Coming to grips with Bowen Family Systems Theory in a collaborative learning environment.

Systems in Ministry


Our purpose is 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 Values

  1. Bowen Family Systems Theory offers wisdom from the world that helps ministry workers be better servants of Christ. 
  2. The Bible informs and interprets our understanding and application of Bowen Family Systems Theory.
  3. SIM is an interdenominational Christian ministry that seeks to build up the body of Christ.
  4. We encourage people in ministry to be thoughtful and mature in considering for themselves how Bowen Family Systems Theory fits with Christian theology. 

While the Systems in Ministry programs are developed for those in Christian ministry, the Family Systems Institute’s general training and core programs are relevant for people of all beliefs.

New Systems in Ministry Supervision Package available in 2022

This package includes a combination of an introduction to Bowen family systems theory, opportunities to meet for group supervision to think about your own and others’ ministry experiences, and individual ministry coaching sessions.

More information including fees and dates for the program are available below. For more information or to register your expression of interest, please email

Introduction to Bowen Theory Reading & 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. There are guided pre-readings for the course, and each session focuses on unpacking some of the 8 concepts as well as some key principles underlying Bowen’s ideas about human relationships and the dilemmas we find ourselves in. There is open discussion and question and answer time each session.

Supervision Group

Family systems theory is a great tool for ministry workers to use in their relationships, both at church and in their own families. The supervision group is a 5-session group of 4-6 people. The group 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.

Ministry Coaching

As part of the SIM supervision package. Three individual coaching sessions of 1 hour each will be offered to students to enable them the opportunity to think more deeply through their own ministry and family relationship challenges. A key aspect of Bowen Family Systems Theory is working on oneself in relationships, and these coaching sessions will seek to help students take the theory and apply it more specifically to their relationships and ministry challenges.  


Bowen Family Systems in Christian Ministry

By J Brown and L Errington

Managing congregational anxiety in the post COVID-19 reboot

Interview with Jenny Brown & Nigel Fortescue

Endurance in ministry through Family Systems

Interview with Craig Foster & Jenny Brown

How family systems change congregational life – with Robert Creech

What are the characteristics of effective leaders? How do emotional maturity and anxiety impact leadership? Effective pastoral ministry is primarily about relationships, and not primarily about skills and competencies.

Other resources

The Leader’s Journey

By J Herrington, T Taylor, and R R Creech

Family Systems and Congregational Life

By R R Creech

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