Our Goals Are Souls

By: Tim Massengale

Remember in Alice in Wonderland, when Alice came to the crossroads that led in two different directions? It was here that she met the Cheshire Cat and asked him for advice.

“Cheshire-Puss . . . would you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat. “I don’t care where —” said Alice.

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

Out from between those smiling teeth came pure words of truth. If you don’t know where you wish to go, than any road will take you there. As the old saying says, “There is nothing more discouraging than to not know where you are going, because you never know when you get there.”

How sad to wander without direction or purpose!

The story is told of a bright, young student conversing with his physics teacher. It was spring and the fresh smell of new life lay heavy in the warm evening air. A full moon shown brightly overhead against a black velvet sky awash with sparkling stars.

It was near graduation time and Neil stood talking with Mr. Knites. Mr. Knites eyed his star student quizzically and asked, “Well, Neil, what do you plan to do with your life now that you’re through with high school?”

Neil looked up into the glittering heavens and replied, “Mr. Knites, I’ll go to college – and someday,” gesturing toward the giant, full moon, “I’ll walk on the moon.”

For Neil Armstrong, the rest of the story became history. But it never would have happened had not this young man had a grand vision in his heart and a goal for which to reach. As Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, but in what direction we are moving.”

This is a point that should be well taken for the church.


Someone once wisely said, “He who has nothing for an objective usually accomplishes it.” But the opposite of that is also true: “He who has a single minded determination toward a fixed objective usually obtains it.” So what are you reaching for? What is your goal? To put it simply

“Don’t just stand there, do something!”

“Do what?” you may ask.

There are many things you could do. The question you need to ask yourself is “What should I do?” Goals must not be set without first looking at your objectives. There must be an overall purpose behind your mad rush to accomplish something. This is especially true for the church. The Lord has given us some specific instructions that He desires us to carry out. If we are not careful, we can become sidetracked in our goal setting and find ourselves working to accomplish something that we have no business doing in the first place.

We should never ask, “Can we do it?” or “What will it cost?” Rather, we should simply ask, “Lord, what would you have us to do? We know You will supply the resources for all You desire us to accomplish.” The Word of God is the Will of God. Everything we do must be founded upon the commandments and directives given within this Holy Book.

Consider the following diagram:

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Every successful enterprise is established first upon principles. These are the moral guidelines that direct the organization from its Genesis. Mr. Watson, founder of IBM, formulated ten moral principles to guide the attitude of his growing company. These had nothing to do with computers, yet they had everything to do with quality and principled ethics. Every decision the company made had to be examined in the light of these foundation principles. If the decision did not agree, it was thrown out. There is one iron clad rule about principles: They never change. That’s what makes them principles.

Methods are many, principles are few. Methods often change, but principles never do!

The church has some never changing principles. These are found in the Word of God. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but his Word will never pass away. Everything we do, every activity we engage, every goal we establish, every method we employ – all must be examined in the light of the Word of God. If our goals and plans do not agree with The Book, we must cast them down.


Today we live in the era of the Mega-corporation. Billion dollar budgets are an annual occurrence. But as American business moved from the seventies into the eighties, a change took place. On every hand, giant corporations began to fail. Red ink flowed from once productive balance sheets. The age of the conglomerate was coming to an end.

American business came to realize that an electronics corporation had no business getting involved in vegetable production. Space technology had little in common with the fishing industry. So buying a smaller company only for the sake of ownership proved to be disastrous: it was forsaking the reason and purpose for which the original corporation was founded. Today, massive companies are selling off their smaller subsidiaries that are outside the scope of their field – and with good reason. When a business has too many objectives, it will fail. This is a lesson that the Church should heed.

Our objectives are our ultimate hope, our reason for being, the purpose for our existence. From the Bible comes two main objectives for the church. These are:

1. Our first objective is to win the lost.
2. Our second objective is to perfect the saints.

Neither objective will ever be totally fulfilled. The world will never be completely saved, the church will never be absolutely perfect (in this life). Yet we continually strive to reach for another soul and become more Christ-like. These are our objectives. Objectives seldom change – and as far as the Church is concerned, these two objectives will remain the same until Jesus comes.

