A Systems Approach to Leadership, pt 6: Focus on Process, Not Content

Written by Mark Van Steenwyk : November 17, 2005

Churches are filled with arguments.  And often, these arguments center on some crucial "issue."  Issues like Divine sovereignty, the role of women in the church, worship style, homosexuality, etc. are often emotionally charged issues that can cause a great deal of strife and pain in a congregation (or denomination). Often when these issues arise, the primary, if not total, emphasis is on the content of the arguments surrounding the issue.  But there are always emotional processes percolating underneath the surface that never get addressed. 

How leaders approach these issues is a crucial part of leadership.  Peter Steinke recommends that leaders focus on process rather than content when addressing these issues:

If I pay attention to their "content" and rust to save them or act like an expert, I’m as anxious as they are.  I reinforce their helplessness and dependency.  By focusing on process, I take my time and stay goal-directed.  I know that eventually we can discuss "content," but not until the reptilian regression recedes and the panic softens.

Mark Van Steenwyk is the editor of He is a Mennonite pastor (Missio Dei in Minneapolis), writer, speaker, and grassroots educator. He lives in South Minneapolis with his wife (Amy), son (Jonas) and some of their friends.

Print This Article Print This Article

for further reading . . .

  • None Found


Viewing 2 Comments

    • ^
    • v
    Hello Mark, I think you have my phone in your car. I am using every means possible to get a hold of you. I need to get that thing sooon. Email me.
    • ^
    • v
    Nate...whoa! You really HAVE been trying to get a hold of me. I just found your message on my office phone too. I'm really sorry I've been so hard for you to get a hold of. Unfortunately, your phone didn't turn up when I searched my car.


blog comments powered by Disqus