Sideways energy will slowly cripple your momentum and your growth.

What is it?

It’s anything that does not help the main thing be the main thing.

I think we all have the tendency to do too much. In ministry, we sometimes can fall into the trap that more is better. I’m not saying we shouldn’t do anything, but only things that are focused to help our overall wins for the ministry.

Somethings that might be sideways energy:

  • That event you inherited but it happens every year still.
  • That Sunday morning program that you have to do even though you have a midweek service for students.
  • Stand alone events that are not attached to your church at all.
  • That leader meeting that less than 50% of people attend.

I’m sure you can think of things in which you think, “Why are we even doing this?”

That’s sideways energy.

For example, we are finally killing something that is sideways energy in our ministry. Something that was here before I got here was a junior high Bible study during our 10am service on Sunday mornings. But our student ministry meets Wednesday nights. And then we had this one thing at one service for junior high. But we meet on Wednesday nights. See what I’m saying?

We were having our students go to something that was “ok” when we offered something great on Wednesdays. We were asking our leaders to lead there and lead on Wednesdays. We found out most of the students who attend the Sunday, don’t go to Wednesdays. It’s because we offered something on Sundays. It was not a bad thing, it was a good thing.

But it was sideways energy.

I know we needed to repurpose this time because I know another Bible study is not what our students needed. They needed to do some Bible “doing”. Our goal on the weekend for the past 2 years (which this Sunday morning thing has gone against what we even were trying to do) is for students to go into service with their parents because there is nothing more influential than students watching their parents worship, and for students to serve.

The whole break down of our church could be broken down like this:

Worship (weekends for adults, midweek for students), Community (small groups), Serve.

That’s it. If it does not fall within those things, it’s sideways energy.

Our Sunday morning Bible study was outside of this. It was draining for our leaders. They loved it, but they were split in time and energy.

I know we have midweek worship and service, launching midweek on campus small groups in the fall, and students serving on the weekends. It’s clear, it’s easy and everyone knows what what we do now and why we do it.

Couple of thoughts on how you address this in your group:

  • Do you know what your main things are? Are they written down somewhere?
  • Do they match the vision and direction of your church as a whole? Last thing your senior pastor needs is another church in his church.
  • If you know the main things, are you ACTUALLY sticking to them? Or are you adding things here and there because you think you need to? Those things could be sideways energy.
  • List out all of the things you do. Every: sermon series, activity, event, camp, groups etc and compare it to your values and your main things and see if they fit into your structure. If they don’t, why are you doing it?

We have been on a ruthless hunt to rid ourselves of all sideways energy. It’s hard. It requires some tough conversations. But, when you are able to do the things you know you need to do and have everyone that serves with you all on the same page, with the same amount of energy and is crystal clear on why you do those things, these are the things that begin momentum in your leadership.


What are somethings that might be sideways energy in your ministry?