Make a Faith Projection—Set Challenging Goals

Make a Faith Projection—Set Challenging Goals
Waldo J. Werning

ANY DEFINITION of ecclesiastical effectiveness must include setting objectives and goals. Setting acceptable goals begins with stretching our minds into the future as we free ourselves from the problems of the present. Our goals are established in answer to the question, “What kind of church would we like to be five years from now?” Valid concerns and purposes lead to valid goals.


Objectives are ultimate ends toward which a church aims its activities, stated in practical terms that give direction to its programs.

Goals state a definite result to be accomplished by a certain date. Objectives define a congregation’s purpose. Goals grow out of objectives.

Objectives define the congregation’s conviction, guide its work, and provide direction and motivation. Goals prevent means from becoming ends. By watching objectives, inconsistent activities can be eliminated.

An overall objective of the church is to sustain a vital relationship to God in Jesus Christ and to be used by God to bring all possible prospects into this worshiping, ministering, and witnessing community.

Church growth goal setting is not an attempt to “program” renewal in the church, nor is it an individual event or one shot of spiritual adrenalin. Setting goals has its positive influence in providing a raised vision and in developing church growth eyes that see church work in 20-20 perspective. The process requires an open mind and a seeking heart that shed negative ways and expect God to lead people to their mission in this time.

What is a goal? A goal is a response to a need. It is a vision that develops from prayerful study together of God’s Word in relation to the opportunities of a given situation. It is a statement of a future expectation that can be accomplished and measured by performance and by time when it is to occur. It is an action which a group believes can and should happen, by the grace of God.

This is the age of church growth, but not all realize it and so do not give attention to such dynamics as goal setting. Some do not set goals because of fear of failure; they remain satisfied with easy and low expectations. Willingness to set challenging goals is, in itself, a sign of some degree of vitality.

Goals are to be set in conscious dependence upon the direction and power of the Holy Spirit in obedience to the Word of God. Goals should reflect the concern of what was discovered in the measurements and surveys. They should be measure-able, attainable, realistic, and provide clear direction. Expecting to learn and grow, leaders should set challenging goals that call for new steps of faith and obedience to Christ.

The setting of goals finds the Church focusing its eyes anew upon Jesus in order to function as His Body on earth. Thus the Body seeks to discover what the Head desires for it and to determine, by the Spirit’s direction, how to move ahead more effectively. The whole purpose of the Body is to carry out Christ’s directions, just as a physical body responds to the directions of the head.

A healthy church responds to biblical goals, while an unhealthy one responds to crises only. A healthy church sets clear goals, while an unhealthy one sets no goals or settles for unclear goals. A healthy church is open to change, while an unhealthy one resists change. The healthy church sets goals as an outgrowth of group process and gives members a reasonable work load, while the unhealthy church has goals set by the pastor or a special interest group, and it overworks or underworks members.

Church growth is a goal-oriented approach in performing the church’s mission. As important and effective as goal setting is in the daily life of business and other areas, it is often suspect when considered in the church. Yet Scripture is full of goals which indicate a desire to do something which is measurable.

How can we determine goals? Goals must be discerned from Scripture, articulated in plain terms, and subsequently used to measure achievements. The process begins with the acceptance of the biblical nature and purpose of the church. The overarching objective of the church is to bring all people into a vital and saving relationship with God through Jesus Christ, our Saviour. Leaders must understand the function of the church—worship, proclamation, evangelism, education, fellowship, stewardship, and various ministries. A congregation needs to determine an objective for each function of the church and then decide the means to achieve the objective and goals related to each objective.

One of the primary goals of the church is to make disciples, which enlarges the base of participation in the work of the church. People in a healthy church have the desire and potential to grow. They accept the responsibility to plan a growth pattern. Goal setting addresses itself to the hope of the future instead of the despair of a negative past. It calls upon current strengths and successes rather than focusing on past weaknesses and failures.

Whether we call it management by objectives or management by goals, such a process aids church growth because it deters autocracy, where the pastor and a few leaders set the objectives and goals from the top. Autocracy encourages mere lip service (failure of leaders to allow review of goals by all), poor feedback (leaders fail to involve and listen to members), rigidity (goals are not regularly revised to accommodate changes), and expectation of instant results.

Management by goals also means the end to a congregation’s “activities orgy,” which finds pastors bogged down in administration, and Christians who are physically exhausted and whose spiritual lives are terribly neglected. Effective planning also helps to overcome church programs that are performed by human ingenuity rather than by the Spirit of God. It leads toward being doers of the Word, not only hearers. It provides an ongoing sense of direction.

Church growth is undergirded with abundant prayer. The future of the church is not based on natural trends, but on a planned and prayed-over strategy. Some congregations have good opportunities for growth, but do not have the will to grow. Under the lordship of Christ the goal-conscious church determines its destiny rather than becoming a victim of circumstances. Fervent prayer will help a church adopt a church growth mentality.


A congregation needs to develop goals in a number of important areas if it is to fulfill its purpose to its membership and to its community. Goals ought to be set in the following areas:

* organization ( to perform effectively)
* personnel and staff requirements
* site and facility ( whenever appropriate)

* worship (corporate)
* personal ministry to members (edification)
* education (of all ages)
* fellowship ( among members)

* stewardship (of abilities and financial gifts)
* lay leadership development
* outreach and evangelism
* social ministries


Each of these areas ought to undergo a self-study and goal-setting process on the basis of “Our New Goals and Strategy,” number 6 in the Appendix. Some of these areas should undergo a periodic appraisal to evaluate the adequacy of the goals.

Leaders with a clear purpose, plainly stated goals, and workable plans will direct and unify a congregation in its spiritual objectives. This sense of purpose should permeate the entire congregation with ideals that provide inspiration and goals that ennoble the entire operation of the group.

The above article, “Make a Faith Projection – Set Challenging Goals” was written by Waldo J. Werning. The article was excerpted from chapter five in Werning’s book, Vision and Strategy for Church Growth.

The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.

This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”