The start of a new year means a fresh start, and if your current ministry reality isn’t going so well, the new year is a great time to dream new dreams or refocus around the mission.
I’m one of those guys who loves to set goals, especially new year goals, so I want to encourage you, if you haven’t already, to set some goals for your church, BUT I want you to set healthy goals.
What are healthy goals?
Healthy goals are realistic goals set with pure motives. As you begin to think through your goals, ask yourself, “Why do I want to accomplish this goal?” Of course, one of the reasons is to grow the kingdom of God, but be honest enough with yourself to admit whether your goals are good ideas or God ideas.
It’s also important to set realistic goals. I’m careful to use the word, “realistic” because I want you to lead with faith. No doubt, there are some things God wants to do in your life and in your church that is unrealistic, but if you set unrealistic goals, you will lead discouraged and feel like you’re failing when you’re really winning.
I’ve put together a Free 2020 Pastor’s Bundle to help you get ahead and feel prepared heading into the new year. It includes:
- A 2020 Preaching Calendar,
- A 2020 One-Page Budget
- An End-of-Year Staff Review Document
- A Staff/Team Meeting Notes
It’s Free. Click here to download your free bundle.
Let me give you 7 healthy goals your church should have for the new year.
1. Use a Preaching Calendar
I’ve already written a lot about using a preaching calendar in this post, “4 Reasons You Should Be Using A Preaching Calendar” but let me give you the biggest reason why you need to use a preaching calendar: planning brings peace of mind. You can be as detailed or as loose as you want to be, but by taking the time to think through 52 weeks of preaching you are getting ahead of the game. Don’t feel like you have to put together sermon outlines or manuscripts, just prayerfully write in themes and big ideas that will allow you to plan ahead and gather ideas and resources.
Just a reminder, you can download a free Preaching Calendar as part of the 2020 Pastor’s Bundle. Click here.
2. 10% attendance growth
I’ve never, ever, met a church leader who didn’t want to grow. I’ve met pastors who were discouraged by their lack of growth, so they acted like they weren’t interested in growth as a self-defense mechanism, but every leader wants to experience progress, and when it comes to spreading the gospel message, church growth is one of the indicators of progress.
10% growth is a healthy goal, because it will cover for the 3-4% of members who leave your church, and it’s achievable for every church no matter what size. If you average 20 in attendance weekly, make it your goal to average 22 by the end of the year. If your average attendance is 1000, make it your goal to average 1100 by the end of the year.
The beauty of percentages is it’s an even playing field for everyone. You may feel like growing by five people isn’t successful, but if you average 50 people, that’s the equivalent of a church of 10,000 growing by 1000. Don’t be afraid to talk about growth to your church. Announce it to everyone, “we want to grow by 10% this year. If everyone will pray, show up, and invite someone to come with you, God will help us.”
3. Extended vacation time for the pastor
A pastor finding the time and help to take time away is not a small church problem, but the logistics are a greater struggle for smaller churches. Often the pastor and his family perform so many of the tasks on Sunday morning that their absence leaves a huge hole. Eventually, the work required to be gone is greater than the satisfaction of being gone, so you never take a break. Here is my challenge for you: Set the goal now to take back to back weeks of vacation AWAY from your church. Huh?
There are so many healthy benefits for you taking an extended vacation, I don’t have time to list them all, but let me give you these 4 real quick:
- It requires you to empower other people in your absence.
- It identifies anyone in your church who will be offended by your personal health and reveals who doesn’t have your best interest at heart.
- It identifies how much of a control freak you are.
- It sends the message to your family that they are important, and you’re willing to be away from the church to be with them.
At the end of the day, you need a break to be at your best. The very fact that you want to push back against this idea proves that you need to do it. Go ahead and get your calendar out, identify a time in the year when the calendar is in a bit of a lull (lower attendance, no activities, etc.) Call a guest speaker, or inform someone in the church who could speak, and assign the responsibilities you normally cover to other people.
Are you ready for me to tell you something you won’t believe? When you get back, the church will still be there! It’s crazy I know, but it’s true, and don’t be offended if people talk about how great the services were without you.
