Overview

The Whole Church

Congregational Leadership Guided By Systems Theory

The Whole Church, by the Reverend Ken Reeves, Ph.D., offers congregational leaders an understanding of the church as a whole system composed of members interacting with and influencing each other.

The book offers techniques for leading congregations into health by supporting their wholeness, lowering systemic anxiety, bringing change, resolving conflicts, and managing difficult behavior.

Effective leadership techniques depend on leaders’ maturity, so the book also addresses leaders’ personal and spiritual development.

Ultimately, leaders using systems theory will guide their congregations into being whole and safe communities that support their members and fulfill their missions.

Chapters 

  • Systems Theory
  • Diagnosis
  • The Healthy Church
  • Working on Yourself
  • Church Structure
  • Calm
  • Change
  • Conflict
  • Difficult Behavior
  • The Unconscious
  • Preaching
  • The Spirit

Order From:

Book Reviews

Dan Hotchkiss, author of "Governance and Ministry: Rethinking Board Leadership"

Lots of clergy and lay leaders find systems theory attractive; too few understand it in their bones.

In his gentle, storytelling style, Ken Reeves unpacks key concepts like multiple causality, triangles, homeostasis, anxiety, reactivity, resistance, and systemic health.

Wise leaders will look to “The Whole Church” for help as they wade through the troubled waters of congregational life.

Gil Rendle, author of "Quietly Courageous: Leading the Church in a Changing World"
Reeves’s book “The Whole Church” leads to wise and healthy leadership.

It matters what lens a leader uses to understand their setting, since what we see and understand determines our actions.

This health-oriented systems approach is not only reason based—it supports a courageous leadership deeply needed in our congregations at this critical time.

Sarah B. Drummond, Dean of Faculty, Andover Newton Theological School

Many find it difficult to grasp the idea that we are not just individuals operating out of free will, but we are all part of emotional systems that shape who we are.

Lacking this subtle and nuanced understanding of how people interact, we find ourselves at a disadvantage in reading and functioning in the enmeshed systems in which we are called to lead.

This book provides guidance for self-examination and leadership development in equal measure on the topic of emotional systems, rendering understandable some counterintuitive ways of thinking about individuals and communities.

About Ken Reeves

The Rev. Ken Reeves, Ph.D., is an ordained minister and clinical psychologist. He has been guided by and has studied systems theory as a minister and psychologist, and has taught systems theory at theological seminaries.

As a minister and psychologist, Ken’s mission is to offer systems theory as a guide in support of his colleagues in ministry.

Ken has an M.Div. and served congregations for nine years. He also has a Masters in Pastoral Counseling and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.

Ken currently lives in the Boston area with his wife and daughter. He has a therapy practice and is a consulting psychologist with the Center for Career Development and Ministry.

About Systems Theory

Systems theory begins with a system: an entity composed of interrelated and interacting elements that together have an identity.

Examples of systems would include the nations of the world, the solar system, an individual body, a beehive, a family, or a congregation.

A theory is a principle or body of interrelated principles that purports to explain or predict a number of interrelated phenomena.

Systems theory would explain or predict a system.

In my view, the first principle of systems theory is that the system is a whole.

The following patterns would apply to any system:

  • Elements interact with and affect each other.
  • Any one relationship in a system affects and is affected by all other relationships.
  • Changes in one element influence all.
  • Influence can be direct or indirect, immediate or delayed.
  • Influence is nonlinear, in that each element in a system is influencing each other.
  • The system settles into a stable homeostasis.
  • The process of the interactions within a system matters.

Systems theory is distinct from a mechanistic theory, which holds that elements grouped together are essentially separate from each other, not interacting, not influencing each other. Change, according to mechanistic theory, is linear: one element changes another, or one element can be fixed or replaced to result in the desired change.

Mechanistic theory applies well to simple systems, such as a machine.

Systems theory applies well to complex systems, such as a congregation.

Systems theory begins with a system: an entity composed of interrelated and interacting elements that together have an identity.

Examples of systems would include the nations of the world, the solar system, an individual body, a beehive, a family, or a congregation.

A theory is a principle or body of interrelated principles that purports to explain or predict a number of interrelated phenomena.

Systems theory would explain or predict a system.

In my view, the first principle of systems theory is that the system is a whole.

The following patterns would apply to any system:

  • Elements interact with and affect each other.
  • Any one relationship in a system affects and is affected by all other relationships.
  • Changes in one element influence all.
  • Influence can be direct and indirect, immediate and delayed.
  • Influence is nonlinear, in that each element in a system is influencing each other.
  • The system settles into stability.
  • The process of the interactions within a system matters.

Systems theory is distinct from a mechanistic theory, which holds that elements grouped together are essentially separate from each other, not interacting, not influencing each other. Change, according to mechanistic theory, is linear: one element changes another, or one element can be fixed or replaced to result in the desired change.

Mechanistic theory applies well to simple systems, such as a machine.

Systems theory applies well to complex systems, such as a congregation.

Systems theory begins with a system: an entity composed of interrelated and interacting elements that together have an identity.

Examples of systems would include the nations of the world, the solar system, an individual body, a beehive, a family, or a congregation.

A theory is a principle or body of interrelated principles that purports to explain or predict a number of interrelated phenomena.

Systems theory would explain or predict a system.photo of rose stained glass window

In my view, the first principle of systems theory is that the system is a whole.

The following patterns would apply to any system:

  • Elements interact with and affect each other.
  • Any one relationship in a system affects and is affected by all other relationships.
  • Changes in one element influence all.
  • Influence can be direct and indirect, immediate and delayed.
  • Influence is nonlinear, in that each element in a system is influencing each other.
  • The system settles into stability.
  • The process of the interactions within a system matters.

Systems theory is distinct from a mechanistic theory, which holds that elements grouped together are essentially separate from each other, not interacting, not influencing each other. Change, according to mechanistic theory, is linear: one element changes another, or one element can be fixed or replaced to result in the desired change.

Mechanistic theory applies well to simple systems, such as a machine.

Systems theory applies well to complex systems, such as a congregation.

Ken’s Services

Coaching/Consulting

Ken Reeves is available as a coach or consultant to apply his systems theory expertise to your leadership issues.  A fifteen minute consultation would be at no charge.  After that the rate would be 75.00 per hour.  We would meet via Zoom at a mutually convenient hour.  

Supply Preaching

Ken Reeves is an experienced pastor who welcomes the opportunity to serve your congregation.

Training/Worshops

Ken Reeves offers training sessions on the application of systems theory to solve leadership challenges.

Training Topics Include

  • Systems Theory
  • The Healthy Congregation
  • Diagnosis and Systemic Anxiety
  • Calming an Anxious System
  • Bringing Change
  • Resolving Conflict
  • Handling Difficult Behavior
  • Preaching from a Systems Perspective
  • Spirituality and Systems Theory

Contact Ken

To contact Ken Reeves, please complete the form below or send an email to ken@thewholechurch.com

14 + 11 =