Can you watch the horizon and the ground in front of you at the same time?
Eyes on the horizon keep you focused on your mission. Meanwhile, careful “next steps” avoid obstacles and exploit opportunities.
Long-range planning is necessary for any organization. If you don’t have a goal, you’ll never know if you hit it. Vision will remain just that—a vision. Short-term, eyes-on-the-ground stuff fabricates reality from vision. But how do you unite the long and short term?
We’ve learned to connect the planning dots this way: We set 20-year goals then cut them into bite-size chunks. We simply divide the 20-year goals by two to get 10-year markers. Divide again, and we have a reasonable set of five-year goals. Cutting those into five measurable pieces paves a path from the present to the future. To climb Mt. Everest, you need to know the location of the camps and when you should arrive at each one.
Goals for a New Church
Planning is easy until you do it—especially in a new church.
We’re three months into a new church. Excitement abounds, and we’re growing on all fronts. This weekend, we gather team captains to create our first, true annual calendar and budget.
Our mission is to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We know that this is from God because it comes from the Word.
This may be our most crucial meeting in a year. A weak foundation risks much. The first “one-year plan” must reflect our overall mission and lead in a direction pointing clearly toward where we want to be in 2033.
Our core team agrees that we need firm 20-year goals before heading into the meeting. The problem here is that we have a pastor (me) who is big on mission, but struggles to codify goals. So after prayer, we set these three goals:
1. Plant 30 “organic” churches (pastored by people we discipled from within our ranks).
2. Build spiritually reproductive DNA in every church plant. (Each church plant comes out of the box intent on planting others.)
3. Establish a strong church planting presence in three countries. (We can identify two of them, while we’re praying for a third.)
Goals, Tools and Other Stuff
Did you notice that these goals don’t include buildings, programs, etc.?
We expect to gather them on the journey. But at the end of the day, they are just tools. The last church I pastored planted a bunch of churches while meeting in parks and public schools.
Our goals are measurable, but none touch on the size of our congregation. We’re still just a couple hundred people, but current financial and leadership resources would allow us to launch churches overseas. The words, “To whom much is given, much will be required,” can be scary in situations like this.
We honestly can’t say how large the church “ought to be.” Yeah, we could say how large we want it to grow, but want is different than ought.
We expect to grow, but will not idolize church growth. Jesus didn’t speak of big churches. He did tell us to go everywhere and make disciples. We have our hands full just centering on that broad mission.
If our 2033 goal is to launch a bunch of churches that reproduce, we will do certain things in 2014. If the goal was to be the biggest church around, we might do them differently.
For instance, a bunch of our people are busy launching sports teams. If we want to grow a megachurch, the desire to win games is fascinating. Winning attracts people and is a nice option any day of the week. But the desire to win can lead to a team made up of expert players who don’t attend our church (yes, Martha, this has happened before).
However, if our focus is on church planting, we need to disciple ballplayers more than we need to win games. In fact, perseverance in a bad season can be excellent training for future leaders–you get the picture.
So, what am I trying to say? First, long-term goals must tie directly to mission. Also, that we do well to link the mission on the horizon to our next steps. Finally, we must be careful that we don’t confuse our tools with goals worthy of our mission.