These objectives do not qualify as goals because they are not measurable in themselves, but rather, give us a clear direction in which to move. Anything we engage in that is outside of these two objectives is harmful to our existence. For instance, the church has little or no business being in politics. The church has little or no business being in professional sports. We have more than enough that is our business without wandering into areas that are not.

Losing sight of our objectives can also be applied to ministries and programs that are commonly found within churches. Having a Christian School or a Day Care is fine if a pastor feels it is needed and is the will of God. But I have seen some Christian Schools that “had a church” instead of a church “having a Christian School.” If a school or day care ties up all our finances and manpower, leaving no resources for winning the lost, they can become a stumbling block to fulfilling Christ’s commandments.

We must also be careful with fund raising efforts and money making schemes. If done at all, they must be a means to an end (financing evangelism) rather than as an end to itself. The Bible method of fund raising is soulwinning. If we will catch fish, we will find it has money in it’s mouth (Matt. 17:24).


Goals are those activities we engage in to reach our objectives. A goal is a picture of something absolute that we wish to obtain in the future. Goals do change, but only occasionally. To put goals in more Biblical terms – a goal is a statement of faith. Faith is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). Goals are things of substance that you are hoping for, even though right now you may not see them.

Few principles in the business world have more Biblical foundation than that of goal setting. When Paul said “I press toward the mark. .” he was writing as an example to us. You, too, need a “mark” – you need a goal.


The difference between a goal and an objective lies in the fact that objectives are general, goals are specific. For a goal to be a goal, it must fulfill certain criteria.

Several years ago a headline told of 300 whales which suddenly died. The whales were pursuing sardines and found themselves marooned in a tiny bay. Writer Frederick Brown Harris commented, “The tiny fish lured the giants of the sea to their death . . . They came to their violent demise by chasing small ends, by prostituting vast powers for insignificant goals.”

This is often the sad commentary of the church. A pastor must examine each activity and ministry of the church with a critical eye. Is it reaching the lost? Is it perfecting the saints? Could our time be spent more productively in some other way?

The church is not a social club. The church is not a public service organization. With the limited resources that we have – time, money, manpower, and facilities – we must be a good steward and utilize them in the most effective manner.

2. WE MUST BELIEVE WE CAN OBTAIN THIS GOAL. Goals are often set so high that they are unrealistic. Unrealistic goals fail to inspire. Instead they feed doubt. If a growth minded pastor challenges every church member to “bring ten new people with you next Sunday.”, few are going to take him seriously. That 2 or 3% of the congregation might do so is believable, but not all the congregation will be able to – particularly when the building could only seat one-third of them if they all came. On the other hand, if the goal was for each to bring one, that is very possible.

But the reverse of this is also true. Goals set too low fail to inspire. Small men set small goals. A old Indian proverb states “It is better to aim your arrow at a star and hit an eagle, than to aim at an eagle and hit a stone!” The key is whether you believe you can reach it. The scriptures abound with challenges to reach for the impossible, feel for the intangible, and see the invisible.

From the lips of Jesus came frequent expressions on the importance of faith. “Verily I say unto you, if ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed . . . nothing shall be impossible unto you” (Matt. 17:20). “Therefore I say unto you, what things so ever you desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them” (Mark 11:24). “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive” (Matt. 21:22) “Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth” (Mark 9:23). “According to your faith be it unto you” (Matt. 9:29). “Great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt” (Matt. 15:28). Faith forces us to stretch ourselves out of the boundaries of the natural and into the realm of the supernatural.

“Make no small plans; they have no power to move men’s hearts. Unless our proposals are bold, they will be ineffective” – Elton Trueblood

“I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me” – Apostle Paul

3. A GOAL MUST BE MEASURABLE. Everyone must be able to tell that it has been achieved, that reaching the goal has become a past  event. The mountain has been climbed, the ocean has been crossed, the giant has been slain. We knew where we were going when we started, and we knew the precise moment it was obtained. If we don’t make goals measurable, we rob people of their sense of accomplishment. If the goal is to “double the Missions Giving”, we had better decide how much money this will produce. As we have already said, “nothing is more discouraging than to not know where you’re going, because you never know when you get there.” Without the ability to measure, how will we know when we have arrived?

