Church SMART Goals: All You Need to Know [Plus Examples]


When you set goals and achieve them, it feels terrific. It's satisfying to see specific accomplishments, but not just on paper: they're an excellent tool for growth, spiritually and professionally.

If you are looking to enhance your church-going experience, one way you can do so would be to employ church SMART goals. The acronym SMART stands for: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Let's get into the details.

Do you want to grow your church? It is easy to set scary, feel-bad-about-yourself goals when we set goals. The plans don't work because they aren't specific. Goals that are specific, measurable, and attainable give you something to reach for and ensure that you get what you want.

This article breaks down effective SMART goal examples you can use in your ministry or church.

What Are SMART Goals?

Pastor writing down smart goals animation

SMART goals are straightforward, but also immensely helpful. SMART is an acronym that stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable or motivating
  • Actionable or Achievable
  • Realistic or relevant
  • Time-Related

Some people define each letter of the SMART goal system differently, but overall the intention is to set goals that have precise results that you can track. 

If a goal is specific, you've honed in on something beyond the base level of the goal. For example, "increasing church donations" is too vague. Instead, you'd want to note a specific way that you'd like to increase church donations (we'll discuss how to refine that later on). 

For a goal to be measurable, you want to have a clear metric for when you'd feel successful—using the donation example again, when you hit a donation goal of $500 for a week.

Actionable goals are ones that you can create a clear path for. You know the step-by-step method to reach that goal. 

Realistic goals are ones that you know you can achieve (and this is sometimes interchangeable with "achievable"). You would never set a goal of getting a million-dollar donation in a single week, for example, because it's unrealistic.

Time-related or time-constrained goals have a clear beginning and endpoint to stay on track. In this case, the week would be your time constraint. 

How Are Church SMART Goals Helpful for Goal Setting?

Goals Notepad with List - Church Blog-1

SMART goals are essential for goal setting.

Vague goals can be effective for simple day-to-day tasks at home (for example, "I'll clean the dishes" is more than enough when it comes to your daily chores), but if you're trying to achieve something important on a large scale, it can be hard to stay focused.

Using the SMART model, you're creating a specific checklist of things that you need to do (and we recommend using a written checklist with broken-down steps for larger goals to make life easier for yourself and the other church leaders you're working alongside).

SMART goals can be motivating. It can be frustrating to have a vague plan that isn't being completed no matter how hard you try. With SMART goals, you have a clear roadmap.

SMART goals also allow you to share that roadmap with others clearly and effectively. Because you've been so specific, it's easier for other people to see your vision and help you.


How Do You Set SMART Goals for the Church?

Setting SMART goals for the church requires a bit of effort. You likely already have plenty of vague goals that you're working toward, so your new objective is to figure out where you can refine them.

This isn't as complicated as it might seem on the surface, and you can likely transform all of your goals into SMART goals in a single brainstorming session.

Here are a few church SMART goals examples. See how we narrow down vague goals into both effective and actionable goals.

Visiting Community Events

As a church leader, you should always be trying to drum up support, donations, and new church members by visiting community events. Even people who have no interest in the church appreciate a church leader who shows interest in the community and is willing to contribute.

"Visiting community events" isn't quite specific enough. So what would it look like if we refined it? Here's one example. 

"I will visit at least two community events this month to increase the church's visibility. I will then see how many new members have joined the church."

Let's break down how this works in the SMART model.

First, it's specific. You're attending many events, and you have a clear goal in mind for those events.

It's measurable because you're going to track the number of new members you gain from going to events. This is a clear measurement. 

It's actionable because you have a clear set of steps that you will follow. You will go to events and interact with community members.

It's realistic because going to two community events in a month is an easy task.

It's time-related because you've given yourself a month to complete it. This is a brief goal, but that makes it easier to start. 


Setting Up Youth Groups

So you want to set up youth groups or youth activities in your church. Instead, how about:

"I will set up weekly youth groups starting in July. I will advertise these youth groups on social media platforms and plan at least one event per month to keep children engaged. The goal is to add at least ten new members by October."

These church SMART goals are specific because you're going to do a set number of youth groups and events, and you're going to advertise them in a specific way. 

It's measurable because you're tracking the number of children you add to your youth groups, and it's actionable because you have a set path to reach that number.

It's realistic because adding ten new members in several months is a small goal (one that you'll likely go beyond). Because you've restricted your timeframe to several months, it's also time-related.

