I have two kids, both of them boys below the age of 5. Every day is insane. They destroy everything. Books. Toys. The house. Me. But I love their insanity. We’re never bored anywhere we go, and we always have to be prepared to apologize on their behalf.
They love to play this game where I sit on the floor, and they run from the opposite side of the house to run me over. They laugh the entire time. It’s a lot of fun, and I am totally OK with my chronic back pain because of it. But they’ve learned that the only way to really knock me over is if they get a running start. The longer the running start, the easier it will be to knock me over. If they just stand there and try to push me over, it’s not going to happen. They’re learning the power of momentum.
Momentum is a fairly common word within many churches, at least with the church staff. It’s an important conversation for you to have regarding your youth ministry. Figuring out strategies to build momentum. Figuring out potential barriers that kill momentum. But that second part is where I feel a lot of churches get the words momentum and energy confused.
There are a lot of things that can kill the energy of a youth group and it varies by church. However, if you have momentum, when something gets in the way to block your youth ministry from thriving, your momentum should crash you into the issue and keep you moving forward.
That is the purpose of building the momentum so that when something gets in your way, and trust me, something will get in your way, it won’t stop you. You may lose a little bit of energy, but you’re going to keep moving past it. Conversations about building energy are good. Conversations about building momentum are better.
“Cool. Now what?”
1. Get your team together.
Whether it’s a paid staff team, volunteer team, student leadership team, or combination of all three, get them together and discuss momentum (If you do not have a team to talk about this with. Go build that team. Even if your youth ministry is a handful of kids, you should not be leading it all by yourself. Let someone else who has strengths that cover your weaknesses help take the group to new heights). Discuss strategies to build momentum. This is not just a meeting to brainstorm fun ideas. Specifically strategize momentum building tactics that will give so much energy to the ministry that when a barrier presents itself, you’ll bulldoze it over. Research what other churches have done and translate it to your context. Figure out some potential barriers that could take away energy. Talk about what barriers have been and are currently in place that are inhibiting the ministry from growing numerically and/or spiritually.
2. Make a strategic timeline.
I hate it when I leave a meeting and though it felt productive because a lot of words were spoken and a lot of ink was used on a whiteboard, no one leaves with a clear of understanding of “what’s next.” Figure out what the most strategic timing in the rollout of your best ideas would be.
3. Do it.
And ask the Holy Spirit to be in it with you. Read Acts 2 and check out the momentum that the first church had. Even when ridiculed for being drunkards, God added to their numbers daily. Talk about momentum.
4. Evaluate it.
Especially when the barriers were presented. Were you able to get through them? How long did it take to recover? Who noticed the barrier? Parents? Volunteers? Students? Or was it really only your staff/leadership team?
5. Take notes and file them for future reference.
I’m not a note-taker. I’m not super organized. I’m a talker and a dreamer. So I’ve asked for help from those that are organized note-takers to document our thoughts and then when we have this discussion again, we don’t have to try very hard to remember everything that was said in the evaluation dialogue. This is super important. Do not skip this step cause you’re not in the mood or some other fake excuse. Just write it down.
David has been working in youth ministry for over a decade and is convinced that students aren’t just the future church, but they’re the current church. And they matter now. He and his wife, Elise, have two young boys, Judah and Levi, that are energetic and insane. They live in Detroit, MI and spend most of their time pursuing shenanigans outdoors and collecting vinyl records.