Momentum Swing: 5 Steps to Take

Momentum is a leader’s best friend.

If you’ve led in a local church for any length of time, you’ve probably experienced seasons of high momentum and seasons when momentum has faded.

Good leaders possess the ability to navigate both in seasons of strong momentum and low momentum; each have their unique challenges.

In the previous post, I addressed “5 Ways Leaders Grasp Momentum.” It will provide helpful and needed context for this post.

Let’s continue the topic with a focus on regaining momentum.

5 Steps to help regain momentum:

1. Take responsibility for the lack of momentum.

If you are the pastor, on staff, or a board member, own the reality of your church’s situation. Tell the truth. If you are in a decline, you are in a decline. Everyone knows it, so just say it.

Don’t panic, focus on solutions.

The people will appreciate your honesty and courage. If you are plateaued, the same idea holds true.

Don’t get stuck on the things you can’t control, take action on what you can do.

2. Find the mo in you first.

Walt Emerson said:

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

It’s what’s inside you, what you believe, the size of your faith, and the hope in you that matters. Not the mistakes in the past or the mountains in front of you.

Only the dreams within you matter. If you lose hope, you can’t inspire a congregation. If you don’t believe, the people can’t believe.

Your faith that God is with you matters. Sometimes God asks us to wait upon His timing.

Cultivate that hope and faith within you.

If you are discouraged, find a strong leader who is a friend and get some time to talk. Gain wisdom, experience, and fresh perspective. Don’t give up.

3. Re-establish a clear vision and written strategy.

Listen for God’s voice on His direction for your church.

You may need a new vision. This could be the right time for a new start. Or your vision may be solid, and your need is to find fresh and new ways to communicate it.

Don’t rush the process, take the time you need. It may take a few weeks or a couple of months, maybe a little longer, that’s OK.

Talk and pray with your key leaders. Get buy-in with your staff.

Develop your strategy. Don’t over complicate the process. Your strategy is a simple and clear written plan.

Place action over analysis.

4. Make the courageous changes that are needed.

I wish I could tell you that re-gaining momentum is easy, but it requires that we step out of our comfort zone and embrace change.

The change may involve more boldness in your weekend communication, a difficult staffing move, a new approach to ministry, or a major overhaul in the style and execution of your worship service. There are so many possibilities.

Keep in mind, if you make a change and no one gets upset, you just changed something that doesn’t matter.

5. Aim for the small wins first.

Let me restate something from the previous post. Momentum is fueled by vision and activated by faith.

This is clear evidence of the partnership we all have with God for spiritual momentum in our churches.

Vision is the source and fuel of momentum, and faith activates God’s hand toward momentum.

While you exercise faith and wait upon God’s timing, keep steady at your vision and strategy.

Part of this process is the art of aiming for the small wins. Go for the “little mo” while waiting for the “big mo.” This is not busyness or lack of focus; it’s more like kindling upon the fire.

There are many ideas you can implement, from short-term community compassion and outreach projects, to a 30-day fund-raiser for a special purchase that would add wind to the sails of your congregation.

There is no guarantee for momentum, but there is the promise that God is with you, and it’s His church. He cares, and He wants it to flourish.

Talk with an Auxano Navigator about regaining momentum in your church.

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Dan Reiland

Dan Reiland

Dr. Dan Reiland serves as Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY. He and Dr. Maxwell still enjoy partnering on a number of church related projects together. Dan is best known as a leader with a pastor's heart, but is often described as one of the nations most innovative church thinkers. His passion is developing leaders for the local church so that the Great Commission is advanced.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
— Glenna Hendricks
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
— winston
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
— Russ Wright

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