Natural Church Development and Process

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.’

“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: Balance

Natural Church Development has the potential to help a church become more balanced in its ministry:

Is balance all that important? And if it is, why?


This church appears to be very well balanced – only 16 (Min-Max difference) between the Minimum Factor (Holistic Small Groups: 46) and the strongest Quality Characteristic (Loving Relationships at 62). And it would be well balanced except that I have omitted the real Minimum Factor – Empowering Leadership at 22 (see below). This makes a Min-Max difference of 40 – not healthy at all.


Even so, this Profile is good news. It tells us exactly where to concentrate in order to make this church’s health more balanced. This church is being held back quite dramatically by one Quality Characteristic. If they could just get improve ‘Empowerment,’ church health has the potential to go through the roof!

Whether considering humans or churches, an important requirement for health is balance. To be healthy one needs to be balanced. Living creatures find it difficult, if not impossible, to reproduce when health is out of balance.

Balance does not mean ‘rigid.’ Balance means being flexible enough to compensate for whatever is happening at the moment. A tightrope walker needs balance, but is constantly compensating for the wind, rope tension, and personal movement and so on.

When we do a survey the profile tells us where to adjust in order to achieve balance. The next survey informs us where we need to adjust now.

Not only does Natural Church Development help us become balanced, it also points out the need for flexibility. It reminds us that no two churches are the same, and that we are not the same church we were when we did our last survey. An absence of balance creates sick churches.

The gap between the Minimum Factor and the Maximum Factor (the Min-Max Difference) of the Quality Characteristics in any church is critical. A standard deviation of Natural Church Development = 15. Church health is more sustainable situation where that gap is small – 15 or less.

When the gap is large (e.g., a score of 30 is 2 standard deviations), and if that church does not give attention to it’s Minimum Factor and improve its health, then the Maximum Factor will be dragged down and the health of that corps will collapse. Perhaps this sheds light on why so many churches have seemed poised on a breakthrough, yet never quite make it to the next level.

Could it be that the Quality Characteristics of Natural Church Development actually define true revival?

Do revivals cease because they eventually become unbalanced and begin to emphasize aspects of church life but neglect other key components that would keep the movement balanced and healthy?