As we start a new year, there’s always talk of New Year’s Resolutions and all those things we want to do better that we forget by February. I hate going to the gym in January because it’s always too busy. I know I can wait a few weeks and most of the resolutioners will give and it will be back to the normal crowd.

With that in mind, the new year does give us an opportunity and a natural time to start something. Here are some ideas you can put in place now that will set you up for your best year of ministry ever!

1. Set measurable and tangible goals.

You may have heard this before, but if you don’t set a destination, you are going nowhere.

The same thing can be said about planning, budgeting, road trips, and even grocery shopping. When you go to the grocery store without a plan (shopping list) its inevitable you will come home with more food and spend more than you anticipated. Chances are also very high you may not grab that one item you went to the store for.

It’s very true when it comes to leading an organization like your church. Without a set plan in place, you have no measurable way to know if you’re heading in the right direction.

Let’s make 2017 count and be the best year of ministry yet.

To start, set some real goals that you can achieve in 2017. Maybe it’s a number of people in attendance, perhaps a number of salvations and baptisms. Perhaps you can set a number for new small groups you’d like to start this year. Whatever it is, plan it out and write it down.

Make your goal stretch you a bit.

Don’t just set a goal that you can achieve within your normal process. We’ll add a bonus point at the end of this section, but for now let’s set our goals just a bit higher than we could achieve without any additional effort.

If you know that your average worship service attendance has grown the past years by 50 people on its own, lets set a stretch goal to make that we grow it by 75 or 100. It will take some effort on your part, but is not beyond the realm of what’s possible.

These goals need to be something that you would stake your ministry on. Think of these goals this way. The goal needs to be important enough to you that if you don’t achieve it, you would consider leaving ministry.

Now I’m not advocating you leaving ministry, but at the same time, you need to give yourself a real consequence for not achieve this goal or it won’t be as meaningful. On the flipside, set yourself up to have a real “prize” should you hit that goal. Maybe it’s a nice dinner out with your wife or perhaps an afternoon off to do something fun with your children. Whatever will motivate you and give you a real sense of accomplishment, plan that out and make sure you stick to it.

BONUS – Set a stretch goal. The goals we have talked about up until now have been achievable, but will take some effort. Put a stretch goal in place. What is a goal you could set for yourself that is the next step beyond your goal? If you set a goal to increase average attendance by 100 people, could your stretch goal be 150? If you wanted to have 10 salvations and baptisms this year, could your stretch goal be 30?

What is that stretch goal for you?

2. Review your systems

If you’ve been around church, or any organization for that matter, long enough you know that we often fall into ruts. We do things for no better reason than that’s the way we’ve always done it. Perhaps you started doing something one way because you had to with the resources at the time, but now you have time to review and do something different.

The New Year is a great time to review the why’s and how’s of what we are doing and see if perhaps there are better ways.

Did you have some volunteers in key positions start in the past year? Are you having periodic reviews with them? Just because they are not employees doesn’t mean that you can’t set a standard and hold them to it.

One thing we see happen way too often is pastor knows they need someone to help in a key area. On the fly, they find someone that CAN do the job and they put them in place without much direction. With the speed of ministry happening and the many hats pastors wear, there wasn’t much time to give clear direction, guidelines, training and job descriptions.

Fast forward 6 months.

Now that leader is doing the job, but they’ve stepped a bit beyond the framework of what you had originally expected them to do. Perhaps that is now causing conflict or put them into a position where it’s not exactly how you wanted things to happen. Since they’ve gone so far without clear direction or expectations, it now makes that conversation a bit awkward to ask them to change.

I say that story because we’ve seen and heard it repeatedly. It’s just one of the many situations and issues that if you have not already faced, you will as you continue in ministry.

Use this time to review your current systems. Think ahead 2-5 years as well. What can we put in place now that will create an atmosphere for growth. (Have you realized that perhaps this step directly relates to step 1 with your goals?? ) The systems you review and implement should have a direct reflection in getting you positioned to reach your goals.

One system that’s always good to review is your bookkeeping and accounting system. Did you know there is an affordable, outsourced option that will scale with your ministry and provide peace of mind for you to never have to worry about finances, at least that the records and information is accurate and complete? If you’d like to know more, schedule a Free, Live demo with me Here.

3. Prepare Routines

Now that you’ve set your goals for the year, and you are confident your systems are as good as they can be for now, let’s work on you.

What can you do yourself this year to do things better than last year?

Regardless of how good you may be at time management, avoiding procrastination, following through with projects, planning ahead, and the list goes on; you can always do a bit better.
Take some time to reflect on your own personal work processes. Do you always feel like you’re making decisions on the fly and having to react to situations? Is there something you could do to be more proactive when it comes to managing you?

Start now.

Here are some ideas for routines you can put in place now.

– Set a time and be intentional about a daily quite time. This should be separate from sermon prep.

– Tackle the email inbox monster. How many emails do you get in a day. What do you do to manage that? Put rules for yourself in place on how you will respond and manage email.

– Facebook and Social Media. How much time do you spend on social media? For all the good things it brings, it can also suck your time away. Will you make some rules for yourself on how much time you will spend on social media?

– Never eat alone. A book for salesmen came out several years ago with that title. Now I know that it’s not realistic to never eat alone, but could you plan to reach out and have lunch with 1 new person or family in your church each week?

– Plan your messages sixth months in advance. How far ahead do you have your message plan scheduled out? Know what you’ll preach on Easter and the weeks before and after?

– Find an app to save stories and articles you’d like to read later. I use Evernote and setup the app on my phone where I can save news articles and posts into a folder there to read later. When I have time where I’m waiting, I have a full folder of articles to keep my busy.

– Your Ideas? I’m curious, do you have any ideas or things you’ve found helpful for you personally? Put them in the comments so we can all share together.