Christian Schwarz, author of Natural Church
Development writes, “Healthy churches are growing churches,
making more and better disciples in loving obedience to
Christ.”(footnote) It is God’s will that every
church be healthy. Healthy can be defined or interpreted in a number of
ways, but the fruit being produced is the greatest indicator of health.
This web site utilizes the eight characteristics of Natural Church
Development to examine the health of the church.
Natural Church Development is a
diagnostic tool to help determine the health of your church.
No one single factor leads to growth in churches; it
is the interplay of the eight elements as they relate to one another.
The growth in a church is not primarily the result of hard work or from
our human strength and ingenuity, but rather from recognizing and
releasing the potential God has placed in the church. Growth occurs
automatically if we remove the obstacles that prevent growth.
In the four years that I have been using Natural
Church Development with nearly 100 churches, I have noticed that the
majority of the churches have a difficult time implementing significant
changes. It is not so much that they don’t recognize that
they need to change, or that they necessarily resist the change; they
just don’t have the resources to know how to go about the
It is not absolutely necessary that a church should
take the Natural Church Development survey to become healthy, nor by
simply taking the survey will a church become healthy. Churches must
work diligently to become healthier and to grow.
Although this website is designed primarily with the
characteristics of Natural Church Development in mind, it is my hope
that it will be helpful to any church desiring to grow in the
characteristics Christian Schwarz has outlined in Natural Church
Development. Schwarz has identified these eight characteristics as
present in all churches. His premise is that for a church to be healthy
they need to be strong in each of the characteristics.
Therefore, this website provides multiple options and
ideas for each of the eight essential characteristics. Many of the
resources are cross-referenced with other characteristics to strengthen
the biotic principles.
Each section of the website follows the NCD
Characteristics, and provides resources for your use. A general
definition and description of the characteristic is included, with
sidebars highlighting a short definition, “What is
Measured,” “Symptoms,” and a
“Biblical Foundation.” Each characteristic contains
- Discussion Questions –
questions to dig deeper in understanding the characteristic
- Big Ideas – a
brainstorming section with ideas to increase the minimum factor
- Using Your Strength –
ideas to utilize the strength characteristics to increase the minimum
- Resources – numerous
resources to strengthen the characteristic
- Next Steps - A reminder of the
This resource is in no way exhaustive. However, I hope
it will be a place for resource and idea sharing that will prove to be
relevant and useful for churches desiring to grow. You are welcome to
e-mail your additional suggestions, resources or stories to be included
on the web-site.