In this article, am going to deal with a subject that garners much debate, even criticism. Goal setting is often associated with “success gurus” and thus is criticized by well-meaning Christians. If my mind-set were to make a name for myself, then I would consider the criticism of my goal setting to be justifiable. However, I am not speaking of goals as a mere tool for success but rather as a tool of obedience. I believe in setting goals, and I believe that those who misunderstand my emphasis on goal setting do so because they do not understand my perspective.
Every year, I ask the individuals on my staff to present to me a review of their ministry or ministries. I ask them to provide three things to me.
- A stated purpose of their ministry
- A specific goal to accomplish that purpose
- A detailed plan they will implement to accomplish that goal
Each staff member presents these to me so that I know what he is working towards within his area of responsibility. The plan is not first, nor is the goal. Everything follows the purpose. I refuse to apologize for setting goals, but I do believe that the principles in this chapter will help others better to recognize why I believe so strongly in setting goals. In order to understand the setting of goals, we must deal with these three principles.
1. We must first know our purpose.
This is where it begins. Our purpose will determine our goals. Let me give you an example. Jesus came to earth in the form of a man with specific purposes in mind. The Bible tells us exactly what these were.
“For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” – Luke 19:10.
“Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” – John 4:34.
- To seek and to save that which was
- To fulfill the law and do the will of the
Along the way there were other things that made up the completion of these two purposes. Jesus knew His purpose before He came, and everything He did along the way was in preparation for and fulfillment of those things.
Likewise, we are here for a purpose. Our purpose as Christians and within the church is given to us in God’s Word.
“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” – Mark 16:15 Jesus has commanded us to do something. He has defined our purpose for us.
- He has told us to go into all the world.
- He told us to preach the Gospel to every creature
There is no doubt in my mind that the main purpose of the local church is not the exposition of of the Word of God. It is to preach the Gospel to every creature. Now, before you rip into me, I did not say that we should not teach the Bible in the church. That is part of the fulfillment of the Great Commission; so, yes, we should teach the Bible. However, even that must take us back to the main purpose which is to preach the Gospel to every creature. The problem in many churches today is that they are enamored by things other than the main purpose.
2. We must next set our goals.
A goal is something that we establish in order that we might fulfill our purpose, Once we know our purpose, we must establish goals to fulfill that purpose. Then we must decide on a plan of action to accomplish those goals in order to fulfill that purpose. A goal without a plan is a wish.
Many churches do not reach their main purpose because they never establish goals or devise a plan. A pastor who denies the importance of goals is depriving his people of the excitement of thriving by pursuing the bigger purpose.
The fact is that we all set some goals in our ministry. Show me your goals, and I will probably see your purpose. We must make certain that our goals reflect the purpose for our church and ministry. Here are some goals pastors often set.
- How many students we want to have in our Christian school
- How many missionaries we are going to support for the next year
- How much money we want to receive in offerings weekly
- How much money we want to raise for special project
- How many thanksgiving baskets want to distribute
- How many basketball games we want our high school to schedule
- How many families we want to help at Christmastime
- How many churches we want to plant
- How many missions trips we want to take and how many we want to go on these trips
- How many boxes of candy we want to sell to raise funds for our school this year
These are good goals in our minds, and I would not necessarily disagree with them. However, I believe that we should take our goal setting even further.
- How many souls we want to see saved this year
- How many souls we want to see saved on a special Sunday
- How many baptisms we want during the next year
- How many we want to average in Sunday School in the fall or spring program
- How many we want to have attending Sunday School and church on a special promotion Sunday
- How many riders a bus route wants to have on their big day
Why should it be acceptable to set goals for money to be raised for missions but not for visitors on big day? I will tell you why. It is because we have listened to critics of men like Dr. Beebe and Dr. Hyles who judged their motives without knowing their hearts. They told us that all they wanted was power or prestige, when in truth, those who knew them understood that they did what they did in order to fulfill their purpose of preaching the Gospel to every creature.
Let me give you another example. I decided that as a part of fulfilling God’s purpose for my life, I wanted to start local churches throughout the Allegheny mountain region as well as throughout my state of Kentucky, I set a goal of the number of churches I wanted to help start. Praise the Lord, as of this writing we have started twenty-two churches. I could sit back and tell myself that I have done enough, but the purpose is st ill before me. The purpose never changes, but the goals do. As a result, I have increased my goal of the number of churches I want to help start. Some men who would criticize my goal setting in attendance would praise my goal setting in church planting. I have goals for the number of missionaries I want to send to the foreign field. Likewise, I have goals for t he numb er of souls I want to see won to Christ and the number of baptisms I want to see .
-Goals show me my progress.
-Goals test commitment.
-Goals keep me focused.
-Goals make me do more and want to do more.
We need to return to the excitement and results of the churches in the ’60s and ’70s. Some say that these churches fell because they were too enamored with numbers. I say that they failed because they lost sight of their purpose. The men who failed using Dr. Hyles’ methods must have at some point stopped using his methods. He did not stop working those methods; and as a result, he did not st op growing .
3. Finally, we must establish and implement a plan.
Jesus was a good planner. He knew where He was going before He went there, and He sent men to prepare for His coming. “After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.” -Luke 10:1-2
Sounds like a plan to me, and it sounds like He had a goal to go to at least thirty-five cities, assuming they went to only one city per team. In fact, each team may have gone to multiple cities. Doing what? Carrying out His plan. Jesus always had a plan, but we often miss it because good plans go off seamlessly. To say that He did not have a plan is to say that He just walked about “winging it,” like many of us do with our soulwinning. If He had thirty-five advance teams, then it is pretty obvious, He knew where He was going .
Even in seeing His plan, we recognize His purpose. He spoke of the harvest and the need for laborers who would go into the harvest. His purpose was to seek and to save that which was lost. Is it not interesting that he never spoke of His purpose as being anything other than this?
“And he must needs go through Samaria.” – John 4:4
Why did Jesus need to go through Samaria? It was because He had an appointment with a lady in Sychar where He planned to preach to the entire city. He had a scheduled meeting with her at a well. She was going to do His advance work and bring the entire city to hear Him preach. He had a plan already in mind when He went.
I know, I know – you think that He anticipated this because He was God Incarnate. Wait, my friend, because He also told us that He was sending us to do the exact same thing His Father had sent Him to do.
“Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” – John 20:21
I am to do what Jesus did with the same purpose of seeking the lost and leading them to Him. We know our purpose. Now we must set goals to accomplish that purpose in the greatest way possible. Then we must make our plans so that we can reach those goals. Do not think that Jeff Fugate is delusional. I know Satan hates soul winning and he does everything he can to disparage our methods and discourage our spirits. I plan to keep on setting goals so that I can do everything possible to fulfill my purpose of winning this world to Christ. Will you join me?
Pastor Jeff Fugate
Clays Mill Road Baptist Church