Where Does Energy Come From?

My church is doing the New Beginnings Assessment, and so we have been learning about organizational life cycles. One version displays the life cycle as a hill. Churches start at the bottom with lots of energy, and they climb by building significant networks of relationships, which give birth to programs, which, of course, require administration. On the decline side of that hill, things fall away in the exact same order; energy goes first, then the relationships, then the programs. In the end, administrative structures are all that’s left.

I’ve been part of new churches and established ones, and this setup seems right.

My far-sighted colleague observed to me that, at our church, we spend most of our efforts on relationships and almost none on energy. We’ve said for a very long time that administration needs to support programs and that programs are only valuable insofar as they incubate meaningful relationships. And we’ve stopped there.

What about energy, then? Where does energy come from? If a people is tired, how do they get rejuvenated? Surely this is a work of the Spirit, but, just as surely, there are things leaders can do to create energetic conditions, right?

15 years ago I was part of an “emergent” church before that’s what they were called, and that place was bursting with energy. Most of the participants were in their 20’s and 30’s (there was a nursery but no youth group), and the pastor was a terrific, thoughtful, musically talented guy. Every gathering created a kind of buzz that took a few days to wear off.

Is that the key? A demographic? A dynamic leader?

Is the creation of energy a leadership competency? If we don’t have it, where do we get it?