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Without a Vision We Will Perish

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“Yes, I did notice,” Elder Baker interjected, “and that month would be what you have the leader put on their one-year plan.  At your monthly planning councils you should discuss all departmental goals and activities for the next three months.  Here is where you will do detailed planning for each goal or event and you will also set the exact date for each activity.”

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By Tim Massengale

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Pastor Mark North leaned back in the cedar Adirondack chair which sat on the balcony of the vacation lodge overlooking Lake Sumter.  He took a long slow drink of his iced tea before setting it down with a contented sigh.  It was early Saturday evening.  Crickets and song birds filled the crisp night air, as did the smell of ribs and brats on the grill.  Behind him a door opened, and he glanced back at the elderly gentleman joining him.

Elder Vernon Baker grinned.  “Beautiful sunset!  Mind if I sit with you?”

“Not at all, Elder! I wanted to thank you again for the words of encouragement you shared with my leaders.  I feel your contribution here at our Annual Planning Retreat has been extremely valuable.  They seem to be catching the vision that we can double, if not triple, over the next few years.”

“I agree.  You have a great group to work with.  Your second year’s attendance goal is 128, and you are almost there.  You’re currently averaging – what did you say – 112?

“That was our average for September.  You remember our first year’s attendance goal was 106, which we easily met.  I think we should easily be averaging 128 before the end of next year.”

The old pastor nodded.  “I was glad to see you talked to them about their departmental One-Year Plans. That’s an important assignment.  You asked them to hand it in about two weeks from today.  Have you already given them a blank form to fill out and a sample to follow?”

“They have their blank one-year form and sample in their departmental binders.  Remember you suggested we do that when I called you last month and we talked about the planning retreat.”

“That’s right.  Will this be the first time they are handing them in?”

“No, they did this last year as well, but I failed to give them the blank form and sample.  So the one-year plans I got back were all over the place, from very detailed  (my youth director handed in ten pages) to almost useless.  My outreach leader’s one-year plan was three sentences like, ‘We want to really grow and win a lot of souls. Each month we’ll have some kind of outreach and knock doors and stuff’ or something like that.  So I quickly saw the need to provide them with more structure.  But I did have a question, Elder.  On the sample one-year plan form there are three areas:  Numerical Goals, Quality Improvement Goals and Annual Activities.  I understand Numerical Goals – that’s like goals for attendance, finance and winning souls.  But what’s the difference between Quality Improvement Goals and Annual Activities?”

Pastor Baker grinned.  “My leaders asked me the same thing.  But let me first touch on numerical goals.  You need to work with your leaders, one-on-one, and help them choose realistic number goals for their departments.  Ministry leaders tend to have the same problem pastors do – reaching for the stars and hoping they hit the moon.  You need to stress that goal setting, as far as the church is concerned, is simply faith.  Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  Faith must be: ‘know so’ and have no doubt.  They need to set their numerical goals on numbers they absolutely know they can reach.  This then liberates God to do ‘exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think.’  God wants to exceed every goal we set.  So in the case of your Home Bible Study (HBS) Department, your leader will set numerical goals for the number of one-lesson and 12-lesson Bible studies to be taught this year, the number of HBS teachers to have trained, and the number of adults to be saved from those Bible studies.  If he has a financial budget goal, that number will be there too.  Make these number goals realistic – what he knows he can do.  Don’t let them set ‘pie in the sky, hope so’ goals.  That kind of goal defeats faith.  You will most likely have to help them if this is their first time to set these kind of goals.

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