While this article is guided towards First Baptist Church where I pastor, the goals are universal and can be applied to all Christians at all churches.
At the beginning of each year, I like to reflect on the previous year evaluate where our church stands. This helps me to set some goals for our coming year and challenge each person to contribute to those goals. Let’s look at some areas of growth, some areas of concern, and some goals for the coming year.
First the positives. This year our worship attendance grew 7% from last year. Out of 12 months, eleven saw an increase in attendance from the previous year. Our Sunday School attendance grew slightly as well.
This year saw an emphasis on missions. A team of 12 students and adults went to West Virginia to put on a Bible School and help with flood relief. Another team of 8 adults went to the United Kingdom to meet with our missionaries in England and Wales and assist in a youth camp. More money was spent on missions this year than the previous two years combined. Our church and community supported these trips well, allowing us to come in under budget for our trips even with surprise expenses.
Our Vacation Bible School was healthy this year, and our children participated in leading worship more frequently. Mom2Mom continues to draw in women from the community. We established some Reach Out strategies including an evangelism training course. I’m thankful for the many other ministries that First Baptist participated in this past year as well.
On the other hand, our church certainly has room for improvement. While our Sunday School attendance was up slightly, it did not grow at the rate of our worship attendance. More personal discipleship is needed through small groups and individual studies. And while evangelism strategies were begun, they were not effectively carried out to lead more people to Christ than previous years.
Our 2016 budget was an aggressive budget that called for increased missions and ministry. I am thankful for the ministry that was done, but our giving was not enough to sustain that level of spending in 2017. We were forced to reevaluate several line items and decreased our budget significantly. This does not mean we will be doing less ministry in 2017, but it does mean that we will have to be more creative in how we do ministry in 2017.
Let me outline several goals for First Baptist in 2017. These are goals for you as an individual that will help First Baptist as well.
1. Strengthen our unity by participating in our Member’s Class. We have seen growth over the past year and people from the community are attending our church more frequently. A unified church can quickly experience division when there is a lack of a clearly communicated cohesive mission. Make it your goal to take our four week Member’s Class this year.
2. Strengthen our faith by getting involved in discipleship. If you are not a part of a small group Sunday School class, make it your goal to join one. Believe me when I tell you that you will learn as much or more from our Sunday School teachers than you will from the sermons. Make it your goal to faithfully attend a small group this year.
3. Strengthen our resources by giving more financially. Our spending was under budget in 2016 but it still out paced our giving. If we don’t commit to give obediently, we will not make budget again. Make it your goal to Biblically tithe this year.
4. Strengthen our obedience by investing in personal evangelism. Church evangelism programs are not effective enough. It takes individuals with initiative to share their faith. Who have you personally led to the Lord in 2016? Who will you pray for and strategically talk to about Christ in 2017? Make it your goal to lead at least one person to Christ this year.
These are not trivial New Year’s resolutions. They are concrete goals that will help you as an individual and First Baptist as a family. Pray about how you can reach these goals in 2017.