There are so many principles. How can a person be expected to take all of them into account?
The good news is it’s possible to cover all of them by living whole-heartedly by one of them.
Loving Relationships is a good example.
If we really love God and others (the great commandment), we will seek to empower our associates and fellow-disciples (Empower Leadership); we will be looking for ways to discover and develop their gifts and talents and engage them in their particular ministry (Gift-based Ministry); we will do this – and all things – enthusiastically, with passion (Passionate Spirituality); we will look for ways to be effective (Effective Structures); we will want to inspire them (Inspiring Worship Service); we will find ways and means – and people – to meet their needs (Need-oriented Evangelism); and we will seek to engage them holistically – head, hands and heart (Holistic Small Groups).
The same applies for any one of these quality characteristics. If we are truly to empower people, we must love them; we help them find out how God has wired them up by helping them discover and engage with their spiritual gifts; and so on through each of the eight quality characteristics of any church.
When it comes to the growth forces (also principles God has woven through His creation):
Naturally we will want them – all of the principles – to be working positively (not negatively) for ourselves, for God’s creation and kingdom and for all humanity. In other words we want to be working with these principles, not conflicting with them.
As Jesus said: ‘Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.’ (The Message)
Allow ‘. . . yourself to win by following the process rather than being caught up in outcomes.’ (‘Legacy,’ What the All Blacks can teach us, p.105, James Kerr). This may have been written about the ‘business’ of life but it applies equally well to the church!
Is this what our church is like?
Do we know what outcomes our church is looking for?
Are we following a clear process to achieve those outcomes?
Natural Church Development says if we have a healthy church, growth (all kinds of growth – people, leaders, financial) will happen automatically – ‘all by itself’ (see the book by Christian Schwarz, ‘The All By Itself Pathway’).
The processes to follow in a church are those that result in a healthy church. That means we need to be aware of four things.
We need to know:
1 What a healthy church looks like (our goal)
2 Our church’s current state of health
3 What we need to do progress from where we are to where we want to be
4 We need to do it!
Number 1 informs us where we want to be, our destination.
Number 2 informs us where we are now. We cannot get anywhere without knowing where we are starting from!
Number 3 gives us the process we should follow to get from #2 to #1.
Number 4 is totally practical; we must follow the process.
The quotation from ‘Legacy’ continues: ‘. . . most organisations . . . tend to go for the one-off hits, which is unrealistic: a training session, an away day, an inspirational speech, but nothing continuous and progressive. Few focus on long-term development, on a programme of improvement.’
A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands. (Proverbs 14:1 (NLT))
I would suggest the wise woman knows just what she is doing and is intentionally engaged in building her home, while the foolish woman may think she is doing what is right and actually be working against herself.
She cannot understand why everything she does seems to turn out wrong. She does not discern any appreciable difference between herself and the wise woman next door. The only difference she can see is in the outcomes; for her, things are falling apart.
If she is a real fool, and not just someone who is behaving foolishly, she will never be able to trace the disintegration of her family back to her own foolishness. She does not realize that she must begin by working on herself; after that, many other things she has tried so hard to do will begin to fall into place.
That does not mean they will not require effort; they will.
No matter how much she tried before, it seemed impossible to build her home; now she has corrected herself, that which was impossible before now becomes possible with a little effort; or maybe a lot of effort.
The principle of Energy Transformation is at work here. When we look at the Preacher’s comments about what constitutes foolish behavior, together with its Fruitfulness (with the foolish woman, negative, but with the wise woman, positive), we may understand why this woman is tearing her family apart.
This principle applies to both men and women; and it makes no difference what they are engaged in building: a business, a family, a life, a church – we receive back what we put in!
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:
Choose my instruction rather than silver, and knowledge rather than pure gold. For wisdom is far more valuable than rubies. Nothing you desire can compare with it. (Proverbs 8:10, 11)
My father often used to say to me, “Money does not grow on trees, you know!” It sounded reasonable at the time; but now I’m not so sure.
The Preacher has said we should choose his instruction over silver and gold and rubies. I suppose whenever we buy a book or pay for a course we are more or less doing just that; ‘more or less’ because not all books or all courses would be in the ‘wisdom’ category.
If it comes to a choice between wealth and wisdom, the Preacher says it’s a no brainer; we must choose wisdom.
Now he is making the reason for that clear (Proverbs 8:17-21): Wealth – silver, gold, rubies and other such treasure – is the fruit of wisdom. In other words, if we make worldly wealth our goal, there is no guarantee we will get it; but if we stake our life on finding wisdom we will succeed at finding it, and get wealth thrown in!
By going after money we are pursuing the fruit without nurturing the ‘tree’ that produces the money; that tree is the wisdom the Preacher is talking about.
This whole scenario is very much the way some Christians and churches set up for evangelism; they go after the fruit – converts – without bothering to nurture the plant – their local church – that produces and matures the fruit.
Those too lazy to plow in the right season will have no food at the harvest. (Proverbs 20:4)
Jesus said He always did what He saw the Father doing in both the spiritual and the natural worlds. In the world of horticulture, believers and unbelievers alike, do what they see the Father doing in the natural world. They know there is a right season to plough, and if they do not plow at that time they will come up short. There will be no food on the table. They are doing what they see the Father doing whether they believe it or not.
Several significant Principles are ignored by a lazy person like this one in Proverbs:
Sowing and reaping, Fruitfulness, Multiplication, Sustainability, Interdependence, Energy Transformation – all of these are working against this lazy person.
Fruitfulness: There will be no fruit because the ground has not been prepared at the right time to receive seed.
For Multiplication to happen, seed has to be sown and a crop harvested.
Unless someone else comes to his rescue, the life of this person will not be Sustained because he has no food.
Because he has failed to work, using the Interdependence that God has set up in His creation, he will starve to death.
This principle will also be working against him.
Energy Transformation: It is very clear that he is investing no energy whatever in doing what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, in the way it needs to be done, so there is zero energy going into the very thing that should be done. Investing energy in avoiding work could very well work against him in his muscles seizing up (what you don’t use, you lose); starvation (scarcity of food); strained relationships (who will continue to provide food and a bed for this sorry individual?)
These are some of the principles that God has woven into His creation and that Natural Church Development is based upon. They are always working whether we acknowledge them or not. And if they are not working for us they will surely be working against us.
A fool’s proud talk becomes a rod that beats him, but the words of the wise keep them safe. (Proverbs 14:3)
Why such different outcomes over mere words? Words are much more than words. They are pronouncements that are supported by the nature of the person who utters them. They are extensions of his character. The words of the wise are spoken with integrity; that is, the words of the wise are aligned with their thoughts and emotions and their actions. They are holistic. The proud talk of fools has very little connection with reality. The fool’s pride prevents him from seeing life as it really is. Instead, he sees life as he is and, in his eyes, he is larger than life. Proud talk has very little to do with what the fool is able to achieve; he promises much but delivers less.
The tragedy of all this is the fool does not seem able to understand the Energy Transformation principle that is working against him here. He cannot for the life of him see how his ‘proud talk’ has morphed into a ‘rod that beats him.’