I’m often asked by other pastors what my goals are for my pastoral ministry. It’s actually a question I have some difficulty answering. It’s not that I don’t have goals. I do. The goals I have for my pastoral ministry, however, are often not the “traditional” goals which pastors set.
See, when I listen to pastors speak of having a target number for increased giving, or number of baptisms, or a percentage increase in worship attendance I tend to feel nauseous. Don’t misunderstand. I’d love it if we had to keep our baptismal full and to have a full sanctuary during worship. As goals for ministry, however, they seem rather corporate. Religious lingo aside, these goals sound a lot like the mantra of a business looking to maximize it’s profits and expand it’s market-share. I have no doubt if I wanted to make that my pursuit, I could – but increasing the market share of Central Baptist Church isn’t why I was called to be a pastor.
Instead, my goals are typically about congregational self-care and service. That is, I look for opportunities for the congregation to reflect deeply on their faith, and make sure they are free to open new windows of opportunity for growth and service. I feel “successful” when a variety of people run large projects without waiting for me to do it. I’m ecstatic when a team member comes up with an idea beyond my imagination and runs with it. My greatest joy is when I go to a some mission Central ran without great involvement from me and am told “great job.” I love this because it gives me the opportunity to point to the people responsible and reply, “Don’t tell me, I had nothing to do with this, they did it all and deserve all the credit 1.”
If I was forced to quantify my goals I’d have to say I’m less interested in a percentage increase in membership or worship attendance, than I am with the overall percentage of people participating in mission 2.
How do I know this goal is being met? Typically I know it has when someone comes up to me and says, “I didn’t think I’d be able to do that when you asked, but I said yes anyway and I’m so glad.”