Saturday, February 27, 2010

Does Doing Something Right Always Glorify God?

I was reading the blog today from one of my friends who is a college student with tremendous enthusiasm for several political issues. He stated in his blog that he had some "likely-unachievable goals." One of these was to "Do away with the modern system of scarcity-based economics. It’s all a lie, and this is/can be a post-scarcity world. If we let it. And we should". This "goal" sparked some thoughts I've been chewing on for a while.

I don't want to spark a debate about the idea of scarcity (the idea that there are not enough resources in the world to support the world's population). There are plenty of debates about this in other arenas. For this issue, each side has their own set of Eutopia-driven arguments as to why their side is best. And I don't have a clue how much money exists in the world, or how much of that money is based on actual resources and not just printed paper that's been put in circulation. I know there are just over 6 billion people in the world but couldn't begin to tell you how much money each person would get if each individual were to get the same slice of the pie. (I've also always wanted my blog to provoke thought rather than start arguments.)

Another cog in these ideas is that somehow the government(s) should be involved in seeing that everyone gets their fair share. And many churches have gotten on board to support this idea. I mean isn't that what the church should be about? To see that the poor are cared for? To see that everyone has a better standard of living? To right the wrongs of the world? But my question is this. When the church lobbies the government to do its bidding (care for the poor, sick, etc.), where does God fit into the picture? And if he does fit into the picture, how is he glorified?

In the parable of the good Samaritan, the victim lay beaten on the side of the road. Two members of the clergy pass by, then our hero arrives...a Samaritan-an outcast half-breed of unpure blood who was not entitled to all of the rights and privileges of a true Israelite-who shows compassion on the victim. Of course, we all know he puts the victim on his own animal and carries him to an inn where he cares for him. The Samaritan is blessed because he did something good for someone. The innkeeper could have been blessed, too because he got to be a part of the recovery process as well. But let's re-tell this story with some modern speculation. A modern man stumbles on the victim of a crime-scene and stops to make a call on his cell-phone. Once he as made the phone call, government and state officials come for free and take him somewhere where he can be cared for on the dollars of the government or some insurance company. Once the phone call has been made, our good Samaritan is not out any money, is no longer in the picture, and thus is deprived the blessings of being involved in the healing process. And the workers from the state who "took care of him" were merely doing their jobs, not necessarily helping out of a sense of compassion-even though their actions may have been just and good.

I believe God is concerned with the injustices of the world and obviously has called us to be concerned with those injustices. But more so than that he is concerned with glorifying himself-it's in his nature. In the Garden of Eden, God created man with a free will. People had the right to choose between serving God or serving themselves. And while he could have created us like robots who were forced to worship him, he knew he would be most glorified by instilling in us the ability to choose whether or not we would follow him. That being the case, we should ask ourselves, "Does doing something right even if it's against one's will, still glorify God?" I think that just because something is right doesn't necessarily mean it glorifies God.

We see a picture of this in the second chapter of Acts where the believers met together, worshiped together, devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching, and selling their possessions gave to each other as they had need. So why was God glorified in this? Because these people chose to stay together and share their possessions because of their love for Christ, not because they were being forced to do so. Had they lived in a society where everyone shared resources under the bidding of the government, I don't think God would have been glorified and the people would not have been blessed-they would have just been the product of a political system.

This is not a political blog. And while I think many Christians try to make theological issues of their political beliefs, I believe we should make political issues of our theological beliefs. That is what I hope to have done here.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Building Unity Between Teenaged Christians from Different Churches

Last week at youth group, we talked about the Olympics and how amazing it is that so many countries (83 in this one) come together across barriers of geography, culture, and language to join in the spirit of friendly competition. If all of the Olympic athletes were from the same country, competing in the same sport, this would be no different than any other competition. But what makes the Olympics so great is the diversity. Different flags, different languages, different stories, different experiences. Without this diversity, the beauty of the games is gone.

We talked about how we should celebrate diversity within the body of Christ. Though we may worship differently from other Christians or have different doctrines about baptism or ordination of ministers, we should still embrace this diversity. The apostle Paul discusses this in Ephesians 4:2-6 where he says that we should "make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit." But what seems to happen with teenagers often is rather than embrace their brothers and sisters of different denominations, they argue with each other about which ones are "truly saved" or which ones have the more biblical view of baptism.