4. A 1-time record-breaking attendance event
I talked about 10% attendance growth already, but I think it’s important for you to have a record-setting attendance event one time this year. Think of it like a balloon or a rubber band (or anything that stretches). By stretching your church to its maximum one time you are increasing the capacity for weekly growth.
If God doubled your church tomorrow, you probably wouldn’t have the systems or volunteers to maintain it, but you could rally the troops one time to try and reach a large number of people in your community. The benefits of a record-setting event are many:
- You spread the word about your church to the community
- You give people an opportunity to get excited and get involved
- You raise the morale of the congregation and leaders
- You have the opportunity to cast vision for what will be in the future
- You could lead a large number of people to a relationship with Jesus
Pick a date and have a plan. You could use Easter, or a holiday event, or you could pick a random time. My personal preference is what our church calls “Sunday Funday” it’s just a new spin on “Friend Day.” We rent food trucks, and spend weeks promoting the event and encouraging the congregation to invite their friends and family. It’s always a big day for us. Again, keep percentages in mind. An extra 20-30 people could be the equivalent of an extra 5,000 for a megachurch, but whatever your context do it big, do it right, and do it wow!
5. Give the staff a Christmas bonus
This may not apply to you if you don’t have a paid staff, but if you do (or if you receive a paycheck) plan now to save in order to give a Christmas bonus to all the church employees. This is a healthy goal because everyone loves a bonus, but more importantly, it requires you to budget, save, and plan the church finances.
Unfortunately, many churches wait to see what the finances look like in December to decide if they can give anything extra. Obviously, if something unplanned arises or giving is down tremendously you may have to call an audible, but if you budget for it, you can accomplish it.
At my church, we use a 1-page budget, (you can download the budget in the 2020 Pastor’s Bundle) and build in Christmas bonuses for all paid staff (we do 1 week’s salary, but it can be whatever you plan for). The important part is not the bonus it’s the budget, but it’s a win for everyone if you can pull it off.
6. Take a mission’s trip
When I started pastoring my church 10 years ago, I was blown away to find out that in the 90-year history of the church it had never taken a mission trip. I couldn’t believe it! My dad started taking me on mission trips every year since I was 12, it’s just always been a part of my summer. Whether your church has never taken a trip or it does randomly, plan now to take at least one trip this year.
We took 19 people on our churches first mission trip to Argentina, and the effects are still being felt. You don’t have to travel to another country (although I do think there’s something powerful about leaving the US) but plan a trip that requires people to take time off work and sacrifice financially. Not only do mission trips help the people you serve but it broadens their world view. I’ve never taken anyone on a trip that did not come away more humbled and sensitive to what God was doing in the world. If you can make missions trips a consistent practice for your church, I believe you will also see missions giving increase… which brings me to the 7th goal.
7. Give away an offering
I saved this goal for last, but it’s definitely not least. If you made me pick just one goal from this list for your church, I would pick this one, “Give away an offering.” I know what you’re thinking, “That would be great, but we can’t afford to do that.” I get it. The struggle is real, but don’t we preach every week to our people that we can’t out give God? Don’t we teach that sacrificial giving unlocks God’s best blessings? Do you really believe that?
If you asked me what one thing has made the biggest difference in our church over the last 10 years I would say giving away money, and it’s not even close. We call it “Imagine,” and over those 10 years we’ve given away $500,000 (our goal is $10 million lifetime), but it didn’t start like that—it started with small projects and offerings of a few hundred dollars.
As you begin to practice generosity as a church organization, you will experience the momentum and excitement that only generosity can bring. Tell the people what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. If your heart is where your treasure is then you need to spread some treasure to other churches or mission projects.
I wrote a blog about how my church gave $1000 to a megachurch in our town. You can read it here. If it’s just absolutely impossible to give away an offering, start by giving away some of the offerings. Tell the church what you’re giving too and celebrate it BIG! What get’s celebrated gets duplicated. You’re probably underestimating how much your people will LOVE this idea, especially millennials.