Momentum is a beautiful thing when you’ve got it. But sometimes, it can feel like we’re just sitting in the water going nowhere. I’ve certainly felt like that.
When I first started as a youth worker on the east coast, I was only gathering a few dozen kids to events each month. A few dozen may sound like a lot…until you realize it was out of a possible 2300.
2300. And I was averaging 24. I can barely stand to think about it without my stomach turning.
No matter what I tried, it seemed like I couldn’t get any real momentum.
In a blog post on his website, michaelhyatt.com, Deacon Michael Hyatt used an analogy for business that totally resonated for me as a youth worker. He compared such lack of momentum, to the sea being “becalmed”.
Basically, becalmed is a word sailors use to indicate there’s no wind on the water, or it’s blocked by land. Whatever the reason, our sails are slack and our boat just drifts along.
Keep Your Sails Up
We all face these periods, don’t we? Big churches, small churches, mission churches, brand new church plants- it doesn’t matter the size or age of your community. But one thing I’m pretty confident we all can agree on- the last thing we want is for things to be calm in our youth group! We want active, engaged, and enthusiastic teens.
I don’t now of any way to entirely avoid slow periods like this, but I do know that Deacon Michael is on to something when he talks about the one thing we should avoid when we get discouraged waiting for the wind.
Don’t take down your sails.
So many people give up just before the wind comes. As a result, they’re not ready to take advantage of the opportunity.
I stuck it out. For months after I started youth ministry work, I hit lull after lull. But eventually, I hit an inflection point. Parents who caught the vision, clergy who saw the importance of a different kind of relationship, finding my voice as a leader of young people, utilizing unexpected or unconventional resources all formed a powerful gust in my sails that began to propel me like never before.
But what if I had taken down my sails in month one or two?
Are You Ready to Catch the Wind?
Robert H. Schuller once said, “Spectacular achievement is always preceded by unspectacular preparation.” Indeed.
Without preparation opportunities are lost or don’t amount to very much. We’re simply not ready to make the most of them-or anything at all.
So what does preparation look like when the wind is low?
Stay engaged. If you want to catch the wind, you’ve got to keep your sail up. Stay on deck and fully engaged. If you’re meeting with your youth once a week, or twice a month, for instance. Keep it up. Work on what you can, keep learning, stay productive, and be consistent.
Stay alert. Sometimes the wind is there, but we’re unready to catch it because we’re facing the wrong direction. Be alert to how things are moving in your space. Maybe there’s a new social media strategy your kids respond to, or a new way to engage your youth on Sundays. If you’re both engaged and alert you will be able to shift into a new position quickly and get moving again.
Keep adjusting. When we start catching wind, even a little, we can trim our sales and make the most of it. Small adjustments can have big impact on our momentum. Whether its improving our relationships with our youth one at a time, reworking our message, refining our relationship with parents, or expanding our skills, small changes make a big difference.
One of the reasons Faithtree Resources was created was to help our people, our pastors, and our communities keep their sails up so they’re ready to catch the wind and adjust their trim to really gain momentum.
The principle goes beyond building your youth group. It works in just about any area of life: business, relationships, and more. We’ll never get far if we’re disengaged, un-alert, and unwilling to change.
Opportunities will come. Do you have enough sail out to take advantage of them?
If your youth group is disengaged or your efforts feel adrift with no momentum, there are some things you can do to create some wind for yourself. Our team details these in our video series, Your Youth Group Makeover. It’s free for a limited time. Click here to watch it now.
And remember, all of us at Faithtree Resources want to see your ministry thrive. If there’s something we can do to support, give us a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org.
God bless you and strengthen you as you do His work!