Planning for Year 2023 – Goals Change Everything

August 9, 2011 — 7 Comments

Part 2 of a series on Planning for Year 2023 

Read part 1 to catch up on an intro to long term planning

Click to read part 3 – how to set faith-stretching yet realistic goals

Why does having a numerical goal (connected to a long term plan) change things?

1) It forces you to plan differently

2) It gives your staff and students hope/vision


1) It forces you to plan differently

What happens when you realize that you need to not just reach freshmen but need to reach 80 of them?

It forces your team to think in new ways – to try things you’ve never done before.

It takes “reaching freshmen” from an abstract idea/wish to a concrete reality that needs to be planned.

It makes you realize:

  • We’re going to need more than just our staff team of 3 in order to make this happen.
  • We’re going to need 20 freshmen Bible study leaders (paired up, leading 10 studies) in order to make that a reality
  • We’re going to have 120 in freshmen studies by the end of the fall in order to have 80 still in studies by the end of the spring
  • So we need to figure out a way to have conversations with 400 freshmen (if 1 in 5 will get involved in a Study)
  • So we’d better get in contact with 800 freshmen


2) It gives your staff and students hope/vision

Having numerical goals that fit into a long term plan turn ordinary, mundane tasks into vision-enfused opportunities.

Scope is demotivating if you don’t have a long term plan to accomplish reaching the entire campus.

It’s really depressing to constantly hear “we want to reach the whole campus, every single student with the gospel” and then look around the room and see you have 50 students involved. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to realize that ain’t gonna happen this year.

But when your staff and students see a bigger picture for HOW we really are going to reach the entire campus, AND how their hard work this fall fits into that big picture, their work becomes meaningful, full of purpose.


Our staff and students need to know that we’re not just involving freshmen to make our name great, to enlarge the Cru kingdom. We have a long term plan to raise up enough equipped laborers that we will eventually share the gospel with every student on campus. I’ll only work so hard for an organizational vision, for Cru. But I will work tirelessly to spread His fame.


Tomorrow: How we set goals that aren’t arbitrary guesses about the future

(Hint: a 12 year step-by-step plan from Jim Sylvester has been enormously helpful)


How has having specific, faith-stretching goals forced your team to plan differently?

photo courtesy of danorbit


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  • Andrew Wise

    I like numeric goals; I agree with all you’ve said above, and think everyone should have them.

    Here’s a question: when you are casting vision for these numeric goals, how much do you “spiritualize” it? First, when determining this goal, what role does prayer and “seeking the mind of Christ” play, versus simply just looking at how many people you have and figuring out what seems realistic? Secondly, should we use language like “we are trusting God to provide 80 freshmen this year”? or “we are believing by faith for 10 freshmen Bible studies”, etc..? Do we have a right to expect specific numbers from God? Has God failed if he does not provide this by the end of the year?

    I don’t necessarily have a solid answer to those questions, but those are issues I often thought about when going through a goal-setting process involving specific numbers, and I thought others may run into those questions as well.

    • Anonymous

      Great questions Andrew –
      Here’s my first thoughts:
      – We pray for wisdom and use wisdom to figure out realistic, stretching goals (mostly based on Jim’s 12 year plan)
      – We do say “we are trusting God for . . . ” but don’t ever say “God told us . . .” or something like that
      – I don’t personally think we have a right to expect specific numbers from God. Because, like you alluded to, I think we are holding God to something he never promised.

      So, to summarize:
      – We pray really hard before we plan and then pray as we carry out tactics (Trust God)
      – We plan to the best of our wisdom (and learn from others wisdom)
      – We give God the glory whenever He allows us to reach our goals (or, even if he doesn’t)

      So – we work our butts off and pray that God will show up!
      What are your thoughts on it? This would make a great separate blog post!

  • Andrew Wise

    One more question that may come up when planning long-term goals / scope:

    As a leader of one campus ministry, how should I factor in the activity of other like-minded campus ministries or churches when thinking about reaching the entire campus? Should we each attempt to reach the whole campus individually? Should we attempt to compare notes on where we are and aren’t reaching?

    Again, no conclusive thoughts, just a question I’m sure comes up in thinking about reaching that goal.

    • Anonymous

      I’d say plan/reach individually. Gary Runn has some good thoughts on when to partner:

      – And I also think you should share freely, like you said, where we are and where we aren’t.

      And then share notes freely. That’s why I blog – I know there are several ministries on our campus that read this blog. But I think you should freely give away your “playbook” and best strategies so that more people can reach students better.

      What do you think?

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