How To Build A System From Scratch

Early on in my career and ministry, everyone around me advocated the need for systems and told me I needed good ones to succeed. However, no one ever really took the time to explain what a system is and how to build one from scratch! Today I will do just that.

First, let’s talk about what a system is. Here’s my definition:

A system is a bridge (process) that moves things and people from where they are, to where they need to be, and keeps them there.

A budget is a bridge that tells our money where to go and how it goes there.

A meeting is a bridge that tells everyone where we are, and where we are going, and how we plan to get there.

A ministry is a bridge that tells everyone how they can get from where they are now, to where they want to be, and stay there!  So what systems do we need to build?

What You Need To Know To Build A System

5 questions must be answered:

  1. Where are things sitting now?
  2. Where are the people now?
  3. Where do they need to go?
  4. How do we want to take them there?
  5. How will we keep it/them there?

If you can answer these basic questions then you have enough to information to build a system!

For a system to exist there must be:


To be a system, the process can’t just be in our heads. It must be down on paper. These days, honestly that means they must be in writing in a document...somewhere! Which, leads to #2:


To be a system, everyone needs to know what the bridge looks like in paper, and they MUST have access to it! This is where THE CLOUD is so valuable. Never has it ever been easier to have access to a shared document that can be keep updated in real time and made available to everyone who needs it 24/7. Put your processes in the cloud (securely, of course), and give everyone that needs it, access to it!


In my experience as a coach, this is many times the last and most overlooked component of a system. When we build a process, we are not done until we have asked ourselves: “How will we hold each other accountable to working this system?” reporting systems, formal reviews, and effective consistent meetings that bring the process to the forefront and ensure that it’s being utilized by all is the final and most important component of a system. Things and people won’t stay where we have taken them, if we don’t hold ourselves accountable for working the system! No plan is perfect. We’ve just got to work our plan!  This requires rigorous discipline and courage to hold each other accountable to doing what we have said we would do.

So your systems! Make them clear. Make them accessible. Hold yourselves accountable. Take things and people where they need to go! All of a sudden, you are a systems expert.

Need help? Yes you do. This is why we do what we do. We've been teaching and coaching systems for over fifteen years now. We would love to help! Drop us a line!