How can Natural Church Development help your church?

Number 3: Channel limited resources where they will do the most good

Whatever resources a church may have, they usually want more. Do they need more? Church leaders often feel as though they need more leaders or more money or more time or more parking or space.

Sometimes it feels as though they have people, but those people do not seem to fit where the church is up to. Church is often like this.

The willing people don’t quite seem to fit – like the square wheels. Those who could do it appear to be along for the ride – carried, like the round wheels in the cart. Very often the work of the church seems to be done by a few overworked and exhausted people, while the rest appear to be doing less than they could.

Why is it important to put limited resources where they will do the most good?

So often church seems something like this

There are 566 members in our church…….

But 100 are frail and elderly

That leaves 466 to do all the work

But 80 are young people at college

That leaves 386 to do all the work

But 150 are tired business men

So that leaves 236 to do all the work

And 150 are busy housewives with children

That leaves 86 to do all the work

And a further 46 have most important outside interests

That leaves 40 to do all the work.

But 15 live too far away to come regularly.

So that leaves 25 to do all the work.

And 23 say they’ve already done their bit for the church

That leaves you and me.

And I’m exhausted!

Good luck to you!!!

The good news that Natural Church Development brings is that your church does not have to address everything at once in order to become healthy. If you address the right thing – the Minimum Factor – in the right way, you will find that God has given you and your church all you require to improve church health.

That is really good news.

God has given you and your church everything you need to improve the health of your church. You may be lacking all kinds of things, but you are not lacking in what you need to do His will now.

The question is – and this is where NCD can help you – what area will you deploy those resources?

To find out more call 027 2812814

I can even send you a brochure

Take a look at this short video:

How Natural Church Development can help your church: 2

Number 2: Unity

Is this church more likely to be united than a church that lacks this kind of information?

Graph of NCD church health assessment

In this church a focus on Gift-oriented Ministry has the potential to unite the church in addressing problems associated with that issue.

How significant is unity in a church?

There is the possibility that the NCD result can assist us in answering the high priestly prayer of Jesus:

Jesus prayed that all of His people ‘may be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.’ (John 17:23)

Note the results that come from complete unity:

They are contained in the prayer. (1) The world may know that God sent His Son. (2) The world may know that God loves it as much as he loves His Son.

From this prayer we may see unity is very important.

In the ancient song, Psalm 133, the writer says: ‘How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!…. For there the Lord bestows his blessing…’

I like the way it comes out in the New Living Translation: ‘How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony!’

Unity is a good word. But you can have unity using stand-over tactics – unity by oppression. Unity with ‘yes’ men; unity where the ones at the top do the thinking and followers simply snap to attention.

Harmony suggests that people are singing different notes, and yet they are all singing from the same song sheet. Harmony suggests different people, each using unique gifts, yet with the same focus.

Unity in diversity.

People do have honest differences over theology. They have differences about spiritual style and philosophy of ministry and the kind of music that should be used in church and . . . and . . . and. . . the beat goes on.

Natural Church Development goes deeper than all of that.

Because it can help a church to focus, it can also help unify a church around a common objective: the objective to become a healthy (or even healthier) church. A church that doesn’t copy other churches. A church that seeks to achieve its unique potential under God

To find out more call me at 027 281 2814;

I could even send you a brochure

How NCD can help your Church: 2 – Unity

How Natural Church Development can help your Church: Focus

Natural Church Development has the potential to: Number 1:   Give focus to the church. (I say ‘potential’ because there is always the human element):

How important is focus in a church?

This is the result of an NCD church health assessment:

The result reveals what the leaders must concentrate on now, at this time in the church’s history. In this church the focus for now will be in the area of Gift-based Ministry.

In the context of church, just how significant is focus?

I would suggest that in any context ― and especially the church ― focus is vital. Paul is on record as saying. “This one thing I do.” He was focused. Jesus was focused. He said, “I will build my church.” Do you think anything will stop Him?

Ben Stein said: “The indispensable first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: decide what you want.”

Duck shooters know the importance of focus: Do not shoot generally in the direction of the skein; aim at one particular duck! Focus!

A logjam can be a metaphor of a church that is stuck. You can free a jam by attacking the logs one by one but it will take you a very, very long time. The experienced logger would find the log causing the jam and dynamite it; find the king log and blow it up! Focus!