4. A GOAL MUST HAVE A DATE WHEN IT WILL BE ACCOMPLISHED. We must know what we want done and by when we want to do it. If people do not have a clear picture as to the time frame within which a goal lies, they have entirely different assumptions as to how urgent it is. “Let’s get in there and double our Sunday School!”, doesn’t mean very much until someone says when (and, of course, how). A goal without a date is not a goal, it is simply a dream.

5. A GOAL NEEDS TO BE CLAIMED BY SOMEONE. Someone must believe that he owns it. We must all know who will take the steps to reach the goal. Everyone’s business becomes no one’s business. The question is not whether we all believe in the goal, but who believes in it enough to make it happen.

6. A GOAL NEEDS TO BE SUPPORTED BY A PLAN. The point here is that we must know how we plan to reach the goal. We must believe we can get “there” from “here”, and have some understanding of which way the path will lead. This plan must be well thought out. Each step of the plan can actually become a goal within itself. The plan needs to be in writing and each step dated for completion.

7. A GOAL MUST BE SUPPORTED BY THE NECESSARY RESOURCES. We must have an understanding of what it is going to cost in money, facilities and other types of “energy,” and we must have these resources available. Too often churches begin with money when they should begin with goals. But the fact remains that if the people do not have the energy to carry it off, the goal will not become operational.


Objectives and goals point direction. Priorities help us to choose which goals are most important. But Planning is the stuff that converts goals into action and dreams into reality. It is the process
that takes your church from “where you are” to “where you want to be.”

Where principles never change, objectives seldom change, and goals change only occasionally – plans by nature must be fluid. Life is full of uncertainties and unexpected challenges. This is especially true of the church. Our plans must be continually adjusted to meet these changes. A plan without an alternative plan is a plan bound to fail. A wise pastor will learn to expect the unexpected.

Planning does many things, the most important of which is to enable your church to reach it’s goals. But planning does other things also. It reveals needs, it assigns responsibilities, it prevents
procrastination, it requires prioritizing, it simplifies evaluation, and it determines timetables. The list goes on and on. Someone aptly said “To fail to plan is to plan to fail”.

A church that lacks well defined objectives and goals – and a plan for making progress toward both – will drift from program to program, with little progress toward fulfilling it’s purpose.

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The scriptures state in Hebrews 11:6, “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Having faith in God and a vision that He wishes to reward us is essential to spiritual success. Edward Dayton and Ted Engstrom in Strategy For Leadership list ten benefits that come from having a faith vision:

This is more important than you think. We can’t really make any decisions about the future. We are not even sure who will be alive at any given time in the future. But if we know the kind of desirable future that we want, we can make decisions today which are more likely to bring us into that future. Goals – statements of faith about the future – help us to do that.

They show your workers where the church is going and helps them to see where they fit into the overall plan. “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” Perhaps it is better said in the words of the Prophet Amos: Can two walk together, except they be agreed? (Amos 3:3 KJV).

know that they are working together for the common good, there is an increased sense of fellowship. It is much easier to build fellowship around a task that people are accomplishing together than it is to build fellowship for fellowship’s sake. How many times have you had the experience of trying to get together to “have fellowship”, only to discover that there was little to have fellowship about? On the other hand, remember the excitement of accomplishing a common goal with other church members!

increases our effectiveness. As we have said before, if we don’t know how far we have come, how can we know whether we have arrived? Abraham Lincoln said it best: “If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could better judge what to do and how to do it.”

They don’t necessarily help us to operate more efficiently, since we may change our goals and therefore have to change the way we are working. But they do emphasize effectiveness. One researcher defined a problem as being “a deviation from a goal.” The assumption is that if there is no goal from which to deviate, we really don’t have a problem. Goals show us where to put our time and energies.

tell us where we are going and how we are doing. Have you ever said to yourself, “I wonder who’s responsible for doing that?” Evidently you didn’t have a clear picture of who had the assigned responsibility for that particular goal. This is why it’s important that different departments and ministries be organized around goals rather than around tasks.

the future and not focus our attention on the past. We live and work in the present, yet our vision lies in the future.

EXPECTED. They help the individual to see how he or she is doing. This is the whole concept behind a popular business theory entitled, “Management By Objectives”. The exciting thing about having a goal is seeing ourselves moving toward it. If the directors of your church are not given specific goals, they have no way of knowing whether or not they are being “successful.”

