In January, almost all Americans undertake a collective effort to create a few resolutions. This will be the year I read more, watch less TV, workout every day, lose ten pounds, and reconnect with family and friends. As a parish you might be making some goals as well to meet budget, pray more, or do more outreach. Often times by the middle of February we’ve either intentionally abandoned our goals because they were too lofty and unachievable or we’ve forgotten about them completely. We want to change that for 2018!
Last Fall I read a book that transformed the way I set goals for myself and the churches I coach. It was by a business author I’ve followed for years, Jon Acuff. He wrote Finish after working with a researcher. They studied people trying to achieve a goal and worked through the things the most successful people did. I think these principals can be applied to churches as well, and I’ve outline very quickly below. Read his book Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done for a more in-depth (and, often, humorous) look.
- It doesn’t have to be perfect. When setting goals we shouldn’t wait for all the perfect people to be in place, the perfect committee to be formed, or the perfect time to start. Now’s the exact right time to start. Your first goal might be putting together a planning team of leaders to guide and direct your efforts. As we go, things with change and move, and that’s okay! It’s expected since our goal will become more defined once we starting working on it.
- Let’s be realistic when we set our goals. The main goal is to live the mission of the parish and thrive doing it. Asses where you are today by asking your parishioners where you’re strong and what should be emphasized in the future. Then set a realistic goal based on that information. Remember, we are working toward change, not perfection. For instance: If you’re goal is to have 75% of active households commit to weekly prayer outside of Sunday Mass, cut your goal down to 40%. This is achievable, measureable, realistic and easier to celebrate. The momentum and celebration will help us work toward a greater goal in 2019!
- Make it fun! Jon found that this is one of the top three most important factors as to whether individuals complete their goals. In a church setting this might seem a little odd at first, but think about the communities you belong to and why you stay around. For me, it is because I have fun there, I laugh with those people, and I genuinely enjoy being with them. As you’re working toward your goal to thrive and grow, be intentional about being a community that is genuine where people enjoy themselves and want to come back. Fun doesn’t have to be a party with a piñata. Be creative when you think about joy and the mission of your parish to share the Gospel.
I can’t wait to learn more about your parish’s goals for 2018 and how you are finishing them! Now is the perfect time for your parish to become a Thriving Parish and share the Joy of the Gospel!