How to Write SMART Goals

Children's Ministry Goals
Once you know your purpose, mission, and vision, it’s time to create some goals. Goals are the result that you are working towards; the aim.

There are some similarities here to vision, but goals are much more specific. The vision is a single sentence dream for your kids. Goals are the multiple, specific and measurable steps you are going to take to get there.

Goals can be general for children’s ministry or specific to a program. However, since you are creating steps to fulfill your vision, it’s better to be as specific as possible. You will want to create goals for each program you have in children’s ministry that will help you fulfill your vision.

How to write good goals – Be SMART!

Here is an example of a poorly written goal: “I’m going to get volunteers this year.” How will you know when you have achieved your goal? Did you set a time limit on accomplishing this goal? What action are you going to take to get it done? How will you determine that it has been completed? This goal example can be better written if the following criteria are used.


A specific goal is clear-cut. It is precise and definite. It is simply written and clearly defines what you are going to do. It is precise, not general.


A measurable goal is capable of being measured. You can determine if it has been accomplished. How will you know your goal has been completed?


An actionable goal outlines the steps you will take to complete the goal. An actionable goal will have verbs in it like telephone, ask, or teach.


A realistic goal is one that can be done. It might be difficult but it is something that is possible to accomplish. It’s practical in terms of time, opportunity, budget, and resources.


A timely goal has an end date. A timely goal will be accomplished by a certain time. It is a deadline – a time by which you want to have achieved your goal.


So instead of “I’m going to get volunteers this year,” a smart goal would look like this, “On August 19th I am going to telephone 15 prospective volunteers and ask them to serve in the nursery.”

This new goal is specific because it clearly states who is going to do it, when they are going to do it and what it is they are going to do (specific words or phrases in this goal are August 19th, 15 prospective volunteers, serve in the nursery.)

This goal is measurable because it will be completed when 15 calls to prospective volunteers have been made.

It is actionable because the actions taken are clearly stated. You are going to telephone and ask.

It is realistic because it is easily possible to call 15 people in one day.

And finally, it is timely because a date is given. You will know on August 20th whether this goal has been met or not.

Goal Writing Tips

When writing goals avoid words like try, could, and by the end of the year. These words aren’t specific or measurable, or timely.

A well-written goal says what you are going to do and how you are going to do it.

For every goal you write, evaluate it based on these criteria. Is it specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and timely?

These may seem daunting at first, but as you accustom yourself to writing goals this way, you will find it easier and easier. You will also quickly see the wisdom in well-written goals. You will find you need to write new ones as old ones are accomplished!

Purpose, Mission, Vision, and Goals in Children’s Ministry Series:

Introduction – Purpose, Mission, Vision, and Goals in Children’s Ministry

Do You Have a Purpose?

Is Your Mission a Secret Mission?

How’s Your Vision?

How’s Your Vision?

children's ministry visionOnce you have figured out your purpose and your mission, it’s time to move onto your vision. I have already written a series on vision in children’s ministry.




Here are the links to that series:

Why Do You Need a Vision for Your Children’s Ministry?

How Do You Develop a Vision Statement for Your Children’s Ministry? Part 1 – Brainstorming

How Do You Develop a Vision Statement for Your Children’s Ministry Part 2 – Create a Single Sentence Vision Statement

How Do You Develop a Vision Statement for Your Children’s Ministry Part 3 – Get the Word Out


Purpose, Mission, Vision, and Goals in Children’s Ministry Series:

Introduction – Purpose, Mission, Vision, and Goals in Children’s Ministry

Do You Have a Purpose?

Is Your Mission a Secret Mission?

How to Write SMART Goals

Purpose, Mission, Vision, and Goals in Children’s Ministry

Purpose Mission VisionI can understand the temptation to jump right in. You are the new children’s ministry leader at your church or maybe you are the Sunday School Superintendent or maybe the pastor has asked to you take on the VBS program at your church. Whatever it is, the temptation is to jump right in and get to the fun stuff. But when you give in to that temptation, you don’t take time to think about why you are running this program or what you hope to accomplish.

Maybe you have been leading children’s ministry in your church for a while. Maybe you have been doing VBS for years. Maybe you have been teaching Sunday School for as long as you can remember. You’re plugging along. Things are going fine, but when you stop to think about it, you are not really getting anywhere. Chances are you know the purpose and mission of your ministry, even if it’s not written down anywhere. But maybe you don’t have a vision for that ministry or maybe you haven’t fleshed out your vision. Maybe you haven’t created any goals that will help you accomplish big things in your ministry.

Purpose, Mission, Vision, Goals

Children’s ministry is so important that any leader needs to take the time to start at the beginning and outline the purpose, mission, vision, and goals for the ministry (no matter how long they’ve been at it!)

Some of you might be groaning, but this isn’t just boring paperwork. This is the fun stuff! This is where you get to dream big for the ministry you are involved with and more importantly for the kids you are serving.

This is where you get to answer big questions like “Why does this ministry exist?” and “What are we going to do?” and “How are we going to get there?”

For any ministry you are involved with, whether you are leading or volunteering, it’s important to know why you are doing it and what you hope to accomplish. This is where you get to figure out the big picture and help others see the big picture.

