Target 80--The Bold Adventure

TARGET 80 involves the application of modern management principles to church growth and strategy. It has really captured the imagination of our administrators and departmental leaders throughout the Far Eastern Division. We have already begun to see a strong upward turn since launching this eight-year evangelistic thrust. Many areas have had more baptisms this year than for the same period in 1973. . .

-president of the Sarawak Mission at the time this article was written

TARGET 80 involves the application of modern management principles to church growth and strategy. It has really captured the imagination of our administrators and departmental leaders throughout the Far Eastern Division. We have already begun to see a strong upward turn since launching this eight-year evangelistic thrust. Many areas have had more baptisms this year than for the same period in 1973.

The Target 80 emphasis comes from a keen desire on the part of our workers throughout this division to step up the pace in order to more swiftly accomplish the Lord's work. Because of our desire to experience acceleration in the rate of growth and the advance of the church throughout the Far Eastern Division, we began to ask the basic question: How can we stimulate all organizations and workers to focus on the things that will really accomplish the purpose for which we exist? It was during the latter months of 1972 that we wrestled with this question in our Mission Advance Research Committee (MARC), a group appointed by President Paul Eldridge to give study in depth to future mission advance.

The financial uncertainty owing to dollar devaluation had compelled us to take a long hard look at how we were using our resources—both men and money. It seemed that we needed a more long-range plan of action—a master plan for setting objectives and allocating our resources with the view of achieving maximum results with the resources at hand. Thus the birth of a new concept in mission planning: a committee of the future that would not only study trends and changing patterns but that could recommend creative, innovative new dimensions of planning to the division committee.

Master Strategy of the Future

A MARC proposal to the annual committee in November, 1972, resulted in the adoption of an eight-year master strategy that involves every unit of organization throughout the Far Eastern Division in establishing objectives to be reached by mid-year 1980. From the selection of this date we have taken our theme: Target 80.

MISSION '72 introduced and MISSION '73 and '74 have underlined a new life-style for the Seventh-day Adventist Church—a continuous, coordinated evangelistic outreach in which all departments of the church work together as a team to accomplish united objectives. This is the very heart of Target 80. MISSION '73 became the first of eight yearly steps to ward the achievement of the Target 80 objectives.

A Target 80 workbook was prepared and distributed first to the division and union officers and staff, then to each of the missions. A second MARC publication, Target 80 Work Sheets and Planning Models, provided the materials for a serious self-study by each unit of organization throughout the division. It incorporated a definite plan for setting objectives, listing priorities, allocating resources, and concentrating energies to reach the goals of Target 80.

The unions and many of the local missions have now completed their self-studies. The response was even more enthusiastic than we had anticipated. One union president commented: "This is the best plan we have seen, for it gave us the opportunity to sit down and take a serious look at ourselves. Instead of just dealing with the day-to-day problems we face in maintaining our program, we asked ourselves serious questions about everything we are now doing. We were able to give creative thought and study to new ways and means of getting our job done better and quicker. It was a most stimulating experience."

At the present growth rate, it would take us twelve years to double our membership. Under the Target 80 program we have set an objective to accelerate the growth rate and accomplish in eight years what would normally require twelve. This is a bold, mind-stretching objective, but there is an attitude of confidence among our workers that the goal, while challenging, is realistic and can be realized if we will but trust in God and concentrate our energies and resources on its accomplishment.

Quality and Quantity

We believe that baptismal goals alone, however, are too limited. They tend to create a mentality of leading people through the door of the church and then forgetting them. The commission our Saviour has given clearly reveals that our task is to prepare a people to meet the Lord. This does not deny an emphasis on numerical growth, but extends it to include responsibility for spiritual growth. We desire to win, hold, nurture in righteousness, train and guide in service, ever larger numbers of persons who will stand loyal and true to Jesus Christ until He comes again.

We are setting objectives for baptisms, membership growth, number of churches, workers, tithe increase, participation in lay evangelism, et cetera, but we are also asking:

What kind of church must we have by 1980?

What kind of spiritual growth is expected?

What quality of fellowship and "community" should be found in the church?

What measure of unity, love, and service is to be displayed?

What kind of spiritual dynamics center should the church be in the community where it is located?

What kind of character should church officers and leaders have? How deep and selfless their experience in Christ?

Admittedly, these are not measurable objectives that can be charted, but we believe that they should be kept at the heart of all our thinking and that no plans should be laid that do not keep these as the primary ideals toward which we labor under God.

Extraordinary Performance

When challenging objectives are blended with administrative leadership, the impact can be truly significant. During the Meiji era, Japan, aspiring to international leadership, set imaginative national goals. Immense resources were allocated and energies concentrated on the achievement of her goals. From these Japan has never swerved, though her method of achieving them has changed.

World War II ended with Japan in shambles but her goals intact: she would, according to her goals and aspirations, yet emerge as the greatest industrial and economic power on earth. The only change was from military to economic methods. She has arisen from the ashes of World War II with a rapidity that has astonished the world. It is not by accident; it is the result of boundless energies coupled with exciting, challenging objectives that have captured the allegiance and loyalty of 100 million Japanese.

Jesus said, "The children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light" (Luke 16:8). The children of this world know how to plan ahead.

Planning is essential in order to make happen what we want to happen. A plan is a mental picture of a future accomplishment. Planning is writing history in advance. Planning is seeing things as they are now, describing things as we want them to be at some point in the future, then taking the appropriate action to make them a reality. Planning begins with setting clearly defined goals.

Three Essential Elements of a Goal or Objective

According to management specialists there are three essential elements of an objective: (1) a defined starting point; (2) a specified finishing point; and (3) a stated time by which the objective is to be reached. We can say the same thing by asking three questions: Where are we now? What do we want to accomplish? When must it be completed? We can also chart it visually:

Applying these principles to our work in the Far Eastern Division we came up with the following conception:

Using statistics from the last year available (in this case, 1972) we took a good look at where we are now and then projected eight years into the future. The growth rate for membership is already high by denominational standards, but, not satisfied with merely maintaining the status quo, we set as an objective a considerably increased rate, realistic, yet sufficiently high to challenge our workers and inspire them to reach beyond the average. We aimed for something high—something that would make us stretch to reach —rather than for something easy. Objectives were set not only for church membership but also for starting new churches, stewardship, participation in lay activities, et cetera. Our planning model chart for the eight-year strategy now looked like this:

It was necessary to begin with the objectives we wanted to achieve. That meant starting at the right side of the chart. We did not think in terms of the next step but in terms of what we wanted to accomplish by 1980. Once having set the goal, we worked back from there to set up the steps (yearly) that would be necessary. In this way we would have subgoals against which we could measure our progress from year to year. Taking church membership as an easily understandable example we have (figures in thousands):

Objectives and the Holy Spirit

Lest we be accused of merely running the church as a business let me hasten to add that it is imperative that we keep our church management on a strong spiritual foundation. The Holy Spirit is waiting to energize our plans. He is available with abundant and sufficient resources. When the human will is united with the divine will it becomes omnipotent. The only question concerning our objectives should be, Are they in harmony with God's purpose for finishing His work on earth quickly? It is my conviction that anything we decide to do that is in harmony with God's will may be accomplished through His power. There is no thought behind the Target 80 program to delay the coming of Jesus by setting a target date for the accomplishment of certain goals by 1980. The whole idea is to hasten the coming of Jesus. We hope and pray that the Holy Spirit will move in such a powerful way that the work may be finished in far less time than any dare think possible. Meanwhile, we must "occupy" till He comes.

(To be continued)

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-president of the Sarawak Mission at the time this article was written

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