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8 Systems for a Healthy Church

I’ve just finished reading Nelson Searcy’s free ebook: ‘Healthy Systems, Healthy Church‘ (also available on Amazon for $0.79).

I like his definition of a SYSTEM: Saves You Stress, Time, Energy and Money.

Searcy proposes eight systems for churches:

  1. Weekend Service System (How we plan, implement and evaluate your music, preaching, transitions, offertory, etc.)
  2. Evangelism 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. Volunteer System (How we mobilise people for ministry)
  6. Stewardship System (How we develop strong givers)
  7. Leadership System (How we develop staff, lay leaders and high-powered volunteers)
  8. Strategic System (How we evaluate the above systems for constant improvement)

He also includes a helpful diagram about the importance of good systems and good people. It got me thinking about where our bad systems might be frustrating good people.

Have a read of this very short ebook.

Do you agree with the proposed systems? Can you think of any other systems that should be included?

I wonder if there’s scope to include some kind of discipleship system – how to develop members who will be constantly growing in their faith, love of God and others. But perhaps this is covered by the other systems.

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  1. Chris Little

    September 28, 2011 at 5:39 am

    Looks very interesting.

    Should ‘volunteer’ and ‘leadership’ be combined? Some volunteers are heading towards leading – better to say this from the start.

    And ‘small group’ is a name that places the emphasis on the structure, rather than the bigger reality: changing people who prayerfully gather around the word. (Unlike ‘evangelism system’, which is very clear about the big purpose – evangelism.)

    One final thought, the ‘strategic system’ would be very important in avoiding the error identified in ‘The Trellis and the Vine’ – that is, systems taking over.

  2. Steven Kryger

    September 28, 2011 at 6:08 am

    Some good reflections, thanks Chris. I think our danger is often to let systems take over. However, I’m also realising that without a system, we’ll just make it up as we go along, without considering whether we’re actually achieving what we set out to achieve. For example, do people who come to our church feel welcomed?

  3. Lthopper

    September 28, 2011 at 10:32 am

    What is there is helpful. I would add a
    Discipleship/spiritual formation system. I am weak in them all and only attentive to some. We are only growing in those of course.

  4. Steven Kryger

    September 29, 2011 at 5:44 am

    Hi LT, from your experience, which system do you think is most important to get in place first?
    …Communicate Jesus
    Digitial Inspiration for Ministry

  5. Mike Wziontek

    September 30, 2011 at 3:10 am

    We were going to plant a church in Sydney a couple of years ago using the systems model, the plan was to get leaders for each of the systems and that would be the leadership team of the church. It looked good on paper, but the challenge was trying to recruit these leaders. Another system we had was called service- as in serving the community.
    It was tied in with the outreach system, so we could tell and show people the gospel.

  6. Steven Kryger

    September 30, 2011 at 3:33 am

    Thanks for sharing Mike.

    Another system that came to my mind was ‘Communications’ – what is communicated when, to whom, by whom, and via which channels.

  7. Bill Reisenweaver

    January 21, 2012 at 12:36 am

    I read this article a couple of years ago.  Now I am in a tele-coaching network with Nelson (its expensive, but had a grant that covers this).  Nelson is a phenomenally  bright pastor and a great mentor.  
    I suggest you focus not on the missing systems but the questions that follow.I have made some relatively minor changes in our church which have yielded tremendous returns; these were recommendations from Nelson.  For example, we struggled a lot with first-time guests not returning.  Now, rarely do we have a one-timer, but most come back.  Think about this: if you have 100 visitors in a year and retained 50 of them versus 10 of them, your church will increase growth by 5 times!

  8. Steven Kryger

    January 21, 2012 at 11:02 am

    Thanks for your comment Bill.

    I’d be interested to hear some of the things you’ve learnt from this coaching experience.

    I’ve learnt from Nelson’s books, and was receiving the email but unsubscribed because the volume was too frequent!

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  10. kleimoladmk

    November 18, 2012 at 9:19 am

    You might want to check out the final project I wrote for my D.Min. back in 1994. You can find it at
    In a nutshell, the MAP looks at congregations as complex emotional and organizational systems. My conclusion is as long as a congregation has emotional health, the organizational system will take care of itself. On the other hand, the more emotionally reactive a congregation (or its leader[s]) becomes, the more irrelevant the organizational system becomes.

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  14. Ken

    January 12, 2015 at 5:06 pm

    What did you end up using instead, Mike? Have you ended up with the same systems, but just not led by specific leaders for each system?

  15. Jim

    July 4, 2015 at 7:25 am

    How did you tweak your system to transition to repeat returns?

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  17. Duane Sayre

    May 20, 2016 at 1:56 am

    I was wondering if you should include Staffing because they play a vital role in the growth, health and direction of the church. Thoughts?

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