. clearly understood;

5. priority items;

6. written.

Specific and Measurable

An objective or goal is specific and measurable when it states exactly what is to be achieved and when progress toward the goal can be accurately gauged.


Poor-Increase church membership.

This is merely a statement of intent and is not specific and measurable. The intent could be achieved by securing only one new member or by 100 members. What do we mean?

Better – By July 1 of next year, achieve total minimum church membership of 200 (from present level of 163) and maintain the 200 level for the remainder of next year.

When a goal is not specific:

1. It cannot be measured for accomplishment.

2. Plans cannot be formulated to achieve it.

3. Resources needed to carry it out cannot be determined

Realistic and Attainable

Objectives and goals should require us to expand more than just normal effort. That is, goals should make us “stretch” to reach them. However, goals should always be realistic and attainable.

The key word is “realism.” Goals which are based on hopes, desires, and wishes are seldom realistic.


Once unit objectives have been set for the church as a whole, the goals of all members of the church should be established in a manner which helps carry out the church’s goals.

Clearly Understood

Before starting to carry out a goal, all persons involved in it must clearly understand what the goal requires and what their respective roles are. Otherwise, confusion, misunderstanding, and misdirected effort will frequently result.

Priority Items

A church, like most other organizations, has a limit on the time and funds it can expend. Therefore, it is important to make certain that available resources are devoted to the most important things and that the most important are done first. Goals should deal with these more important subjects.


Objectives and goals are always written to promote understanding and to avoid confusion.


Enunciate Overall Church Goals

Once the pastor and governing body have agreed to the broad, overall objectives of the church as a whole (for a particular target period), these objectives are announced, discussed, and clarified with the congregation. It is obvious that the church’s objectives will not be accomplished just because they have been written down and agreed to. All persons in the church now must become involved in bringing them to life-in translating the objectives into action.

These objectives provide members of the congregation with the guidance they will need to write their individual goals which will support and help carry out the overall objectives.

Various means may be used to inform the members about the objectives such as:

* Printed material (bulletins, newsletters);
* Temple talk (brief statements by laypersons during the worship service);
* Annual meeting of the congregation;
* Fellowship hours.


Writing Individual Goals

In this step, the members of the congregation write personal goals for themselves. These goals are the means by which the overall church objectives will be achieved.

They use the overall church objectives written in step 4 for guidance.

The individual goals must support the overall objectives and should be written in light of the same criteria discussed in the earlier section titled “Making Objectives Effective”.

Programming Goals

In this phase are developed the step-by-step plans which the congregation will follow to achieve the objectives that have been set.

The objectives tell what is to be accomplished. Now the concern is how to make the objectives come true.

Plans are developed in the following order:

1. State the objective.
2. List all practical alternative ways for accomplishing the goal.
3. Evaluate the alternatives.
4. Select the better alternatives.
5. Plan how to carry out the alternatives selected.

State the Objective

Increase church membership to 200 persons by December 31 of next year.

Select All Practical Alternatives

There are many ways in which the objective might be accomplished. List as many as possible of the more practical ones. They might include:

a. Home visitations by members
b. Newspaper advertising
c. Visits by pastor
d. Invitations to social events
e. Recommendations/invitations by present members
f. Mailing newsletter of church events
g. Others

Evaluate the Alternatives

This step consists of examining each of the alternatives selected in number 2, above. The purpose is to reduce the list to those which will be adopted. Each of the alternatives should be examined in light of questions such as:

a. Is it a practical alternative – will it help reach the goal?
b. What will it cost?
c. Do we have the resources (people, time, money) to carry it out?
d. Is there a better alternative in our situation?

Select the Better Alternatives

After number 3 has been completed, decide which are the better alternatives to follow. Suppose alternatives A (home visitations by members) and E (recommendations by members ) are chosen. Each of these would then be programmed step-by-step.

Plan How to Carry Out the Alternatives

A program for carrying out alternative A might be set up as shown in illustration 5. The person responsible for carrying out the goal is clearly named. It is also desirable to indicate who will be involved in carrying out the action steps to achieve the goal. A column entitled “Person or Group Responsible” could be added to accomplish this.


Person Responsible Chairman, Membership Committee

Goal # 1 Increase church membership to 200 by December 31




Consolidating All Goals and Plans into One

The goal-setting process began with the setting, by the governing body and the pastor, of the broad, overall objectives of the church (hopefully, with the maximum possible recommendations and guidance from the congregation as to what these objectives should be).

Next these broad, overall objectives were enunciated to the congregation so that its members could participate in the total planning process.

Using these objectives as guides, members and groups of the congregation established their own individual goals to support and help carry out the overall church objectives.

Now, the next step involves the combining and consolidating of all individual goals into one package or comprehensive plan. The key question to answer at this stage is: Will all of the individual goals and plans add up at least to the overall objectives of the church and achieve its mission?

Expressed differently, if all of the individual goals and plans are carried out as written, will they result in achieving the broad, overall objectives and the mission of the church?

If the answer is yes, then the job is fairly well completed.

However, if the answer is no, there are two alternative chores to complete:

1. Additional plans and objectives must be established to make up for the void. This alternative should always be exhausted before lowering the overall church objectives.


2. The broad, overall objectives of the church need to be changed.

Regardless of which alternative is pursued, be sure to conclude with objectives and plans which are realistic and attainable.

Establish Feedback to Measure Progress

The concluding step in the planning process is to decide when (how often) and how (what methods) to measure progress as the target year begins and the congregation begins carrying out its goals and plans.

In general, progress is measured often enough so that there will be time to take corrective action if everything is not proceeding as planned. If no evaluation is made until the end of the target period, it will be too late to do anything about any deficiency.

Therefore, interim or periodic checks during the target period are essential. The church may wish to adopt a policy that progress toward goals will be reviewed every three months. Having adopted a policy such as this, the monthly columns in illustration 5 will serve as an excellent basis for the review. For example, a quick visual check of the appropriate monthly column in illustration 5 will indicate whether the church is on or off target as of that particular date.

Repeat Each Year

The last step in the process is one that is completed each subsequent year as long as the church is setting goals.

It consists of starting all over again with step 1 and completing all of the steps for the next target period. Planning is a continuous, never-ending process designed to assist the church’s progress year after year.

“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established” (Prov. 16:3).

(The above material was published by Augsburg Publishing House in Minneapolis, Minnesota.)

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