Competency Limits, Thermostat Correction and Pushing the Trend

Competency Limit: When the system has grown so large that it can no longer function, it becomes incompetent, unstable, dysfunctional and painful; survival is truly threatened by disaster. A system, therefore, that fully utilizes capacity is very inefficient and even in danger, as it has no reserve capacity to deal with crisis. The existence of a realistic threat to survival is an indicator that the limit of system competence has been reached. The balancing process is overwhelmed and cannot cope with a trend of change originating in the reinforcing process.

            Thermostat Correction: The balancing loop reacts long before necessary to retain control and prevent the pain of reaching a Competency Limit. Anxiety, not reality, triggers this response to keep the system in the “comfort zone” of homeostasis.

            Pushing the Trend: The reinforcing loop pushes the trend, attempting to overwhelm the balancing response with urgency; by artificially stimulating anxiety, a Thermostat Correction is triggered earlier than necessary.

 HOMEWORK Discussion Questions

1.08 What are some examples of reinforcing loops and balancing loops in your experience?

1.09 List as many people as you can (up to twelve) who are the strongest examples of the reinforcing process at your church. Number them in order of intensity and reorder your list.





[1] The quote is a selection from David O. Kueker’s Fuller Seminary Doctor of Ministry project submitted in September, 2007, entitled Diagnosis, Dialogue, and Decision: A Threefold Process of Revitalization For the Illinois Great Rivers Conference.
It is shared here in recognition of its 12th Anniversary along with comments to update and provide perspective on the material. The original project was a Training Manual/Study Guide of three Seminars supported by three chapters of research and an Introduction. The material is available for download at In 2009 it was provided for purchase as a softcover book entitled Designing Discipleship Systems: Christian Disciple Making For Any Size Church, Any Theology through

[2][3] [4][5] [6][7] [8]

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Please review the page How and Why We Use Quotes.

This entry was posted in Seminar 1 Diagnosis. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.