How to Set Goals as a Church Staff

It’s Tuesday, and the whirlwind of this past Sunday is still blowing through your church office. There are people to call, meetings to attend, to schedule, to prepare for, counseling to done, sermons and lessons to write.


Sunday is coming, and people have needs. They are struggling in their marriage, with finances, their kids, career direction.

For most leaders in churches, merely surviving the week is a goal.

That isn’t what we signed up to do.

There has to be a way to get your head out of the clouds, above the whirlwind and see what is happening and work on the right things. 

But how?

For our church staff, we’ve tried a variety of ways to make this happen.

We’ve created annual plans but found that it was hard to forecast a year out. We still look at a year out, as you’ll see in a minute, but we do that year out by making 90-day goals.

First, we sit down as a team and list out every area in our church. Someone around the table should have responsibility for a category you discuss. This list needs to include every area. Some examples: kids ministry, students, first impressions, worship service, social media, preaching, staff, etc.

Then, taking one at a time everyone shares what is right, wrong, missing and confusing in each area. (hat tip to a mentor of mine Brian Jones for coming up with these four categories). The right part is essential because this is a chance to brag on the person who leads it and the team involved with this, to celebrate what God is doing. If it is hard to think of what is right in an area, maybe ask, what doesn’t need to be fixed right now instead.

Once you have your list of what is missing, wrong or confused (and there will be some overlap between those lists), the person who leads that area puts dates next to them. Are these issues that need to be worked on or fixed in the next 90 days, six months or 12+ months from now?

Then, I meet with each person individually to go over them. This step is vital for a couple of reasons: the lead pastor can often see things that others can’t regarding importance. The person leading an area can see things that are important that the lead pastor can’t.

The ones that are 90-day goals, we create OKR’s for each one. So, let’s say (a common one), we need to increase our kid’s ministry volunteer team by 20 people over the next 90 days (that’s the objective). What will 3-5 key results (the KR’s) need to happen so that we increase the team by 20 people? Those KR’s need to be measurable.

Then, once those plans are in place, you share them on your church staff. You give weekly or monthly updates, which also creates accountability. Why share them in a staff meeting? Every lead pastor knows that people are more likely to fail privately to you, than publicly to a group.

Doing this every 90 days helps to clarify what needs to be accomplished in the next 90 days, what goals we are all shooting for, but also keeps in front of us, what is coming up (remember we still have the ones with 12 months next to them).

Some of you are thinking, how long does this take?

When you first start, this will be a half a day laying out what is right, wrong, missing and confused.

Those 4 hours are not only incredibly helpful but energizing. Our team laughs, cries and celebrates what God is doing. We pray together for each area and what God has in store.

Those 4 hours are worth the investment.

It especially helps your staff members who are not natural dreamers or vision casters or who don’t naturally set goals.

It also helps fight against one of the frustrations many pastors experience, and that is disunity or a loss of momentum. Many times, disunity and a loss of momentum are not intentional; it’s just that everyone works on what they think is most important.

One of the most important jobs of a lead pastor is to say what is most important right now.