SMART goals are good. Systems are better.

SMART Goals Revisited 

Are you planning for church growth in 2021 or beyond? Are you planning on expanding your facilities or ministries in the short, mid, or long-term?  Will you be starting a capital campaign to raise the funding necessary to meet those initiatives? If so, you do indeed need to create SMART goals as a starting point. 

Simply put, the best “goals” have characteristics that separate them from “wishes.” SMART is an acronym to help guide you. Here’s an example in which we convert a “wish” into a SMART goal. 

Wish: “Let’s raise money to improve our church.” 


SMART goals are specific about their intended purpose and help define the “what and why.” The “wish” above tells us very little other than the church needs improvement, and you want to raise money. Are we defining the church as the building or is the Church the people? Does the roof leak or do your members need food to eat? If you’re raising money, people want to know how their donations will help. 

Specific: “Let’s raise money to build a new sanctuary that has increased capacity and better lighting.” 


Now we have some specificity, but no measurability. How will we know when we have raised enough money? Technically, bringing in a folding chair from the garage will increase capacity. So, let’s be quantitative. 

Specific and Measurable: “Let’s raise $100,000,000 to build a new sanctuary that has seating for 30,000, skylights, and plenty of windows.” 

(There’s a little wiggle room here for the number of windows and skylights, but you can’t know everything upfront. Try to make sure the goal communicates the outcome you want.)  


Take this opportunity to give yourself a reality check. Goals are intended to “stretch” your abilities, not break them. Don’t demotivate your congregation with unrealistic expectations. As with all things, consult God in prayer to align your designs with the Holy Spirit.   

Specific, Measurable, Attainable: “Let’s raise $100,000 to build a new sanctuary that has seating for 3,000, skylights, and plenty of windows.” 


People do not want to set goals for the sake of setting them. There should be a tangible value attached to achieving your objective. What is the purpose? 

Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant: “Let’s raise $100,000 to build a new sanctuary that has seating for 3,000 and better accommodates the elderly and those with special needs, has skylights, and plenty of windows.” 


Are you establishing a 5-year plan, or do you need the money next month? If people donate their time or tithes, when should they expect to see the fruits of their contributions? 

Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound: “Let’s raise $100,000 by May 31st, 2021 to start construction on a new sanctuary by October 31st, 2021. The new sanctuary will have seating for 3,000 and better accommodate the elderly and those with special needs, will have skylights, and plenty of windows. Construction will be finished by June of 2022.” 

Why SMART Goals Fail 

SMART goals are great.  Systems and processes are better. The best SMART goals will fail if there is no strategy implemented to attain them and no systems or processes established that will drive you forward. In fact, systems and processes that facilitate your journey in the correct direction are more important than the goal itself. Effective systems and processes will get you closer to a desirable outcome even if the goal changes or completely fails. 

How do you develop systems and processes to accomplish your goal?  Firstly, document the strategies you will implement to achieve your goal. For example, for the goal above, you will most likely start a capital campaign. An effective capital campaign will include multiple specific strategies. Perhaps you will acquire corporate sponsors for a concert series. You may need to meet individually with wealthy members. Perhaps you will conduct a phone-a-thon. The strategies are endless, but the top three methods you decide on should be documented. Additionally, you should assign “first steps” to named individuals with concrete due dates.  

Once your strategies and first steps are detailed, you’ll need to identify repeatable systems and processes that promote accountability. We’ll cover more on creating effective systems and processes in a future post.  

Contact Eden Religious Facilities to speak to one of our advisors.