Setting (And Maintaining) a Budget

Of course, you want to set and maintain a budget, but that's not considered in the church SMART goals category. Alternatively:

"I will use the church's spending and donation history to set a firm budget for the upcoming year. I will allocate money toward church outreach by setting aside $100 per month."

It's specific because you've decided how you're going to go about the goal and how much money you want to set aside for a specific purpose. It's measurable because of that particular dollar amount.

It's actionable because you know how you're going to get there. You're setting aside $100 per month. It's realistic because $100 per month is a low number for most churches.

It's time-related because you're using months as checkpoints. 

Using Social Media Channels

Modern churches often use social media channels to drum up interest, but these aren’t church SMART goals. Instead:

"I will start an Instagram account and create (and post) content at least twice per week. I aim to get 300 followers and at least 30 new members within my first six months."

It's specific because you've honed in on a single social media channel and a set amount of content that you're posting. It's measurable because of your follower count and new membership goal.

It's actionable because you have a clear pathway to success, and it's realistic because, even for new accounts, consistency can get you to 300 followers with relative ease. You only want 1/10th of those followers to become members.

You've given yourself a six-month time restraint, making it time-related.

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Planning Church Events

So, you're planning fun church fundraising events! That's fantastic, but where are you going to start? Let's refine it. 

"I will plan three church bake sales in the next six months. The goal is to raise $1,000 in that timeframe from the bake sales alone and gain 20 new members."

Planning three bake sales allows you to hone in on one specific type of event. You can also arrange other events, but this is a refined goal. You're measuring your success by setting the amount of money you'd like to earn and the number of members you'd like to welcome to your church. 

The specificity also makes the church SMART goals actionable. You know how to set up bake sales (and you can easily delegate responsibilities to others). It's realistic because you've given yourself a broad timeframe, a relatively low donation goal, and a small number of new members.

Finally, it's time-related because of the six-month timeframe. 

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Greeting New Church Members

When new people join your church after you've worked so hard to attract them, you want to make them feel welcome and keep them coming back! But how are you going to do that?

"When a new member joins, I'll greet them in person. I'll ask for their contact information to send them a personalized email or traditional mail greeting within one week. I'll use this communication to encourage them to return.

I'll measure overall church attendance at the end of six months to see my progress."

The specific goal is to increase church attendance and greet every church member within one week. The measurement is going to be the church attendance.

The goal is actionable because you know that sending an email or traditional piece of mail to the new church member is how you intend to attain it. It's a realistic goal because this is not going to be much effort on your part and encouraging people to stay with the church is easier than gaining new members.

It's time-related because of the one-week timeframe you're giving yourself and the one-year check-in. 

Establishing a Church Newsletter

So, you're ready to start sending out a church newsletter. What does that SMART goal look like?

"This month, I will find a volunteer writer to write about upcoming church events for a monthly newsletter. I will collect email addresses from all members of the church. The goal is to get better attendance at church events. I will track attendance at the end of each month."

Your specific goal is to get better attendance at church events. You can measure that attendance by counting church members at each event.

You have a clear action plan, and you've even determined that you're going to delegate the writing responsibility to someone else (which makes it more realistic).

You've given yourself a timeframe for the initial writer search and each attendance check.

It's time-related because of the one-week timeframe you're giving yourself and the one-year check-in. Getting More Church Donations

All church leaders want to maximize their church donations, but how can you make that a better goal?

"I will plan two church fundraisers per month to reach at least $6,000 in donations within a year. I will put a notice on the church bulletin board about donations and refresh the notice at the end of each month."

This is a multi-step goal, but it's still specific enough to be functional. You're going to measure your success by the monetary amount of donations you receive in a year.

Because you know that you're going to achieve this goal via fundraisers and donation notices, it's actionable. While the donation number might seem high, it's realistic because $6,000 in a year is only $500 per month (split between two fundraisers).

You've set a time for both your monthly bulletins and your fundraisers and an endpoint for your yearly goal.

Contributing to Charitable Causes

Finally, one of your goals as a church leader is to involve yourself in local charitable causes. This is what Jesus would want you to do. But how do you narrow down those causes so you can do the most for your community?

Let's get more specific.

"I will hold three food-drive events that support local homeless shelters every year. We will aim to collect a minimum of $1,000 and 50 lbs of nonperishable food per event."

You've chosen a specific charity and method of receiving donations for it. You're measuring the monetary value of those donations and the amount of food you can gather for the people without homes in your community.

The goal is actionable because you've honed in on one type of event that's realistic to plan as long as you have great help. You've also given yourself realistic goal limits for yourself.

Because you know that you want three events per year and a set amount of donations per event, this is time-related.

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