During the summer months when many of the major television shows are on hiatus, the Rhodes family particularly enjoys watching American Ninja Warrior. The show is an athletic competition program featuring competitors who attempt various obstacles of ever-increasing difficulty and increasingly ambitious objectives. Of the dozens of competitors, only a few progress along the various stages through to the finals. As we have watched the show over the last few years, many reach their goals and many do not.
It seems to me that this can easily be seen as an allegory for life. We all work through challenges, and some periods of our lives seem as though those challenges are ever-increasing. We often set goals – to wake up on time, to get a job or a promotion, to start a new hobby. Some of us set these goals with vision and clarity, some of us simply decide that we want to do something better, and some have other approaches.
I confess that I have a difficult relationship with “goals.” I absolutely think through shorter-term goals that – to me – seem a bit average. When I feel as though I do something poorly, I absolutely spend time and energy working toward improvement. But I don’t think of that as setting and achieving goals. I’m sure this is a growth opportunity for me, and I’ve already begun working on it.
Our VUE (Visioning, Uniting, Expanding) committee works in a particular pattern of goal-setting that continues to be helpful. We have set in motion several growing small groups that meet during the week to discuss our weekly scriptures and sermons (note: most have taken the summer off), and we have already put in motion quarterly fellowship and learning opportunities. Most recently, our quarterly gathering featured the Rev. Julie Elkins and a one-woman show on women in the Bible. This month, we’ll have a panel discussing LGBTQIA identity and relationships through scripture (see page 5). These are fantastic opportunities to gather together for fellowship and good food and great learning! This is a helpful model and I am learning how to incorporate goal-setting in my regular routines.
As you may know, sometimes goals are set for us by outside influencers. I wish to share with you a goal that has been set for us – and a goal that has my full support. At the Annual Conference gathering in June, Bishop Grant Hagiya set a goal for all congregations in our region to meet the following goals:
- Every local church needs to reach out to its surrounding neighborhood and bring 10 new people to Christ per year (10 new Baptisms, 10 new Professions of Faith, or some combination);
- every church to increase its average worship attendance by 10%;
- every church to make 25% of our current congregations into living Disciples;
- every church needs to give 100% of its apportionments.
The purpose in these goals is to revitalize all of the churches in our region with the understanding that revitalization is necessary for an estimated 90% of our congregations. I would suggest that revitalization should be an ongoing process even if we are growing.
These are lofty goals. These are far-reaching goals. And these are achievable goals. And even though these are goals for which I – your Pastor – will be held accountable, these are not goals I can achieve on my own. These are goals for all of us at Pacific Beach United Methodist Church.
So we have work to do, and it is good work. It is work that we will not do alone, but will do together and with the help of our gracious and loving God. What we do now continues to nourish those who are already in our midst, so let us look for new ways to be in ministry to and with our community so that we can achieve and even surpass these incredible goals. Let us join together in this good work!