In this series, I’m going to explain what purpose, mission, vision, and goals are and why they are important for your ministry.
The series will start with purpose. The big question to ask when figuring out purpose is “Why does this ministry exist?” Next, we’ll move onto mission and ask, “What are we going to do?” Third is vision, “How are we going to get there?” And finally, I’m going to help you write some goals that will help you fulfill your purpose and make your vision a reality.

Purpose, Mission, Vision, and Goals in Children’s Ministry Series

Introduction – Purpose, Vision, and Goals in Children’s Ministry

Do You Have a Purpose?

Is Your Mission a Secret Mission?

How’s Your Vision?

How to Write SMART Goals



Is it time for a check-up? Here’s a Program Evaluation Tool

SurveyNo matter what ministry you are involved with, periodic evaluation is necessary. Programs in children’s ministry can run for years with parents and volunteers assuming that everything is fine. But it’s important to take a step back every once and a while and really consider how a specific program is doing. Is it fulfilling its purpose? Is it meeting a current need?

Evaluation is important for every program in children’s ministry. If the program is doing well, then be encouraged. If it isn’t, then let me encourage you to use this as an opportunity for positive change!

The prospect of conducting an evaluation on a current ministry program can be daunting. Here is a tool that you can use to make the process simple yet effective.
This program evaluation tool uses 5 steps to conduct an evaluation and develop an action plan.

Step 1—Pray

This is the first step in an evaluation process, but it should also be sprinkled throughout the process. When doing an honest evaluation we need the Holy Spirit to guide us and convict us.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

In every situation, including embarking on an evaluation process, present your requests to God. And the promise is peace that will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus.

So, pray before you begin and pray throughout the process.

Step 2—Define the Program

This particular evaluation tool was designed for one specific program at a time. During this step you will articulate the purpose, position on the children’s ministry spectrum, and vision of this particular program.

If you don’t have the answer to one or more of these questions, don’t worry. You can find the answer. It’s important to have these foundational things before you move on in the evaluation process.

Take the time you need to step out of the evaluation process and define the purpose of your program. Take a few minutes to plot where it is on the children’s ministry spectrum. Is it helping to fulfill the children’s ministry vision? If you need help with the children’s ministry spectrum or writing a vision statement, links are provided to articles that will help you.

Once you have defined the program, it’s time to move on to step 3.

Step3—Evaluate the Program

The program evaluation tool is divided into 4 categories: Purpose/Vision; Program/Curriculum; Volunteers; and Administration.  Within each category are a series of questions. To complete the evaluation, mark the column that best matches your answer to that question (“Absolutely”, “Somewhat”, “Not really”, or “Not at all”). Answer these questions as accurately as possible, taking into account the program’s current situation. Be careful not to answer based on what you want the answer to be but rather how it is right now. The more accurately you answer these questions now, the easier the next steps will become!

So be honest and take your time.

Step 4—Reflect on the Program

This section of the evaluation contains 3 questions for you to answer. These questions give you the opportunity to get down on paper your thoughts about this program. Use as much space and take as much time as you need. The answers you give here can help to reveal deeper thoughts and feelings about your program that you might not have answered in the evaluation chart in the previous step and these answers will help you as you go through the rest of this tool.

Step 5—Identify Next Steps

This sections contains a flowchart will help you identify potential next steps to take as a result of how you answered the evaluation questions. By the time you are finished you should have a list of things to do to improve your program.

Use the program evaluation tool to help you honestly evaluate your program and come up with a plan for what to do in the future.

Why Biblical literacy is an issue that every Children’s Ministry leader needs to address

biblical literacyI read some articles and blog posts the other day that were centered on the issue of Biblical literacy.

One blogger I read said they were concerned that a focus on Biblical literacy would mean making a relationship with God less important. In another article, the author calls Biblical illiteracy a crisis and “the most dangerous threat to the viability of the Church in America”.

What is Biblical literacy?

Biblical literacy is knowledge of the Bible. But it’s about more than just having memorized all 66 books of the Bible and knowing the 10 Commandments. Someone who is Biblically literate understands the big picture story of the Bible. The Bible is not a book of stand alone stories; it is one big story – the story of God and His people.

Biblical literacy is hugely important. We need to know the Bible because that is where God reveals Himself to us.

In his book, Revolutionary Parenting, Christian researcher George Barna states that most of our children are Biblically illiterate and that more than half believe Jesus sinned just like us when He was on earth.

Biblical literacy is crucial for our kids because the Bible is where we get to know God. God chose to reveal Himself to us primarily through His Word – the Bible. Our kids need to know the Bible. Not so that they know that Zephaniah comes before Malachi, but that they understand that the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and Zephaniah keeps His promises. As they read and are taught how everything fits together and begin to understand the chronology of the Bible, they will see that over and over again, God keeps His promises. And maybe they will come to trust our faithful God. They will see that God is holy and that people are sinners. They will see that our holy God made a way for sinners to be saved because He is loving and merciful and gracious.

If our main goal is making disciples, Biblical literacy needs to be an important part of our educational strategy. We want kids to know, love, and follow God. The primary way our kids will get to know God is through the Bible.

So teach your kids to love their Bibles! Encourage your kids to be reading their Bibles; help kids understand how to navigate their Bibles; encourage them to become familiar with the books of the Bible. Not just so that they can say they have memorized all 66 books of the Bible, but so that they can get to know the God of the Bible.

1 2