How to Set Annual Goals with Your Church Staff

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Larry Nelson's picture

 

Jonathan Charles wrote:

Who sits down with the lead pastor and sets his goals?

At my church, that is done by the congregationally-elected lay elders (10 men---some of whom do have seminary degrees).  

Our Lead Pastor is the 11th member of the elder board, and its only vocational elder.

T Howard's picture

Larry Nelson wrote:

At my church, that is done by the congregationally-elected lay elders (10 men---some of whom do have seminary degrees).  

Our Lead Pastor is the 11th member of the elder board, and its only vocational elder.

Agreed. This is how we address it at our church as well. While our senior pastor may initiate the goals discussion, we spend time together as elders praying and discussing them before communicating them to our ministry leaders and the rest of the congregation.

As for setting goals for our senior pastor specifically, per our bi-laws, this is handled by the chairman of the elders. However, our chairman solicits the feedback and recommendations of the other elders.

TylerR's picture

Editor

In reading this article, I thought of Pickett's statement after the Battle of Gettysburg. Lee told him to form his division after the disastrous frontal assault on the Union lines had been repulsed. Picket responded:

General Lee - I have no division!

Well, for many Pastors, they would say something like this:

Bro. Rainer - I have no staff!

 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Bert Perry's picture

Jonathan Charles wrote:

Who sits down with the lead pastor and sets his goals?

No objection to the deacons or elders giving guidance in the particulars and evaluating how things are going, but it strikes me that Matthew 28 and the pastoral epistles give some pretty good general roles, no?

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Bert Perry's picture

It might be argued that the list is too "businesslike"--if God gives the increase, setting a goal for a 20% attendance increase is really trying to give orders to the Holy Spirit, no?  Good luck with that one for obvious reasons.  

On the flip side, if you've got a situation where you've got to get some things in place to have people feel safe making disciples at your church, there are some very real quantifiable goals there.  For example, I head my church's Sunday Schools for kids, and one of my goals last year was to simply get a good, sharable database that would indicate who was working, when, who was subbing, and the like.  Another was to get a child protection document in place.

In the area of process, you've got a lot more room for quantifiable goals.  If a pastor is not just about getting decisions, but making disciples, how many people is the pastor meeting with each week/month?  A college pastor of mine would set up in the student union and meet with a subset of students each week--did a lot of good.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

T Howard's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

It might be argued that the list is too "businesslike"--if God gives the increase, setting a goal for a 20% attendance increase is really trying to give orders to the Holy Spirit, no?  Good luck with that one for obvious reasons.

Our elders don't discuss yearly attendance or offering quotas. We do, however, look at our church's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats and seek to formulate annual and 3-to-5-year plans based on that. For example, last year we added specific language to our Constitution based on the threat of potential lawsuits regarding church use and homosexuality. This year, we're looking to provide additional language to our Constitution to clarify our use of church discipline and to spend time teaching our congregation about church discipline issues.

Larry Nelson's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

For example, I head my church's Sunday Schools for kids, and one of my goals last year was to simply get a good, sharable database that would indicate who was working, when, who was subbing, and the like.  

This is what we use:

https://www.ministryschedulerpro.com/ 

 

With hundreds of volunteers serving each week, it greatly simplified the entire volunteer tracking process for us.

Jonathan Charles's picture

Boiling down one's ministry to measurable numerical goals bothers me.  I wouldn't say that numbers are altogether unimportant, but considered alone, I don't think they are reliable.  The Bank of America scandal teaches us that if a person keeping his job depends on hitting certain numbers, he will do whatever it takes to reach those numbers, even if it is unethical.  What would one say about a rural church that exist in a place with a declining and aging population that has had to work very hard to maintain the same church attendance that it had 10 years ago?  I guess some would say that the church has plateaued or is dying based on the lack of numerical grow, but perhaps Jesus would commend it because He sees other things: more love, more endurance, more fidelity, etc.  Some church growth people don't think about the impossibility of some of the things they write.  I read once that a healthy church should grow by at least 10% annually.  The author of the article threw out the hypothetical number of 20% of growth for a particular ministry.  Yea, work that out for 10 or 20 years, not going to happen.         

T Howard's picture

Jonathan Charles wrote:
What would one say about a rural church that exist in a place with a declining and aging population that has had to work very hard to maintain the same church attendance that it had 10 years ago? 

Having read my fair share (i.e. too many!) of church growth books in seminary, most church growth books aren't written for small rural churches. They are targeted to pastors of declining suburban churches.