I grew up in, was ordained in, and went to seminary in a denomination that is very proud of its doctrine. I learned pretty early on why we believed the way we did and why our belief was "right" or "better than" what some of the other churches taught. But now, I'm in a different denomination. And as we discussed the issue in youth group of embracing Christian brothers and sisters from other Christian denominations, some of my kids were telling me that people from my old church system were the ones at school who were very critical of them because they didn't believe the exact same things they did.

It just seems to me like there are bigger issues to tackle and bigger battles to win rather than who has the correct mode of baptism or of the Lord's Supper. What if Christians were able to truly put their differences aside and come together for a common purpose instead of arguing over which ones were going to heaven? What if we as youth workers made it our goal to teach students to love other Christians regardless of the name on the sign at their church? I think it could be as monumental and beautiful as the Olympics rather than looking like a little league game with a bunch of hot-tempered parents.

So how do we do this?

1. Focus more on the big picture of Christianity than the details of doctrine. Is doctrine important? Yes. But should it be so important that it divides rather than unites the body of Christ? Absolutely not.

2. Spend time with youth workers from other denominations. You'll soon find that while their may be differences in the details of how your churches function, you have a lot more similarities than differences. Then you can help each other become the youth workers God has called you to be. Our youth worker network meets once a month. Every other month we discuss events, joint activities, and vision for our combined ministries. Then on the months in between, we just hang out and fellowship. National Network of Youth Ministries has a website and many tools for you to find a network in your area or start one up.

3. Provide opportunities for students in your area to worship together, learn together, and fellowship together. In our town, we have a city-wide Disciple Now in the spring and in the fall we have a city-wide See You At The Pole rally. We use an interdenominational curriculum for the D-Now from Student Life.

What things do you do to build unity among students from different churches?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

New E-Book on Working with Youth Worship Bands

I've been working with teenagers and youth bands for the better part of fifteen years, teaching them about the musical aspects of worship and how to play as a group. I've really tried to find resources that would help me in this venture. I've been to worship music forums, discussion groups, looked for books and searched websites, and never found any resources I felt were adequate for working with younger musicians. I ran across a couple of e-books, but I really didn't feel they were specific enough. Several colleagues in youth ministry were asking me "how do you get started with a youth worship band" and so I decided to share my experiences, not as an expert, but as someone who had tried and failed many times. The result was my e-book "Starting a Youth Worship Band from the Ground Up." Teenagers have less musical experience and sometimes more enthusiasm than their adult worship counterparts. They also are typically not as far along in their spiritual journeys. So that makes working with youth bands a sort of horse of a different color. Things must be approached in a different way or they will get frustrated and lose interest.

The book discusses where to find musicians, what setups to use (since teenage musicians are sometimes hard to find, and what to do with those kids who play the trumpet in the marching band but have never picked up a guitar), where to find instruments, where to find music, scheduling rehearsals, and how to make it all work. It also shares some of my successes and failures in working with teenagers including an all-out mutiny we had at one church that nearly split the youth group in half. My only hope is that these experiences will help any youth worker who wants to get his kids more interested in music. Another thing about the book is that I tried to write it in layman's terms with the non-musician in mind. So if you're a youth worker who doesn't sing or play an instrument, I hope it will still be relevant to you.'s free. It's not like you're out any money!

I want to thank my friend Russell Martin for hosting it on his site Fork In The Road Music. This is Russell's personal blog site and is also a hub of great worship-related articles including conversations about worship and worship leading, graphics and photos that can be used in worship backgrounds, and some of Russell's "instrumental reflections" which are musical compositions he writes that are inspired by various seasons and events in Russell's life and the life of the church.

In his "Worship Leading Conversations" Russell does an online call-in talk show (using telephone calls and a chat room interface) on Sunday nights, then he reposts portions of the conversation on his blog. I was honored and delighted to be his first guest and discuss working with youth bands.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Why Trips are an Important Part of Missions

I think many youth ministry workers would agree that there is a double standard when it comes to the attention paid to mission trips as opposed to the amount (or lack thereof) of time, effort, and resources that go into local mission projects. And yes, we should not wait for spring break or a summer trip so we can go somewhere and do missions. We can do missions anywhere, especially at home. However, in an attempt to keep ourselves honest, I think lately a lot of youth workers have been downplaying the importance of mission trips as opposed to doing local missions projects. But I believe that mission trips may be even more critical in the spiritual lives of teenagers. Here’s why.

