Section 2. The Reinforcing Loop in Peter Senge’s Limits to Growth Archetype

Section 2. The Reinforcing Loop in Peter Senge’s Limits to Growth Archetype:

            Life organizes itself into systems.[1] Peter Senge describes basic patterns or archetypes which become building blocks of complex systems. One archetype, Limits To Growth, describes how systems limit growth, including church growth.[2]

            Some helpful definitions for Peter Senge’s Limits to Growth Systems Archetype:

            Reinforcing Loop Process: an increasingly stressful trend, positive or negative. It cycles but with a direction, like a hurricane rotates but moves forward. Attempts to help a church grow are changes brought by the reinforcing loop.            Balancing Loop Process:keeps things stable, functional, comfortable, predictable and running smoothly; this state of normal functioning is called Homeostasis. The balancing loop is very capable of preventing any change that might overwhelm homeostasis and destabilize the system. Resistance to change takes place in the balancing loop. Resistance increases sufficiently to prevent change. 





[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.

[1]For an excellent introduction to how networks self-organize in nature and human culture, see Albert-László Barabási, Linked: How Everything Is Connected to Everything Else and What It Means for Business, Science and Everyday Life (New York: Penguin Group, 2003). Cf. Christian A. Schwarz, Natural Church Development: A Guide to Eight Essential Qualities of Healthy Churches (St. Charles, IL: ChurchSmart Resources, 1996), 10-11.

[2]Peter Senge, The Fifth Discipline: The Art And Practice of the Learning Organization (New York: Doubleday, 1990), 79-88, 95-104, 124-126, 227-232, 379-380, 389-390.

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