chapter  1
20 Pages

The Congregation As a Family System

Human beings are community animals. In the Beginning . . . or so it goes, God created not one, but two humans in relationship. Ever since Eden we have lived in interconnecting groups, beginning with our families and then extending to social, professional, and religious organizations, the workplace, the greater community in which we live, and finally states and nations. Each of these groups, or systems, has dynamics that transcend the action of individuals. Imagine a mobile or kinetic sculpture with varied forms suspended by thin strands from armatures of several lengths. One notices that when a single, shiny element is touched the whole system is energized. The entire construction spins softly through the air with each component describing its own particular orbit. No one component is indepen­ dent of the others but functions according to its position in the system. Furthermore, if the sculpture is taken apart and the compo­ nents are rearranged, each element will be seen to move in a differ­ ent way or to have a different behavior. So it becomes apparent that the behavior of the components also differs according to where they are placed in relation to others.