The Danger of Momentum

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momentum roadOrganizations love momentum.

Momentum comes from wins, sales, growth, revival…call it what you want, but when you have it everyone can feel it.  Momentum is tangible progress. However, there is one danger in momentum.

Momentum can carry you right past the turn you need to make.

I was driving in a busy metro area last week trying to keep up with the pace of traffic when suddenly I saw the turn I needed to make.  I immediately knew that my current speed and the flow of traffic was not going to allow me to make the turn, so I ran right past the needed course correction.

Churches are bad about living off of momentum. Churches often call this “revival,” and no one wants to kill the momentum of “revival.”

But the momentum of one good revival can be the eventual down fall of a church. The momentum of today that pushes a church into new growth can become the overwhelming traffic pattern of tomorrow that pushes the church right past a needed course correction.

Here are a few insights to help keep momentum from always dominating direction.

Have a Vision Bigger than Your Memories.

In church work, we talk a good futuristic game but our concepts reveal our past-centered mindset.  Churches and root-beer stands are two of the last places where the phrase “old-fashioned” is suppose to mean a good thing. Unfortunately demanding an “old-fashioned move of God” often prevents God from doing anything new.  The momentum from previous “moves of God” can sweep a church right past the exit ramp God wanted to take a decade ago.

Once a church celebrates the past more than it articulates the future, needed course corrections become almost impossible.  In church work it is so much easier to define ourselves by past “moves of God” rather than future “breakthroughs with God.”

A memory driven church asks, “How do we repeat what God did in the past?”  A vision driven church asks, “What does God want to do today?”

Recognize that the Present is Conspiring against Your Future.

Pretty much everything in a church organization is designed around the way things are presently done.  The service structure, the staff positions, the classroom lay-outs, the music practices and much more are all designed around the way things need to be done TODAY.

Since tomorrow never comes, it is difficult to know when today’s model becomes yesterday’s news.  It’s as if the present way of doing things is subtly working against the future approach that churches need to embrace.  It’s a conspiracy!

Here comes the tricky part…the best way to defeat the “conspiracy of the present” is NOT by pointing out what’s wrong with today’s methods.  It’s by creating a clear picture of a preferred future.

Most people do not go to college because someone convinced them they are presently too dumb.  Most people pursue higher education because they desire a future better-self.  Similarly you will never defeat the conspiracy of the present by pointing out the “dumbness” of current methods.  You have to articulate a preferred future and help people choose to purse something better.

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