PRODUCTIVITY. It is not how much we do (activity) that counts, but what we get done (productivity). The church which focuses on all the good things it does, rather than on the goals it accomplishes, is on the road to failure.

EFFORT. Too often, when goals are unclear, two people may be doing the same thing without knowing it. Then, too, we have all run into the problem of “Oh, I thought that was your responsibility!” How true this is in the church! Goals therefore reduce the needless misunderstanding which results from having unclear aims.


Despite goal setting’s apparent advantages, some pastors still resist the idea. Why do pastors and church leaders refuse to set goals? Mark Lee lists the three most common reasons in his book, How To Set Goals And Really Reach Them:

1. BECAUSE IT APPEARS TO VIOLATE BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES. In the light of certain scriptures like “Take no thought of tomorrow…”, and “be content with such things as ye have,” goals may appear at first glance to contradict God’s Word. The problem here is two-fold: misinterpretation and misapplication.

Those who wrestle with the true meaning of contentment could come up with two possibilities. The first says, “I should have my desires limited to that which I already have, and that which I have already achieved.” The second says, “I should have my desires limited to that which GOD wants me to have, and that which GOD wants me to achieve”. There’s a world of difference between those two statements! The first spells laziness, the second spells commitment.

This brings us back to our initial objective: It is the will of God for his church to reach the lost. It is also his will for you to reach as many as you possibly can. The greatest danger to end-time
evangelism is for the church to become “satisfied” and “contented” and willing to just be “average.” Our God is not an average God! He deserves more than just average!

2. BECAUSE IT OFTEN PRODUCES FEELINGS OF GUILT. What will happen to my reputation with the church, or my own self-esteem, if I set a goal and miss it? The answer to this question is that the only reputation you risk destroying by doing nothing is your reputation with God. His opinion of the servant who buried his talent rather than risk it with the money changers was pure contempt. The old saying “It is better to have tried and failed than not to have tried at all,” is to be well taken. The surest way to destroy your growth is with an excess of indecision, doubt, worry, and overcaution.

“I would rather attempt
something great for God and fail
than attempt nothing for God and succeed.”
– Robert H. Schuller

Some churches fear the storms of failure so much that they would rather sit in the harbor idle than risk the tempest of the open sea. The problem with that is they go nowhere either. Too often our fears are more in our mind than in reality.

It is told that a young navel student was being put through his paces by an old sea captain.

“What would you do if a storm sprang up on the starboard, son?”

“Throw out an anchor, Sir.”

“What if another storm sprang up aft?”

“Throw out another anchor, Sir.”

“And if another storm sprang up forward, what would you do?”

“Throw out another anchor.”

“Hold on” said the sea captain, “Where are you getting all of your anchors?”

“From the same place you’re getting your storms, Sir.”

When carefully analyzed, the reason behind repeated failure, and the ensuing feelings of guilt, often lies not with goal setting but with the goal setter. The individual will consistently choose goals that are too big and unrealistic. This may have been the result of being overly ambitious, or being a perfectionist, or even the outside pressure of other pastors or friends. The answer is to go first to
your knees and allow God to set the goals for you. The Lord will never give you more than you can handle. If God gives the goal, and if God wants you to reach it, then God has a date in mind for the accomplishment, and God has a plan in mind on how to do it, and God will expect you to make whatever sacrifice it takes to obtain it.

STRUCTURE. “Goals are fine for the business world and for personal use, but within the church, they seldom work.” Such is the attitude of some pastors who have tried to motivate their leaders with goals and have seen them fumble and flop. Helping others set goals is considerably different from doing it yourself. The pastor has certain responsibilities he must fulfill if he is going to use goal setting successfully with others. The following are ten common errors that pastors encounter when leading their leaders in goal setting:

1. He sets goals too low to challenge the individual.
2. He overloads individuals with inappropriate or impossible goals.
3. He establishes no policies to guide their actions, but waits for the results and invariably issues judgement in correction.
4. He ignores obstacles which he knows the individual will face and offers no help when encountered.
5. He ignores any new goals proposed by the individual. He thinks the only good goals are his goals.
6. He doesn’t think through and act upon what he must do to help the individual succeed.
7. He fails to set short target dates, (progression points) with which to measure the progress of the individual.
8. He refuses to discard previously agreed upon goals which have proven to be unfeasible, irrelevant, or impossible.
9. He doesn’t ask the individual to outline their plan of action as to how the goal will be successfully achieved.
10. He doesn’t reward successful achievement of goals, or doesn’t motivate when individuals fails to achieve.