Jay's picture

Our church is using Planning Center Online to manage attendees/members/volunteers/etc, but it may be overkill for what we need (and what a lot of others need as well).

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Bert Perry's picture

I concur 100% with Jonathan's comment about 10-20% growth year after year being a "somewhat optimistic" goal, but at the same time, I've been in a lot of small towns with not much going on in them, and I've never seen one of them where the vast majority of people were in church on Sunday.  So even in "dying" towns, you can get somewhere if only you make disciples who are able to do the same.

Which is really what T. Howard is getting at with "church growth" books, at least the majority of them.  You can tweak music, put on your skinny jeans (ewww), whatever, and as long as you're not making disciples, you're just rearranging the deck chairs after you've kissed the iceberg.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

driddick's picture

I'm always somewhat baffled as to why we feel the need to resist the importance of goals and numerical measures, etc. as good stewards of the ministry God has entrusted to each of us. (not referencing a specific post above, just in general around these topics)

I'm not saying we should walk blindly ignoring the pitfalls of the "church growth" movement past or present, but to approach ideas like measurement, evaluation, effectiveness and annual goals as automatically a more carnal than spiritual way of doing ministry seems irresponsible.

 

Bert Perry's picture

Driddick makes a great point that we ought not to avoid numerical goals entirely, and one way of phrasing it is that we need to measure the right things--even business tries to do this.  Businesses get into trouble when they concentrate on outcomes because there is always a great deal you can't control.  But if you control the inputs, it's amazing how much the outcomes take care of themselves.  Measuring the outcomes simply gives a hint as to whether you're measuring the right things going in.

In a church setting, I'd argue that we've got a lot of the inputs mostly defined by Scripture for us--what steps are we taking to make and keep disciples and the like--so our task is in reality somewhat easier than that of business.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Jim's picture

From the article:

Make goals measurable. If a particular ministry needs to grow, then determine by how much. By 20 people? Ten percent? These figures are often called lag measures because they indicate performance. Also, you should set ways of achieving this goal. These figures are often called lead measures because they indicate improvement. Here’s an example: I want this ministry to grow by 24 people over 12 months (lag measure), so I will contact 6 new people each month hoping to gain 2 of them (lead measure).

I suggest that growth goals can be very problematic (I've pastored churches that have grown and have declined!)

If the Spirit gives the increase, and He does! - He achieves growth 1 Corinthians 3:6-8: " planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor."

In the above verses: "planting" and "watering" are measurable and achievable

So better to have a goal like: "I will share Christ with 4 people per month".  (Planting) / "I will initiate 4 discipleship conversations a month" (Watering)

I found this article helpful: http://iacbe.org/oa-goals-outcomes-objectives.asp 

And this http://www.diffen.com/difference/Goal_vs_Objective

 

Joeb's picture

An area for churches to grow is discipleship and working with the believers you have in your church.  Areas churches are in  not only declining with age but also changing with demographics.  

My old home church is in NJ and is in a prosperous area but 50 to 60 % of the population is Hindu Moslem or Buddhist.  The area has a large number of very educated Indians Chinese and Pakistanese. The church has a declining membership.

When my best man and best friend who is an elder expressed his struggles with his mother her advise is work with the people you have ie discipleship.  Same thing Bert is saying about a goal for the Pastors and Elders.  Unless I'm missing your point Bert.  

Bert Perry's picture

Regarding numerical goals, Joe gets it right.  Jesus worked primarily with 12 men and a few women; He didn't have a growth goal of 10% annually in His congregation, and when He did get huge growth, He seems to have done things to chase a lot of them away.  But in making those disciples, He ended up with the framework to handle thousands of genuine believers when He was resurrected.

To use Joe's old home church as an example, a good challenge for the pastor would be to (a) meet one on one with the deacons at least monthly and (b) make sure he's finding ways to interact with the immigrants from Asia.  A fun way of doing so would be to require the pastor eat out at their restaurants at least five or ten times a month.  See if we can make contacts and learn the culture well enough to bring some to Christ, and don't underestimate how much connection you can make over food.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Joeb's picture

The Pastor of my old home church got his BA and M Div at BJU.  As I have said before in other threads BJU academics are bar none.

 I know the Pastor came into to a difficult situation to a degree and my best friend is one of the main elders.  Both have struggled with the situation.  I'll pass along your suggestion Bert.  Thanks. 

PS When I spent my High School years in this area. It was s very unchurched area in the 70s.  Only two gospel preaching churches.  My church and a GARB church down by Trenton NJ.  It was a liberal bastion in those days.  Now it is a liberal and a pagan bastion in a lot of ways due to the demographics.