January is right around the corner. And it’s time to set goals, right?
Well, that’s what everyone tells us. Sure, the start of the year is a natural time to re-evaluate where we are and look forward to where we want to go.
But the key isn’t just to set goals or resolutions for the sake of setting them. It’s not to take on a to-do list just because everyone else is or because we don’t want to feel like a slacker.
As ministry leaders, we’re naturally goal-driven. The new year gives us the opportunity to check our spirit, our teams, and to check that we’re making the most of the resources we have.
Do we have blind spots? Is there a strength we need to celebrate or a weakness we should address? Where should we change course next year? This is where the rubber meets the road when it comes to goals and practical steps to meet them.
So with that said, let’s look at five ways to practically achieve the ministry goals you want to meet this coming year.
1. Be SMART with goals.
You want to be smart about your goals, but you also want to be SMART—an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Let’s quickly take a look at each.
- Specific: Maybe you want to become a better youth leader this year. But what does that look like? Is it attending conferences? Finding a mentor? Taking on a new responsibility for your pastor?
- Measurable: You don’t just want new regular attendees. You need to have a measurable number so you’ll know when you reach that goal. An example of a measurable goal might be: “I want to add 20 new teens in my ministry this year.”
- Achievable: Be realistic. If you’re in a smaller ministry, gaining 100 new attendees might not be doable. But if you’re in a large ministry, that might be a reasonable goal. Set something you can actually achieve.
- Relevant: This is where you want to make sure your goals are in line with the rest of your ministry, and with your family life too.
- Time-Bound: If your ultimate goal is to accomplish something by the end of the year, that’s great. Set specific markers along the way to help you check your progress.
2. Set initiatives.
These are smaller steps that will help you accomplish your ultimate goal. So if you want to increase your regular attendance to 75 students, try setting initiatives like this along the way:
- Reach out to first-time visitors within 48 hours.
- Make sure Small Group Leaders are updating rosters every month so new guests aren’t falling through the cracks.
- Provide regular attendees with social media images to promote the ministry.
- Connect first-time guests with the regular students at big events like summer conferences.
3. Be honest.
If you start moving into spring and you realize that—despite all your best efforts and focus—your goal isn’t going to happen, then scrap it or adjust it. Don’t bang your head into a wall simply because you thought something was going to work in January—and now it’s June and there’s no chance.
Maybe you didn’t exactly follow the SMART guidelines and got a little too optimistic about how many new students you would have. That’s okay. Make a new goal and move on. Just be honest with yourself.
4. Toot your own horn.
All we mean here is simply this: Celebrate your wins! If it’s October and you’ve already reached your year-long goal, let’s party! If it’s June and you’ve reached a benchmark you set for that point in the year, recognize it.
You don’t have to be head-down focused all year long. Take a few moments to look back on what you’ve done and how far you’ve come.
5. Embrace your fringe hours.
Jon Acuff says that time won’t find us, we have to find it. Your goals are absolutely important, but you also need to find time for yourself. These fringe hours are your unused pockets of time—some that you don’t even realize you have.
If that’s the case, start tracking your time and looking at those pockets when you can take a quick catnap, listen to a podcast (not work related!), or (gasp!) even go see a movie with the kids. Ministry burnout is a real issue, and you can’t let your goals sidetrack you from finding time to relax and rest. You need time for yourself—all throughout the year.
Hopefully, these pointers will help you look ahead and set goals that allow you to have an incredible year in your ministry. We can’t wait to hear about where you are on your journey this time next year. Happy New Year!