Your Ministry Team Needs Goals

It’s Guest Post Monday!!! This post is from Benjer McVeigh a youth pastor and fellow blogger. Make sure to check out his blog Discipleship Family Ministry and follow him on Twitter.

If you’re a ministry leader, then you’ve got goals for the ministry you lead. Perhaps you’re the organized type that writes down his or her goals and keeps track of them. Maybe you don’t have anything written down, but you know in your head what you want to happen in the next year of ministry. Or maybe your goal is to just survive and keep your job.

Whatever your goals are and how you keep track of them, pause for a moment and answer this question: do the people you lead know what those goals are?

Helping those you lead understand what your goals for your organization are is key to achieving those goals. In my context–I serve as a youth pastor and oversee a couple of dozen volunteer leaders–I’ve found that when I fail to make the goals for our youth ministry clear, it produces two negative results: 1) committed volunteers eventually lose steam and sometimes stop serving because they don’t know what they are trying to accomplish as a volunteer; and 2) the absence of any clearly stated goals causes some leaders to formulate their own goals, which may or may not be in line with the purpose and values of our youth ministry.

Setting goals and attaching benchmarks and time lines to them can seem to some a bureaucratic task that limits creativity and perhaps even the influence of the Holy Spirit. But setting goals doesn’t mean that leaders and organizations become slaves to those goals. Instead, clearly stated goals helps to channel the creativity and talents of you and your team. Most great, talented team members are ready to run, but they need direction from you.

I used to believe that my best volunteers wanted to be involved in making most of the important decisions about our ministry. Some volunteers certainly want to be involved in decision-making, but a dedicated volunteer once taught me a very important lesson. When discussing plans for an event, she stopped me and said, “Benjer, just tell me what to do, and I’ll be there.” She was more interested in doing a great job as a volunteer in than in making decisions. She needed clear goals to run with.

Do the people you lead a favor, and don’t keep your goals to yourself. Clearly communicate your goals so that everyone will be on the same page. You might be surprised at how your team responds.

Question: What goals do you have that you haven’t yet communicated to your people?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • As a former youth leader, I would go a step further. Share your goals with students who have leadership potential. They may have input for you. They may grow in their prospective. And it is much more likely to succeed if adults and students are working together.

    • Fantastic point, Michael. Some of the best input on the direction of our ministry has actually been from our student leaders. In addition, where I find that many adults are way too “nice” in giving input, teenagers tend to just be blunt and honest about what they think. If you have a healthy team and are willing to hear what they have to say, their input is invaluable.

      • “teenagers tend to just be blunt and honest…” You got that right!

        • Anonymous

          So true, sometime to blunt or honest.

    • Anonymous

      Michael,
      Finding and allow potential leaders step up and start serving is so essential. When I was a youth leader all of the adult leaders/pastors where volunteers because of being a small church. Having the youth serve and lead was a huge aspect of the ministry.

      Thank you for sharing.

  • Great post, Benjer. This is something that’s so difficult at times with volunteers. There’s one style of leadership where you’re a CEO and everyone works for you full-time. But for volunteers, it’s a totally different style – and one I am still trying to grasp.
    I love the idea of regularly communicating your goals. It gets people pumped up and it sets expectations and directions from the beginning. And your last point was something worth thinking about. Different people need to be led in different ways. Some want input. Others don’t want to worry about it. I guess figuring that out could be an area where I could benefit.

    • Loren: I feel like I have a ton to learn about how different people want to be led, and to what extent they want to have input. For me, it’s helped to know my leaders as well as possible. Of course, as teams get larger, it makes it more difficult to do this.

      One additional challenge I have: sometimes a volunteer seems to want to give a lot of input, but they aren’t willing to roll up their sleeves and help get things done.

    • Anonymous

      Being a volunteer and leading volunteers, I have come to the conclusion that the test of a true leader is being able to lead volunteers. If you can successful lead volunteers you can lead just about anyone. A key to leading volunteers is to always encourage and share the vision.

      Thank you for adding value to the post.

  • Leading people is challenging. Thanks for giving examples of how people like and need different things from leaders.

    • Leading people is DEFINITELY challenging…and people certainly are different, so we can’t lead everyone the same way.

