Ever found yourself struggling with a program that draws a crowd and generates a kind of buzz…but actually moves people in a different direction than you want them to go?
For example, you’ve designed your strategy to move everyone in the direction of a small group, but a legacy program, maybe an ongoing on-campus class or periodic event moves people in a different direction. On it’s own merit, the class or program or event isn’t bad. It might even be a good thing in some ways, but it takes people away from the commitments that you want them to have.
That’s called sideways energy in The 7 Habits of Effective Ministry.
A concrete example? Let’s say you want to offer an excellent program for children on Sunday morning; the kind of experience that will leave every child wanting to come back and every parent willing to prioritize that commitment. What else does it do? It allows your weekend service to concentrate on providing a life-changing environment for adults. Who doesn’t want that?
But let’s say that you also offer a Wednesday night program for children that has taken on a life of its own. And it brings in a lot of children. What else does it do? It requires a lot of adult volunteers (who are unavailable to serve on Sunday). It takes up lots of your available space on campus (making the space unavailable for other things). It pulls in a chunk of staff time and energy (making that same time and energy unavailable to plan the Sunday experience).
Two programs. The weekend provides a launching pad for next steps for adults. The mid-week is good on it’s own merit, draws a crowd and generates buzz, but on closer examination takes away from the momentum of the weekend.