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How to Set SMART Goals for Your Ministry in 2023

Lucas Wollschlager
Written By Lucas Wollschlager
On Mar, 8 2023
25 minute read

Goals give direction. They take those lofty, pie-in-the-sky mission statements and make them measurable and predictable (at least as close as you can get). If you aren’t setting goals in your ministry, you’re missing out. Big time. Here’s some proof if you need convincing. 


Setting goals is a very Catholic thing


Our call is ultimately to be holy. But how do we do that when God alone is holy? We begin to dispose ourselves properly to God’s grace by living a life of virtue. And we grow in virtue incrementally, with diligent effort every day. And if you want to accelerate that growth in virtue — focus on 1-3 virtues, find practical ways to live them out, and track your progress. 


This is spiritual goal-setting at its finest. So why not apply this to our ministry and professional lives?


Set SMART goals

Convinced? If so, and you want to properly set goals for your ministry and professional life in 2023, here’s where we would start. 

First, reflect on the following questions (and write down your answers too!):

  1. Given what we have right now in our ministry (people, resources, support, etc), what kind of difference are we wanting to make? Is it realistic/possible?
  2. What are my strengths, weaknesses, and unique opportunities in my role?
  3. Do we have a mission statement? If not, can my team benefit from creating one? What about individually, do I have a personal mission statement that gives me a sense of purpose and direction in ministry and life? 


Second, it’s time to write your goals. It’s essential to take your responses to the above questions and turn them into concrete and attainable goals. That’s why we recommend using the SMART goal approach to goal-setting. Here’s how SMART goals work:


Let's break each of these down.



Without being exact with what you're trying to achieve in your ministry, it's difficult to outline the steps you need to take to make progress. A specific goal is one that you could share with your boss or peers in 10 seconds that would clearly explain what you're trying to improve.



It's crucial that your goal is trackable and numeric. Many ministries simply say that they want to grow their attendance at events or the number of small groups but they don't specify how much they'd like to grow each. As soon as you attach a number to your goal, you'll be able to track how far you've come since you set the goal and how far you have left until you reach it.



While aiming to do everything humanely possible to turn your ministry into the place for students to be, it's important to keep these goals realistic. If your ministry has historically gained 10 small group members per month, aiming to grow your small groups by 1,000 members next month would be drastic, to say the least. You should never set a goal that you or your team become discouraged by and loses motivation. Instead, set your team and yourself up to succeed by creating goals that are realistic.



Ask yourself why you're setting the goal that you are. How is it going to contribute to my professional life?  How is this going to impact our students/team/campus ministry directly? Ultimately, in the context of your work as a campus minister, the professional goals you set should be tied back to ministry impact. If it's not, consider how you can change or adjust your initial goal.



The final aspect of the SMART framework is one of the most important: setting a timeline for meeting your goal. Without a timeline, you won't be able to determine whether the smaller changes you're making are keeping you on track toward achieving your ultimate goal. Setting a timeline is also key for aligning with your team. When you're increasing the number of events you're doing, for example, you'll need to make sure your core team and ministry staff (if you have one) have the bandwidth to actually execute.


Use this SMART Goal Template

To make it simple for you, here is a template you can use to write your SMART goals: 

(I or accountable party) will (action word/s) (object of the goal) by (time) for the purpose of (relevance/results). 


Here are a few examples of SMART goals using the template format above:


  • I will recruit 3 new students to the ministry core team by May 1, 2023, in order to improve our student outreach, planning and execution of ministry events, and discipleship of students. 
  • I will complete two public speaking courses by August 31, 2023, to improve my presentation skills, and overall effectiveness in speaking with those I minister to.
  • My core team will plan and execute 10 "Catholic 101" events until the end of the semester on May 10, 2023, to attract students who want to learn/have questions about the faith, and invite more to be a part of our ministry. 

FREE Resource: Newman SMART Goal Template


How to evaluate your SMART Goals


Now that you've set your SMART goals, evaluating each goal with a series of questions can ensure you remove any obstacle that will keep you from reaching your goal. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself when evaluating SMART goals:


  1. What is your SMART marketing goal?
  2. Do you feel that this goal is realistically attainable in the time frame you've set?
  3. How many hours per week can you dedicate to attaining your goal?
  4. What is the biggest ministry challenge/roadblock preventing you from achieving this goal?
  5. What are three steps you can take to reduce or remove that challenge and succeed in reaching this goal?


FREE Resource: Newman SMART Goal Template


Ready to tackle your SMART Goals?


Now you have everything you need to set your SMART goals for your ministry in 2023. If you’d like to discuss your goals with other campus ministers, joining a Newman Small Group is a great way to gain greater clarity about what you’re wanting to accomplish as a professional in 2023. >>

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