Christian A. Schwarz is founder and president of the Institute for Natural Church Development.
Natural church development (NCD) claims to be a new way of looking at church health and church growth. It identifies the principles of healthy and growing churches that are true across cultures and regardless of theological persuasion.
It emphasizes quality over quantity, but suggests that there are eight quality characteristics, which, when all are present to a sufficient degree "will practically guarantee numerical growth" says one website:
1. Empowering leadership—leaders focus on equipping and training other Christians to do ministry; leaders are committed wholly to church growth.
2. Gift-based ministry—ministry tasks are distributed according to the spiritual gifts of the people; nearly every Christian is using his/her God-given gifts to build up the church.
3. Passionate spirituality—the spiritual lives of the church members are characterized by prayer, enthusiasm, and boldness; most members live out their faith with power and contagious enthusiasm.
4. Functional structures—the forms, practices, and structures of the church are designed to most effectively accomplish ministry in this time and place (form follows function); church structures are evaluated as to whether or not they contribute to the growth of the church.
5. Inspiring worship service—attending worship services is inspiring and uplifting to those who attend; worship is a high point of the week for the majority of the congregation.
6. Holistic small groups—there is a continuous multiplication of small groups that meet the real needs of people; the loving and healing power of fellowship is experienced in these groups.
7. Need-oriented evangelism—evangelistic activities relate directly to the needs of the people the church is trying to reach; nearly all Christians use their spiritual gifts to help fulfill the Great Commission.
8. Loving relationships—relationships among the members of the church are characterized by a high level of loving affection; Christ's love permeates nearly all church activities.
NCD is rapidly spreading all over the globe. Just google it and see for yourself! Is this what all less than flourishing churches need to start focusing on? What do you think?