There is a saying, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” These words are so true in every area of life – particularly for organizations that are striving to achieve something. Churches are founded to fulfill a specific mission and developing a plan to achieve that mission is what goal writing is all about. Organizations write goals because it provides a road map for attaining the mission and vision. Goals simply provide a structured process to get things done. Organizations that don’t write goals miss the opportunity to set their own direction.
10 Tips for Writing and Setting Church Goals
1. Write Them Down
The first step is to simply write something down. Goals should reflect a strategy that is developed as part of a plan to fulfill the mission of the organization. The process of writing goals does not need to overly complicated but does require time, focus and planning. To do this, think through those things that the church strives to achieve over the next 12 months and simply write it down!
2. Be Realistic
Goals should be realistic and attainable which makes it important to not “bite off more than you can chew”. Overzealous goals make us feel good for a moment but can result in discouragement if they are not accomplished.
Taking baby steps toward achieving an objective will take you much further than having written grandiose goals that never go any further than the paper they are written on.
3. Consider Church Strategy
One of the keys to effective goals is to have them align with strategy. Every church goal should align with strategy and the church strategic plan. The reason is, goals that don’t align with strategy often result in wasted resources. Specifically, you don’t want people wasting valuable time and limited resources doing things that don’t support the church mission.
4. Designate Financial Resources
It takes resources to accomplish goals and most goals require some funding. Consequently, there needs to be budget dollars allocated toward achieving goals.
For example, if there is a goal to reach the community by developing a homeless shelter, this goal will require dollars to fund the effort. Insufficient financial resources are a common pitfall for achieving organizational goals.
5. Identify Action Steps
Goals can be overwhelming unless they are mapped out in a step-by-step process. Breaking each goal into actionable steps helps identify the day-to-day activities that need to be done to work toward accomplishing the goal.
For example, it’s difficult to establish a homeless shelter without identifying the necessary action steps that it will take to get it done.
6. Assign Responsibility
It takes people to get things done, so every goal needs to be assigned to someone who is responsible for completing it. The buck has to stop with someone, and that someone, needs to be held accountable for completing the tactical steps of achieving the goal. Assigning responsibility helps to ensure that the goal remains a priority until it is completed.
7. Establish Timelines
Every goal should have a completion date assigned to it and someone should be held accountable for completing the goal by the due date.
Each tactical step should have an assigned due date that works toward the final timeline for completing the goal. This step also helps to break action items into small achievable tasks.
8. Push Past/Avoid Distractions
Let’s face it, everyone is busy and the urgency of everyday matters can be a distraction from completing goals. These distractions often make it easy to procrastinate and push goals to the back burner. Completing goals should be reinforced from the highest levels of the organization and this can be done by designating work hours to specifically work on goals.
9. Establish a Process to Hold People Accountable
Holding people accountable is an important aspect of managing employees and is crucial to completing goals and ultimately strategy. Develop a process to manage performance and to hold people accountable for completing assigned goals.
For example, schedule regular update meetings to review goal progress and discuss any issues or barriers to completing them.
10. Maintain Focus
Writing goals can be a gratifying exercise, and seeing goals written on paper makes you feel like you are accomplishing something. However, the challenge comes when the “feel good” is gone and there can be a temptation to jump to the next trend, fad or good idea.
Make it a priority to maintain focus on goals until they are completed. The only exception would be if church strategy has changed and the goals are no longer relevant.
All goals should support the church mission and vision and should be part of the budgeting process. This is what is referred to as budgeting toward the vision. What this means is, if the organizations is on a calendar year, budgeting and goal development should take place in the fall. If on a fiscal year, this process should be a few months before the end of the fiscal year.
Successful organizations understand that to be effective there needs to be a strategy for success. Goal setting is a structured way to implement strategy, which ultimately ensures the organization fulfills its mission. And isn’t that the reason a church exists?