Like you, I’ve heard the word “systemic” more times in the last two weeks than I have in the last two years.  And perhaps you, like me, have a grieving heart over the incidents in our nation.   

In the wake of the terrible events in our country, I’ve had to think hard about what “systemic” really means. 

“Affecting the whole” may be useful.

According to Webster’s dictionary: fundamental to a predominant social, economic, or political practice” as in:  

  • systemic poverty, systemic racism, systemic bias, systemic change 

While these definitions may provide some clarity, they are inadequate to provide solutions to our current context. 

At our firm, we’ve worked with hundreds of faith-based nonprofits who understand more than most about negative systemic environments.   

  • There’s the rescue mission that serves “systemically-challenged” people.  
  • The international ministry which works in “systemically anti-Christian cultures”.   
  • The organization that serves rural farmers in “systemically-poor” countries.  
  • There are the ministries that counsel couples with “systemically-challenged” marriages.   
  • Or, the ministry that seeks to heal a country from the systemic absence of fathers in the home.  


We in the faith-based nonprofit world are intimately familiar with the challenges of working through complicated systemic issues in the populations and areas where we serve. Change in one area requires change in another, impacts are far-reaching and often accompanied by unintended consequences as the “system” adjusts. 

It is the systemic change of the Gospel that motivates our behaviors, our organizations, and our programs. We seek changed lives based upon the “systemic” change that Christ brings both to the individual and the body as a whole. 

2 Corinthians 5:17: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away.  Behold, the new has come! 

Galatians 3:26-28: For now we are all children of God through faith in Jesus Christ,and we who have been baptized into union with Christ are enveloped by him. We are no longer Jews or Greeks or slaves or free men or even merely men or women, but we are all the same—we are Christians; we are one in Christ Jesus. 

Romans 8:12-13: Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. 

These are the values we support because we know that real change, change that works its healing power through our whole system – yes systemic change – occurs only in the human heart transformed by the love of Jesus.   

We at Elevation are pledging our prayers to you and your organization as you continue to work in the tough places where systems and structures “push back”, and seek wisdom in the change you desire to bring to the people, cultures, and regions you serve.