Leadership in established churches is tough. I don’t mean that to sound like a complaint. I’m just being honest. You’re dealing with a culture that is long established, deeply rooted, and likely something that isn’t thoughtfully considered or noticed. And because the culture of a church can settle into kind of a mindless routine, the idea of building momentum can be incredibly difficult. I say this from personal experience, as well as loads of anecdotal experience.
Here’s the thing: the culture isn’t usually something that was intentionally put in park. It just kind of happened. A church may have tried a new outreach years ago, and had loads of growing pains in the process of putting it together. They had started to build momentum, but then got exhausted, or got just enough momentum going to get the outreach to be seemingly self sustaining. It’s kind of like that scene in ‘Little Miss Sunshine’, where they need to get the van going fast enough to shift into second gear in order to start. A lot of churches can push hard enough, long enough to get to first or second gear. And then they’ll hit cruise control until they run out of gas.
The thing is a church that wants to grow beyond where they are has to eventually push past what they’ve done. So how, oh great and powerful Oz, do you go from first or second gear into third, fourth, or even fifth? Minding the fact that I am not in your church setting, I have a few ideas that I developed here recently from replaying my favorite computer strategy game, ‘Starcraft’.
First of all, you need to know your ‘style of play’. In the game, there are different species with different abilities and traits, and they lend themselves to different playing styles. Are you aggressive? Are you good at rolling with the punches? Does it take you a little bit to get up and running, but once you start, you’re a juggernaut?
Some of us are really good at coming up with quick ideas, and getting little victories early. And those little victories can build on each other. Others take a little time to figure out which direction they want to go, but once they get going, they’re really tough to stop. Still others are incredibly gifted at changing direction mid step. Know you’re style of leadership, and use the strengths God gave you.
Secondly, you need to know your teams capabilities. Each species in the game have certain strengths and weaknesses that lend themselves to those playing styles. Like wise, each team has different abilities, skills, and talents. You have to know what they are, as well as what they are not.
And you need to be brutally honest with yourself about those capabilities. I know you want to save souls for Jesus, and grow the church like no one has before, but that doesn’t mean that your praise band is suddenly going to be Hillsong. If you’re not honest about capabilities, you’ll risk putting your team members into positions to fail because they were nowhere near prepared.
Third, you need to form a strategic plan of attack, and stick with it. After you play as a species a time or two, you usually figure out what you like to do with them. And once you know whether you want to attack via ground or air, in large swarms or surgical strikes, you can put the right pieces in place, in the right order, and do it with a purpose.
Similarly, once you have an set destination in mind, you need to lay out the plan and go with it. This isn’t to say that you don’t tinker with or tweak the plan along the way. But you don’t want to abandon the plan at the first sign of resistance or difficulty. You need to be confident in the steps you’ve laid out, and follow through with them.
There is a lot more I could (and likely will) say on this, but those are three things I’ve found to be helpful in building momentum, both in the church and in computer games.