Natural Church Development: Overworked Leaders

When pastors and church leaders are asked if they would like to consider ‘doing NCD,’ they often respond they just don’t have the time for anything more. They are already stretched to the limit. ‘One more thing’ may be the last straw for them and their team. Whenever I hear this, I think of the comment made by a school principal:

“This is not ‘one more thing’ we have to do. This is a better way of doing what we already do!”

He was referring to the principle-based approach to education as demonstrated by a school named A.B. Coombs (see the website for videos of some of those schools

These principles were not invented by Christian A Schwarz (Founder and Director of NCD International), Stephen Covey or James Collins or any other human being. They are largely common sense. All cultures have discovered them – and then forgotten them, and either disappeared or deteriorated. They apply to all human institutions, including schools, governments, family and the church.

Identifying and incorporating these principles is the very best way of journeying through life and building something sustainable. We are governed by these principles even when we are unconscious of them or do not even know they exist. They apply to all of life just as the law of gravity affects us physically.

Natural Church Development, the principle-based approach to church life, is happening in your church even as you read this. It can help greatly when church leaders know these principles and actively co-operate with them. What are they? Such things as Empowerment, Gift-activation, Passion, Effectiveness, Inspiration, Community, Need-relief and Love.

The question is: Which one requires your attention in your church or organisation right now? What happens if you neglect that critical issue (think about these questions in terms of your own health)?

What is stopping you from taking steps to identify church health issues right now?

Natural Church Development: The Importance of Regular Checks

Over recent months a number of churches have completed NCD surveys where there has been a 2-6 year gap since the last church health check-up. In each of these health has deteriorated quite markedly.
Perhaps the reason for this can be explained by something Stephen Covey said in his book, ‘First Things First’:
“Much of our pain in life comes from the sense that we are succeeding in one role at the expense of other, possibly more important roles.” (p.82)
If we do not focus intentionally on addressing our Minimum Factor-related issues (and they will be things we find most difficult to engage with) we will drift into working with those aspects of church life we enjoy most, areas that do not presently require so much attention, and we will neglect vital qualities that need to be attended to at this point in our history.

Of course, had those churches completed a church health check-up annually, the downwards drift would have been detected sooner and, hopefully, addressed sooner.

“The All By Itself Pathway” by Christian Schwarz

all by itself

  • How can your church grow in quality and quantity regardless of unfavorable trends in society?
  • How can you have the greatest impact on your church regardless of your level of responsibility?
  • How can you maximize your fruitfulness in all areas of life regardless of your present starting point?

The All By Itself Pathway invites you into a 90-minute encounter with Christian Schwarz, the founder and head of Natural Church Development (NCD).  Christian will reduce the discoveries of two decades of research in tens of thousands of churches to a handful of personal steps. While countless churches have implemented individual aspects of Natural Church Development, the majority have yet to discover the strategic key that Christian calls the All By Itself Pathway—
consistently living in line with the unique gifts, energies, and resources that God has already granted you and your church.

In this little book, Christian will explain (among other things). . .
How Natural Church Development leads every movement back to its roots!

The All By Itself Pathway eBook is now available online at:

How NCD can help your church: Closing the Back Door

Natural Church Development has the potential to Give some Significant Clues about the Church’s ‘Back Door’ that needs to be Closed

NCD tells us that every church is unique, every church is different. Therefore every church has a different ‘back door.’


In the church above, the ‘back door’ has something to do with the area of Holistic Small Groups. We do not have to worry about planning to improve any other aspect of church life, except as it may impact HSG. This particular aspect of NCD is of special interest and value to small churches with limited resources.

As we plan to close our back door, we must also keep in the mind the fact that the survey measures the adjective. Increasing the number of small groups may be of no help whatever. Improving the quality of the groups we have is more likely to address our health issues. This is the Basic Profile.

With the detailed information now available from the NCD survey, we can become even more specific as we address church ‘back door’ problems. For example, seeing the church in terms of fellowship, service and faith is one of the longest standing ways of defining the essentials of church life. Based on your church’s NCD survey responses, the diagram below indicates which of these aspects are more or less emphasized in your church right now and therefore which one comes more naturally in church life and which does not.


NCD research strongly indicates that balance across these three areas is one of the essential keys to long-term sustainable healthy church growth.

The solid yellow line is our church now; the dotted yellow line is where we were at the previous survey; the other dotted line is a balanced church. So the task of leaders is to help the people increase their faith.

Receiving this information doesn’t make the work any easier to close the back door; it simply identifies the area where the back door is. And that is always helpful.