Alexander Graham Bell: “Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.”

Jack Dixon: “If you focus on results, you will never change. If you focus on change, you will get results.”

Flat heels and stilettos give another idea about focus. We know how stilettos can damage carpets and floors. The great pressure transmitted through a stiletto heel is greater than that exerted by an elephant standing on one foot! A woman who walked on a new floor in metallic stiletto heels was ordered to pay 900 Euro towards the damage. Focus!

Natural Church Development is a great way to discover where your church should focus for the time being.

To find out more call me at 027 281 2814

I can even post you a brochure.

What to do Under Covid-19 Lockdown

George MacDonald was a Scottish author whose books were very influential in the life of CS Lewis. Two of MacDonald’s books were “Phantastes” and “Lilith.” The quality that most impressed Lewis about these books was holiness. On the strength of that I purchased these books. Dare I admit it – I had difficulty even understanding them!

I am thinking of the current situation when I post this quotation from Phantastes by George MacDonald. It is the final statement from the book:

‘Yet I know that good is coming to me – that good is always coming; though few have at all times the simplicity and the courage to believe it. What we call evil is the only and best shape, which, for the person and his condition at the time, could be assumed by the best good.’ (Phantastes, p. 213).

You may need to ponder this from MacDonald for a while.

It really doesn’t matter if the panic over the virus is justified; or if the panic should be about something else (like, would one of the conspiracy theories be something more than just a theory?). In a sense, through the present worldwide crisis, God is speaking to all peoples in a way He has not spoken for a very long time.

Covid-19 is causing many people much pain. CS Lewis in his book, ‘The Problem of Pain,’ says: “We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
In my mind, George MacDonald’s statement above lines up well with pandemic fallout and Romans 8:28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

If you are uncertain as to how to respond to what is happening in our world today, then this action may work best to strengthen your immunity: “. . . give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18

If you go here you will find 31 science-backed benefits of gratitude.

https://www.happierhuman.com/benefits-of-gratitude/

Covid-19 and Change

The world will never be the same!

Did you see this coming? Perhaps you did; but it’s not exactly as you might have expected it to be! The climate change ‘experts’ have been warning us we are heading for disaster! Those who watch over our morals have been predicting catastrophe almost since the world began (not without cause)! Some political commentators are blaming Donald and Boris mixing it up with Xi and Kim. For several years now Bill Gates has been warning the world of a global pandemic; we should prepare ourselves. Professed scholars of Bible prophecy wonder where this fits into the book of Revelation; they are sure the ‘end is nigh,’ but they are unsure which of the ‘seals’ has been opened to let it out! Some very confident preachers are ‘confronting’ Covid-19 ‘in the name of Jesus;’ Covid-19 hasn’t taken much notice thus far. Other preachers are counselling that we should wash our hands and keep our distance; with greater effect.

Someone said of Covid-19, ‘The world will never be the same!’

That sounds very dramatic; I think he was right. But then, there have been any number of events and inventions that have made a huge difference in world history. Think about some of them: The invention of the aeroplane; the printing press; TV; WWW; space travel; the light bulb; medicine; education; and many other such things. Which is the most significant? I do not know which of these has changed our world the most; but I know of something else that has made a greater impact: the Word of God (the Bible) and the Son of God, the living Word. World history changed radically at His advent. He was here 33 years; and after He left, the world began moving in a different direction. It would be fair to say the reason we enjoy the lifestyle we do in this country can be traced back to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ!

“Praise the name of God forever and ever, for he has all wisdom and power. He controls the course of world events; he removes kings and sets up other kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the scholars. He reveals deep and mysterious things and knows what lies hidden in darkness, though he is surrounded by light. Daniel 2:20-22

Science and the Kingdom of God

When we take Science to its legitimate and logical and inevitable end, we find there the Kingdom of God. Science is simply knowledge. Jesus is the Alpha and Omega – the beginning and the end – of knowledge (as well as everything else). He created all things. He upholds all things. It all came from Him and it’s all moving towards Him (the unchangeable Person) and His (unshakeable) Kingdom. Scientists who are honest about their investigations will eventually find their way ‘home’ to the Kingdom of God. They fail to do this only if they begin with a false premise; that is to say, if they pursue their science and won’t allow any room for God. As some of the atheists say when studying biology, “It almost looks like intelligent design; but we know that can’t be right!”

