This Article is from our Prepare for Easter Series
A lot of effort and hard work goes into Easter planning and preparation for churches. It is a key day for the church as many people who regularly do not attend, or who attend less consistently, will make church a priority on that day. There are many ways we can plan for big days like Easter whether we try to launch a new preaching series or kick off a new small group or Sunday school initiative. We are aware that Easter allows us to help people connect and either start attending or attend more consistently. But what kind of goals do we typically set for Easter?
One key goal is typically attendance. We want to see more people attend this Easter than last Easter. We’d certainly like to see more people attend on Easter than the weeks leading up to that critical day. Perhaps we set financial goals in hopes that giving during Easter will bolster the budget or help launch new ministry opportunities. Drilling down a bit deeper when it comes to Easter goals, we may plan to get people to return the following week or weeks. We do this by trying harder to make a connection beyond Easter Sunday via a new series launch, as mentioned earlier, or by visitor follow-up and assimilation processes.
Regardless of our goals for Easter, we know that we should have some kind of goal and prayerfully we see it come to fruition. But what if we set a better goal? What if, this year, we looked at our process a bit differently and asked some new questions? Rather than gauging only the uptick in giving, attending, and ongoing commitment of our people on Easter, what if we set the goal of moving people through our ministry pathway?
Horizontal Goals vs. Vertical Goals:
Setting a goal like higher attendance or more people in groups is critical. We must do a good job understanding who we are ministering to and how we can best equip them to do the work of the ministry. Let’s call goals like this “vertical goals,” meaning we want to go up and to the right. We set vertical goals all the time. We want to see more attendance, decisions, giving, serving, and participation all the time. These vertical goals are basic numbers we track consistently. We then compare these numbers to the history and determine how we can impact them for more effectiveness and success. This is a good goal and one we should continue to set and strive toward.
But let’s talk about another type of goal, a better way to determine how effective our ministry is: “horizontal goals.” To arrive at horizontal goals, we must look at each step in our church. For example, if we want our people to move from worship attendance to Sunday school or groups ministry of some kind, then that is one step along a pathway. Once in biblical community, we want to see them serve or be missional in their community — yet another step along the pathway. At Long Hollow, where I serve, we want people to move through four steps along our Discipleship Pathway: Worship, Life Group, Discipleship Group, and Serving/Living on mission. Rather than only setting an Easter goal for more people in each step, we want to set a goal of how people are moving through the steps.
This kind of goal is subtle, so don’t miss just how powerful of an impact it will have!
Rather than just setting a goal of higher than last year, we set a goal of how many are moving from our Worship experience to a Life Groups. Likewise, how are people moving from Life Groups into Discipleship Groups? And finally, we gauge movement from all of these things to serving and living on mission because we are focusing on the goal of movement through the pathway, our efforts and accountability shift to what is critical for equipping our people. Knowing we will examine the way people are moving through the pathway our staff and leadership think differently about Easter and the results thereof.
Easter is a key day for churches; that’s no secret. How we respond to the opportunities Easter provides is a crucial element of our effectiveness. I don’t want to settle for vertical goals on Easter weekend, and I bet you don’t either. Think through your church’s pathway and how you can set horizontal goals to see more significant results this Easter.
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