A Better Stewardship Year, pt. 3

Do you have goals for your stewardship ministry? What are you looking to accomplish as you promote stewardship values to your congregation? As we noted last newsletter, “If you aim at nothing, you’re sure to hit it.” So what are you aiming at in stewardship ministry this year?

Last year, we looked at Michael Hyatt’s framework for setting SMARTER goals. What might that look like as we think through potential goals for stewardship ministry?

First, SMARTER goals are Specific. A goal such as, “teach the congregation about stewardship” is too general. It doesn’t help us get to a plan. We can make a goal more specific with questions like What? and How? For example, we could replace a goal like this with a more specific one like, “Offer three classes on Financial Stewardship in our Sunday School curriculum”. This tells us what we will do to teach the congregation and how we will do it.

Second, SMARTER goals are Measurable. A goal is measurable if we can easily determine whether we’ve met the goal. Specific goals tend to be more measurable than general ones. In the above example, it might be difficult to determine if we effectively taught the congregation about stewardship; but it would be very easy to know whether or not we offered three stewardship classes in our Sunday School. Generally, numbers tend to make a goal measurable. “Develop stewardship leaders” will be very difficult to measure. But “train 5 stewardship coaches through the Good $ense coaching curriculum” is easy to measure.

Third, SMARTER goals are Actionable. They’re written in such a way as to indicate actions to be taken, using active verbs rather than passive verbs. A goal like “Help our congregation to be better stewards” doesn’t suggest any specific action. But a goal like “Preach a sermon about God’s ownership using the parable of the talents” gives a specific step to take.

Fourth, SMARTER goals are Risky.   Our goals should be difficult enough that they are worth celebration when we meet them. They should be goals that push us, not goals that we would accomplish just through normal course of events. For example, a goal of “Preach two sermons on stewardship” won’t be much of an accomplishment in a congregation where that already happens every year. But a goal like “Lead a group of stewardship class participants to reduce total debt by 25%” is the type of goal that will drive us to our knees in prayer, dependent on God for an outcome beyond our control. Risky goals are like that – they tend to emphasize outcomes more than actions.

Fifth, SMARTER goals are Time-bound. They have a target date. “Develop and offer a Bible study on stewardship” has no time limitation. As a result, it will likely never get done. But “create a Bible study on stewardship by June 30 and incorporate it into our small group curriculum for the new ministry season by August 31” puts a deadline on the goal that will help motivate us to accomplish it.

Sixth, SMARTER goals are Exciting. They’re goals that motivate us and keep our attention. They’re goals worth celebrating when we accomplish them – which is one of the reasons they need to be a bit “risky”.

Note that part of the excitement can be generated by setting milestone goals, helping us to stay motivated on the way to the larger goals. For example, a goal of “Coach 20 couples or individuals who are in significant debt” is a large goal. Milestones might include, “Train 5 financial coaches,” “Preach a sermon on the dangers of debt,” and “Offer a budgeting class.”

Finally, SMARTER goals are Relevant. They’re meaningful in our current context. For example, “Establish a year-round financial stewardship ministry” may not be relevant for a startup church dealing with issues like finding space to rent, hiring a pastor, etc.

Specific. Measurable. Actionable. Risky. Time-bound. Exciting. Relevant.

As you think about the current ministry season coming to an end and beginning planning for the new ministry season in the fall, what might some SMARTER stewardship ministry goals look like for your next ministry season?