It has only just occurred to me how difficult it is to set shared goals in Christian ministry. I was used to working in the engineering industry where goal setting is very concrete and everyone employed works naturally toward the same end. When a client sets the goal of building something; an architect sets to work, engineers design and the QS prices it. The builder can see what needs to be built and gets on with it. The goal is obvious and the timescale set. It was much the same to me when selling structural steel. We measured our goal in tonnes per annum. Monthly targets for sales drove production capacity. The whole steelwork company could all work together toward a common, and very concrete goal, so to speak.
But in church ministry, the goal is to glorify God (1 Cor 10:31). But what does that look like? And we are to love, accept, care and pray for one another (Romans 15:7 etc), it’s not easy to know exactly what that looks like either. What about teaching the next generation (Deut 6 and Psalm 78)? That might be the easiest goal to envisage, though putting this into practice is difficult when culture militates against every effort to get the bible open with young people. How does God bless our neighbours and the nations through Christ and his people (Genesis 12:1-3)? I know that we do all this, by trusting and following Christ, but even that is strangely abstract, until we really know him through his word. Then how to we measure and celebrate something as unmeasurable as sanctification or the salt and light effect in our community?
And so, perhaps the engineer and visionary salesman in me needs to die. Do we need goals? Should we simply commit to making disciples one or two at a time and leave it like that? Is there any space in the life of the church today for set goals like Paul’s for Titus, an elder appointed in every town on Crete (Titus 1:5)? I think there is. But how do we make the abstract aim of ministry something everyone can grasp? Anyone got any ideas?