Natural Church Development Introduction



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Natural Church Development
Introduction

During the third century paganism and Christianity vied for supremacy in the Roman Empire. Hoping to stifle the Church completely, the emperor Diocletian in 303 began the last and fiercest of the persecutions. The Church was still young and disorganised, vulnerable to heresy and apostasy, and needed a strong leader to settle questions of doctrine and discipline.


Such a leader came to the Church in 308, when Saint Marcellus was elected Bishop of Rome. Saint Marcellinus, his predecessor, while being taken to torture, had exhorted him not to cede to the decrees of Diocletian, and it became evident that Marcellus did not intend to temporise. So disrupted was the life of the Church at this time that although St Marcellinus was martyred in 305, it was not until three years later that Marcellus was officially appointed his successor. The Church was in chaos and disarray, with many of her key leaders killed or broken physically or mentally and all of her organisational structures in ruins as the battered remnants went underground (often literally into the catacombs of Rome). In fact one of Marcellus' first acts was to establish new catacombs and see to it that worship was continually celebrated there.
Not only were there such terrible pressures from without, but there were serious problems inside the Church too. A large number of weaker members who had fallen away during the long period of active persecution now, as things cooled off and under the leadership of a flagrant apostate, violently demanded that they should be readmitted to communion without doing penance.
After assessing the problems facing the Church, Saint Marcellus planned a strong program of reorganisation. He divided the territorial administration of the Church in Rome into twenty-five districts or parishes, placing a priest over each one and gave them the name of cardinals, thus restoring an earlier division which the turmoil of the persecutions had disrupted. This arrangement permitted more efficient care in instructing the faithful, in preparing candidates for baptism and penitents for reconciliation. With these measures in force, Church government took on a definite form.
An account of Marcellus’ death, dating from the fifth century, relates that Maxentius, judging the pope responsible for violent conflict which broke out amongst the "lapsi" and the rigourists, condemned him to work as a slave on the public highway. After nine months of this hard labour, he was rescued by the clergy and taken to the home of a widow named Lucina; this woman welcomed him with every sign of respect and offered him her home for a church. When the emperor learned that Christian rites were being celebrated there, he was determined to disgrace Marcellus and the Christian faith as completely as possible. He therefore profaned the church by turning it into a stable and forced Bishop Marcellus to work as his stable-boy, caring for the animals quartered there. In these sad surroundings, Marcellus died on January 16, 309. He was buried in the catacombs of Priscilla, but later his remains were placed beneath the altar of the church in Rome which still bears his name.
The length of his time at the head of the Church was very short - no more than one year, six (or seven) months, and twenty days. Yet from this short period of brilliant and just leadership, not only was the damage and destruction of the persecutions undone, but good foundations were laid for the future growth and development of the Christian Church. In fact the Church developed and grew rapidly and in just a few years (March 313) Emperor Constantine granted full toleration to the Christian faith.
I recount this story for two reasons; Firstly, today January 16th is the day that Marcellus died in 309, and the French calendar commemorates his memory on this day. Secondly, I tell this story because it illustrates the importance of human organisation in the life of the Church. As we go on we will explore this some more, but for the moment keep in mind how this one man's brilliant leadership was used by God to dramatically improve the fortunes of the Church.
[Biographical data on Saint Marcellus compiled from references obtained on the following web sites; www.newadvent.org, www.cfpeople.org, www.magnificat.ca, www.saintpatrickdc.org]
1 The Church - An Organisation and an Organism
The Church is a supernatural creation of the Spirit of God. Each individual Christian is a miraculous creation and joined together by God to all other Christians past, present and future. We know that the Church must be a supernatural creation of God because the Bible tells us that outside of Christ we are "dead in our transgressions and sin" Ephesians 2:1. As spiritually dead we have no capability to respond to God, it is only by the divinely-initiated, life-giving activity of the Holy Spirit that we receive from God the capacity to understand and to respond to the gospel. Each follower of Christ is therefore a miracle-child of grace. As an aside I would say that this is something we should meditate on and celebrate more.
However, if our faith was just about us as individuals and our relationship with God, then things would be very simple and we could stop here. If this were the case, God would work in an individuals life and we would come to faith and then each one of us would just love, worship and serve God in our own way. However, this is NOT the case. When we come into a relationship with God as our Father, we also come into a relationship with Jesus as our elder brother, and into a brother or sister relationship with all other followers of God throughout history. In his systematic theology Wayne Grudem defines the church as the community of all true believers for all time. The word 'church' in the Bible (ekklesia) comes from the verb that means 'to gather'. Thus the Church is the people whom God gathers together throughout the whole of time.
Therefore we are NOT called to live as individuals before God, we are individual believers who have been placed by the Spirit of God into communities (1 Cor 12:18). Now community minus organisation equals chaos! Imagine there was no organisation in the life of this church. How would we know when to gather for worship, how would we make anything happen in the life of this church and its mission to the world? It would be impossible! God doesn't do this organising of the Church, instead he invites human beings to carry out this vital task. Therefore human organisation is an essential feature of being the Church of God.
