4 Reasons Setting Big and Specific Goals for Your Church Is Best


What goals have you set for your ministry? Before you jump in and start setting goals, think through which types of goals you should consider.

In The One Thing, authors Gary Keller and Jay Papasan talk about how leaders need to set “big and specific” goals. I’ve reflected on this handy rubric for thinking through the goals we set for our churches. The simple (but profound) idea is this: Set goals that are at the same time large enough that they make a substantial difference in the life of the church and specific enough to hold the leaders and team accountable to making them happen.

The rubric contains four potential types of goals that your church might set:

  • Small and broad // A tiny change to a wide variety of areas in the organization
  • Small and specific // An incremental goal that seems like a slam dunk from the outset
  • Big and broad // A massive goal with wide-ranging impact that is difficult to measure or evaluate
  • Big and specific // A large goal with an understood outcome

When you get your team together, set big and specific goals for your ministry. Keep pushing until you have goals that simultaneously make your heart race and move you toward action. Here are four reasons why big and specific goals are best for your ministry:

  • Incrementalism is the enemy // 94% of churches are losing ground against the growth of the communities around them. Small and specific goals that you are sure your team can achieve blunt their impact. Stop thinking small … dream big for where your ministry might go next!
  • Vagueness leads to no impact // Andy Stanley once said, “As leaders we can afford to be uncertain, but we cannot afford to be unclear. People will follow you in spite of a few bad decisions. People will not follow you if you are unclear in your instruction. As a leader you must develop the elusive skill of leading confidently and purposefully onto uncertain terrain.” Broad goals are unclear because they are hard to pin down how they apply. Broad goals are vague — and people don’t follow vague leaders.
  • People want it to count for something // You’re asking volunteers to give up their most precious limited resource: time! You’re asking your staff to give up working for something else that would probably pay them more. You’re asking donors to sacrifice personally at some level by choosing to give to your church rather than spend their money on themselves. People love contributing but they want to know that their contribution is making a difference. Big and specific goals give weight to the actions of an organization and rally people to them.
  • Momentum is gained through wins // Organizational momentum is just a series of wins adding up to push things forward. When you make your goals specific and then achieve them, it adds positive momentum. When you achieve specific and big goals, you gain huge momentum internally. People love being a part of a winning team so pick goals that are big and specific — and then celebrate them when they are achieved. That sort of momentum is almost magnetic!

[BONUS: Click here to download a PowerPoint slide of the “Big and Specific” matrix for discussion with your team!]


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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.