Systems Theory Goes to Church

Today six of the leaders at my church, and I, attended an all-day “Transformation Training” event (sponsored by National Capital Presbytery).  I am so impressed with each of the six of them (100% participation!) for their dedication and their gifts for ministry.  I’m also impressed with them as a group, the lighthearted way they interact, and yet the depth of insight into church process issues. It was worth giving up a beautiful Saturday to be together at the training, so that’s really saying something.

We reviewed the 8 basic concepts of family system theory (a la Murray Bowen), and began to apply them to church leadership.  Here are a couple thoughts worth hanging on to

  • the whole can be understood only by the interaction of the parts
  • parts mutually influence each other
  • anxiety is viral and looks for a host
  • “anxiety creates its own disaster”
  • that which we fear we draw to ourselves
  • chronic anxiety creates mindless obedience
  • the leaders main job is to stay less-anxious
  • keep your intention firmly in mind
  • pay attention to how my own reactivity affects the system
  • separate intellectual and emotional functioning, stop and observe these
  • make decisions only when there is clarity on the above

We also worshipped together, walked a labyrinth, and played with Legos.  A very good day.


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