The Church is also created for a purpose; to minister to God in worship, to minister to believers in nurture and to minister to the world in evangelism and mercy. God invites human beings to work with him in the work of the Church (or the kingdom of God). St Paul referred to himself and his team as God's fellow-workers (2 Cor 6:1). In Titus 1:7 talking about an overseer (Church leader, or Bishop), it says that an overseer is entrusted with God's work. This emphases neatly the two aspects of Church - it is both God's supernatural work and a work which is entrusted by God to men and women. In fact the Holy Spirit distributes gifts amongst the followers of Christ specifically in order that we may use them to participate in the life of the Church and that the Church might be built up (Ephesians 4:11-13). God will also judge each one of us by the quality of our work in his Church (1 Peter 1:17).
Let us look at a scriptural example which shows the inter-relationship of the divine and human aspects of the Church. We remember that God made a covenant with Moses and the people of Israel. One of the results of that covenant was that the presence of God himself would come to dwell with the people (Exodus 25:8). However in order for this to happen many things had to be organised by Moses and the people. There was preparation in the adoption and implementation of the 10 commandments and associated legal framework for the social organisation of the nation. There was the construction of the tabernacle itself according to the detailed instructions that God gave. There was the creation of a priesthood to serve before the tabernacle and to undertake its care and to perform the worship activities and sacrifices required. All of this human preparation and organisation was necessary if the presence of God was going to come and dwell and act amongst the people of God. Any time that we get it wrong in our human organisation of the church of God we can undermine the coming, dwelling and acting of the Spirit of God in our midst.
An Old Testament example of poor human organisation undermining the health of the people of God can be seen in Exodus 18 where Moses had adopted a poor strategy for dealing with disputes and problems amongst the people of Israel. Moses had adopted the rôle of family head for the nation of Israel. In this model for leadership members of the community takes their disagreements and disputes to the family head for resolution. This model works well for a family, even for an extended family group of a few dozen people. However, when applied to a nation numbering possibly two million it was a disaster.
Poor Moses was up from dawn 'til dusk hearing disputes and resolving them. Yet as hard as he worked the queue outside his tent was getting longer every day. People were having to come back day after day to wait for an opportunity to have their problem heard by Moses. Now the longer disputes and disagreements go on the more likely they are to lead to bad feeling and serious breakdowns in relationships. People around those in dispute start to take sides and the problem snowballs. Thus there was a real negative impact on the life of the nation due to this difficulty in resolving conflict quickly, there was a serious potential for big trouble.
Fortunately for Moses his Father-in-Law comes to visit. As an outsider, Jethro's sees the problem and as a wise man, he also sees a solution. Jethro tells Moses that he is doing a terrible job. I imagine that Moses was quite put out by this. I'm sure Moses thought he was doing his very best in a difficult situation. He couldn't physically work any harder than he actually was. Jethro's reply was, in effect, "You're working hard, but your not working smart".
Jethro proposes a new model for dealing with the problem. Identify people with wisdom and discernment within the community and hand over the responsibility to them. Divide these into four levels, those who are capable of resolving everyday issues can be responsible for 10 families, others 50, 100 or 1,000. When a problem cannot be resolved at a lower level, pass it up to the next one. This way only the most difficult cases would come to Moses.
This strategy had great benefits. One it releases Moses to do what God had called him to do - to be the spiritual head of the nation (Ex 18:19-20). Rather than consuming all his time, strength and thinking in something God hadn't called him to do. Secondly it released hundreds of gifted leaders into using and developing the gifts God had given them. These men had no doubt felt sidelined and frustrated up to this point. Thirdly, it promoted efficiency and rapidity in problem resolution which would foster harmony within the community.
Moses poor organisation was undermining the 'health' of the people of God and leading to frustration, exhaustion and, if it had been left unchecked, could have led to serious problems amongst the people and even the division of the nation into rival families, clans and tribes. By contrast Jethro's solution led to efficiency, harmony, new people in ministry.
Another biblical example can be seen in the New Testament in Acts 6. Here the church is experiencing friction and division due to preference being given to Jewish widows over Gentile widows in the social action of the church. This unfairness, which may have been unintentional, was causing a problem and undermining the fellowship in the church. It is another example where poor human organisation was undermining the health of the church and required strategic action to address it.
The two previous examples are of very practical details of organisation that when badly done had a detrimental affect on the health of the people of God. In 1 Corinthians 11 we see an example of a more spiritual problem, the spirit of division. Here division had been allowed to find a place in the organisation of the church and was undermining it's health. In celebrating the Lord's Supper the Corinthian church was splitting into two groups. The 'in-crowd', probably the leaders or the socially higher ups, were having a lavish meal inside the house, whereas the poorer church members were being left to eat much poorer fare outside in the courtyard. St Paul states that this is effectively a denial of the body of Christ - the oneness of all believers - and that it had led to sickness and even deaths within the church fellowship. Wrongful spiritual attitudes were undermining the health (literally) of the church.

