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Speeches vs. Systems

Recently in a pastoral resourcing day provided by our conference, we spent time some listening to a talk by Andy Stanley. His focus was on “Systems” within churches, and how some are very conducive to ministry and leadership/discipleship/etc., but some actually impede these areas. I thought much of his talk was also very appropriate to the home, and being a parent who pays attention to what “systems” exist in our families.

Toward the beginning of his talk, Stanley said “Talks don’t create behaviors, systems create behaviors.” Not sure this is true 100% of the time, believing in the Holy Spirit to work through words becoming flesh, etc. There are exceptions. But it’s an important reminder that setting up a pattern for disciples to be developed is much more affective than simply saying “let’s make disciples” from the pulpit.

Another quote worth noting came from one of our fellow pastors that day. Pastor Doug Newton said, “We live in a system that does not lead people to follow.” That can also be a true statement. We live in a world that is not set up to encourage “followers”.

Usually the focus is either on becoming such a great leader that tons of people follow you, or energy and excitement levels are diminished to the point where following simply happens as a passive experience. We live in a world that emphasizes the loud, powerful, and entertaining or attractive. And a world where the majority of the general public finds themselves living each day without much thought toward the patterns and systems they find themselves participating in.

How often are we involved in actively following? In purposefully following, and calling others to a participatory experience of following Jesus Christ.

I believe our churches can be such a place. A place where being labeled a “follower” is an okay thing. Where not everyone needs to be a “leader”, even though they may be encouraging others to follow them as they follow Christ.

That same day, some good questions were encouraged to be discussed:

– What values and behaviors are the current systems (in our home and/or church) communicating and promoting? How might God call these to change?

– What are we accidentally rewarding, emphasizing, or undervaluing…and then get upset when it is seen in those we lead/parent?



Husband, Father, Pastor, Missionary, Writer, Poet, Friend, reader, coffee enthusiast, hockey Wing-Nut, musical participator, etc...

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