The church was born as a movement 2000 years ago, which dramatically and rapidly moved through the Roman Empire. The Church, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, had momentum. Momentum is a great thing. But when momentum is lost, things begin to stagnate and then decline. The very nature of a church in stable decline is a church that has lost momentum, stagnated. Yet, things are functioning well enough to ignore long enough for stable decline to become crisis decline (we often know stable decline when the conversation is more about money than the churches mission, and when the critical decline begins, it becomes about survival and who or what is to blame).
Wise church leaders find the "It" that either begins momentum or keeps momentum going. We know momentum because it is defined clearly in the book of Acts:
"And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved."
Growth, reaching new people, reaching people we have not already reached, professions of faith, baptisms (increasing numbers of real people and new people) is a clear sign of momentum.
What is "It" in your Church? Is there one? How can you discover the "It" that creates momentum?
If your people are not inviting other people to join them in church, if new people aren't showing up online, in person, or the parking lot, if there are very few professions of faith and baptisms, if there is not a measurable sign of growth, then you don't have "It." Growth is the natural state of a church in movement.
Creating the new, mobilizing evangelism, offering deliverance, celebrating a unifying cause, and building enthusiasm that is catching, beginning a inspiring and challenging cause that moves people into a movement should always be processing. Everyone in a church with momentum should feel it and know what "It "is.
Momentum comes from a movement. Movement's exist in the hearts, minds, and faith of the people who are excited, invested, and active in the church's life and mission, a mission that is deeply invested in" adding daily to the church those who are being saved." There are few churches growing today where the members of the church aren't deeply invested and involved in that growth.
My guess is that few churches have "It" right now or have any momentum. Covid-19 either ended that or slowed it down dramatically. We will probably discover a new starting point when vaccines are widely available. When we add denominational division, political turmoil, cultural changes, and expanded competition, it will become more difficult to create and sustain momentum.
I would begin evaluating what that starting point will look like, who is on the team, what our mission will be, who we intend to reach, and what areas we need to regenerate, end, or begin? What is our core Biblical values, what will our resources be, how will we unify those members and constituents who are still with our church and those that might have been added? How will we reconnect with those who have dropped out? Have we put a list together of those that have stayed connected online, in person or in the parking lot? Have we defined and named the demographics in our community we intend to reach?
I would begin casting that vision with my church family quickly. I would express hope for how God will use our church in the next season. I would start looking for the "It" that creates momentum. I would begin with the mission of the church to "make disciples of Jesus Christ." In the CTC, we call that the Wildly Important Goal (WIG), simple obedience to the great commission Jesus commanded us to do in Matthew 28.
I would make the "It" vision clear, simple, challenging, doable, measurable, and backed up with concrete steps that involve as many people as is possible.
In seasons like this, leadership is the most difficult yet the most important. Where are we leading our Churches?
Rev. Mike Ramsdell, Executive Director
Center for Evangelism, Mission & Church Growth