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Natural Church Development
Natural Church Development has quietly become a worldwide movement that is helping churches improve their health and is drawing people closer to the triune God.
The Research
A series of research projects from 1986-1995 finally culminated in a highly reliable scientific study of over 1000 churches in 32 countries and led to the publication of Natural Church Development: A Guide to Eight Essential Qualities of Healthy Churches by Christian Schwarz. The eight quality characteristics identified are:
  1. Empowering Leadership
  2. Gift-based Ministry
  3. Passionate Spirituality
  4. Effective Structures
  5. Inspiring Worship Service
  6. Holistic Small Groups
  7. Need-oriented Evangelism
  8. Loving Relationships
A survey was developed to be completed by the pastor and 30 key lay people. This survey helps churches identify their strengths (maximum factors) and weaknesses (minimum factors). Unique to the NCD process was the teaching that the minimum factor is the strategic point of leverage and, when addressed, significantly improves the overall health of the church.

Also introduced were six growth forces that supported this new paradigm for the church and encouraged the development of a church health team and led to the training of coaches to come alongside churches engaging in the process.

These growth forces were identified as:
  1. Interdependence
  2. Multiplication
  3. Energy Transformation
  4. Sustainability
  5. Symbiosis
  6. Fruitfulness
In addition, Schwarz introduced a fresh “three-color” concept to breathe new life into our understanding of the Trinity and to help people reflect on how they relate to God and experience the work of God in their lives.

How to Implement Natural Church Development
  1. Share the NCD process with leadership and obtain a commitment from the church board and/or entire church to implement this strategy.
  2. Select survey participants who are actively involved at the very center of church life, active in church ministry, and participate in a small group.
  3. Determine a time to administer the survey. Set aside 30 minutes to complete the survey. All survey participants should take the survey at one time.
  4. Explain the survey process and stress honesty in evaluating and answering the questions.
  5. Send off the survey
  6. Select an implementation team. This team is responsible for setting a plan with a timeline and then will guide the church though the process. You need 8-10 spiritually mature, strategic thinkers who see the big picture and are committed to seeing the church become healthier. The core of the team can be selected before you receive your results. After receiving the results, you may want to expand your team to include people who have a passion directed toward your minimum factor.

Roles on the team:
  • Team leader
  • Strategic thinker
  • Researcher
  • Intercessor
  • Communicator
  • Members of ministry teams