E Stanley Jones writes:

“Someday science is going to put it down on the table and say: “This and this and this is the way to live. And this and this and this is not the way to live.” And we are going to look on those two lists and our eyes will open and open wide for we are going to say: “Why, Brother Man, the way you say to live is the Christian way, every item is Christian in its essence and in its object, whatever the language. And the list you give as the way not to live is the un-Christian way, every item is un-Christian. And the scientists will reply: We don’t know anything about that, but this is the way that life works and this is the way that life does not work.”

“The two approaches to life, the Christian and the scientific when truly Christian and truly scientific, are coming out to a common conclusion and more and more rendering a verdict on life and that verdict is a Christian verdict—the facts are coming out at the place of Christ.”

Organisational Health

Patrick Lencioni‘s book is entitled, ‘The Advantage.’ He maintains that all organisations have access to the ‘classic fundamentals’ like strategy, marketing, finance and technology. Such qualities are available to any organisation that takes the time and trouble to discover them. Many courses are available, many books have been written, many websites (with free information) are out there, to help any person learn and implement these organisational needs. And many experts can be found who will guide an organisation through these processes.

Lencioni begins his book with this paragraph: “The single greatest advantage any company can achieve is organisational health. Yet it is ignored by most leaders even though it is simple, free, and available to anyone who wants it.”

By organisation, Lencioni means any kind of human enterprise – business, school, hospital, church, family, non-profit – anything where people work together to achieve any purpose.

This endorses exactly what Christian Schwarz says in his book, ‘Natural Church Development,’ and subtitled, ‘A Guide to Eight Essential Qualities of Healthy Churches.’

Might health be the issue for the organisation that is your church?

At a workshop, Jim Collins (‘How the Mighty Fall’) had one of the participants ask: “How would you know if our organisation is doing well? When you are on top, most powerful and successful, everything looks fine, your very success might cover up the fact that you’re already on the path to decline. Outwardly, it looks to be doing fine. But how would you know?” It’s a great question.

We see it in some of the ailments that affect physical health. On the outside, everything is good; a person feels really good; but how many people have been astounded when their doctor tells them they have a terminal illness?

How is your church doing? And how do you know? Really?

Would early 2019 be a good time to do a church health assessment?

And if you have done a church health assessment some time ago, would this be an appropriate time to see if all the plans and prayers and payments have served to improve the health of your church?

If you are interested, please contact me.

God bless you

Principles in Organisations

Principles in Organisations

In any discussion about the way organisations function, including churches, someone will invariably make reference to principles.

Stephen Covey writes about the ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,’ and labels them ‘principles.’ By the title of his book Covey is saying these principles are so important to one’s effectiveness as a human being, they should be absorbed into one’s life as habits

Christian Schwarz identifies ‘eight quality characteristics of healthy churches,’ and ‘six growth forces’ in the natural world, and says they are principles. Schwarz has entitled one of his books, ‘Color Your World with Natural Church Development.’ He seems to be implying that the principles of Natural Church Development are not restricted to the church but apply across the board, to everything in the world we might engage with.

Jim Collins (Good to Great) describes the way a number of companies have transitioned from ‘good to great[1]’ – and Collins says any human enterprise can make the same journey, the ‘secret’ is not restricted to business – by means of paying careful attention to several principles uncovered by the thorough research project his team facilitated.

Warren Wiersbe said:

“About the only thing I remember from one of my courses at seminary is a bit of doggerel that the weary professor dropped into a boring lecture:

Methods are many, Principles are few.

Methods always change, Principles never do.

As soon as I returned to my dormitory room I looked up “principle” in my dictionary and found it meant “a comprehensive and fundamental law, doctrine, or assumption.” I read further and discovered that the word comes from the Latin principium which means “beginning.” I learned something from that definition that has helped to deepen and direct my ministry for many years: if I go back to beginnings and build on principles, I will always be up-to-date and in step with what God is doing.”

The church health assessment developed by Christian Schwarz can help you to discover the alignment between your church and the principles that are described in God’s Word (Natural Church Development – although different words may be used in the Bible, the meaning can be understood to be the same) and woven into His creation (Natural Church Development).

Please contact me if you would like more information.

