How to Set Church Goals During COVID
Given our shared experience with the COVID upheaval, almost everyone is simultaneously asking future questions with extra vigor. The questions are more difficult because the dynamics present a mental[...]
Considering all of the things that have changed in 2020, it’s easy to lose sight of the things that haven’t changed. In my first How to Set Church Goals During COVID post, I listed the top ten things that haven’t changed in this past year. I concluded that post with four steps to guide you in your setting goals for your church for 2021. In the fourth step, I introduced you to the COVID Era Goal Ideas tool that Dave Rhodes and I developed earlier this year. Now, I’d like to explore the potential power of this tool a bit further.
Remember, these may be the most important days of our lives to imaginatively look ahead and fervently steward hope. It’s your job as a leader to guide your team in looking ahead with hope and developing goals that further the specific vision God has given you in your specific place and this specific time.
- From the Future Church book
As you dive into this tool, you can see that we’ve arranged it with Motivational BeachHeads across the top. These are the higher-level, strategic categories where you could choose to focus your goals. Revival is generally about focusing the energy of your congregation “upward” toward a sense of Revival through connecting more deeply with God. The Communal category focuses energy “inward” toward connecting with other followers of Jesus to catalyze shared growth. The final category will focus the energy of your church “outward” toward connecting with people outside of the faith community in a Missional way that expands the influence of Jesus.
Within each of these categories, we’ve identified four domains to further focus your goal-setting.
The goal of the COVID Era Goal Ideas tool is to provide a framework for your team to wrestle through together. You cannot focus everywhere … that’s actually the opposite of what it means to focus. Instead of starting by evaluating specific goals, begin your discussion by discussing which BeachHeads and Domains your team should focus on based on your mission and your values.
Your goal in this team discussion is to land on ONE block as the focus for the next 3-6 months. You can pursue multiple strategies within that block, but by aligning your energies in one area, you will multiply your impact. Most churches, when it comes to planning, try to tackle too many things at once, which causes a division of resources (money, staff/volunteer time and energy, communication time, etc.) that dilutes your effectiveness and delivers minimal results. This, in turn, leads to frustration among the team and the congregation as a whole through failing to achieve your goals.
Remember, you’re not choosing an area of focus for years down the road … you’re talking about the next 3-6 months. Then, in 3 months, go through the process again and choose the next area of focus. By aligning and directing your resources in this way, you’ll multiply your long-term impact and generate more missional momentum.
I know a pastor who decided to connect with friends on Facebook that he knew were not followers of Jesus. He would start the conversation as a check-in to see how they were doing with the COVID disruptions and then transitioned the conversation to spiritual things when appropriate. That’s something almost every person in your church could do.
A church in San Antonio reached out to other churches in the city and together, they organized neighborhood “meet-ups” that included believers from all of the different churches. In a time when people were feeling isolated and disconnected, these outdoor neighborhood gatherings provided encouragement and formed new relationships.
Kingsland Baptist Church, through the combined efforts of staff and volunteers, launched a website called empoweredhomes.org. The website contains articles, podcasts, family devotionals, and other resources for families to use to grow spiritually. In some ways, this could fall under Revival, Communal, AND Missional because of the breadth of the resources available and how it can also be used by people who aren’t believers.
One church hired Younique to run a 4-day Accelerator that took 60 people in their church through a complete LifePlan Process. They’ve seen dozens of people gain a renewed focus on how God has specifically equipped them to view their work environment as a mission field. Not only that, but they each developed a plan for how they would live that out over the next several years.
A church in the Atlanta area tracked the number of miles their church walked while praying for the people in their neighborhoods. Church members were encouraged to pray for specific neighbors they knew as they walked past their homes and to pray for protection and revival in their communities.
In his letter to the early followers of Jesus, James encouraged believers to confess their sins to each other and pray for each other so that they may be healed. (James 5:16) The small groups in one church connected group members into micro-groups of 2 or 3 (based on gender) and encouraged them to use the Marco Polo video messaging app to confess to each other and pray for each other.
What if you encouraged the families in your church to view their street as their mission field? They could do something as simple as delivering snacks to their neighbors as a way to check on them to see how they are doing. The families could offer to help in any practical ways they could or even invite their neighbors to an outdoor block party. You never know where those relational connections might lead.
The most important thing to keep in mind in your process of defining goals for 2021 is to adjust them to the new COVID reality. Your goals should reflect a deep understanding of the shift that needs to take place in people’s minds that church is not a place they go on the weekend. Church is a description of who they are 24/7. Most church leaders have been saying this for years (“Church is not a building … we ARE the church!”), and 2020 revealed how important and necessary that paradigm is for every believer.
We’re all hoping that when the vaccine makes it to our communities that things will “get back to normal.” In some ways, I hope for that, too. But my deeper hope is that you and other church leaders around the world will lean into the COVID disruption and use it as an opportunity to shift your church’s focus AWAY from growing attendance at programs to empowering people to actively, intentionally, and passionately follow Jesus in every area of their lives.