Heylighen’s Generalized Peter Principle

Section 3. Heylighen’s Generalized Peter Principle:

            The largest church in a given human community demonstrates Heylighen’s Generalized Peter Principle, which states that “in evolution systems tend to develop up to the limit of their adaptive competence.”[1] The size of a population in nature is determined by the limits of the environment and the competency of the system to manage and thrive within those limits. Ultimately, any system can grow only to the limit of its competence. Beyond that point the ability of the balancing process system to maintain viability begins to break down; it is no longer able to cope with reality. Church size is limited by church competence.

            Changes that become challenges to survival arise in the reinforcing process; life always involves challenges. The balancing process in creation exists to prevent these challenges from destroying system stability.

            Yoido church has attained a functional size of 700,000 members while continuing to maintain a functional homeostasis. Problems and challenges have occurred, but the balancing process has been able to cope without the necessity of shrinking to a smaller size church. Yoido church demonstrates the upper level of adaptive competence and homeostasis with regard to church size. The largest church indicates what is possible in a given human community; it is a good place to learn methods for growth.





[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 www.disciplewalk.com/Resources.html. 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 CreateSpace.com.

[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.

[1]Francis Heylighen, “The Generalized ‘Peter Principle,’” Principia Cybernetica Web, ed. F. Heylighen, C. Joslyn, and V. Turchin, http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/PETERPR.html (accessed June 12, 2007).

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