Ask any business person or Girl Scout and they can probably tell you all about S.M.A.R.T. goals. In many places, they are an essential part of planning. Knowing what your goals are will not only help you achieve them, they will help you decide what to do next. When organizations and people don’t have goals, they tend to wander aimlessly, going wherever the winds take them.
Yet for some reason, if you ask a Bible class teacher or a faith-based volunteer what their S.M.A.R.T. goals are, they rarely have an answer. Some may know the mission statement of their program, but often that is very nebulous and undefined.
I want to encourage you to make S.M.A.R.T. goals for your class whether or not your Bible school or faith-based program has its own goals. They will help you focus your efforts and will give you more than a “feeling” to know whether or not your class is successful.
So what are S.M.A.R.T. goals? The letters represent specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and bound by time. Since we are working with Bible programs, I would suggest you ignore the achievable and realistic. Although our goals will hopefully be godly, they also need to be part of God’s Plan and His timing. We have all seen God do amazing things that we would have said were not achievable or realistic and yet God made them happen. We have also seen God delay our plans and fulfill our goals later in amazing ways – when His timing happened.
So, in our new God-centered model, you only have to think about goals which are specific, measurable and bound by time. I will give you some examples I did for a group of volunteers working with an urban ministry’s day camp for a couple of days:
- Volunteers will be able to state one personal spiritual goal and how this week affected it.
- Volunteers will find at least two things they have in common with at least five campers this week (empathy building).
- Volunteers will begin reading Proverbs, James and/or Mark independently before returning home.
- Volunteers will share their faith with at least one person this week by telling what God has done for them, pointing out something that reminds them God is alive and active, sharing the story of Jesus and what our response needs to be, etc.
Having these goals written and in front of them, can help these volunteers get more from their week and analyze it accurately at the end of it. Notice every goal is as specific as it can possibly be and has a lot of numbers attached (time is bound by the length of their mission trip). There is also a mix of goals for their personal spiritual growth and for interacting with their students. I encourage people to stick to three or four goals. If you have many more than that, you can get overwhelmed. Once you have completed a goal, you can always add another one.
If this group doesn’t have these goals, their mission trip could dissolve into lots of fun and “I felt really spiritual because the kids hugged me.” or “I didn’t feel spiritual because it was so hot.” There is nothing wrong with fun and feelings, except the mission site is depending upon them to help point their campers to God and ground them in God’s Word. They want the group to have lots of fun, but they also want the needs of their campers met, too.
If you are making goals for your personal class, they will help you examine things that happen in light of your goals. Is what you are doing helping you reach those goals? Do you need to change something to be more effective? Is your class really accomplishing what you want it to accomplish?
Ultimately, all of our goals are subject to editing by God so they fit into His Plan and His timing. I have found though it is usually fairly easy (although not always) to tell when God is editing your goals and when you are doing something (or not doing something) that needs to be changed so you can reach your goals. So pull out a pen and some paper and start making those goals. You may find your class begins reaching your students in ways you didn’t think were possible.