Church ministry life is complicated with a wide variety of variables that need consideration but can be overlooked. For those within a ministry leadership team, trying to understand the complexity is challenging, however for those outside of the team it may be an impossibility. Leaders are always seeking the balance of sharing the necessary information for clarity and understanding that promotes buy-in without sharing so much information that it is overwhelming and confusing leading to inaccurate conclusions by those outside of the leadership team.
A causal loop diagram is a tool that can provide great clarity for leadership teams to understand the complexities of any ministry. They allow leaders to explore dynamic interrelationships among variables that impact the life and health of a church (Anderson & Johnson, 1997). They also show what is connected to what and the relationship between change and effect in a given process or department (Morecroft, 2015). Causal loop diagrams help ministry leaders break from their linear understanding and gain a great understanding of the reality they live within outside of emotion, assumption, and preference (Kim, 1992).
It can also be a helpful tool to share with those outside of the leadership team to gain a proper understanding of how things work. For instance, a church building project can be overwhelming and congregants can become fixated on variables that are not impactful to the goal. By using a causal loop diagram like the one included, it could help clear away the noise and focus on the important information. This allows ministry leaders to stay focused on the pertinent information rather than chase information that congregants ‘feel’ are important, but really have little to no impact. Whether such information should be shared outside of the team depends on the group’s ability to handle the presented information properly.
Anderson, V., & Johnson, L. (1997). Systems thinking basics: from concepts to causal loops. Cambridge, Mass: Pegasus Communications.
Kim, D. H. (1992). Guidelines for Drawing Causal Loop Diagrams. The Systems Thinker, 3(iss. 1), 5–6.
Morecroft, J. D. W. (2015). Strategic modeling and business dynamics: a feedback systems approach (Second edition). Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.