We can sum up all the above biblical examples in the following phrase. Human organisation affects the health of God's Church. When human leaders adopt poor strategies for organising the people of God, this will undermine the health of the Church. When human leaders allow their organisation to embrace ungodly attitudes this too will undermine the health of the Church.


We can express all these aspects positively too. When human leaders adopt good strategies for organising the people of God this fosters or improves the health of the Church. Similarly, organisation founded on godly attitudes will greatly benefit the life of the Church.
If we can sum up the above consideration we can say that the Church is a spiritual organism brought to life, sustained and grown by the mysterious power of God. However the church is also a human organisation. Human beings have been given, under God, the privilege and responsibility of organising his Church. We can by our organisation create a Church structure and environment that enables the coming, dwelling and acting of the Holy Spirit and lead to a healthy Church. Conversely, we can by our failure, omissions and ignorance create a church structure and environment that the Spirit will not come to, will not stay in and will not act through - in other words we can confine, limit or grieve the Spirit. We can do this through purely practical means - bad organisation, failure to identify problems and weaknesses, or through the embodiment in church life of non-Christian values or sinful attitudes.
Let us take a simple example of how our human organisation influences the organic spiritual life of the church. If a church does not have a coherent strategy for evangelism, appropriate methods for evangelism and people empowered and released to do evangelism, then it is highly unlikely that they will see much evangelistic activity of the Spirit of God! You can say the same about every key activity in church life, worship, intercessory prayer, healing, discipleship etc. Nothing in the church of God is meant to happen by accident. God wants us to work with him in bringing his kingdom into being. He has given us the manual - the Bible - but he gives us the freedom to implement it. This not only releases our creativity, but it also gives us a certain responsibility - we can be more or less successful in our organisation.
Thus the Church is a spiritual organism and a human organisation. Human beings have the capability to influence positively and negatively the spiritual health of the organism through their organisation, and this is affected through both the practical organisational decisions of the leaders and through the attitudes and values embodied in the Church's organisation.


2 The Rôle of Natural Church Development
In Esther 1:13 the counsellors of the King are described as "wise men who understood the times". In 1 Chronicles 12:32 we read a description of the men of Issachar. It says that they "understood the times and knew what Israel should do". Understanding the times is essential in order to know what to do. NCD is a useful tool for church leaders in that it helps them to do just that, to understand the times. To know what's happening in the life and ministry of the Church.
NCD is just one of a whole series of tools (about 30 or so different methods at the last count - see appendix for details) that have been developed to help church leaders. It helps by enabling them to quantify their success in the organisational aspect of church. With these tools churches can measure their 'health' or 'quality'. Perhaps a couple of analogies will be helpful to illustrate the rôle that these tools serve.
(i) These tools are like a health check. They tell you how the body is functioning and can warn of any problems, or ailments before they become serious. In this way corrective action, or medication can be taken promptly to avoid chronic illness.

(ii) These tools can be likened to using a map. They help you to see where you want to go, where you are and how to plan your route from one point to the other.