I think one of the biggest mistakes we make as youth workers is that we are so passionate about seeing our students come to spiritual maturity that we often forget that they are still teenagers. Mike Yaconelli used to say that youth are not ready for true biblical discipleship. So our role as youth workers is to model Christ for them. So, while it is less glamorous to rake leaves at a house around the corner from the church than it is to spend a week in a new location building wheelchair ramps, we shouldn’t demonize what happens on that week long mission trip.

Teenagers are teenagers. And many times teenagers need a hook to get them interested in something. For missions that hook may be the idea of getting to leave home for a week, or going to some place new, or getting to see that cute 9th grade girl every day for a week. So the student goes on a mission trip just to get out of the house for a week and while he’s there he learns what it means to serve others. He learns what it means to be a part of a team. He sees tears come to a homeowner’s eyes when she sees the work his group has done. He understands what it means to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Then when he goes home and the youth leaders announces that Saturday the group will be raking leaves at Mrs. Smith’s house, our student can get excited about this project? Why? Because one time when he wanted to get out of the house for a week in the summer, he wound up on a trip that changed his life.

We should make the most of all of our missions opportunities. But I don’t think we should beat ourselves up because mission trips are more fun, adventurous, or glamorous than local mission projects at home. They are still an important part of any youth ministry’s missions program.

Monday, February 22, 2010

What Christians Can Learn from the Tiger Woods Press Conference

Last Friday, millions of people were glued to the TV as the world's greatest golfer gave a 13-minute apology and took responsibility for his role in the greatest sports scandal in history. No, it wasn't steroids (a la Barry Bonds), it wasn't gambling (a la Pete Rose), it wasn't guns (a la Plaxico Burress)--it wasn't even anything "illegal" according to the laws of the United States or the laws of Florida, his home state where the incidents all happened. It's no news now, that Woods had been involved in affairs with a number of mistresses. And this uncovered infidelity tarnished his "good guy" image causing him to lose millions of dollars in corporate sponsorships that were paid to both him and his foundation. But I don't want to talk about the infidelity, the celebrity lifestyle, or the sense of "entitlement" he spoke of in his press conference. I want to look deeper at what we can learn from this whole situation.

First, when people stumble and fall, they should apologize to those they have hurt. But kicking someone when they are down does nothing for anyone. Statements were made by numerous journalists and media personnel that Woods somehow owed them an individual apology or should be taking their questions and answering them. Because his sins have found him out, this is one of the most humiliated and now humbled persons on the planet. And while he may have let down a bunch of aspiring young golfers who wore his clothes and put his posters on their walls, his offenses were really only directed at a small handful of people--his family. So, just as Woods claimed that he felt his celebrity status entitled him to the things he did, why then do people in the media or in the world of sports in general feel entitled to more than what he did in making his statements? While his millions of dollars in endorsements has broadened his circle of influence, it makes sense for him to apologize. But we should not be demanding of more. Part of the Christian life is to practice forgiveness. And that forgiveness is not contingent on how a person acts, or even whether or not they confess or repent. We should accept his contrition and not cast judgment.

Second, we can learn a lot about Christianity from his statements about his religion-Buddhism. During his statements, Tiger Woods mentioned looking to his religion of Buddhism for guidance during his road to recovery. He shared that one of the tenets of Buddhism is to look to yourself for inner strength. Another tenet is to find balance between your personal life, your professional life, and your spiritual life. He also stated that he had abandoned his faith in Buddhism and had not been practicing it as diligently as he should have been. I found these statements both saddening and encouraging. Here's what I mean.

If Buddhism looks to the self, that means the only person that can help Tiger Woods out of this situation is Woods himself. I honestly don't know how Buddhists feel about a community of support like the church is for Christians. But it is pretty evident, according to Woods, that there is no God in heaven who will be walking this road with him. Will there be other men seeking to be upright and moral who will be holding him accountable and helping him to make good decisions? Does he have the standard of a perfect Savior to strive to be like? No. So when a person is at their all-time low, all he has is himself. Praise God we have a God who loves us and gave himself up for us (Rom. 5:8), and who left his Holy Spirit (Acts 2) who speaks to us and guides us, and who left us the church that can be our support system when we fall (Acts 2:42-47). I know how far I am from God and thankfully I don't have to look to myself for inner strength. I can look to God's strength. God's "mighty hand" is mentioned 24 times in the Old Testament. God's strength is available to us, through Jesus Christ (Phil. 4:13).

