Setting SMARTER Goals

By Ken Willard

It is finally starting to feel like fall. The temperature has dropped, and every store is selling “pumpkin-spice” drinks and food.

This is also the time of year when many churches are setting goals for next year. How about you and your church? One of the best ways for us to move toward God’s vision for our ministry is to set effective goals along the way. Effective goals improve performance, reduce stress, and build confidence. Vague or unrealistic goals tend to do more damage than good.

Whether you have been setting goals for years, or you are feeling the need to do it for the first time . . . the following information is designed to give you a strong foundation into setting SMARTER goals.

Goals are something we want to accomplish. They provide a sense of direction and meaning to ministry teams.

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 3:13-14

Specific – This is the “why” should this goal be accomplished. What’s the “so that?” Take a look at this short video from Christian comedian Michael Jr: [] In my experience, this is the most important element to ensuring a goal is completed. (It is also the element missing in most goals which are not achieved.)

Measurable – How much? How many? This is the quantifiable element. How will we know the goal has been achieved? While this element is important, the number is NOT the goal! However, when the Specific element is missing, the number usually becomes the goal.

Actionable – Will this goal drive us to DO something? What is going to be difference because of this goal? Be sure to used clear action verbs.

Results-Oriented – Will this goal advance us to God’s vision? Not just more work, but the right work. Fruitfulness for our ministry and God’s Kingdom.

Time-Based – A clear completion date. This will allow us to break the overall goal down into smaller steps and establish milestone dates along the way. This should also create a sense of urgency.

Eternal – Potential for Kingdom advancement. Room for God to work. Not something we can do on our own. That way God gets the glory.

Recorded – Provides clarity. (remember what happens at the end of the telephone game we played as children?) “Goals that are not written down are just wished.” – Fitzhugh Dodson

Accountability is born when two or more people know about a commitment. Do you really want to achieve your goals? Share them with someone who can hold you accountable.

This information is from the book, Time Management for the Christian Leader, published by Abingdon Press.

If you are ready to take your goal setting to the next level, I would highly recommend the book, The 4 Disciplines of Execution by Sean Covey and Chris McChesney.