    • Anonymous

      TC Avey,
      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

  • True that, Benjer! I sometimes have a hard time keeping my ministry’s “vision bucket” filled, but am constantly reminded of the need to do so. People need to see the goals of your ministry is headed, or they’ll feel uninspired and will look elsewhere for a place to plug in.

    • Anonymous

      Stephen,
      I believe a key aspect of motivating your people is always reminding them where the ministry/ team is going. It’s all about having your “vision bucket” full. Thank you for reading and sharing.

    • “Vision Bucket”…love the phrase! You’re right, inspiration is a huge part of it. Great volunteers thrive when they’re inspired by goals, and if we don’t tell them what they’re shooting for, they’re likely to move on. Thanks for the comment!

  • Great post and I love your website. If I had a team this post would be required reading for them. In general we under-estimate the importance of goals!

    • Anonymous

      Kimanzi,
      Thank you for taking the time to read and share.

  • When we do not communicate out goals we make for a frustrating area for people to serve where people do not know what the expectations are. It does need to be something that sits in front of people constantly so that they know what to expect from you and they know what is expected from them. Excellent thoughts!

    • Thanks, Jim! What really made me realizing how frustrating it can be to volunteer without a clear set of goals was when I began to volunteer in a local school a couple of years ago when I moved to Utah. I wasn’t really sure what I was being asked to do, which made it difficult to really put my heart into it. Then it hit me: is this what my own volunteers feel like?

    • Anonymous

      Jim,
      As a volunteer church leader I totally agree with you. It’s frustrating when their is no standard to follow or expectations. I think commitment happens when a leader tells their people what they expect and what needs to be done. Thank you for sharing.

  • I don’t really think I have goals that I haven’t communicated to my team. I share everything with them. The biggest goal we are working on right now is developing a volunteer team to help with the work of the ministry. It’s gotten too much for just a few people to do – which is a great problem to have!

    • Jason: That’s definitely a great problem to have! If you don’t mind expanding on your goals, what specifically do you communicate to your team about your vision for developing a volunteer team, and how specific do you get in communicating what you hope your team will look like a year from now, or perhaps even this fall?

      • Right now this goal is in an infant stage, so I’m not sure what it will look like a year from now, but we came up with a list of roles we want to see filled. Things like: photography, web upkeep, retreat food volunteers (donors and those who would help cook meals for our retreats), advocates (people who share the name and mission of Ignite, share our resources and help get our name and ministry more known), Administrative (people who would be willing to do the boring work of stuffing envelopes, keeping files, etc). That’s kind of it right now. Eventually, we would like to have a Retreat Coordinator and Missions Coordinator as those are HUGE aspects of our ministry. Possibly a year from now. We will be talking more in length at our next board meeting about time frames and such.

    • Anonymous

      Jason,
      Praying for your ministry and future missions trips. Your doing it right, keep communicating the vision and goals. Because vision leak I don’t think you can over communicate the vision. Thank you for sharing.

      • Thanks for the prayers, Dan. I appreciate you more than you know!

  • As ususal Benjer, this is a great post! When goals are not clear, whether in ministry or in regular life, it is too easy to let distractions sway you. God has a goal for us, so our goals should reflect Him. Too often, we fall short because of goals that are a bit too lofty. Being realistic in setting long term goals is the key to success in short term goals. Keep up the good work.

    • Anonymous

      Susan,
      you bring up some great points about goals. The should come from Jesus and be founded on the Word of God. I think it requires focusing in on your goals to really see progress and start to accoplish them. It’s always great hearing your thoughts.

  • I like your thoughts here. I’m learning that the more information and the more I can let my team feel a part of the team the more they want to do and are motivated. It’s not hard to motivate someone when they feel empowered to make decisions and win!

    • Definitely, Eric. Information is empowerment when it comes to volunteers.

    • Anonymous

      Eric,
      I think this is especially true with volunteers because they need to see that what they are doing actually is making a difference in the over all goals. Thank you for sharing your points.

  • That’s right. Goals are the most important factor that keeps the team going and growing. Because when things go wrong, we change our plans or execution but not our goals.

    • Anonymous

      Jamie,
      Great point about changing the plan but not the goals. It’s so true. Thank you for adding to the post.