Finally, the thing I think one good thing we can take from this is that Woods is turning to his faith. Now, while I don't agree with the faith he is turning to, he is aware of the fact that he needs something else in his life. In this case it is something he has not had for a long time. As Christians, I believe we can do one of three things when life gets difficult (to say that life is difficult for Tiger Woods would be an understatement)--1) we can abandon our faith in God, 2) we can remain stagnant in our faith, or 3) we can cling to our faith and let it be the rock that sustains us in troubled times. Whether our difficult times are brought on us by circumstances of life beyond our control (loss of a job, death of a loved one), or due to our own sin and the consequences of it, Our faith is there and the God of our faith is there to pull us through these tough times. Philippians 4:6-7 says "6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." The peace of God comes through giving our problems to him. And this will be a peace we can't explain because it "[passes] all understanding". My prayer is that we keep our faith when life gets rough.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Five Keys to Leading Effective Small Groups

Small groups can be an intimidating endeavor for a new youth worker (usually a volunteer) who's never sat in a circle with five or ten teenagers. It can be awkward and can feel like there is a lot of pressure to change the lives of each student in the short meeting time. It can be even more intimidating when you hand them a 150 page book on how to lead effective small groups. So, this is a crash course in leading small groups that I developed for the small group leaders at our church. We have a lesson (app. 20 mins) where everyone in the group is together and I teach them. Then they break into small groups and discuss questions about the lesson. But regardless of what type of format you use for small groups this would work for any question and answer time. Maybe this will help you and your small group leaders in their ministries.

  1. Try to use open-ended questions that foster discussion. Avoid “yes” or “no” questions. If a yes/no question is unavoidable, ask the question “why” they answered that way. Our goal is not as much to tell them what to think, but to allow them to openly come to a conclusion and discuss it with the group.
  2. Don’t be afraid of silence. In a small group of teenage boys or girls there will be awkward silence. Do not be afraid of it. Many times if a question goes unanswered, the leader will try to answer it for the group and the group remains stagnant. Feel free to give students a chance to think about their answers, even when it gets a little awkward.
  3. Do not feel like you have to discuss every question. If question 1 or 2 spurs lots of discussion feel free to let them wrestle with it and talk. Our goal is to foster spiritual discussions, not to get through every question on the list.
  4. Try to keep the students on task. While you don’t have to get through all the questions, your goal is to see that the students are interacting with one another about spiritual things. So if the discussion is still related to the topic or is somewhat spiritual, let them go with it. Now, when talk turns to that incident that happened in the hall between 5th and 6th period or what girl is interested in what boy, then it’s time to bring it back on track.
  5. Feel free to ask your own questions. The questions in the lesson book or on your handout were created by someone creating the lesson. They are certainly not the complete authority on what things in these passages we should be discussing. So if something comes up and you want to ask a question that is not in the book or on the list, fire away!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

How Do We Determine Success in Missions?

Unfortunately, we live in a culture that is driven by results. And while goals are great and they keep us motivated, we, as a society, have become so driven by goals that sometimes it works to our detriment. So to the person who wants to lose some weight, losing ten to fifteen is not a success until they’ve reached their thirty pound goal. To the parents who want their student to bring her grades up, the goal may not be fully met until that C becomes an A, all the while it took tremendous effort on the daughter’s part to get it up to a B. Goals are great and we should set them and work towards them, but sometimes goals are not met due to external circumstances and a task is written off as unsuccessful simply because a goal was not met.

I think we do this sometimes with missions. Regardless of the focus of our mission trip, we often embark with a certain set of expectations (many times this is unintentional), but come home with a sense of disappointment when these expectations are not met. This is no different if we are doing service trips (doing service projects to show the love of Christ to others) or evangelism trips (going to a new place to share the message of Christ with them). Some trips, of course are a combination of the two. But regardless of what our purpose is, things never turn out exactly as we planned and it is important to teach that to our students.

