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Effective Goal Setting with Strategy & Jesus in Mind

This post was written by Cera Talamantes, a member of the INCM Blog team.

As sad as it is, summer will soon be ending. We plan and prepare for another fall season of ministry, all with the desire to tackle those big or small goals we might have had on our hearts for a while now.

Many of us envision the goal of creating a thriving ministry where kids and families eagerly seek a relationship with the Lord, and hope for an enthusiastic team beside us working for that ultimate mission.

For some, the goals you had hoped to accomplish may have been put on pause due to the COVID shutdown. Or there may be new areas of growth or changes that you recognize need to happen as volunteers and families adjust and find their new rhythms as school begins.

While it can be so incredibly exciting to jump into ministry programs this school year and do all the events, make all the changes, and do all the “things,” it can also be difficult to know where to start!

It is important to spend time in discernment and focus on specific, measurable goals.

Using the Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) model can help make planning less stressful with a broken down and measurable way of recognizing and achieving goals.

OKRs comes from the business world, but it is a useful tool to help us orient ourselves to the goals that we need to accomplish in the coming season, instead of doing all the tasks and wondering months later, “How did I get here?”

Start with Prayer

First and foremost, with anything we do in our lives, we need to begin with prayer. Being in the Holy Spirit’s presence is so important. During that time, we invite him into the planning process and ask that He remain there.

We want to discern every decision made with wisdom because we ultimately want to produce growth in His kingdom as we shepherd families and volunteers. If we aren’t careful, sometimes planning can slip from what the Lord wants into what we want.

Visual reminders help me to make prayer the priority. I use the monastic practice of lighting a candle and remembering what Jesus said in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world.”

In following Him we will not settle into darkness but will thrive in the light of His life. This encourages and reminds me of His presence, and teaches me to depend on him first before I begin planning.

Identify the Kingdom Need

Second, we need to identify what and where kingdom advancement needs to take place in our ministries and how.

Maybe it means rejuvenating your ministry space, growing your volunteer team, adding more ways for parent involvement and engagement, or being more intentional about discipleship relationships. It might include planning a major event or revamping your curriculum.

Whatever the major need is, that is where we start to determine our Objectives. Objectives are the direction we want to go. Our goals need to be clear, time-bound, specific, ambitious, and actionable.

When we identify a specific objective, we can then break down the “what” and “how” that will help this goal become a reality. It is incredibly important that each aspect of the Objective is broken down into Key Results.

Key Results are the measurements used to discern how you are doing or how close you are to reaching your Objective. They always point to where you want to go with the Objective you have set.

From these identifiable results, we can create a task list where we can check off as we work where God is leading us.

An Example Using OKRs

I’m using OKRs to gain traction in my own ministry. I desire to have a volunteer team committed to the discipleship of kids and each other. As much as I would like everyone to be on fire for Jesus and jump in ready to run, I know it is not that easy!

Taking that vision, I first ask God to make me a leader focused on Him and lead by example. I pray that, as a branch of His ministry, everything I do points back to where I am connected and rooted in Him.

Breaking this vision down further, we focus on how to do it. This is where the OKRs begin.

One Objective that relates to the vision is creating discipleship relationships between me and volunteers. Now that I’ve determined my Objective, I list what milestones can be tackled to accomplish that Objective. Key Results are how I am going to get there.

When I write it out, it looks like this:

  • Vision: To create a volunteer & staff team committed to the discipleship of kids and each other
  • Objective: To build vibrant and close relationships within the volunteer team and staff leaders in the next 3 months
  • Key Result #1: Bi-monthly gathering of leaders and volunteers focused on community and spiritual growth
  • Key Result #2: Regular one-on-one meetings between staff leaders and volunteers to encourage personal spiritual growth
  • Key Result #3: Keep open, weekly communication with the team to relay ministry information by using group and individual methods (face-to-face and virtual meetings, texts, emails)

Now that I’ve determined what the OKRs are, I can now create tasks that help me reach each Key Result, which, over a specific period of time, will help me to reach my Objective.

Conclusion

Identifying Objectives and Key Results helps us know what the next best step is to accomplish the vision the Lord has placed on our hearts.

Praying intentionally for God’s direction from the moment of inspiration to the breakdown of every detail to achieving that vision will not only support the work the Lord has called us to do as leaders, but it will also encourage those who He has entrusted you to lead in this season.

So…what goals are you dreaming of achieving this year? How do you hope that God uses you in your ministry? Do you have a plan to get there with God?

Try OKRs for a ministry quarter or longer. You never know what God is going to do in a period of time, but you can create a process to see progress as you work with Him.


About Cera

Cera Talamantes has served in ministry for over a decade, volunteering in different areas but was called most to preschool and children’s ministry. Cera and her husband, Joseluis, have two incredible kids. Their family loves spending time together making lasting memories and having crazy Uno game nights.

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