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?

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