We do a jr. high missions camp and a high school missions camp each summer. We also do other mission trips as opportunities present themselves. In April 2006, we had a chance to go to New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina and help some people start the rebuilding process. While we were down there, we worked on two different houses. One was a fairly average middle-class brick home on a slab foundation. The other home was an older home that had been somewhat restored prior to the hurricane. Several of us working in that house thought, “Wow, this is nicer than my house.” Both of these houses had FEMA trailers parked in the yards where families were staying, so we expected sooner or later to run across a home owner or a relative who may drop by to thank us for coming. After five full days of being on the work sites, we never met either home owner. Some of us had gone with the expectation of bringing a smile to someone’s face or a tear to their eyes because they were grateful for the work we were doing. But that didn’t happen. Now, we don’t know the life situations of these particular homeowners. They may have been out job-hunting full time, or their work schedules may have prevented them from dropping by to say “thank you.” Maybe they were at another FEMA trailer in the area taking care of a family member with needs greater than their own. This was a hard lesson learned for my students who went on this trip expecting to get that half-choked up, tearful “Thank you so much” from a sweet, elderly person who truly believed we were a godsend.

Another way we set ourselves up for failure is by placing numerical goals on conversions in an evangelism mission trip. In the Great Commission, Christ calls us to make disciples. I think we should be careful to distinguish disciples from converts, or what I call “baby Christians.” If we set a numerical goal on how many people we will “win to the Lord” (I personally don’t like this term because it sounds like we are really doing something when it is God who is allowing us to be used by him), we may get forceful in our efforts instead of letting God do the things only He can do through the Holy Spirit. In I Corinthians 3:6, Paul is clarifying in whom the Corinthian believers should be putting their faith. He says “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.” God is the one doing the growing and drawing when we share our faith with others. So why do we place numerical expectations on ourselves for the things only God can do? Now, can we say we need to visit a certain number of homes or people? Can we try to invite a certain number of people to a church service? Absolutely. But when we feel like our mission trip has been a bust because only one or two people have made professions of faith, aren’t we missing the point? God does things in his time. We should celebrate and praise him for these that have come to faith instead of worrying about reaching our goal. We do this in our ministries as well.

I was in a youth ministry discussion forum the other day and a youth pastor had been challenged by a friend to make ten contacts with students at a local school. His question was, “How do I do that?” He had already acknowledged that his challenged seemed unnatural and forceful (and if not done carefully could get him removed from the school, depending on the administration). It’s awkward enough walking around a school cafeteria where everyone knows you’re not a teacher and 99% of the kids are thinking “Who is that old person?” So adding a quota to this endeavor is only going to send the awkward scale through the roof. I encouraged him to start to get to know the kids who are in the same circle with kids from his youth group then expand from there. Any time we make numbers our goal, we can lose focus of what our true goal should be—relationships. It is the same in missions.

So, how do we measure success in missions? I think it is determined not by whether or not we made someone happy or whether we helped someone to put their faith in Christ, but rather, how well did we fulfill our marching orders? Did we love our neighbor as ourself? Did we do our best at “making disciples of all nations and teaching them to obey everything he has commanded?” These are the goals we should strive for. We may get to the end of a mission project and feel disappointed because no one seemed to care about what we were doing. We may finish the week and think that this was a lot of work to see only one or two people put their faith in Christ. But if we served others in love and have been faithful to teach others about the love of Christ, then our mission trip was a success. And no emotional or numerical goal can replace the fact that we were obedient to Christ.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Build Relationships by Diagraming Your Youth Program

Many youth workers serve small communities that may have only one school or school district in the immediate area. But if you live in a larger metropolitan area or in a small to mid-sized town with smaller rural schools in the area, chances are you have students who attend your church or youth group from different schools. Not only is this a nightmare for planning events (thank goodness our area schools have taken strides to keep everyone on the same page for major holidays like Spring Break, Thanksgiving, and Christmas), but it makes building relationships among students extremely challenging. For example, in our town, we have two AAA high schools (one that is quite a bit larger than the other), but in a 15-mile radius from our town, we have four other A and AA schools. Many of these students attend churches or youth groups in town. So if we have eight high school guys who regularly attend, they may be from four or five different schools. So when they get to youth group, they have only one or two friends that they know from school and maybe only 20 to 45 minutes to get to know some of the other kids when we aren't having Bible study or other structured activities. And that's in a best-case scenario when they take the time to actually attempt to get to know the other kids, assuming they are not shy, stuck up, or don't have some kind of social anxiety disorder.

