8 Systems That Are Crucial to Church Health

Focusing on the health of these eight systems, combined with strong, healthy leaders and a robust prayer life, will position you and your team in an environment that is poised for thriving.

Systems are a part of everything. Governments have systems; corporations have systems. Underlying healthy systems support families, the weather, planets, even the human body.

Our churches are also reliant upon healthy systems for support. From the outside looking in, it is tempting to look at individual leaders to gauge the health of an organization. It is tempting to study strategies and concepts, personality types, income, location or any number of factors. Those are all important, but they all are connected and or related to systems. Systems will literally determine whether our churches or any other organism or organization lives or dies; thrives or barely survives; wilts and withers on the vine or whether it sprouts and springs upward to become a massive oak. Systems are the guts of planting and revitalization efforts.

There are eight systems that are crucial to the survival of the church. Focusing on the health of these eight systems combined with strong, healthy leaders and a robust prayer life, will position you and your team in an environment that is poised for thriving. If any one of these systems is unhealthy, the church will stagnate and eventually decline. Just as with the human body, when a system begins to decline, if someone does not intercede, it will eventually turn in on itself and will eventually die.

  1. The Outreach System. Sometimes churches will use the excuse that they must make disciples and therefore must have a season of inward focus. Most churches are not inwardly focused because they are making disciples. They are inwardly focused because pastors and church leadership have fallen into the trap of making sure the church is thriving or more likely surviving in a post-pandemic reality. Jesus said, “Go and make disciples.” Most of Jesus’ healing took place outside the church. Without a healthy outreach system, your internal efforts will be fruitless. And we all know what happens to bad fruit.
  2. The Reproductive System. Every healthy organism reproduces in some way. Elephants give birth to baby elephants, humans give birth to baby humans, churches should birth new churches. Do you want a healthy outreach system? Casting a vision to birth a new church and then doing it is sure to make that happen.
  3. The Assimilation System. The assimilation system is simply the process by which you help people get connected to the church. If this system is not healthy, your church may have fantastic leaders, powerful preaching and be a virtual Six Flags Over Jesus, but you’ll never be a church.
  4. The Worship System. A quality worship experience is a must that requires prayerful planning and preparation. It communicates that your church is fresh and alive. A few things to consider when building your worship system:
  • Make sure your music is suitable for your context.
  • Be sure that whoever leads your music is both careful and prayerful. Will they coordinate music with the message? I know pastors who have entire teams present when planning their messages.
  • How will the service end? Does the pastor have a specific song? What is the cue for the worship team to return to close out the service?
  1. The Spiritual Maturity System. A church without a spiritual growth system in place is like plowing a garden without planting seeds. To use a biblical illustration, it’s like building your house on sand instead of rock (Matthew 7:24-27). Discipleship is a partnership between God and us. He does the work, but we must practice the disciplines.
  2. The Pastoral Care System. When it comes to pastoral care, I cannot think of a better model than Jesus. He had the perfect balance of self-care and caring for others. He selected 12 disciples to whom he would pour out his life, and three whom he would personally mentor. If you do not think carefully about your pastoral care system, you will find yourself burning the candle at both ends and will eventually run out of candle. One person can only care for about 12 people, and the pastor can only generally minister well to about 70.
  3. The Financial System. The balance sheet of the church is reflective of other people’s money. A system of checks and balances, and strong accountability must be in place. This includes budgets that are strictly adhered to. Open books should be available for access (minus specifics of who gave, but certainly containing the basics of how much money came in through donations and how it was spent). Faithful giving must also be taught regularly and as a part of the assimilation system.
  4. The Ministry Placement System. The ministry placement system is really part of the assimilation system or at least a subsystem. Ministry is more art than science, more intuition than fixed rules and procedures. The ministry placement system is exactly what it sounds like: Placing people in the right position at the right time and season of the church and their lives.
From Outreach Magazine  Matthew Lockhart: 50 Bible Stories Every Adult Should Know Vol. 1: Old Testament

For a detailed analysis of these systems, I encourage you to listen to the Echoes Through Eternity podcast.