The human body has multiple systems in operation at any given time. These systems work together enabling a human being to live. The circulatory system is the bodies transport system. The heart pumps blood through the arteries and veins to nourish power everything. The digestive system breaks down food into protein, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, and fats turning it into energy enabling tissue growth and repair. The immune system is our body's defense system against infections and diseases. Organs, tissues, cells, and cell products work together to respond to dangerous organisms (like viruses or bacteria) and substances that may enter the body from the environment.
Church systems are similar to the systems found in the human body. Every church has them and needs them in order for the church body to function correctly. As a church grows, the systems that sustain it must grow with it. These systems must be created, implemented, managed, and evaluated in a strategic manner. At Freshwater, we are constantly monitoring our systems and evaluating them in order to ensure they are functioning properly.
Churches must create systems that enable the body to function properly in order to make disciples in a healthy environment. Nelson Searcy coined an acronym for SYSTEM that captures the significance of having healthy systems in the local church: SYSTEM: ‘Saves You Stress, Time, Energy and Money.’
At Freshwater we have identified ten systems that all work together enabling the body of Christ to operate with efficiency and effectiveness in accomplishing Jesus mission to make disciples. These systems include:
1. Weekend Service System (How we plan, implement and evaluate our music, preaching, transitions, offertory, etc.)
2. Outreach System (How we attract people to our church)
3. Assimilation System (How we take people from their first visit to fully developing members of church)
4. Small Groups System (How we fill and reproduce small groups in our church)
5. Stewardship System (How we develop strong givers and how we manage finances)
6. Leadership Development System (How we develop staff, high-powered volunteers, and mobilize people for ministry)
7. Communication system (How we leverage social media, the web, and print media to clearly communicate)
8. Spiritual growth system (How we encourage people to take the next step in their faith and provide a clear pathway to accomplish this)
9. Strategic Planning System (How we evaluate the above systems for constant improvement)
10. Missions System (how we prioritize, mobilize, and empower short and long term missions efforts locally and globally)
The process of creating, implementing, managing, and evaluating all of the systems in operation take time, but because churches are built on systems its worth putting in the effort to make them effective. This is where I suggest you start if systems thinking is new to you.
1. Identify the systems that exist within your church.
2. Identify the systems that need clarification.
3. Develop a process for creating effective systems. Write them down and work through them with others.
4. Develop a management process to oversee them.
5. Create a method of evaluating each system on an annual basis.