The other day, I tried something new in an effort to better deal with our situation-I diagrammed our youth group. No, I didn't make a Venn diagram with overlapping circles or anything overly complicated. I just listed all the kids we had in our youth group who attend and divided them up by high school boys, high school girls, junior high boys, and junior high girls. Then within those four smaller groups, I color-coded each students name according to the school they attended. Well, in case you're wondering how it turned out, our relatively small group looked like a bowl of Skittles. Here is what this activity taught me.

1. It showed me that cliques are inevitable and are not necessarily a bad thing. When different schools are represented, students who go to the same school have something in common with one another and are part of each others' comfort zone.

2. It showed me where we need to focus on building relationships. In order for our group to be a cohesive unit, students have to spend time with one another outside of our church meetings and events. They need to have time to spend together being teenagers. This can even be done without a Bible study or any "spiritual" agenda (although spending time in fellowship with one another certainly is). They need to go eat together. They need to sleep over at each others houses and fall asleep at 3AM with an X-Box controller in their hands and their head in a half-eaten bowl of popcorn.

3. It showed me how radically different we need to approach our program. Many youth groups see the overall program from 7th-12th grade as the area of focus and we approach ministry to that group with a broad net that will connect with all of those students in some way. Some may be too deep for the 7th graders, and some may be too elementary for the 12th graders, but either way, those students will catch something that is relevant to their lives. But I realize that I should look at each of these smaller groups as a community within our group and find strategic ways to build relationships among those kids.

What obstacles have you come across in multi-school ministry? What things have you done to help overcome these obstacles?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Maintaining Momentum in Youth Ministry

Momentum is defined as force or speed of movement; impetus, as of a physical object or course of events. While this concept of physics is impossible to dismiss, many people in the sports world will say that momentum in an athletic contest is a farce. They will tell you that somehow it's impossible for a critical play to add to or take away from a team's drive so much that it effects the outcome of a game. However, if you watched the Super Bowl last Sunday, I think you saw the law of momentum directly played out in front of the world's largest TV audience. So if you'll humor me, please forgive me for yet another sports metaphor. As a sports fan, it's just ingrained in me.

The Saints had 1st and goal inside the Colts' 5-yard line not long before the first half ended. The Colts made a huge defensive stand and prevented the Saints from scoring--a seemingly huge blow for the Saints. The Saints however were able to make a great defensive stand on their next possession, force a punt, then kick a field goal just before halftime cutting their deficit to 10-6. But what happened after halftime was where the law of momentum came into play. With the Saints kicking off in the second half, they made a very aggressive play call-an onside kick that NO ONE saw coming. This kick was successful and gave them the momentum to drive down and score, giving them their first lead of the game. The rest, we know, is history.

So does momentum exist outside of the laws of physical science? I think it does in sports, in life, and in organizations. In ministry as in any other arena, momentum is much easier to keep going than to create. If you were to start a large rock rolling down a hill, the hardest part would be getting the rock loose from it's starting position-once it's rolling it's easier to keep it rolling. So what things help us create momentum in ministry?

1. Consistency--just like pushing on that rock helps get it started, and continuing to push on that rock will keep it going, consistency is critical. This means we have to be methodical with meetings times, communication, and interaction. All areas of our ministry programs must have consistency. Students need a sense of comfort and a sense of knowing what to expect.

2. Focus--just as force must be applied in the right places to get the rock rolling and to keep it rolling, focus must be given to the right areas of ministry to build and maintain momentum. Those of us in youth ministry know what it's like to experience the ebb and flow of being the "cool youth group" in town where everyone comes for a while, then something happens and everyone is running off to another church. But focus constantly on the kids who are there and eventually kids will come back around. Don't let your kids get discouraged by saying things like, "Where is everyone?" Stay positive and build up the faithful few.

3. Change--the thing that kept the ball rolling for the Saints was the totally unexpected onside kick to start the second half. Thinking outside the box helps build momentum. While consistency is critical to building it, change is just as critical to keeping it going. Doing the exact same thing over and over will create stagnation. Mix things up and don't just do things because "it worked last year."

What would you add to this list? What do you do to build momentum in your ministry?