Topics in Christian Ministry: Church Administration & Organization
Azusa Pacific University
Dr. Dick Pritchard
April 22, 2003
"Systems Theory in Ministry"

I.   Difference between church and other form of organizations
A.   The church is more like a family than anything else
B.   Family Systems Theory
1.   Typically have coalitions
a.   Some are obvious: youth group, pastoral staff, etc &
b.   Some are secret: these are not very obvious and are not made present until either a lot of time or in the face of crisis
2.   Implicit Rules - not exactly written but just understood
3.   Roles (i.e. the peacemaker, the dominant, etc &)
4.   Homeostasis (lit. keeping it the same)
a.   Types
i.   Open
i.   People are free to come and go
ii.   It is like a circle with a dotted line
ii.   Closed
i.   The lines are drawn and no one is free to come into the system
ii.   It is like a circle with a solid line
b.   The problem is if a pastor's job is to institute change, but is working within a closed system, it creates a lot of chaos
5.   Nonsummativity
a.   The whole is greater than the sum of its parts
b.   Typically churches (and families) take on a dynamic that is bigger than just the people in it (i.e. that is a church of missions, or that is a church that is welcoming, etc &)
c.   This is both negative and positive
II.   What does a dysfunctional, toxic church look like
A.   Closed system
B.   Organized around the needs of those who are in power
C.   A large amount of transference
1.   Where people transfer their problems onto the source of authority
2.   80% of the criticism (an therefore the compliments as well) have nothing to do with what the Pastor has done
D.   How do you deal with poor systems - Leading Through Differentiation
1.   Detriangulation
a.   If two people are pissed off at each other they often go to a mutual person and attempt to "win" them to their side
b.   This can be done "subtly" by asking for the third parties advice
c.   This needs to be removed - do not get sucked into others anxiety
d.   This is different than the Matthew 18 concept; that is fine to use when people cannot come to a resolution and they need a neutral party
2.   I am sure there are others but we didn't get to them