Natural Church Development (NCD) has quietly become a worldwide movement that is helping churches improve their health and is drawing people closer to God. We have chosen to include this process of evaluating church health as a priority where it serves as a cornerstone of measuring the vitality and effectiveness of the churches in the North Alabama Conference.
A series of research projects from 1986 to 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:
A survey was developed to be completed by the pastor and 30 key laypersons. This survey helps churches identify their strengths (maximum factors) and weaknesses (minimum factors). Unique to the NCD process is 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 to oversee the process in the church. A coach is assigned to come alongside churches engaging in the process to assist churches in attaining greater health.
The growth forces were identified as:
Now that more than 45,000 churches from over 70 different countries have applied these principles, the following results have been observed: