The Case for the System

I’m a very systems and process oriented person. So much so that I sometimes have difficulty focusing on the smaller details of things. I care less about the details and more about how the details connect and where the details are going. Any one detail by itself is powerless, but when coupled with other details and put into motion it becomes an important part of a system.

So I’ll make my case for looking at church like a system instead of a collection of details. A church’s health is directly tied to how well it does the details, don’t get me wrong, but the overall health is better controlled when we have an understanding of the church as a whole rather than a bunch of different items. For example, most churches have and need a children’s education program. But what happens to the children after they graduate elementary school? Where to do they go after that? What do they need to be prepared for that they will work on in junior high? Additionally, where do the volunteers for the program come from? How do we recruit and manage? How do we oversee?

Most churches struggle with their childrens program, especially in the area of recruiting and retaining high quality volunteers. Part of this is because we tend to view the childrens program as a stand alone item instead of a integral part of the life of the church. We have to network our ministries together so that they feed each other and contribute to overall health. Discipleship and shepherding should look for and identify new volunteers. Youth ministry and adult ministry need to coordinate to know where they’re going so the children’s program can adequately prepare the kids for the next step.

Without connecting ministries like this, children’s program becomes a dungeon where volunteers are sentenced for punishment (kidding, of course… or am I). Connecting ministries allows the life force of the church to flow through them all so that all can grow and develop as the other parts of the church do.

Now I’ve used an example of children, but you can make this illustration with any of the ministries in the local congregation. The body of Christ imagery is not just metaphorical, it really functions that way.

I’m going to address some organization principles in the coming posts, but until then why don’t you tell me what you believe to be the most important part of a church as a system. Feel free to take that from any angle you choose.

3 Responses to The Case for the System

  1. Allen Coker says:


    I’ve been slowly reading Simple Church and thinking about what you are talking about. How are we helping people move to maturity in Christ?

    I believe the most important part of the church as a system is the central nervous system (or the heart or the DNA or the core values/practices). Ultimately, that is Christ and our movement toward his likeness. I think this also speaks to your idea of “connecting”. If ministries are connected and the nerve impulses from our Head are moving through them, I think we will be growing in a healthy way.

  2. Meowmix says:

    I don’t know that I have any kind of an intelligent idea here. I just remember, as a teenager, and as I’ve aged through the years, that a lot of focus is placed on people from cradle roll up to and including graduation from high school. When I graduated and was no longer a teenager, there was a BIG gap to Young Marrieds. This had not really changed by the time I moved to Memphis, although there were more than one adult class – you know, the one meeting in the auditorium, aged up to infinity. Being single and a young adult wasn’t, as I recall, a good place to be. Assumption being that sooner or later, hopefully sooner, you’d get married, and then there’d be a spot for you. This has improved, and now there are Young Adults,and Singles groups, and a myriad of other choices.

  3. Brad Palmore says:

    Allen – Good thoughts on the core. I’ve actually got a draft in progress that I’m calling “rotten to the core”.

    Meomix – Thanks for commenting!

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