10 Alarming Momentum Killers in Your Church to Avoid

leadership Sep 27, 2023

Momentum. It’s hard to get and easy to lose. Especially in the church. 

There are seasons that things feel “up and to the right” no matter what you do. People are coming to faith. Testimonies are being shared of growth and discipleship. The energy is in the air. 

The Spirit is on the move.

And there are other seasons when that momentum just seems non-existent.

But why?

It could be that you’re experiencing a momentum killer in your church.

Here are ten possibilities.

10 Alarming Momentum Killers in Your Church to Avoid

1. A new board member who believes in a different mission and vision for the church.

Sometimes an individual says all the right things and makes it through a vetting process only to show a completely different side once they sit in a position of authority. 

You and I have seen it happen. Sometimes a new board member – it turns out – isn’t interested in supporting the existing mission and vision of the church but is interested in initiating a fire sale and pursuing a whole new future.

If there’s one thing that can dramatically kill momentum in your church, it’s a strong-willed new board member who has ideas of their own and is ready to push people around to get it done.

2. Excess focus on the critics.

When a leadership team is taking heat for a decision or a direction, the critics will rise up faster than a bottle of Coca Cola with a Mento thrown into it.

The onslaught can not only create an immediate effect of discouragement but it can contribute to an on-going cumulative sense of overwhelm.

To be fair, the critics can sometimes be helpful as they might be pointing out a blind spot you or your team have. When facing criticism, it’s important to separate the wheat from the chaff. Recognize what’s valid and reflect on it. Then calmly move forward.

But when there is an excess focus on the critics, an entire leadership team can be derailed off their direction and find themselves becoming reactive and frantic. 

3. Too little focus on the why of the what.


Let me say it this way. When leading change, you must focus on the underlying reason for the change just as much as (actually, probably more than) the change itself.

If there is an urgent change, too often leaders believe that everyone understands the reason for the urgency. So they spend too little time bringing everyone up to speed and, instead, introduce the answer before anyone realizes the problem is worth solving.

If you want to stop momentum in its tracks, neglect the why and only focus on the what.

4. A loss of trust.

Trust can be lost in a split second. And any church that loses trust in each other will experience an utter annihilation of any momentum it had prior.

A loss of trust can happen when leaders show a lack of transparency—they are holding onto information that many people in the congregation are aware of and they refuse to address the elephant in the room. 

A loss of trust can happen when leaders aren’t willing to listen to congregants. A loss of trust can happen when commitments aren’t followed through on, when competency is questioned, and integrity is lost.

Trust takes a long time to build. It only takes a second to detonate and destroy it.

5. A dried up leadership pipeline.

When there is no prospect of new leaders on the horizon, the momentum tank is creeping toward an eighth of a tank. And if it stays that way, the low fuel light will be flashing at you in no time.

With people attending far less often, it signals something that we can’t ignore: for many, the church is a low priority.

And without a steady initiative of mentorship and discipleship, the church will struggle for missional momentum.

6. A lack of communication.

When people feel like they aren’t getting open communication from the leadership, they’ll settle for assumptions. And that never leads to a healthy place (in any relationship system, let alone a church).

When people aren’t informed about what’s going on and what’s coming up, confusion and distrust grow.

And that’s a surefire way to snuff out whatever momentum you might’ve had.

7. A lack of focus on spiritual growth among members.

Show me a congregation full of people who have settled into their church-going comfort zone and I’ll show you a congregation that is on a steady path toward death. 

Where there is no fire and zeal for growing in the Lord, there will soon be no more people left. This is what happens when a church becomes a shell of its former self.

Often, the things you’ll hear when this is happening are a lot of concerns about the church meeting people’s preferences. You’ll hear a lot of concerns about problems without anyone rising to the occasion to also offer solutions.

Gossip reigns. And playing church is substituted for discipleship.

8. A burned out staff team.

If your church is blessed to have a staff team, a surefire momentum killer is them being burned out. 

Some churches treat their staff team badly. Some churches are filled with members who steadily undermine them without any repercussions from the church’s leadership.

Whatever the reasons may be, when a staff team is burned out, it’s a sign that something else is out of whack.

Oftentimes, contributing factors are a combination of what has been mentioned already. It’s all cumulative.

9. A lack of missional zeal among the leadership and members.

When no one in the leadership of a church is building relationships with people who don’t know Jesus, this slowly erodes into the culture of the membership. 

Instead of making evangelism a normal activity and conversation, it’s a complete after thought.

Church services are filled with insider knowledge. First-time guests aren’t invited to engage. And while the church members are friendly to each other, guests are all but ignored in the foyer.

10. Too little prayer, too little courage.

A praying church has a chance to be a courageous church. 

A praying leader has a chance to be a courageous leader.

But with little prayer comes little courage.

And courage is vital to leading a church toward health. Without it, momentum will be a mist. It’ll never be grasped.

When a church stops praying upward, it stops moving forward.

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There's a reason 80-85% of churches are either plateaued or declining. One word: leadership. Or to be even more specific: a lack of leadership.

Too many pastors in too many churches are living Sunday to Sunday. They go an entire year without any distinct focus beyond making sure Sundays happen. 

And their leadership team? They provide minimal leadership help.

But that doesn't have to be your church's story.

In this Roadmap, I'm going to show you the path to lead with clarity and direction.

Click here to get your copy of The Intentional Pastor's Roadmap.

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