Apr 19, 2021 08:00am
5 Ways to Evaluate Your Church’s Operating Systems

Unfortunately, my laptop is not operating right now.  Even though it is turning on, the system goes so far and then freezes.  The operating system has a glitch in it somewhere, and trying to figure out how to get it functioning again has been time consuming.  An operating system (OS) is the system software that manages the computer’s hardware, software resources, and provides common services for computer programs.  It is the most important software that runs on a computer because it manages all the processes of that computer.

The importance of well-functioning systems cannot be overstated.  God created us with very intricate systems such as the skeletal, which provides our bodies its frame, and the muscular system, which provides the strength needed to move that framework.  

We certainly are fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s image.  

If one of your systems is misfiring and not operating as it should, it is very problematic for all of your systems and can cause them to shut down.  In the Apple world that has been referred to as the “spinning wheel of death.”

Systems can be defined as a group of related parts that move and work together, such as your nervous, circulatory, respiratory, immune, and reproductive systems.   In ministry, systems are what aid you in sustaining the relational capital you have worked so hard to build.  They allow your church body to function in a way that honors and glorifies the Lord, making sure everything is done decently, in order, and with excellence.  Excellence is a word that scares many people, but it means doing the best you can with what you have.

Systems are reproducible and interconnected processes by which an organization actualizes its values and achieves its mission.  They are what allow you, with excellence, to develop initiatives and strategies linked directly to your vision and implement them:  

How is your ministry operating?  

How could your ministry operate better?  

What operating systems should you consider implementing that describes a clear path for people to become a part of your church?  

Once a person becomes a church member, what does discipling, serving, growing, and multiplying look like?   

In developing strategies, structures, and systems, remember how important it is to keep following a biblically healthy process that involves prayer, evaluation, collaboration, and alignment with your core values: 

Are you being driven by your values and making sure they are not only aspirational values (what you desire to do in the future), but actual values that are being lived out and practiced daily?  

Are you building systems focused and directed by God’s mission for your church?  Your “what” has been determined by God: Go and make disciples.

Systems need to be values driven, mission directed, vision focused then strategy accomplished.  

You will only expand to the capacity and effectiveness of your systems.  All you have to do is study Exodus 18 to see what happens when there is not a system in place to make sure you can sustain the relational capital you have worked so hard to build.  It is worth repeating what James Clear said in Atomic Habits, “We don’t rise to the level of our goals; we fall to the level of our systems.”  Well thought out systems, structures, and strategies in ministry are crucial.

Here are some system building blocks to help you prayerfully work through developing their structure and strategies for implementation:  

#1 The first thing you must look at is attitude.  What is the overall atmosphere of the team?  Is there optimism or is there a pervading pessimism that must be confronted?  What attitude or thinking needs to be fostered or corrected?  Is there an immediate opposition to systems being unspiritual and not needed?  What training or information would help your people see the importance of this process?

#2 Then you need to look at behaviors.  What are the behaviors that reflect ownership and commitment to the system?  Are your people more team oriented or do they have a Lone Ranger mentality?  Who needs to be working together on particular systems because of their ability to form a cooperating coalition?  

#3 Now you can begin thinking through sequence.  How will you accomplish the task in front of you?  What are the steps that need to be taken?  Three important things: What needs to be done?  Who will do it? When does it need to be done by?

#4 Clarity takes this process to the next level.  Answer questions concerning where, when, and who.  Remember that these systems need to be reproducible and interconnected processes that clearly define everyone’s place on the team and how they carry out their responsibilities.  

#5 You are then ready to begin executing the plan.  What is working and what is not working in welcoming guests at your church?  What do you need to begin doing in your assimilation process and what should you stop doing?  Are you working the steps and are the steps working?

Your systems produce the results you design them to accomplish.  Do you need to change the scorecard from asking how many are attending and how much is being given to the question of how many disciples are being made?  How many are actually sharing their faith and building relationships with people who are far from God?  

This process is what begins building the culture you desire in your church body.  What impact are the attitudes, behaviors, and heart of your people having on your effectiveness for Christ?  What is the spiritual thermometer of your church family? 

Copyright © 2021 by Larry Barker @ No part of this article may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from