Systems Theory: Readings

Some resources on congregations as emotional systems:

How Your Church Family Works: Understanding Congregations as Emotional Systems by Peter L. Steinke
Building on systems work from such pioneers as Bowen and Friedman, Steinke looks at how roles, change, behavior and conflict are rooted in the economic relationships within the congregation and within the lives of members and staff, including professional Leader. The self-management of all leaders, including lay and professional, especially in tough times, is central to building healthier, thriving Ethical Societies.  Steinke deals with the emotional roots of such issues as church conflict, congregational change, irresponsible behavior, leadership roles, “stuckness” in certain behaviors, and the effects of family of origin on current relationships.

The Eight Concepts of Bowen Theory by Roberta Gilbert (a simple guide to the basics of the theory, developed originally for congregational contexts)

Creating a Healthier Church: Family Systems Theory, Leadership and Congregational Life by Ronald W. Richardson

Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times: Being Calm and Courageous No Matter What by Peter Steinke

Healthy Congregations: A Systems Approach by Peter Steinke

Understanding Your Congregation As a System: The Manual: “Parsons and Leas have created an important tool for congregational leaders in this application of systems theory to evaluating a congregation’s life and readiness for change. Church leaders can explore the forces at work and examine the systemic implications in seven key areas: strategy, process, pastoral and lay leadership, authority, relatedness, and learning. The Manual provides an overview of systems theory, complete instructions for administering and scoring the Congregational Systems Inventory (CSI), and guidance for interpreting and explaining the inventory results using sample scores. ”

Generation to Generation: Family Process in Church and Synagogue  by Edwin H. Friedman (the original/classic treatment of the topic of congregations as emotional systems, less easy to apply for volunteer leaders than some of the later material)