5 Things That Can Stall Ministry Momentum

Every leader wants ministry momentum in their congregation. Ministry momentum is a flow of consistent positive energy that builds over time and multiplies results. Initially gaining momentum can be hard, like starting a stalled car, but once you have it motion, you can take your foot off the gas from time to time, and it’s still moving. Ministry momentum in our churches can lead towards congregational transformation as well as spiritual and numerical growth.

However, sometimes as leaders we create stumbling blocks that are obstacles to gaining momentum.  We don’t mean to, but we do. Here are five things that if we could stop doing, we might just achieve some real ministry momentum.

Waiting – Your first day in the pulpit or leading a committee is probably not the day for drastic change. But all too often leaders fail to act because they are waiting for the perfect time. There is no perfect time. The old rule used to be “no change for the first year” when entering leadership at a church. However, we’ve begun to learn that congregations expect a degree of change to take place when a new leader comes in, so as long as you’re cautious and choose smaller changes, you’ve probably got more latitude than you think during those first 100 days. When you and other leaders strategically plan for a significant change, make sure you have spent time building relationships, understanding the root reasons for the necessary change, developing a vision, strategy and consensus for next steps. Time is a gift, don’t waste it waiting; hoping things will be different. Instead, use it to prayerfully and strategically move towards what God is calling the church to be and do next.

“I” Statements – Sure, “I” statements can signal you are acting, committed, and moving in the direction of progress, but making yourself the champion of each project will leave you overwhelmed and you are certainly not gifted for every task. Through team building, delegating and empowering others with varying gifts and talents, the church’s mission and ministry is multiplied. Next time you use “I” statements, see how “we” sounds.  Using “we” reminds you and others that creating ministry momentum is a process for the whole church.

Managing – Should you manage well? Yes! But managing what is already in process is not sufficient, you need to lead. Mangers reach goals, leaders set the vision. Managers supervise staff, leaders hire for the ministry not yet established. Managers notice obstacles, leaders guide change. To gain ministry momentum, ask yourself, “What do I need to do to move from being a task orientated manager to visionary inspirational leader?”

Titles – Do I appreciate being called “pastor”, “reverend” and “aunt”? Absolutely, these titles are part of my identity. Yet, there is difference between positional and personal leadership. Positional leadership, using your title as pastor, worship chairperson or trustee president to navigate an issue should be the exception, not the rule. Rarely, if ever, are people motived by the “because I say so” rational.  Therefore, developing personal relationships, understanding the congregation’s system, and navigating change well may organically grow trust and an individual’s personal leadership.  Leadership, especially servant leadership, is not primarily derived from one’s position, but rather by one’s love for the people.

Perfection – We believe we are going onto perfection in our spiritual lives. Yet, using perfection as a bar for ministry can leave a team feeling overwhelmed by the impossibility of a task. Instead, what if you strive for excellence? Excellence in worship. Excellence in small groups. Excellence in mission. Excellence in new disciples. Excellence in giving. Excellence by serving God in the best way possible with the gifts and graces of your congregation. Striving for excellence creates a ministry momentum because it acknowledges the result will not be perfect, and therefore there is always room for growth. That growth might be planned for the next day, next week or next year. In what area of ministry can you gain momentum by committing to excellence?

As you strive for ministry momentum in your congregation, remember we serve a great God. This God who set the world into motion is the same God who spurs you and your congregation to consider what the next right answer is. And so I wonder, what has aided you in creating ministry momentum in your congregation