The Church is a Family Hebrews 2:11 The Church is a System – a “body” 1 Corinthians 12:12, 26-27
Developed by Dr. Murray Bowen, a psychiatrist http://www.thebowencenter.org/ http://www.thebowencenter.org/ Adapted to churches by Edwin Friedman Generation to Generation: Family Process in Church and Synagogue.
Trying to fix church people only increases anxiety in the church This makes change very difficult We solve church problems by reducing anxiety This promotes genuine spiritual growth
Anxiety is dangerous The most frequent command in the Bible is “Fear not!” Fear paralyzes our ability to think clearly and act unselfishly.
Anxiety is common The most common need of Bible characters was to stop worrying. Anxiety is a huge presence in the transitioning church because change increases anxiety
When person “A” is anxious about his relationship with person “B,” he will draw another person “C” into the relationship. If person “C” accepts responsibility for fixing the A-B relationship both “A” and “B” feel less anxious.
When “A” triangles “C” into fixing his relationship with “B” “A” & “B” still have a problem – but no anxiety “C” feels anxious – but cannot fix the problem (it is not his relationship or his problem)
Beth asks Pastor Caleb “Please talk to my husband Aaron; he never listens any more.” If Caleb agrees, he is now anxious – what can he say to Aaron without Aaron getting mad at him? Beth is no longer anxious; but her marriage problem is not any better
Every long-standing triangle adds to his stress load. Multiple, stuck triangles may explain the high burnout of pastors
They have a problem, but feel no responsibility for fixing it. Anxiety about problems is designed to motivate spiritual growth (Philippians 4:6-7). How many Christians are spiritually stunted because they are waiting for other people to fix their problems?
Leaders must connect to people in the church Leaders cannot pick up the anxiety of the church This is called “non-anxious presence”
Tell me about your anxiety Let me help you deal with your problem
“You are the only one who can solve your problem – but you can solve your problem.” “I am not worried when I hear about problems in the church; they are the normal means God uses for speaking to us.”
I am a part of the church, but the church’s problems do not define me. It is not my job to fix every problem; it is my job to reflect confidence that God is in control. This is called “self-differentiation.”
Henry Cloud and John Townsend helped many us with this concept in Boundaries: When to say yes; when to say no to take control of your life.
The self-differentiated Christian asks, “What does God hold me responsible for?” “Is someone asking me to take on the responsibility God expects them to fulfill?”
Living between Sensing my feels and using my mind Closeness to others and maintaining my integrity
I am responsible to God I can show people how to follow God; I cannot make them follow God I am not called to control others; but to let the Spirit control me
Ezekiel 33:1-9 The watchman is responsible solely for delivering God’s message God does not hold us accountable for making people obey his message
When 20% are doing 80% of the work, all that’s possible for the 80% is 20% of the work Overfunctioning-underfunctioning One part works too hard The other part works too little
The only way to get the underfunctioning person/spouse/group to work more... ... is for the overfunctioner to work less!
First, I have to do less Second, I have to worry less (much harder) Finally, I have to wait (harder even yet) But this works!
When one person overfunctions in pursuing a relationship, the other one will underfunction by increasing distance
Pursuing and distancing are healthy – if the roles switch frequently. Do Ron and Sue take turns pursuing each other? Do both the congregation and pastor take turns initiating new ideas?
What does this say about “pursuing” New members? More tithers? Committee members?
The family-like system will always resist change Change increases anxiety; systems are designed to reduce anxiety
When a member of the “family” changes, the others will pressure him/her to “change back” to the old, comfortable ways “Change back” messages may use verbal, monetary, or reward/punishment pressure.
#1 it is easiest to change a system you are part of. #2 change your behavior in any of the previous dynamics #3 smile and let the Holy Spirit give you grace to endure the “change back” messages
When one member of a family system changes, the other members have to change
It addresses anxiety and conflict, which pervade transitioning churches. It helps us identify leverage points for change.
We quickly recognize behavior patterns We accept systems behaviors as normal We manage the system with Christ’s peace (Managing the system is different than changing a person)
It guards our hearts. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7, NIV).”
Cloud, Henry & John Townsend. (2001). Boundaries (When to Say YES When to Say NO To Take Control of Your Life). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. Cox, David W. (2004) The Edwin Friedman Model of Family Systems Thinking in Academic Leadership Live: The Online Journal. Retrieved 8 June, 2011 from http://bit.ly/kQp6qe Friedman, Edwin. (1985). Generation to Generation: Family Process in Church and Synagogue. New York: The Guilford Press. This presentation developed by Dr. Mark Kelley, June 2011.