[1] Collins defines ‘great’ in the book, ‘Good to Great,’ page 3

Natural Church Development Principles: Symbiosis

The Preacher says: “Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” (Proverbs 11:2 NLT)

The ancient Greeks believed this, and so did the Preacher. Stephen Covey says that pride is the great barrier to Synergy or symbiosis. He gives this example: “The synergy mentality short-circuits conflict in the workplace, and the resulting spark of genius can be dazzling. But synergy does not come cheap, and the forces working against it are formidable. The toughest barrier to synergy is pride. It’s the great insulator that prevents the creative blending of human energies.

There is a whole continuum of pride, from the familiar “NIH Syndrome” (“If it’s Not Invented Here, it can’t be worth anything”) all the way to the hubris that leads to the downfall of people, organizations, and nations.

The ancient Greeks taught that hubris, or extreme arrogance, was the worst of crimes. In those days, a soldier who boasted of his own strength and humiliated his enemies was guilty of hubris. So was a king who abused his subjects for his personal gain. The Greeks believed that hubris would bring on nemesis, or inevitable ruin. Hubris, they said, always leads to tragedy in the end—and they were right.

Today we’ve seen the collapse of some of our most trusted institutions because of hubris at the highest levels. In the financial debacle of 2008, many key leaders were guilty of everything from blind overconfidence to outright fraud.

The main symptom of hubris is a lack of conflict. If no one dares to challenge you, if you receive little input from others, if you find yourself talking more than listening, if you’re too busy to deal with those who disagree then you’re heading for a fall. An example is the former head of the Royal Bank of Scotland.

According to reports, this man “brooked no criticism. . . . Every morning his immediate circle took part in a meeting where on occasions executives could he reprimanded seriously.” He referred to his unfriendly acquisitions as mercy killings. The Times of London called his leadership “hubristic.” Thus he was isolated from the truth about the oncoming banking crisis, for which his aggressively risky business dealings were said to be partly responsible

In 2007 his bank was worth £75 billion; by 2009 it was worth £4.5 billion and had suffered “the biggest loss in British banking history.”’

Looking at another example, it’s probable that the anti-synergy mind-set at Enron brought that company down. Observers see in Enron the classic model of a hubristic culture: “This was a company that purposely shut down alternative and conflicting views of reality to protect the status quo. In the name of preserving success and being in hard-nosed pursuit of greatness, an inflexible, intolerant culture developed in which new ideas were ignored, concerns were dismissed, and critical thinking got you fired.” (Covey, ‘The 3rd Alternative’)

The Preacher was so convinced of the folly of pride that he states categorically that it leads to disgrace, period. And he states it publicly as an axiom, a life principle, as though there is no escaping the disgrace that pride will bring in the end. Pride makes us think we’re better than we are. Pride prevents us from listening to the opinions of others as being valid perspectives in any given situation. Pride makes us think we know best. Pride prevents us from understanding that we, too, have blind spots, and that we need others to help us understand the whole picture.

The “Natural” in Natural Church Development

One of the masters, C.S.Lewis, considers the meaning of the word. This is from his book, ‘Miracles.’

“I begin by considering the following sentences. (1) Are those his natural teeth or a set? (2) The dog in his natural state is covered with fleas. (3) I love to get away from tilled lands and metaled roads and be alone with Nature. (4) Do be natural. Why are you so affected? (5) It may have been wrong to kiss her but it was very natural

A common thread of meaning in all these usages can easily be discovered. The natural teeth are those which grow in the mouth; we do not have to design them, make them, or fit them. The dog’s natural state is the one he will be in if no one takes soap and water and prevents it. The countryside where Nature reigns supreme is the one where soil, weather, and vegetation produce their results unhelped and unimpeded by man. Natural behaviour is the behaviour which people would exhibit if they were not at the pains to alter it. The natural kiss is the kiss which will be given if moral or prudential considerations do not intervene. In all the examples Nature means what happens ‘of itself’ or ‘of its own accord’: what you do not need to labour for; what you will get if you take no measures to stop it. The Greek word for Nature (Physis) is connected with the Greek verb for ‘to grow’; Latin Natura, with the verb ‘to be born’. The Natural is what springs up, or comes forth, or arrives, or goes on, of its own accord: the given, what is there already: the spontaneous, the unintended, the unsolicited.” (‘Miracles’ by CS Lewis, p.16)