Yesterday I did something I finally wanted to do…spend time with students outside of church. This isn’t the first time but it felt like the first time that it was planned and not happenstance. I started out by having coffee with a former student, which was wonderful because we were able to rehash old memories and talk about a few of the things that have changed since he’s left for school. Later I moved on to a soccer game between two high schools that feed into our ministry. I didn’t know who to cheer for, but it was awesome to be out there on the school talk to a few students I knew and hadn’t seen in a while. I also ran into a parent who told me that he appreciated the fact that I was out there…overall it was rewarding. Seemed like a group of small things; however, I know these small things are what build up and cause great momentum. Now we have had bouts of momentum in the past but now it seems like things are really taking off. The best way to describe what’s happening is through the flywheel concept.
The Flywheel Concept is something from Jim Collin’s book Good to Great. Jim Collins’ writes:
You keep pushing, and the flywheel begins to move a bit faster, and with continued great effort, you move it around a second rotation. You keep pushing in a consistent direction. Three turns…four…five…six…the flywheel builds up speed…seven…eight…you keep pushing…nine…ten…it builds momentum…eleven…twelve…moving faster with each turn…twenty…thirty…fifty…a hundred.
The, at some point – breakthrough! The momentum of the thing kicks in in your favor, hurling the flywheel forward, turn after turn…whoosh!…its own heavy weight working for you. You’r pushing no harder than during the first rotation, but the flywheel goes faster and faster . Each turn of the flywheel builds upon work done earlier, compounding your investment of effort. A thousand times faster, then ten thousand, then a hundredth thousand. The huge heavy disk flies forward, with almost unstoppable momentum.
Now suppose someone came along and asked, “What was the one big push that caused this thing to go so fast?”
You wouldn’t be able to anser; it’s just an nonsensical question. Was it the first push? The second? the Fifth? The hundredth? NO! It was all of them added together in an overall accumulation of effort applied in a consistent direction. (p164-165)
I can’t tell you the one move we’ve made as a ministry to get to where we are now. In fact I feel confident in the direction that we are moving and it’s because of all the small things. Meeting with students off campus is one of those small things that lead to big momentum. So is writing a thank you card to one of your ministers, calling a parent about their teen, and texting a student “Good luck” before an exam. Don’t get me wrong there are some big things we need to do, but what’s important is that we are consistent in the direction we move and that we keep on moving, even if it’s with a few small pushes.