April 20, 2011 Tony Morgan

Unstuck: God Uses Systems to Accomplish His Purposes

In an earlier post in this series, I shared how churches will fall into the trap of trying to use their same systems while hoping and praying for different results. Then I shared the importance of minding the gap — making sure the systems and strategies support the vision you’re trying to accomplish.

Of course, as soon as I start to talk about systems and strategies, the questions start to surface. Doesn’t God build the church? Where is the Holy Spirit involved? What about prayer? Aren’t you embracing a business approach rather than a biblical model?

As I read through the Bible, I’m amazed at how God used systems to accomplish his purposes. Where God provides a vision, he also seems to provide a system or strategy to accomplish that vision. Let’s look at some examples.

When God decided he needed to eliminate the wickedness that was pervasive in men’s hearts across the earth, he sent a flood. But, before doing that, he gave Noah a system for building the ark so that he could redeem his people. See Genesis 6.

When Moses was chosen to lead God’s people out of Egypt, he fell into the trap of attempting to do it all on his own. His father-in-law, Jethro, gave Moses a system for leadership structure to accomplish God’s purposes. See Exodus 18.

When God wanted to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem, he chose Nehemiah to carry out the mission. Nehemiah had a challenge — he had to construct the wall while constantly being under the threat of enemy attack. Because of that, Nehemiah deployed a strategy where half the men worked rebuilding the wall while the other half stood on guard. See Nehemiah 4.

There are plenty of examples in the New Testament as well. For example, when Jesus empowered the 12 apostles to carry on his ministry, he gave them specific instructions (see Matthew 10) on how to carry out that mission.

Then, when Jesus decided to send out 72 other disciples, he established a strategy for doing that in teams of two. It’s as if Jesus knew he wanted to establish a model for team leadership from the very beginning. You can see that strategy described in Luke 10.

Later, as the early church is getting established, God gave Paul the mission of organizing and leading churches in the Roman empire. With that, Paul instructed Titus to establish a system of appointing elders in every town in Crete to encourage healthy churches. You can read more about that in Titus 1.

Of course, this is only a sample of the examples. You may want to continue to study how God used systems and strategies throughout history to accomplish his purposes. Among other things, though, here’s what I believe we can learn from these examples:

  • When God provides a vision for what he wants to accomplish, he many times provides a specific strategy for getting it done.
  • There will be times when God gives vision to one person or team, but uses the gifts of another person or team to develop and implement the strategy.
  • Prayer is important, but God also calls us into action. God uses his people to fulfill his purposes.

As you study these passages and others, what do you learn about how God provides systems and strategies to accomplish his mission? Join the conversation by sharing your comment.

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Tony Morgan

Tony Morgan

Tony is the Chief Strategic Officer and founder of The Unstuck Group. For 14 years, Tony served on the senior leadership teams at West Ridge Church (Dallas, GA), NewSpring Church (Anderson, SC) and Granger Community Church (Granger, IN). He's written several books and articles that have been featured with the Willow Creek Association, Catalyst and Pastors.com.
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