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Don’t Get Stuck with Just One Finish Line

dont stuck one finish line sara thomas

Instead, create defining moments.

Before I explain defining moments, can we check-in about your year? It’s the middle of March. I’m wondering if you started the new year with resolutions or goals to achieve more, do more, save more, or lose more?

What’s happened to those resolutions or goals? If you lost momentum before we left January, you’re in good company.

We’ve all been there. We start the year will good intentions only to get off track.

If you’re still going strong, keep going! What follows will help you, too.

First, let’s explore why we fail to stay focused on achieving our goals. Then, I’ll offer three ways to create defining moments. Hint: defining moments can help you achieve your goals.

And, in case you’re wondering. Yes, you can still achieve goals this year. It’s only March after all. 🙂

Why We Fail

Sometimes we fail at achieving our goals. We don’t work out, we don’t save, we don’t motivate our team. Failure to act may sound silly, but it is common.


The Goal Isn’t Compelling

We fail because the goal is not compelling. Let me ask you, how compelling is it to have a 15% increase in worship attendance? I work with a lot of church leaders and served churches for almost 20 years. Can I offer you a newsflash (insert sarcastic smirk ;0) A percentage increase in worship attendance has never motivated anyone.

The end goal of increase worship attendance by 15% is as motivating as lose 10 pounds. You may know you should. But, it’s not drawing you forward.

The Goal Is Too Big

Another common failure is trying to eat an elephant in one bite. Let me say that differently. You won’t arrive at the end of the year with $25,000 more in the budget without a plan to get there, steps along the way, and invitations to behave differently.

We Fail at Perfect

How many times have you stopped something the day after you fail to be perfect? You were supposed to workout today and didn’t. So, you don’t workout at all for the next year.

As ludicrous as it sounds, it happens all the time.

As leaders, we encounter detours and setbacks. What we had hoped to achieve didn’t happen.

Create Defining Moments

A defining moment is a “short experience that is both memorable and meaningful.” Short is a relative term.

While there may be multiple reasons for the failed goals. Here are three ways to turn those goals into achievements.

Create Compelling Goals

Turn that 15% increase in worship attendance into a compelling goal.

Everyone will want to embrace a goal that is compelling. Most don’t even know about goals like “increase worship attendance by 15%” because we’re not even compelled to communicate the goal!

So how do we create a compelling goal?

Think for a minute about this question: What would happen if a church worshipping 150 people had an average worship attendance of 170 next year?

These are people who have encountered the life-changing love of Jesus in and through your church. So instead of a 15% increase in worship attendance that sounds like a spreadsheet, inanimate goal. Let’s make it personal.

New Goal: Help 20 new people know they are loved by God and a Christian community by December 31, 2018.

Create Clarity

While the above goal is better than the first attempt at a 15% increase in attendance, it fails to tell us how we will measure if someone knows they are loved by God and the Christian community.

Baptism and professions of faith are the most obvious marker of the first. So now we’ve identified a way to measure an experience of God’s love. We no longer are simply talking about 20 random people claiming they experienced God’s love today.

Yes, we want people to claim they experienced God’s love – it’s wonderful – but it is not our stated goal.

Our real goal is to help people become committed disciples of Jesus Christ.

The first step is becoming a part of the Christian community through baptism or profession of faith. The second part of our goal, “being loved by the Christian community,” means that every newly baptized person will have a small group community around them.

Our clarified goal now emerges as: Help 20 new people know they are loved by God through baptism and loved by a Christian community by being connected to a small group.

But, wait…

That still doesn’t get them to worship every week or make them a committed Christian, does it?

So now we have to widen the invitation, widen the accountability, and motivate others to get involved in achieving this goal. If that seems like a tall order, hang on…this is why we need milestones.

Multiply Milestones

Milestones are those moments that mark a significant achievement. It’s time to create milestones.

If you’re aiming for 20 people, the easiest way to create a milestone is to celebrate milestones along the way. Perhaps you’ll communicate and celebrate fifth, tenth, fifteenth and nineteenth baptism with pride.

Why the nineteenth? Because when you’re that close to achieving the goal it elicits a concerted push to achieve the goal. That “push” in a Christian context may appear as intentional prayer, intentional invitation, intentional friendships.

Not every person who visits the church for worship or a small group will seek to be baptized. A milestone might be to celebrate the 40th visitor and the person who brought them. Anyone with a little competitive streak and a lot of love will want to get involved.

Then, surprise them with a celebration.

Wait we throw them a party? Well…maybe.

Or, maybe make a visit and celebrate.

Drive to their home. Before you go, post on Facebook or Instagram that you’ll be going live in 15 minutes. Then, when you arrive, go live! Share the experience with others online and then on Sunday morning.  You’ve just created a moment everyone will remember.

Here are a few other ideas for milestone moments:

  • Celebrate the first teenager who is baptized. Have his/her friends share their story in video form and shower them with cards of love.
  • Have a competition between small groups to multiply. If every small group has to multiple when they reach 10 people, celebrate the first small group to multiply.
  • You may celebrate the first time 20 people attend a “get to know the pastor/church” or “orientation” session.
  • You could celebrate the moment that you’ve offered the 25th invitation of the year. No, these invitations don’t have to all be baptisms.

What milestone moments will you create this year? Doing so will allow you to create multiple finish lines.

Today’s a great day to get started.

Need a boost to get back on track with your goals? Download the Restart Worksheet below.