Systems: Start with the Nonnegotiable – by Claude Valdes

Systems are critical. And the reality is, regardless of your personal thoughts on this topic, you function according to systems. Not sure you agree with me? How do you prepare for a message, a talk, a worship set, etc.? You have a system. You may say that you don’t like “rigidity” and that you have more flexibility in your process than others. That flexible process is your system for preparation. We all function according to systems. The only question is: Are you creating effective systems?

“Effective” is a rather subjective term. How does one measure effectiveness, and is your metric the same as mine? Chances are we differ on a lot of things, but agree on the main and critical things. These critical things I will call nonnegotiable. An example would be if something clearly violated Scripture. If the Word of God is violated, it should not be done—this we can agree on. Where leadership gets messy is when our preferences bleed into what is nonnegotiable. If we are not careful, we will create systems that uphold our preferences, and, as such, declare them effective. If your goal as leader is to have a church or ministry that attracts people who share your preferences then that is a fitting metric. If your goal is to reach all people, your system must be larger than your preference.

How does one create effective systems? You as the leader must distinguish between what your church/ministry does that is nonnegotiable and what is your (or someone’s) personal preference. Once the nonnegotiable things are established, you must create a clear way for them to take place and a way to measure the effectiveness of that system. At the end of the day, an effective system is one that provides the desired end result. If you aren’t getting the results you want, the problem isn’t people, finances, facility, etc.—you have a system problem. If your people aren’t serving, what is your volunteer system? If you have financial issues, what is your budgeting system or overall fiscal system? You see my point. Leader, we must stop complaining about what we don’t have, set aside our personal preferences, and get to work on systems that further the gospel and glorify God.




Claude Valdes, Jr. is the Executive Pastor at Word of Life Assembly of God in Baldwinsville, NY where he has been on staff for over 14 years. He is addicted to the local church and seeing it function as God intended. Claude has dedicated his life to learning to follow Jesus and helping others to do the same. He and his wife, Meredith, have 3 children, Ellise, Aubree and Gideon.

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