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5 reasons you should use goal setting for evangelism

| by Thom Rainer

When it comes to goal setting in the church, particularly in regards to evangelism, three of the most common objections I’ve heard are:

  • “It’s human-centered, not God-centered.”
  • “It’s another attempt to transfer a secular methodology to the church.”
  • “It’s not dependent upon God and prayer.”

I get it. You can indeed turn goal setting into a human-centered endeavor. But the reality is that most any effort in the church can become prayer-less and not dependent on the Holy Spirit.

However, I suggest that goal setting for evangelism can truly be used for God’s glory and be obedient to the Great Commission.

To be clear, I advocate lead metricsfor goal setting more thanlag metrics.We commonly set goals for conversions, baptisms, professions of faith, salvation decisions, or similar nomenclature. Those are lag metrics. I suggest, however, your church use lead metrics along with lag metrics.

Lead metrics defined

Lead metrics are acts of obedience that—in God’s power—result in the lag metrics noted above. They include goals for sharing the gospel; writing letters or emails to non-Christians and unchurched persons; enjoying meals or coffee with people without Christ (or those without a church home), or leaving flyers about the church at homes.

Those are but a few examples of evangelistic, or pre-evangelistic, efforts.

I argue that churches that set lead metric goals for evangelism will actually see greater evangelistic fruit. Here are five reasons why:

1. Goal setting makes us intentional about the Great Commission. Our natural inclination is to be inwardly-focused. Yet, if we regularly focus on reaching outwardly because of our goals, we are more inclined to do so.

2. Goal setting is a statement about church and individual priorities.Do you think it helps your marriage to set a goal to have one date night a week? Certainly, because that is a statement of the importance of your marriage relationship. Likewise, goal setting for evangelism is a statement that the church is serious about the Great Commission.

3. Goal setting is working in many churches. Yes, there is a pragmatic reality here. I know of a church of 130 in attendance that had been plateaued for five years. That church set a faith goal of “1,000 in One Year.” The goal was the church’s way of using lead metrics.

They counted gospel presentations, visits with unchurched persons, and hanging invitation brochures (an invitation to the church that can be hung on a door handle or knob) in the 1,000 total. At the end of the year, they had exceeded their goal and made 1,700 contacts!

Church attendance increased by nearly 50 percent to 190, and the church saw 24 people become believers in Christ through these efforts. Those were the highest number in two decades!

4. Goal setting is a constant reminder to church members to be outwardly focused. The church noted above kept a running total of evangelism contacts before the church, reporting the growing number every week. It was a clear statement that the church and its members were to be outwardly focused.

5. Goal setting leads to church unity. The greatest reason for church conflict is inwardly-focused members who think church is all about getting their own way. When they don’t, they become frustrated and even combative. Evangelism goal setting keeps the focus on the “other” instead of “me.”

Instrument of evangelism

Goal setting, when used in a gospel-centric effort, can truly be an evangelistic instrument for the church.

What lead metrics can your church use to engender this Great Commission focus? How would you engender accountability? Let me hear from you.


Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. He is also a former pastor, seminary dean, and leader of a consulting firm. Rainer is the author or co-author of 25 books, including his latest release from B&H Publishing Group: Who Moved My Pulpit? Leading Change in the Church. His 2013 book, I Am a Church Member, has sold more than one million copies.

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