Gaining and Sustaining Momentum

A couple of years ago I received some audio CDs from a workshop Craig Groeschel and Andy Stanley did on the topic of momentum at Catalyst One-Day. I found the teachings they shared to be very beneficial and encouraging as a leader.

Over the next few days I will be sharing with you some of the notes I took while listening to their talks. The format will be that I write a statement they shared in their talk, then I will elaborate on each statement a little to explain it to you.

I hope you find this series of posts beneficial to you as we learn about momentum together.

Gaining and Sustaining Momentum 
Andy Stanley

Three things that trigger momentum:

  1. New
  2. Improved
  3. Improving

The basis of Andy’s talk is that there are three things that trigger momentum. Something that is new, something that already exists which is improved, or something that is currently operating and is improving. All of those create momentum because we live in a society where we do not like to see things stay the same. We like to see things change, improve, and become better.

Manage toward sameness and lead toward change

Andy described this as the traditional paradox between management and leadership. Management wants to make everything the same so they can manage it, while leaders want to always change everything by leading. Andy says you need both, which I agree with.

There will always need to be things in your organization that are the “same.” Things such as a staff meeting, the boss showing up to work, paychecks delivered when they should, etc. There are specific things that should be managed toward being the “same.” However, there also needs to be room for leaders to lead toward change.

The job of leaders is to take what exists and what is currently going on and improve them and make them better and even create new stuff. Leaders lead toward change. And, when leaders have a good group of managers who can manage things to be the same, it allows them to do a better job of leading toward change. 

If you have momentum and you don’t know why, you are only one bad decision away from losing it.

Sometimes things do go well in leadership and we find ourselves with momentum which is great. However, we need to know why and what created that momentum so we can do two things:

  1. Keep doing what created the momentum
  2. Avoid doing what will stop the momentum

Plus, when you have momentum is just takes one bad decision to lose all of it. Momentum is hard to build, but easy to lose.

It’s arrogant to say, “God is just blessin it.”

Andy shared this that even though God plays a role in all momentum and success, it is arrogant for people to point to God as the sole and only reason they are having success. Yes, that might be the truth, but when you say, “God is just blessin it” to other people who also work in your industry, it sends a message that “God has chosen us over you” or “God does not like you as much as us” or “God has decided that we are more holy than you.” All of those are a little arrogant to say when it comes to momentum and success so when we are giving credit for the success we have we need to give credit to God, but also credit the tangible things we have been doing to create the momentum we are enjoying. 

The worse things are, the more opportunity there is for a leader.

How true this one is. When momentum is dead and there is nothing moving forward in the organization it provides a great opportunity for a great leader to step in and make change. If he is able to lead the organization out of mediocrity, financial struggles, and build up the organization’s effectiveness it gives him great leverage and credibility going forward. If he is able to do those things it allows him to cast vision more effectively and helps people trust that he knows what he is doing and that he is doing what is best for the organization.

Most churches do way too much.

I agree with this one and believe it happens in nonprofit organizations as well. I think part of this happens because churches and nonprofit organizations are primarily governed by volunteers and supported by volunteers. So, when someone comes to us and shares an idea or suggests we do something, we think we need to implement it. 

One principle I often talk about in my book is that when someone does come to you with a suggestion or idea, say “yes” except put the responsibility back in their court. When they want to start something new tell them you think it is a good idea (if you really do, if you do not then say so), then ask them what their next step is to getting it going.

As leaders we are way too busy to implement everyone else’s ideas so when people come to us with ideas and suggestions (even if they are good) we need to put those ideas and suggestions back into the hands of the person who brought them to us. If they idea was as good as they think it was and if they truly believe in the idea, then they will implement it.

Question: What is your experience with gaining and sustaining momentum?

By Christopher L. Scott

Christopher L. Scott serves as senior pastor at Lakeview Missionary Church in Moses Lake, Washington. Through his writing ministry more than 250,000 copies of his articles, devotions, and tracts are distributed each month through Christian publishers. Learn more at