(iii) These tools are like a progress chart. They enable you to measure over time your progress towards certain goals.
Each of the different methodologies work in a slightly different way, but they all follow more or less the same format. Each has a list of criteria that healthy churches are deemed to fulfil, and each provides some means of assessing whether, or to what degree, these criteria are present in a particular church. In other words each model has a defined ideal of what a church should look like, and a means of comparing a particular church to this ideal.
So NCD and all the other similar tools are things which human beings have developed to help with the human organisation aspect of the church. They have been developed through attempting to identify from scripture a model of what God's ideal for his church is, and then finding ways of evaluating how individual church fellowships measure up to this ideal.
One of the particular qualities of NCD is that it has been used world-wide, on five continents, 32 countries and in several thousand churches. Thus not only can churches measure themselves against the ideal - they can also assess their health relative to a global database. One thing that NCD has shown statistically is that healthy churches - churches that scored over 65 in all eight quality areas - were 99.4% certain to be growing churches. This confirmed the thesis of NCD that healthy churches grow. Therefore what church leaders should concentrate their efforts on, is not church growth strategies, but rather church health strategies. This insight has revolutionised the church growth movement. Where previously efforts had been focussed on trying to find ways to make churches grow, now it was realised that the proper area of concern should be church health. If we seek to do all in our power to create a healthy organisation, then we can know that we are in the place where God normally blesses with growth. We cannot guarantee growth - as we saw earlier, only God can bring spiritual life to individuals, therefore growth is God's prerogative not ours. However we can by our organisation and effort create a healthy church environment and put ourselves in the place where God wants us to be. A place where there is everything to encourage him to come, dwell and act, and nothing to grieve or block the Spirit, i.e. a place where God normally will release growth.
NCD is a great help to church leaders. It enables them to check how they are doing in their organisation of God's church. It enables churches to identify and celebrate their strengths and to identify and rectify their weaknesses.
[For a theological development of the rationale of natural church development see Christian A. Schwarz, Paradigm Shift in the Church, ChurchSmart Resources, 1999. For a more practical, lay-person oriented treatment of how to apply the NCD model to a local church, see Christian A. Schwarz, Natural Church Development Handbook, BCGA, 1998 and by the same author, Natural Church Development Implementation Manual, BCGA, 1998.]

3 The 8 Quality Characteristics
Empowering Leadership, Gift-Oriented Ministry, Passionate Spirituality, Functional Structures, Inspiring Worship Service, Holistic Small Groups, Need-Oriented Evangelism, Loving Relationships.
These eight aspects of the life of the church are identified in NCD as being the core elements of the Church. Now they can be achieved in a variety of different ways and in different forms. For example, you can have inspiring worship services that are liturgical, or that are chandelier swinging events! The form is not important, what is important is the function, i.e. that through them people encounter God and his truth in a powerful and life-changing way.
Quality Characteristic 1: Empowering Leadership

In the survey of world churches one factor that emerged as a difference between growing and declining churches was in the leadership approach within the churches. Growing churches tended to have leaders who sought to not to just use lay workers to help them achieve their own projects and goals, but rather who saw their rôle as aiding and supporting lay workers to fulfil their spiritual potential. Empowering leaders don't control initiative and vision within their group. Rather they seek to release initiative and vision within their lay workers.


I need to remind you that if you are a follower of Jesus Christ you are a full-time Christian worker. Your occupation might be in secular work, but you are also in full-time Christian ministry. Your first priority is "to work with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men … It is the Lord Christ you are serving" (Colossians 3:23f). Your second priority is to seek to show the love of God and share the message of Jesus with those around you. This is your mission field - you are responsible under God to do all you can for their souls (Prov 25:12).

Key words are - Equip, Support, Motivate, Mentor.


Burton Community Church Example. A few years ago John Goddard and I came back from France totally fired up about a new discipleship program we had discovered called 'Experiencing God - Knowing and Doing the Will of God'. The leadership didn't say to us - Hold on there boys! We've already got some ideas about discipleship and how to go about it in the church - Instead they released our vision and passion and integrated it into the life of the church.

Another example would be the release, support and encouragement of three of the Burton church leaders to go to Bible college to train for ministry.



Quality Characteristic 2: Gift-Oriented Ministry

Growing churches are far more successful at helping their lay workers to identify their gifts and to integrate them into appropriate ministries. This is the most significant factor in whether lay workers are contented or not. The more that your gifts match with your ministry activity in the church, the more likely you are to be positive about the church. Thus a church needs a methodology which will enable lay workers to identify their gifts, experience and passion, and to help them find an appropriate area of service in the church or the wider activity of the kingdom.