Using the two goal setting worksheets (for both numerical goals and quality improvement goals) at the end of this chapter, follow these seven steps to set your goals.

1. AFTER MUCH PRAYER – SET YOUR FAITH GOALS. Remember, these are not your goals, they are the Lord’s – what He wishes you to achieve. Not MY will, but THY will. Much prayer should be behind your goals. To paraphrase Earl Nightingale, “Pastors don’t have any trouble achieving goals, they only have trouble setting them.” Put them in writing.

2. BREAK THE FAITH GOAL INTO PROGRESSION POINTS. First into yearly steps, then into monthly steps. For instance, to grow from 100 to 300 in five years is only three people per month. Break it down. Set your dates. Yard by yard, life is hard – inch by inch, it’s a cinch.

3. DEVELOP A PLAN OF ACTION TO REACH YOUR FAITH GOAL. A plan of action should include both offensive and defensive strategy. First, the offensive – make a step-by-step plan to take you from where you are to where you want to be. Then second, the defensive – list your barriers or problems, that which will hinder you from reaching your goal. Develop a strategy to overcome each one. Follow your plan. If your plans are not working, revise them. Remember, to fail to plan is to plan to fail.

What and who will be needed to reach that first step or solve that first problem? Share the dream and commit your people. An army poorly equipped is an army doomed to fail.

GOAL. Church growth consultant Lyle E. Schaller states, “The person who has a systematic approach to the future and a frame of reference for evaluating alternatives has a tremendous advantage over the person who functions without either.” Systematic evaluation is important. We must periodically stop and ask: “How are we doing? How far have we come? What barriers have you encountered?” Problems are bound to arise. Don’t abandon your workers to struggle with these problems alone. Obstacles may stop us temporarily, but only WE can stop ourselves permanently. We are made overcomers through Jesus Christ.

6. TESTIFY AND TALK ABOUT YOUR FAITH GOAL. From the abundance of the heart, the mouth is going to speak. If this goal is really in your heart, you will talk about it, preach about it, and testify about it. Use group planning and discussion to insure commitment. Get others involved. Get others talking about the goal. Celebrate each milestone of success.

7. FAST AND PRAY ABOUT YOUR FAITH GOAL. All things are possible to them that believe. Commit to pray for your goals EVERY day.

These practical steps are solid in principle and biblically based. With this outline you can accomplish God’s perfect will for your ministry. Remember: Great pastors never sought to be great. They just followed the vision God gave them and did what had to be done.


The above seven steps can be utilized for any type of goals: number goals or quality improvement goals. Most goals fall into one of these two categories. It is important that a pastor or Christian worker realize that both must go hand in hand. You will rarely be able to achieve number growth in a church without also increasing the quality of the program. When quality is improved, increased numbers should be expected. Let’s examine each of these.

Number goals are exactly what the name implies – you are reaching for a certain numerical amount. This can apply to Sunday School growth, adult membership, new converts, home Bible studies, fund raising, and so on. All number goals should be broken into “bite size” progression points. First into annual goals, then quarterly, and finally monthly or even weekly.

Quality improvement goals, on the other hand, have nothing to do with numbers. These are “project” goals. You know you have reached your goal when the project is completed. This would apply to building a new facility, starting a new ministry, developing a new outreach or a myriad of other activities. This type goal should also be broken into small steps of implementation.

Two main tools are used to develop your number and quality improvement goals. The first is the “Five-Year Numerical Goals” worksheet, the second is the “Five-Year Quality Improvement Goals” worksheet. Both work with five year time periods. The reason for this is to help a person lift their eyes beyond the problems of the present. All pastors battle with certain restrictions: facilities, finance, number of members, and so on. If we are not careful, these difficulties can influence our vision of the future. Like the twelve men appointed to spy out the land, next to our problems we can appear as grasshoppers. By looking at least five years ahead, it is easy to envision our problems solved. Our faith can be released, our vision restored.


