Church growth and ministry can be ambiguous and hard to define. While numbers are often important, a healthy church life involves much more than large crowds who warm the pews for an hour and a half every Sunday morning. Church leadership needs to set measurable goals so they can determine what kind of progress the church is making. As in the secular world, without some type of measurable criteria, the church staff may not finish the tasks they need to accomplish.
Invite leadership to participate in the braining storming process. While the head pastor may want to limit the number of people involved, particularly in larger congregations, he will probably not want to set church goals by himself. He will eventually need to communicate these to the rest of his pastors and staff, and finally the congregation. It will be easier if he has buy-in from his team prior to talking to the congregation.
Develop a church vision and/or mission statement. This will guide you as you set church goals. Some churches focus on local community outreach; others focus on overseas and international missions. Know what you do, and do it well. A clear understanding of the church vision will keep leadership on track as they set goals and man plans. Include the church vision and mission statement in the goal-setting process.
List the areas for goal-setting. You can break these down by ministry, such as children's, youth, women's, men's, adult discipleship and prayer. You can also list them for the congregation overall. If each area does not have a pastor or individual over it, the pastor can assign someone to be responsible to see that the church accomplishes its goals.
Assess where each ministry is at the present.
Determine how much you want the ministry to grow. For instance, if the children's ministry serves 100 kids each week, you may want to increase that by a certain percentage. Think big! You can set a one-year, five-year and ten-year plan. Then eat the proverbial elephant one bite at a time.
Schedule your next main meeting, a minimum of once a year, with check-ups along the way. Depending on church size, you can set goals late in the summer, right before the school year starts. Or you can do it in January to coincide with the New Year. Quick-check in meetings, every two to four months, help track progress towards the goals.
The first meeting will present the biggest challenge and take the most time. As the church holds annual meetings, the process will become more streamlined, even for the new participants.