Key words are - Identification, Integration.
Burton Community Church Example. As a church we have adopted the Network course in order to help Christians discover their spiritual gifts and to integrate them into service for God. We have seen Nick move into hospital chaplaincy, Carol into administration and we see God at work wonderfully in them and through them as they use their gifts in his service.

Quality Characteristic 3: Passionate Spirituality

Spirituality can be helpfully understood as the progression of the soul towards union with God, or if you prefer, the momentum of the Christian life. Spirituality has an interior dimension - our personal communion with God and acts of devotion to God. It also has an exterior dimension as our interior spirituality finds expression in our actions, conversations, engagement with the Church and the world. Therefore passion in our spirituality will be evidenced both in on-going character transformation and growth and also in our engagement with the Church and the world.

In the NCD survey one of the most significant differences that was highlighted between growing and declining churches was the answer to the following question. Are the Christians of this church 'on-fire'? Do their lives show their commitment to Christ? Do they practise their faith with joy and enthusiasm? In other words do the Christians just talk the talk, or do they walk the walk as well. Some people talk in colour, but they live in black and white.

The fact that this is significant in whether a church is growing or declining is, in some ways quite logical. Think about it. Would you want to join an organisation whose members were uncommitted, unenthusiastic, and who only came to meetings out of a sense of duty? Would you not rather be part of a church where people were passionate, committed, excited and enthusiastic?

God created human beings with certain psychological characteristics. One of these is the ability to 'pick up on' the emotions of those around us. We can be buzzed up or depressed by the people we are in company with. You've heard the expression that some people 'brighten a room' when they enter it. Others can brighten a room just by leaving it! But there can be a spiritual dimension to this too. The company of people who are committed, enthusiastic and joyful about their faith, can be used by God to inspire and attract those around them to Christ. Thus passionate spirituality is a key factor in the growth of a church.

Key words are - Commitment, Joy, Enthusiasm, Passion




Quality Characteristic 4: Functional Structures

Functional structures are ones which improve the self-organisation of the church. Structures which release the energies of lay workers and which maximise their effectiveness. The opposite of functional structures is traditionalism, whereby the structures are unchanging and unchangeable regardless of the development and alteration in the ministry and activity of the church.

Key words are - organisational improvement, continual evaluation and evolution.
Biblical Example. We looked at the story of Moses and Jethro earlier. Here Moses had adopted a traditional Jewish structure for dealing with disputes and problems that was well suited to family life, but it was not at all suited to the leadership of a nation. Jethro proposed a new structure that promoted the self-organisation of the nation and had the two benefits of releasing Moses in order to be able to fulfil his primary function in spiritual leadership of the nation, and also released hundreds of new people into leadership ministry.
A more recent example that I encountered was in a church whose structure involved a denominational oversight of 'apostles'. However, a failure in the apostolic ministry of it's previous two apostles had left the church terrified about recognising any else as an 'apostle'. The church was therefore in a total mess. It's structure called for apostolic ministry to give the vision and direction of the church, yet it was not able to recognise anyone in this rôle - a total quagmire! Here the structure was the opposite of functional, in fact it was preventing almost any progress in the life of a whole denomination.

Quality Characteristic 5: Inspiring Worship Services

Growing churches are more likely than not to be places where people report that they are inspired by the worship services of the church. Whenever the Holy Spirit is present amongst the people of God, he will have a concrete effect upon them. What this quality characteristic is actually saying is that the church organisation is successful at creating a space for people to encounter and experience the presence of God. As has been said before, this says nothing about the style of the event, or whether it is targeted at non-Christians, or Christians. Instead it is more about the motivation of those present. Are people there out of a sense of duty or obligation? Or do people participate out of a sense of enjoyment and genuine pleasure to be there?

Key words are - enjoyment, fun, encounter with and experience of God.

Quality Characteristic 6: Holistic Small Groups

Holistic simply means "related to the whole". Therefore holistic small groups are safe places where Christian teaching can be applied to the whole of life. A place where problems can be shared and personal concerns and issues discussed. A place where we can be encouraged, challenged and supported in bringing all of or lives, relationships, activities in front of the mirror of Scripture. For such groups to be a significant factor in the growth of a church they need to be both prioritised in the life of the church - they need to be seen as the essence of church life, not a supplement to it - and they need to be consciously focussed on multiplication - it needs to be a clear aim of the group to grow sufficiently in order to be able to divide.

