God-First Momentum: Five principles from the Book of Acts
In the world of science, momentum is generally described as the “force or speed of movement, or the impetus gained by a moving object.” Scholars calculate momentum as the product of mass and velocity or simply the impact of size and speed.
In Christian ministry leadership, we would add another constant to the equation: God!
As leaders, we know our ministries and we are unique and purposed to be integral parts of God’s redeeming work in this world. He created, designed, called and sustains us for his unique purposes, but he demands us to place him first in all that we plan to accomplish. It is no surprise then, that seeking him and glorifying him are always the first priorities for those ministries bursting with impetus, pace and energy in serving a hurting world. These exciting ministries characterize God-first momentum.
Scripture abounds with lessons of leaders who display God-first momentum. However, the narrative that shouts it out is that of the momentum of the early church in the Book of Acts. I would like to share five principles drawn from the Book of Acts that align with what we all strive toward in growing and leading God-first organizations:
Dependence on Him
Paul, Peter, Cornelius, Stephen and Philip are great examples of leaders who lived out a total dependence on the Spirit of God. A leader who is blessed in leading a ministry or church that has momentum acknowledges and humbly displays complete dependence on God. A favorite saying attributed to St. Augustine is, “Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.”
God-first leaders serve an audience of only one: God!
Discernment through Him
God-first leaders discern the culture, identity, structure and strategies of their ministries through the lens of Scripture. Strategy, execution, decisions, outcomes and process are filtered and prayed over, resulting in a central overriding question: “How does this future lead to a greater population in heaven?”
Direction through Him
It is impossible to move without direction, and momentum always requires movement. To know the right direction we must seek God’s plan first because he has the perfect plan for us (Jer. 29:11). Through disciplined prayer and listening, God-first leaders seek direction for moving their ministries forward. Then they execute direction with assurance and expedience. They don’t change direction, second-guess or stop.
God-first momentum accomplishes his purposes. God’s direction is prioritized. As we read in Acts 16, even after the church was strengthened and grew daily in numbers, Paul was still stopped by the spirit of Jesus from entering Bithynia and redirected to Macedonia.
Decisions glorifying Him
For ministries that show God-first momentum, decision-making is a process of seeking him in all matters. Acts 15 is an excellent model of a growing organization — the early church. All matters and disputes were decided with prayer, discernment, input and process. There was both clarity and authenticity. Decisions were actually made!
Momentum in organizations is characterized by Spirit-led decisiveness. These decisions may not always be popular, but are understood and respectfully accepted.
Delight in Him
Ministries and leaders experiencing momentum have fun, celebrate and give all the glory to God. “They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:46–47).
Our challenge as leaders is to delight in him, regardless of the situation and challenges facing our ministries. I always find it intriguing that the people were happy, enjoyed fellowship, broke bread and the mission was accomplished — “and the Lord added….”
As a young Christian, I remember the metaphor of a sailboat being used to encourage me in my spiritual walk. Without wind, sailboats don’t move.
For our ministries to experience God-first momentum we need God to be the only power in our sails.
Dr. John C. Reynolds is chancellor/CEO of Azusa Pacific University College. His leadership experience includes higher education, nonprofit organizations (World Vision International) and the diamond mining industry in South Africa. In addition, Dr. Reynolds serves on several nonprofit boards, including Christian Leadership Alliance, of which he is chairperson. This articles is from the 2017 spring edition of Outcomes magazine.