Reaching Your City As A Living System

A relationship with Christ was never meant to be done in isolation. Too often followers of Christ focus solely on their personal development in their relationship with Christ for their own betterment and eternal security. Though there is merit in an individual’s personal spiritual development, the Bible makes it clear that it should have others within the community engaged.

Doug Hall in his writing “The Cat and the Toaster” explains how his revelation of the community system not only changed his ministry, but changed him profoundly. He came to understand that too often mankind approaches fellow man as if they were mechanical systems rather than living systems, and we look for simple fixes that often lead to unintended consequences that fight against efforts for growth and improvement (Hall, et al., 2010). Hall learned that there were concepts working against his efforts to reach his city for Christ (Forrester, 1979). For instance, there is a natural low-performance drift, intuitive solutions often are counterintuitive, there are insensitivities to parameter changes and resistance to policy changes (Forrester, 1979).

Too often ministries use a linear thinking approach to problem solving, identifying the issue and creating a step-by-step approach toward a solution (Costigan & Brink, 2015), however this is a toaster approach, not a cat approach. Ministries are living systems with a wide variety of variables that do not fit into a neat box; quite the contrary, ministries are full of complexities that require creative thinking rather than linear thinking (Vance et al., 2007). What Hall discovered was that what he called a “works approach” resulted often times in lukewarm results (Hall et al., 2010) that lead to status quo cultures that cease striving for life change and dynamic relationship the way a faith community should.

How can a culture be changed for greater impact?


Costigan, R. D., & Brink, K. E. (2015). On the prevalence of linear versus nonlinear thinking in undergraduate business education: A lot of rhetoric, not enough evidence. Journal of Management and Organization; Lyndfield, 21(4), 535–547.

Forrester, J. W. (1979). Urban dynamics (6. printing). Cambridge, Mass.: M.I.T. Press.

Hall, D., Hall, J., & Deman, S. (2010). The Cat & The Toaster – condensed. Retrieved from

Vance, C. M., Groves, K. S., Paik, Y., & Kindler, H. (2007). Understanding and Measuring Linear-NonLinear Thinking Style for Enhanced Management Education and Professional Practice. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 6(2), 167–185.

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