Key words are - whole of life discipleship, sharing, support, challenge, multiplication.
In his book 'The Purpose Driven Life' Rick Warren defines the ideal of small group fellowship as consisting of nine elements: sharing our true feelings (authenticity), encouraging each other (mutuality), supporting each other (sympathy), forgiving each other (mercy), speaking the truth in love (honesty), admitting our weaknesses (humility), respecting our differences (courtesy), keeping confidences shared within the group (confidentiality), prioritising our group attendance (frequency). Other models focus on the five W's - Word, Worship, Works, Welfare, Witness.

Quality Characteristic 7: Need-Orientated Evangelism

Need-Orientated Evangelism encompasses two things. Firstly, it is evangelism that is focussed on the questions and needs of the non-Christians it addresses. Secondly, it is evangelism which fulfils the criteria of quality characteristic 2: Gift-Orientated Ministry i.e. it is evangelism undertaken by people who have the gift of evangelism (normally 10% of a congregation).

The most common failure in this area of church ministry is to choose evangelistic strategies or methods just because they have been successful elsewhere. Instead we need to get to know the people we are trying to reach and find out what opportunities exist in their lives for us to show and to share God's love.

Key words are - gift-oriented ministry, discernment, appropriateness.


Example. In California an evangelistic strategy focussed around helping people maximise their retirement years might be effective. However, in cultures where retirement does not exist, such an approach would be nonsense.
Burton Community Church Example. In BCC we have used Alpha very successfully as a means of evangelism. We have also adopted the Ploughing, Sowing, Reaping, Keeping model for Church life, this helps us to distinguish between evangelistic events which are simply to show the love of God in a practical way and expose non-Christians to Christian fellowship, events which are more oriented to sharing the gospel message and events which are reaping events, where people are challenged to respond personally to the gospel. Therefore many of our involvements with the local community are "sowing 1" events, the annual "Carols on the Green" event is a "sowing 2" event, whilst Alpha is a "sowing 2" and "reaping" event combined. In all of our evangelistic activities we have sought to think about who we are trying to reach, what we are trying to share with them and the best way that we can achieve this.

Quality Characteristic 8: Loving Relationships

How do you measure love? Well, you can't directly, but you can evaluate expressions of love - the paying of complements, the choice to spend time together, the sharing each other's problems, shared times of fun and laughter. A church strong in loving relationships is a church where evidence of love can be seen. Their members will spend time together, will appreciate each other and express that appreciation, will share each others problems and joys, and will laugh and have fun together - even in church!

Key words are - spending time together, sharing, caring, laughing.
Burton Community Church Example. Note that love can't be manufactured. Neither can anybody force us to love anyone else. On a natural human level there will always be people to whom we are more compatible than others. However, we are commanded by Christ "to love one another" - no exceptions. Even the people we find it less easy to love. How do we do this? Firstly, we can decide to behave lovingly towards them, with the faith that the Holy Spirit will birth in us the love that we should have.

Some of you will remember Mike Davies who was an unforgettable member of this church! God didn't leave him with us for long, but we had the privilege of seeing him come to faith and begin to change wonderfully before his tragic early death. Now, when I first met Mike he was one of the most difficult people to love I have ever met! But I tried to behave lovingly towards him and through the action of the Spirit in me, and also the incredible transformation that occurred in Mike, I came to have a real, genuine fondness for him.

One of the things which most fosters loving relationships in BCC is the "house group" system. Each member is encouraged and challenged to join one of these groups and to work to build real community within these groups.

Conclusions

We have seen that the Church is an amazing divine/human partnership. God invites us to work with him in the establishment of his kingdom. Our organisation of the Church is a key factor which has the potential to release or block the activity of God. NCD is a very useful tool that can help church leaders to assess the health of their church, in order to be able to identify areas where effort needs to be expended to bring change. God requires that we lead his Church in ways that conform to his values and work towards his goals. As we do this we can expect that God will bless our hard work and obedience by coming, dwelling and acting amongst us.

St Augustine expressed the attitude we need to adopt in his famous quote; "Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you".

Perhaps a fuller statement would make explicit the need to make sure that;




  1. Through our study of God's word we make sure that our works conform to the general will of God revealed in Scripture;

  2. Through our prayer we tune our hearts to the beat of God's heart and confirm that our projects conform to the specifics of God's will for our situation;

  3. Through self-examination and regular review we ensure that the way in which we are working is in harmony with the values and attitudes proper to God's people.

In this way we can work to create a channel through which his Spirit's power and love can flow.


APPENDIX 1 - Bett's Summary of Healthy Church Surveys




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