The Relationship between Projects and Systems

Ministries are a collection of systems and also contain a host of projects to be done. How do they relate? Before looking at how projects and systems relate, it’s important to review what they are and the differences between them.

Projects in ministry are time bound. Projects have deadlines. Because projects have deadline, this means something like “fall planning” for a ministry is a project. There’s a deadline to fall preparation: the first ministry meeting.

Systems, on the other hand, follow a sequence (“this then this then this…”). Systems might be ongoing throughout the life of the ministry. In fact, most ministries are made up of a collection of ministry. Ministries usually contain two types of systems: triggered systems and habitual systems.

Triggered systems occur when something happens that “triggers” a response or a sequence in the ministry. Following up with visitors is a trigger system. When a visitor attends a Bible study, their presence triggers a series of actions that the ministry leaders will take. The leaders may first send a note in the mail, then call, and then invite the person back to the ministry meeting. Trigger systems may only be used once in a while depending on what the trigger is.

In contrast to a trigger system, a habitual system is a sequence of actions that occurs on a regular basis. Getting prepared for a Bible study every week would be a habitual system. First, you study the text. Then you transform your notes into an outline. Then you draft up discussion questions. Then you print them out and bring with you. Habitual systems are important to build because they help you stay focused on what’s truly important.

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