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Image: Leeds Museum & Galleries, via Flickr

Image: Leeds Museum & Galleries, via Flickr

At our recent church Annual General Meeting my Minister’s report included some scribblings on our aims in ministry. And on why we bother with them. I thought this important to do – because I don’t believe our vision or aims come from the Bible. Not that these are against God’s word! Rather, targets are tools to help us.

I thought some of these ideas might be worth recording in a manner to share with those who were not at the AGM. So here’s some of what I wrote.

Our church vision is not new, but worth remembering. We pray that by 2020, and in God’s goodness, for ABC to have 500 people meet with us for church each week and for ABC to be involved in two church plants.

ABC at the moment can pretty much roll on in its current format: we’re running ministries and paying our bills. It would be easy to think that the kind of church we want to be is the kind of church we are. Or to think that this is the church God wants. Our vision is to point us to the white harvest fields about us (Matthew 9:37-38), and to do something as workers.

The vision also helps us think through our ministries. If we head towards 500, what kind of meeting place is required? How many small group leaders do we need to train each year? And how many Sunday school teachers? What should be our budget? I hope you can see that our vision is very practical.

That vision is for a few year ahead of us. We’ve noticed a gap between that vision and the present day. For this reason we have set some ministry aims for 2014. Here’s what I had to say about them.

There is also, however, a practical gap. We have 2020 in mind – but what should we do now? This is why we’re launching our 2014 ministry aims. These are four aims that, we think, will help us move towards the 2020 vision.

Aims are our tools and therefore can change (unlike our church values, which express what it is to trust God). To reach the aims does not prove our faithfulness to God. To fail to reach them does not prove that we have failed God.

Aims are testable. We set them up to know what success will look like. To be testable is required so we can learn if they are good aims or poor ones.

Aims educate and inspire. Anyone should be able to look at them and say, ‘Now I know what ABC is doing.’ Or – most importantly – ‘Now I know where I will put my prayers and effort.’

If we reach these aims, praise God. It will only be by his Spirit. If we do, we will all still need to reflect and consider what was the reason – the aims are to help us learn our own ministry setting.

On the other hand, if we do not meet these aims, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Failure is a great teacher: perhaps the aim was right but our method was wrong; perhaps the aim was wrong and we need to shift focus.

Over to you, then. What do you think are the pro and con effects when churches have specific vision and aims?