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Understanding Your Congregation as a System
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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. The Congregational Systems Inventory is a survey designed to sample the perspectives of church staff, governing board, and key lay leaders. Be sure to order some packs of the CSI along with this valuable resource.
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Table of Contents

I. Congregational Systems Inventory Introduction The Tyranny of Successful Habits II. Congregations as Systems Systems Theory Axioms Seeing the Whole: A Perceptual Shift for Congregational Leaders III. Creative Tension Beyond Homeostasis Congregational Systems Inventory Measures Degree of Tension IV. Systems Dimensions Introduction Strategy Authority Process Pastoral Leadership Relatedness Lay Leadership Learning Conclusion V. Analyzing the Profile Interpreting Scores Reading the Overall Profile Trouble-Shooting Guide VI. Strategies for Reclaiming Tension Capitalizing on the Environmental and Developmental Forces Becoming Conscious Keeping Contention Alive Recontracting Disturbing the Equilibrium Training VII. Moving Out of Excess: The Strategy Scale Strategies to Move from Excess at the Planned End of the Scale Strategies to Move from Excess at the Spontaneous End of the Scale VIII. Moving Out of Excess: The Authority Scale Strategies to Move from Excess at the Concentrated End of the Scale Strategies to Move from Excess at the Dispersed End of the Scale IX. Moving Out of Excess: The Process Scale Strategies to Move from Excess at the Mandatory End of the Scale Strategies to Move from Excess at the Discretionary End of theScale X. Moving Out of Excess: The Leadership Scales Strategies to Move from Excess at the Managerial End of the Scales Strategies to Move from Excess at the Transformational End of the Scale XI. Moving Out of Excess: The Relatedness Scale Strategies to Move from Excess at the Collegial End of the Scale Strategies to Move from Excess at the Individual End of the Scale XII. Moving Out of Excess: The Learning Scale Strategies to Move from Excess at the Maximizing End of the Scale Strategies to Move from Excess at the Metamizing End of the Scale XIll. Profile Statistics Generalizations about Congregations Congregational Size Theory and the CSI Data Appendix: Introducing the CSI: A Suggested Meeting Design Notes Bibliography

About the Author

George Parsons, a former senior consultant with the Alban Institute and a Presbyterian minister who has served local congregations. He has advanced degrees in counseling and psychology and is trained in conflict management and organizational development. Speed B. Leas, a former senior consultant with the Alban Institute, began his affiliation with Alban in 1977 and has served congregations throughout California. He has done advanced work in organization development and systems theory and works in the area of conflict management with congregations.

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