At the back of this chapter, you will find a five year numerical growth work sheet. Several samples are provided, as well as blanks for your own use. Unlike other programs which force you to put a set percentage of growth upon each year, this work sheet operates entirely off of a pastor’s faith or vision. If you feel God is telling you that you can grow from 75 to 300 in five years, fine. If you feel you can grow to 500, that’s all right also. “As your faith is, so be it unto you.” Just make sure it’s God voice that you are hearing and not your own!

It would be foolish to tell a pastor that the most he can grow per year is 20% or even 50%. We have all seen churches grow as much as 200% in one year. Anything is possible when God is in it. After praying diligently, select your five year goal for Sunday morning Sunday School attendance. This is a total attendance number, both children and adults. Beneath that number, put your current Sunday School average for the past month or two. Subtract the two to come up with your five year “Growth Goal”.




Goals for Sunday School:

Five-Year Sunday School Goal……………………………… 300
Current Sunday School Average……………………………..- 75
Five-Year “Growth Goal” for Sunday School………………….. 225

This “growth goal” is then figured into what is called a “progressive progression.” This is simply a statistical term, meaning we are going to break this goal into progressively larger progression points. The reason for this approach should be obvious: it would be unfair to simply divide this number into five equal parts. To assign the same amount of growth to you now – when you are small – as to when you are large – four years from now – would be wrong. The larger you are, the more you can reach and see converted. The progressive progression starts out assigning only 12% of your growth goal (example – 225) to you for the first year (12% of 225 is 27), on up to 28% for the last year. These five percentages add up to 100%, or your total growth goal. Figure your progression points at this time.

EXAMPLE: Goals for Sunday School

Five-Year Sunday School Goal……………………………… 300
Current Sunday School Average……………………………..- 75
Five-Year “Growth Goal” for Sunday School………………….. 225

Sunday School Growth Goals

225 x 12% = 27
225 x 16% = 36
225 x 20% = 45
225 x 24% = 54
225 x 28% = 63

We then add our current Sunday School average (example – 75) to our first years growth goal. For our example this is 27 + 75 = 102. So the Sunday School goal for the following year is 102. This first years goal, 102, is then added to the second years growth goal. We take it for granted that we will reach or exceed our annual goals. Faith does not “hope so,” faith “knows so.” For our example this would be 36 + 102 = 138. So the Sunday School goal for the second year is 138, and so on for the five years. The entire example Sunday School goals would be this:


Goals For Sunday School:

Five-Year Sunday School Goal……………………………… 300
Current Sunday School Average……………………………..- 75
Five-Year “Growth Goal” for Sunday School………………….. 225

Sunday School Yearly Sunday School
Growth Goals Goals

225 x 12% = 27 + 75 = 102 Year 1 Goal
225 x 16% = 36 + 102 = 138 Year 2 Goal
225 x 20% = 45 + 138 = 183 Year 3 Goal
225 x 24% = 54 + 183 = 237 Year 4 Goal
225 x 28% = 63 + 237 = 300 Year 5 Goal

You now have your five annual goals for Sunday School. But unfortunately, Sunday School growth is not necessarily solid church growth. With an effective Bus Ministry, our average attendance can quickly climb, but it takes adults to operate a church. You need growth of both children and adults. If you have a Sunday School of three hundred and an adult membership of thirty – friend, you have trouble!

You can come up with a total adult membership goal two ways. One method is to figure your current ratio of “adults-to-total-attendance.” This ratio would then also be kept for your five-year adult goal. The other method is to figure a good “balance” of adults to children. The common ratio in most churches – what I would call a healthy ratio or balance – is 50%. Half your total attendance in Sunday School should be solid Spirit filled adults. This is the method I recommend.

Many churches are out of balance, either in adults or in Sunday School. A church that has seventy-five in Sunday School, and of that figure fifty are adult members, is able to support a larger Sunday School (except where facilities restrict). Keeping your Sunday School at its proper level will greatly help your growth. On the other hand, a Sunday School of seventy-five that only has ten adults is risking a burn-out of its’ teachers.

In our example church, the goal was to have half of their five year Sunday School goal of 300 in adults. The adult goal would then be 150. They currently had 48 adults attending. This means they needed 102 more adults within the next five years. This is figured the same as for Sunday School. Go ahead now and figure your adult membership goals (An adult is usually figured to be 17-18 years of age).


