Dedicated to applying Bowen family systems theory to enhance health, growth & relationships

Systems in Ministry

“Clergy and church workers are often facing difficult relationships at home and in their organisation, challenges in dealing with difficult people, no way of thinking about the congregation as a system and no guidelines for thinking oneself out of emotional intensities that arise in the congregation.”   R Gilbert MD, The Cornerstone Concept 


Using Bowen family systems thinking to navigate relationship challenges in:

  • Pastoral care
  • Congregations and pastoral community
  • Ministry teams.
  • Leadershipgenogram

Bowen systems theory has been used over a number of decades to assist clergy and rabbis to maintain their ministry vision in the face of complicated, anxious, relationship disruptions. The work of Rabbi Ed Friedman (From Generation to Generation), Roberta Gilbert, Dr Robert Creech and Jim Herrington (The leaders Journey), Ron Richardson, Margaret Marcuson and Israel Galindo and others has been influential in developing these application of Bowen’s scientific theory of human relational patterns.

In particular the concepts of the scale of Differentiation of Self, Relationship trianglesOver and Under-functioning reciprocityFusion and Cut-off, have provided fresh perspective on the common impasses that occur both in families and any group of people that regularly interact.

Services offered:

  • Individual systems coaching to manage ministry burnout
  • Team & individual consults for system conflict resolution
  • Clinical services for ministry people managing symptoms and relationship distress
  • Systems supervision for effectively managing relationships in ministry.
  • Utilising the Differentiation of Self Inventory to explore relationship styles and identify areas to strengthen relational effectiveness.

Family systems consultants in the ministry area are active in their Christian church and have a special interest in assisting those in ministry to not be derailed by anxious relationship patterns. They are highly trained and experienced counsellors with many years of applying Bowen family systems theory in their clinical work and in their own lives.

Veronica Peters         |        Meg Cook         |        Program oversight: Jenny Brown

Upcoming SiM Events & WorkshopsMinistries

Systems in Ministry Reading and Discussion groups

Each year we run some small group meeting(4 or 6 meetings) to discuss reading on Bowen family systems theory and its usefulness for ministry relationships –facilitated by ministry people who have studied Bowen theory at the Family Systems Institute. This is an affordable way to explore and critique the ideas from Bowen family systems theory applied to ministry relationships.

 Some feedback from participants:

– I found the material life changing. It has already really impacted my family life, both immediate and extended, and changed the way that I interact with others. It has helped me to ‘see’ anxieties in my own life and in others.

– I have greatly benefited from the reading and discussion. It has been very timely in helping me to put the ministry system we are part of in perspective. Using the Family Systems approach has been enormously helpful to be able to honestly look at the ministry team objectively and how I have responded/contributed to it.

– It’s been great to be in a group of like-minded friends who each wanted to grow in maturity and grow in Christ.

– Discussion has been well led with ample opportunity for different people to contribute. There has been space for theological reflection (even critically) which has been important for me.  I have found it very stimulating.

To register your interest, please use the contact details at the bottom of this page.

Systems in Ministry Reading and Discussion Seminars

Session topics :

  • Session One: Dealing with challenging congregational members
  • Session Two:  Dealing with conflict in ministry teams
  • Session Three: How do a few get left with so much?
  • Session Four: What does relational maturity look like in leadership roles?

Dates/ Times: Thursday afternoons 1.30 to 3.30 at Neutral Bay – but can attend via web meeting if out of Sydney. (25th Aug; 22nd Sept; 20th Oct & 17th Nov).

Cost: $55 per 2 hour session & learning resources: including readings, MP3 input. Refreshments provided. (need to commit to all 4 meetings but this can be paid monthly). Zoom live streaming available.

Facilitator: Veronica Pym – graduate of 3 year Family systems certificate, social worker, previous CMS mission work and ministry spouse.

Venue: 30 Grosvenor St, Neutral Bay


Bowen Theory and a Biblical World View

“Since then you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above not on earthly things.” Col 3: 1-2.

To read excerpts from:  Bowen Theory and a Biblical World View – How one Christian approaches secular thinking and knowledge?  by Jenny Brown – click here.


Please contact the office on 02 9904 5600 or email for more information regarding upcoming events and programs.

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