Exploring the Intersections of Faith and Life

Natural Church Development

from August 18, 2007
Natural Church Development – One Path to Health and Growth

Recently I have been coaching several churches in Natural Church Development – a process for looking at church health and growth and increasing both over time. We’re still in the early stages, but already I can see the potential of this process for so many of our churches. Natural Church Development, in a nutshell, says that healthy churches grow, and healthy, growing churches, all have certain characteristics that are not as strong in plateaued, or declining churches. Those eight characteristics are:
1. Empowering Leadership
2. Wholistic Small Groups
3. Loving Relationships
4. Need-Oriented Evangelism
5. Inspiring Worship
6. Gift-Oriented Ministry
7. Passionate Spirituality
8. Functional Structures

The process is to take a survey to get your relative scores on each, the to focus, not on all of them, but on one. Just one. Only one. Sound good? The process involves gathering the congregation in small groups to talk about the characteristic with the lowest score – ideas about what contributes to it having the lowest score, narrowing down those ideas to the 3-5 reasons that seem most relevant, and then involving the congregation in small groups again to brainstorm ideas for dealing with each of the 3-5 key reasons. Then, the leaders take all of those ideas, and come up with a workable plan for that particular congregation to address those reasons and thus to increase it’s capability in that one area.

One of the most attractive things about the process is that you do focus only on one thing at a time, which greatly lessens the possibility of burn-out among leaders!

None of the churches have yet gone far enough into the process to have a plan in place to deal with their minimum factor, but reports are that even the simple step of having small group gatherings to discuss the minimum factor have been a positive thing and a learning experience for the leaders.

In the resource section you’ll find a link to the International Natural Church Development website and the US affiliate.

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