Goals for Adults:

Five-Year Adult Goal…………………………………….. 150
Current Adult Average…………………………………….- 48
Five-Year “Growth Goal” for Adults………………………… 102

Adult Yearly Adult
Growth Goals Goals

102 x 12% = 12 + 48 = 60 Year 1 Goal
102 x 16% = 16 + 60 = 76 Year 2 Goal
102 x 20% = 20 + 76 = 96 Year 3 Goal
102 x 24% = 25 + 96 = 121 Year 4 Goal
102 x 28% = 29 + 121 = 150 Year 5 Goal

Wouldn’t it be great if everyone who received full salvation stayed? Sure it would, but this is never the case. Jesus told us that some seed would spring up among thorns or upon shallow ground, causing the new life to wither and die. The key to growth is to lose as few as possible. With a good new convert care program (the complete New Convert Care System is explained in detail in another chapter), you can expect a minimum of half your new converts to remain. What this means is that your adult growth goals will have to be “adjusted” to allow for loss.

By taking your adult “growth goals” and doubling them, you can come upwith your five year adult “Holy Ghost” goals. In our above example, this church needed to have twelve new members added the first year in order to have a total adult membership of sixty (12 + 48 = 60). By doubling the twelve needed, they came up with twenty-four people needing to receive the Holy Ghost the first year. If twenty-four receive the Holy Ghost, they will keep at least twelve as solid adult members. Figure your own five year Holy Ghost goals at this time.

Goals for people to receive the Holy Ghost – figuring a 50% retention rate

Year 1 Adult Growth Goal 12 x 2 = 24
Year 2 Adult Growth Goal 16 x 2 = 32
Year 3 Adult Growth Goal 20 x 2 = 40
Year 4 Adult Growth Goal 25 x 2 = 50
Year 5 Adult Growth Goal 29 x 2 = 58

Your entire focus should be upon this last section. If you reach your Holy Ghost Goals, you should retain at least half of them. And if you reach your adult membership goals, your Sunday School will grow as a natural result. Whatever you must do to reach your Holy Ghost goals, do it! This puts our priorities in the proper place – the saving of souls.

It will be these final numbers – your Holy Ghost goals – that will be used in the next chapter. Your first goal for folks to receive the Holy Ghost (example – 24) will become your Growth Spiral goal for the first year. The Church Growth Spiral will show you how much outreach must be done in order to see this number saved.


The “Five-Year Quality Improvement Goals” worksheet is also found at the end of this chapter. Study this carefully before filling out your own. This worksheet is a place to dream. What type of ministries and outreaches do you want or need in the next five years? What additions need to be added to your facilities? Will your current facility hold your five-year numerical goals? If not, in what year do you need to begin construction? It is a well known fact that a church needs to begin planning the expansion of its facilities when it reaches the eighty percent full mark (see box). Write it all down. List every project you think is essential or feasible to achieve in the next five years. As you plan, think not only in terms of your church, but also your personal ministry, your personal life, your family life, your devotional life. You may wish to devote a separate worksheet to each and set goals in each area.

Now, ask yourself “what can I do THIS year toward the fulfillment of this dream?” Can it all be done this year? Can I only do a part? If only a part, what part? What is my first step? After you have written what you can do this year, set the date to begin the goal for that year and a date to complete it. Work out an action plan. As the saying goes: “Plan your work and work you plan.”

As with the establishing of number goals, quality improvement goals should also be baptized with prayer. We recommend that a pastor take a few days off each year to just pray and dream. Review your goals of last year, evaluate your present position, determine your future plans and goals. I have come to realize that I cannot always do everything that I want to do. But I must do everything that God wants me to do. Herein lies wisdom, and the establishment of the priorities that guide our lives.


Someone once said “We never see the target a man aims at in life, we only see the target he hits.” Everyone has good intentions, many have great aspirations, but there are few that can look back and see a multitude of accomplishments. Statistics show that only 3% have written goals and plans. Only 10% have any kind of goals at all. A whopping 87% have no formal goals or plans of any kind. Congratulations – you have just graduated into the upper 3% of society. To God be the glory!

“I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me”

(The above material was prepared and published by Tim Massengale from Total Church Growth. You can order the complete 2 volume set from Pentecostal Publishing House.)

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