I have to give credit to Ray for the genesis of this post. Ray is an Elder at Dutch Fork Christian Church and friend.
We were mountain biking with a group of guys from church on Sunday afternoon. When we were at a point where we stop to relax and let the guys regroup Ray made this observation.
“I watch you and I ride down a hill and gain substantial speed and momentum and as we approach the next large hill or obstacle we carry that momentum half way up that next hill. That momentum is used to push us further faster before we have to really work hard to climb the next hill. Andrew and several other guys hold the breaks on the downhill. They are trying to make decisions about every little small root and rock they approach. Should I go around it or over it. They have to decide about every detail instead of allowing the bike to absorb the impact and simply do what it was made to do.”
That truth about mountain biking is so true in the leadership of any organization including the church. It is easy to compare 2 churches one growing and one not, and most of the time this truth will be alive and well. Many churches lack momentum because they unknowingly are hitting the breaks. In most churches for any kind of decision to be made, the board has to meet and spend 2 months deliberating every possible option and then make a decision. By this time the opportunity is passed and any decision is now the wrong one because the right one had to happen 2 months ago.
Jim Collins, in Good To Great, talks about momentum in this same way. Companies that are guided by what he calls the “hedge hog” concept don’t have to apply the breaks for every decision. The hedge hog concept is the one thing your company does that is best in its industry. Great companies are able to easily and quickly make decisions based on the one thing their company does well. Their vision is everything and drives every decision. They quickly evaluate decisions and speed past them gaining more and more momentum. If there is a bump or hill to climb, their momentum helps them overcome without a huge drain on resources. They have to work harder and make some fast adjustments, but over all they fly past the obstacle and the others bogged down with the details of every decision.
Churches should take a clue from Jim and allow the leaders in place to lead and make those decisions that will gain and build momentum. Let the leaders in place do their job like the experienced rider with his bike, making the best decisions based on the vision and allowing the momentum to build.
Momentum is a resource given by God for our management like any other. Let us use it wisely!