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Systems Theory and Church Health

Quick, easy fixes are the antithesis of systems thinking. It is challenging, “because it is

much harder to integrate new tools than simply apply them separately” (Senge, 2006, p.

11). This is an all encompassing discipline: the individual disciplines being like

instruments in an orchestra, the fifth discipline being the orchestra. “By enhancing each

of the other disciplines, it … reminds us that the whole can exceed the sum of its parts.”

(Senge, p. 12).

This process of systems thinking parallels “Natural Church Development” (Schwarz,

2006, p. 10). Senge writes, “…vision without systems thinking ends up painting lovely

pictures of the future with no deep understanding of the forces that must be mastered to

move from here to there” (Senge, 2006, p. 12). Natural Church Development call this

“passionate spirituality” (Schwarz, 2006, p. 28) without “effective structures” (Schwarz,

p. 30). Healthy churches are characterized by strength in eight earmarks.

This discipline is useful in current and future church leadership roles; otherwise, one is

always putting out fires rather than effectively managing. The goal is, “to equip his

people for works of service” Ephesians 4:12 (Today’s New International Version) and to

bring them to maturity.


Holy Bible (2005). Today’s New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Schwarz, C. A. (2006). Natural Church Development: A Guide to Eight Essential

Qualities of Healthy Churches (7th ed., Rev.). St. Charles, IL: ChurchSmart


Senge, P. M. (2006). Fifth Discipline: the Art and Practice of the Learning

Organization. New York: Currency Doubleday.


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