Over the years of pastoring and working in church ministry I have seen great times of momentum where, it seems like nothing could stop you. I have also seen times where momentum was stopped like it ran into a wall made of steel from some alien planet (yet to be discovered by us mere earthlings).
Momentum is a beautiful thing and it is incredibly encouraging in a church context. Plans are accomplished quicker and better with momentum. Momentum gives a people the ability to knock down obstacles that may have seemed impossible for years. God uses momentum to accomplish His Kingdom tasks through His body.
We see momentum in the book of Acts (The Acts of the Holy Spirit through the Church of Jesus.). The book of Acts is full of incredible feats and heroics, it is full of miracles and the impossible becoming possible. But where did the momentum start? Well, according to Luke the author of Acts it started when the rag tag group of men and women who followed Jesus were of “One Accord”. Acts 2:1 KJV.
We are also told an interesting story in Genesis about an odd tower called Babel. There the people were doing evil and building a tower (possibly to worship a false God, or just to make a name for themselves.) “to the heavens”. When God saw this, He said “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” Genesis 11:6-7 NIV.
Momentum seems to be clearly the effect of unity in purpose. When a people are unified in purpose nothing (But God and ????????) can stop them. So, is it God who always stops Momentum? Yes, God can stop man’s momentum but so can something else.
The main killer to momentum is disunity. If unity is the accelerant for momentum, disunity is the extinguisher. Now disunity does not just happen in a vacuum. As a matter of fact, disunity takes time and effort to build. But once it is built any momentum you may have had will quickly stop.
In the Church disunity usually comes from the corners where people who are hurt or upset quietly begin to talk to others, attempting to spread their pain or anger. Before long there is an underbelly of discontentment that can be felt yet, is never spoken of outside of small circles. In these small circles words of fear and doubt turn into words of malice, anger, and outright lies at times.
I have seen this in action more times that I would care to remember. And every time it shuts the momentum a church had right down. I have even seen church fall apart due to this when, in fact their future should have been bright.
Now what might surprise you the Bible talks about this very thing as “Quenching the Holy Spirit.” Or in modern language bringing sorrow to the Holy Spirit. Look at Ephesians
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:29-32
In verse 30 we read “… and do not grieve the Holy Spirit.”. This of course sets in the middle to tie together hurtful words and rage, anger, slander and malice. In other words Paul is saying that the Holy Spirit is Quenched or, grieved when we are spreading disunity.
Why would that be? Simply put it is because it the Spirit of God who brings unity. We were all baptized into the same Spirit and made to drink the same Spirit.. We have become one through this same Spirit. The Spirit of God is about the business of reconciliation not division. And when we cause division we are in fact working against the Spirit of God and all momentum will stop.
So, as a pastor allow me to give a few insights on how to deal with such disunity before your momentum wrecks into an alien wall made of strife, bitterness and hurtful words.
1. Speak clearly on the vision and purpose. If your vision and purpose is easily misunderstood you can bet there will be those who cause disunity. Not because they want to rather, because they are confused and in fear.
2. Love those who speak against the purpose and vision. If you want to turn a flame into a wildfire then attack those who are complaining. Your attacks will only prove to them and others that they were correct about your motives. You must confront the issue but use love and empathy not anger. Recognize their fears and speak to their concerns.
3. Teach people to open up to those they feel hurt by and to ask questions in areas they do not understand. As a pastor I see this all the time. People will get hurt or confused and instead of coming to me they, instead begin to talk about it with others. Your church as well as all churches need to understand that the Holy Spirit wants unity and that unity will come at a price. That price is a willingness to seek resolution with those who have offended you.
If people refuse to come to you and you get word of their fear or anger, then, please go to them. If that does not work Jesus tells us to take a witness or two. The idea is God wants unity and momentum in His Church above our pride or hurt feelings.
4. Lastly, be open to the ideas of others when it comes to purpose and vision. Include as many as you can in the process. You want all the church to move in the same direction with unity and momentum so, include as many people in the process as possible. Not all their ideas will be good or right but it will allow them to make a decision if they want to be part of this or not.
No one wants to walk on egg shells around their church family and let me be honest if you are walking on egg shells then then un-churched and un-believers you are trying to reach will see it. If your church floor is made of egg shells I promise you will not accomplish God’s purpose for the Church. And if those egg shells last too long that church will die. You can only grieve the Holy Spirit so long.