Friday, September 21, 2007


Momentum matters. It is an amplifier. When you have it, things feel like they are going better than they really are. When you don't have it, things feel like they are going worse than they really are.

What is momentum, and how do you get "mo" on your side? Scott Whitaker has a nice take on momentum. He says that momentum is:

Fed by Vision
Ignited by Anticipation
Led by Change

Momentum is born out of a healthy discomfort. Bill Hybels calls it a holy discontent. Momentum is born out of a discomfort of where you are and a knowledge of what could be. So if you have a dissatisfactory condition (maybe small groups are going as well as you'd like, or the worship experience has been inadequate, or fill in the blank) you have the right context for momentum.

Momentum is fed by vision. Vision is more than a suggested solution. Solutions may meet a temporary need. Vision is what constantly supplies the fuel to get you from where you are to where God wants you to be.

Momentum is ignited by anticipation. Anticipation is the first spark that moves someone from where they are to where they need to be. Anticipation is a desire for God to do something greater and expecting Him to do it. It is a transfer from the head (knowledge) to the heart (desire).

Momentum is led by change. You can't have momentum without some change. The status quo never causes momentum. And it can't just be change for the sake of change. It has to line up with and fulfill the discomfort, vision and anticipation.

Momentum is a ride that will come to an end. It is bound by the laws of physics. People will become comfortable with the familiar. An environment of momentum involves the unfamiliar. Which leads back to creating some sort of discomfort. If your people are comfortable you won't have momentum, you'll have complacency. You have to create some sort of discomfort and start the process all over.


You can't experience momentum without anticipation. I have found that anticipation is a very important stage in the momentum cycle. It is most definitely the bridge between vision and change. Anticipation is so significant that it can give people a feeling of change before the change happens. Painting a picture of a preferable future is almost as good as being there sometimes. If you appropriately leverage momentum, you can enjoy the emotional benefits of improved conditions before they become reality. Let me give a couple examples from the CTK story:

No Kids Ministry in Mount Vernon

When we started CTK in Mount Vernon, we defied pretty much every rule of church planting. For instance, we had no kids ministry for the first few months. CTK actually grew to nearly 300 people without any nursery or children's classes. Talk about discomfort! We had it. But while we didn't have a kids ministry, we did have the anticipation of a kids ministry, and that was a suitable surrogate. I put a note in the program that said, "At CTK we believe that children are special and deserve special treatment. While we do not currently have a kids program, we want to develop a first-class ministry for kids to learn about Jesus and grow in their faith. Does this interest you? Would you like to be part of the team that develops this opportunity for kids? If so, please contact Dave Browning and let him know that you are praying." This little note cast vision and created anticipation. Shortly thereafter we had 20 people come to a meeting to organize a children's ministry and started changing the situation. Sometimes instead of building ministries, you first need to build anticipation of those ministries.

Tough Times in Burlington

When I stepped into the Burlington Worship Center I found a pretty demoralized group of people following a pastor's deceit and a church split. I took a few Sunday mornings with a white board and outlined some of the challenges, and then I started talking about what things would be like "a year from now." I talked about a church that wasn't focused on the past, but on the future. I talked about a church that was no longer concerned with the hurting people who were inside the church, but with the hurting people who were outside the church. I shared that one of the key words we would be working with within twelve months would be the word "fun." Even as I shared these ideas, I could feel the mood in the room change, almost as if we were already there. (Studies show that visualization can stimulate the brain in similar ways as the actual experience.) Now, a year later, we are "there." But the joy started to set in during the anticipation stage, before change was visible.

No comments: