Friday, January 05, 2007

Goalin', goalin', goalin' . . . keep those goals a rollin'

I had to fill out some information for a loan application for our church today. One of the questions they asked was this: "List the short term (2-5 years) and long term (5+ years) goals for this ministry." I'll admit, I really struggle with a question like that.

Ten years ago I arrived at Butler Church of Christ full of dreams and ambitions. I put together an aggressive and visionary plan for our church's ministry. I listed out a series of goals and aspirations that moved us from a broken and beat up church of 100+ souls to a church of over 300 in five years. Didn't happen. Instead, it has taken ten years for our church to double in Sunday morning attendance.

I've come to realize that doubled attendance in a no-growth community is nothing to sneeze at. In ten years our church not only doubled in attendance, but also:
  • Seen dozens of people come to Christ.
  • Watched marriages be healed, sins be conquered, lives be changed.
  • Begun and sustained fourteen small groups in which half our church participates.
  • Purchased three additional city lots and are finalizing the purchase of a fourth.
  • Greatly increased the amount of money we send to our missionaries.
  • Sent multiple teams on short-term mission trips.
  • Doubled the size of our building and parking lot.
  • Tripled the number of staff members.
  • Caught up with technology going from one phone and a single computer to an actual phone system and networked office.
Some good things have happened. And, they've happened in spite of my failed grand master plan.

What we have done, and done ruthlessly I might add, is eliminated any barriers to growth that we've found. I learned from Rick Warren that, given the right environment, a healthy church naturally grows. Its a goldfish thing. My kids won a goldfish at the county fair. We put it in a fish bowl and sat it on the counter over the winter. The next spring we put it in my neighbor's koi pond. The fish, which had stayed about the same size in its counter top abode, grew enormous in its new digs. Given the right environment the church will grow, too.We've tried to create a growth friendly environment at BCC.

So, I guess I'm not so much of a goal setter as I am a growth sustainer. Still, I can't help but feel a little inadequate or even guilty when I read about setting goals. Am I alone in this?

Steve came to our area to pastor a sister church a few years after I did. I called and invited him to lunch. He showed up with his five page plan for church growth. It was all detailed and filled with goals, short term and long. I felt guilty as I read it. Where was my plan? What about my goals? I haven't heard from Steve in a while. I've since heard that his plan was about as prescient as mine.

So just what is the "role of the goal?" Everyone has them. What sort of goals should I be setting for our church? And if I am not, am I somehow blowing it?

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