Systems in Ministry

Navigating relationship complexities in ministry contexts

Our Systems in Ministry programs aim to promote systems thinking in diverse Christian ministry contexts that aids in the development of mature ministry workers who engage in fruitful and sustainable ministries. We do this by growing our understanding of ourselves amidst our relationship complexities while equipping others to do the same.

Systems in Ministry

Family systems theory is a great tool for ministry workers to use in their relationships, both at church and in their own families.

“To see things from a systems perspective requires getting out of a ‘cause and effect’ way of thinking to seeing how every person’s impulses are part of a circuit of reactions that flow like electric currents around relationships.” – Dr Jenny Brown

Our systems in ministry training features a collection of different activities – ministry modules, supervision groups and symposiums – that you can do as one-off events based on your interest or capacity, or choose a collection that meets your learning needs.

This year we are offering NEW structured Ministry Modules as lunchtime reading and discussion groups on topics relevant to ministry contexts; our popular systems in ministry supervision groups are continuing and new applicants are welcome; and our annual systems in ministry symposium. More information about each of these activities are below.

For those interesting in investigating family systems theory in more depth and its application to ministry coaching / supervision, pastoral care and ministry leadership, find out more about the Certificate in Family Systems Theory and Application.

NEW Ministry Modules

Four Ministry Modules will be offered over the course of the year on family systems topics that are applicable in a ministry context. These lunchtime sessions offer those in ministry or pastoral contexts an opportunity to engage in structured sessions on an aspect of systems thinking and think about its application to their own practice. The sessions will introduce core concepts and principles from Bowen Family Systems Theory that aim to increase awareness, thoughtfulness and maturity in relationships.Modules require pre-reading and will provide time for questions, discussion, and personal application.

In 2023 the Ministry Modules include:

  • Congregations as relational systems – with Nicky Fortescue
  • Relational triangles in ministry – with Lauren Errington
  • Pastoral care that promotes maturity – with Anna Moss
  • Managing conflict – with Andrew Ball

Download the flyer for the 2023 Ministry Modules

Click here for more information about the 2023 Ministry Modules including dates, costs and registration. 

These Ministry Modules can also be packaged up for ministry staff team training with a group of 6+. Send us an enquiry if you are interested in systems training for your team.

Systems in Ministry Reading & Supervision Group

Systems in Ministry Reading and Supervision groups are designed to introduce people in diverse ministry settings to Bowen Family Systems Theory and consider the theory’s practical application in an environment of collaborative learning and reflection. The Reading and Supervision groups will be helpful to anyone who is ministering in an official or unofficial capacity and is interested to learn more about how humans predictably interact and how this can be applied in their relationship networks.

The supervision group is a 5-session group of 4-6 people. Groups will be facilitated by an experienced systems thinker and will discuss ministry related Bowen Family Systems Theory articles and spend time workshopping ministry scenarios. This group will enable participants to regularly reflect on dilemmas in their own ministry contexts and will seek to consider how learnings from the “theory” interact with the truth of God’s word (Strict codes of confidentiality will apply). (=7.5 hours of workshops RPL for joining a Core Program)

Download the flyer for the 2023 Systems in Ministry Supervision Groups

Click here for more information about the 2023 Systems in Ministry Supervision Groups including dates, costs and registration. 

Systems in Ministry Symposium

The 2023 Systems in Ministry Symposium will be held at St Johns Anglican Church in Ashfield on Tuesday 31st October, 9:30 am and also streamed online.

This years topic – Your Church: An Emotional System

How to see the hidden relational forces that bind your church together, so you can be less reactive and more thoughtful as you bump up against expectations, conflicts, and anxieties in your church community.

You will hear from the following speakers –

Speaker on Theory:  

Lauren Errington –  Emotional Systems

Application Explorations:  

Matt Steele – ‘Addicted to Love. Managing togetherness forces in ministry relationships’

Vivian Grice – ‘Removing Logs from my Eyes. How I view systems thinking in church and ministry’
Nicky Fortescue – ‘Church, School and Home. A reflection on different systems impacting the family’

Mini Supervision Session: 

Jenny Brown (Supervisor)
Dave Pitt (Supervisee)


                               Early Bird Price           Normal Price

Onsite (catered)    $80                                  $100

Online                     $60                                   $80

Delayed Stream*  $60                                   $80

*Available 4 weeks after the Symposium

( Early Bird ends Saturday 30th September)

50% discount for people who have not attended an FSI event before, full-time students or MTS trainees or equivalent.
Register 4 and get a 5th free (in person and online).
Please contact the FSI office for those who would like financial assistance.


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Introduction to Bowen Theory: Lunchtime Reading and Discussion Group

The Introduction to Bowen Theory reading and discussion group is a 6-session lunchtime group which provides an overview of Bowen Family Systems Theory. This group is open to anyone and is a great way to understand some of the underlying Bowen’s ideas about human relationships and the dilemmas we find ourselves in as well as unpacking the 8 concepts of the theory. Reading material is provided and there is open discussion and question and answer time each session. Find out more information about the Introduction to Bowen Theory group. 

What do the Systems in Ministry programs offer?

1. Theory

Online modules provide an understanding of Bowen Family Systems Theory while guided reading introduce ministry-oriented literature to extend thinking about the ministry contexts.

2. Ministry Application

Supervision groups contribute a rich collaborative learning environment providing the opportunity to consider the application of theory to ministry situations with peers and faculty staff

3. Personal Development

Understanding yourself, your own functioning and your own relational habits creates a level of self-awareness that helps navigate some of the pastoral and personal dilemmas faced in ministry