How Can Natural Church Development Help Your Church?

How can Natural Church Development help your church?

If you were able to discover something that had the potential to help your church in the following ways, would you want to know more?

  • Give focus to the church
  • Unite the church
  • Make the best use of your resources
  • Assist leaders to help their church and not harm it
  • Identify the church’s strengths
  • Locate the church’s area of dis-ease
  • Help discover the church’s back and front doors
  • Guide a church to its own unique identity rather than copying other church models
  • Point leaders to God’s unchanging and unchangeable principles
  • Help your church become more balanced in its ministry
  • Help you church become more passionate, caring, praying, gift-based, need-oriented, empowering, inspiring, holistic and effective

Natural Church Development can help your church in all of these ways – and more. But will it? It will, if the leaders of your church are amenable to working agreeably with each other!

I am referring to the Natural Church Development church health assessment.

If you would like to know more you can contact me at ncd@inspire.net.nz

Church is not a Building

A number of people have reminded us in these days the church is not a building.

The church is people. Not bricks and mortar, but flesh and blood, living people. So what has happened to the church? Well, what has happened to the people? That’s what’s happened to the church.

Some people want to plant a new church. They want to begin again with something that they say is more incarnational. I have news for them: They do not need to begin again in order to make the church more incarnational. The church is already as incarnational as it can ever be. The church is totally incarnational. Wherever her people are – at work, at school, in lockdown at home, as long as they are in their bodies – there is the church. Paul wrote to the Christians at Rome: And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. (Romans 12:1)

Paul pleads with them to give their bodies to God; what could be more incarnational? We are to give our bodies to God:

  • Fit or unfit
  • Overweight or malnourished (or anything in between)
  • Healthy or sick
  • Old or young
  • Male or female
  • Saint or sinner
  • Damaged or all intact
  • Skin colour is no barrier
  • Tall or short
  • Despised or admired

Whatever the shape or state of our bodies, giving them to God is the way to go. Only two requirements:

  1. They need to be living
  2. They need to be holy

Why does Paul want us to do this? Did you see it there: ‘This is truly the way to worship God?’ There are those who attend church regularly, but maybe do not worship. Then there are those who rarely darken the church doors, but continuously worship.

This interruption to our way of life need not disrupt our connection with God when we understand that all of life is worship.

Decisions

Decisions. Everyone is always being faced with making a decision of some kind, conscious or unconscious (a behaviour that has become a habit, so we don’t have to think about it anymore); during the course of a day, we will have to make hundreds of decisions. And remember, to decide to make no decision is still a decision.

When we put together all the decisions made by humans down through history, we come up with a world that looks exactly what we experience here today.

So what kind of decision-maker are you?

How do you use the time, treasure and talent you have at your disposal?

Are you making things better?

Or are you contributing to the world’s burden?

 Ella Wilcox said it better than I ever could.

She said,
There are two kinds of people on earth today,
Two kinds of people no more I say.
Not the good or the bad, for its well understood,
The good are half bad, the bad are half good.

Not the happy or sad, for in the swift-flying years,
Bring each man his laughter, each man his tears.
Not the rich or the poor, for to count a man’s wealth,
You must know the state of his conscience and health.

Not the humble and proud, for in life’s busy span,
Who puts on vain airs is not counted a man.
No! The two kinds of people on earth I mean,
Are the people who lift, the people who lean.

Wherever you go you’ll find the world’s masses
Are ever divided into these two classes.
And, strangely enough, you will find, too, I mean,
There is only one lifter to twenty who lean.

In which class are you? Are you easing the load
Of the overtaxed lifters who toiled down the road?
Or are you a leaner who lets others bear,
Your portion of worry and labour and care?

Want to find out more?

Why not go to: https://3colorworld.org/en/etests/stewardship/summary/about

And do the test?

You run the risk of finding more out about yourself than you really want to know!

Bless you as you seek to be the best you can for God and his people.

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.

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.

How Natural Church Development can help your church: Creating Reality

The survey result reveals the hearts, heads and hands of those surveyed – the influencers in the church.

“. . . our experience-induced perceptions greatly influence our feelings, beliefs, and behaviour.” (page 109, P-CL, Covey).

Let’s do that again: “. . . our experience-induced perceptions greatly influence our feelings (heart – in the 3 colours of Natural Church Development, blue), beliefs (head – green), and behaviour (hands – red).” (page 109, Principle-Centred Leadership, Covey).

In other words, the way we see reality, no matter if the way we see it is the way it is or not, determines how we will respond to it. And our behaviour will change the reality to bring it into line with our perception of it. Think about it: If we see the church a certain way, if the way we see it is wrong, if we keep on seeing it that way, eventually it will become the way we see it. It’s important to see it how it is. And it’s very important to see it as it should be, and as it could become.

How Natural Church Development can help your church: The Church is More than Me!

Sometimes – perhaps often – the survey result is difficult to accept.

This is mainly because each person involved thinks they see the ‘world (substitute, ‘church’)’ as it is rather than seeing everything as they are. Unaware of the glasses he or she is wearing, with the subsequent distortion in his or her own perception and the attitude is: ‘If you disagree with me, in my eyes you (the collated survey result) are automatically wrong, simply because I am sure that I am right.’ (“Principle-Centered Leadership.” 109, Stephen Covey,)

Example: Jesus said something about the way we see things:

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:3-5, NIV)

How Natural Church Development can help your church: Reality

  • The survey reveals, not reality as it is, but reality as the respondents see it.

These are some of the questions from the NCD survey questionnaire:

Q. There is a lot of joy and laughter in our church.

Q. The atmosphere of our church is strongly influenced by praise and compliments.

Q. Our leaders clearly believe that God wants our church to grow.

Q. I feel that the worship service has a positive influence on me.

Q. It is my impression that the organizational structure of our church hinders church life rather than promotes it.

Q. I always look forward to the worship service.

Q. I can easily explain why I come to the worship service.

Q. Many people are given the opportunity to actively participate in our worship services.

Q. The music in the worship service helps me worship God.

Q. There is a lot of creativity in the evangelistic activities of our church.

Covey says, ‘None of us sees the world as it is but as we are, as our frame of reference defines the territory. ‘ (page 109, Principle-Centered Leadership).

God knows this. That’s how He made us. That’s why David wrote: “To the faithful you how yourself faithful; to those with integrity you show integrity. To the pure you show yourself pure, but to the wicked you show yourself hostile. You rescue the humble, but you humiliate the proud. (Psalm 18:25-27 NLT)

So the survey result is a revelation of the people who answer the questions and consequently, a revelation of their church.

The fact of the matter is, for us, our perception is the reality. That’s why we need thirty people (who meet certain criteria) to complete the survey. We want the combined perspective of a group rather than the ‘reality’ of just one person!

How the NCD Survey can help your church: Reality

The Natural Church Development survey reveals, not reality as it is, but reality as the respondents see it.

These are some of the questions from the participants questionnaire: 1. There is a lot of joy and laughter in our church. 2. The atmosphere of our church is strongly influenced by praise and compliments. 3. Our leaders clearly believe that God wants our church to grow. 4. I feel that the worship service has a positive influence on me. 5. It is my impression that the organizational structure of our church hinders church life rather than promotes it. 6. I always look forward to the worship service. 6. I can easily explain why I come to the worship service. 7. Many people are given the opportunity to actively participate in our worship services. 8. The music in the worship service helps me worship God. 9. There is a lot of creativity in the evangelistic activities of our church.

Stephen Covey says, ‘None of us sees the world as it is but as we are, as our frame of reference defines the territory. ‘God knows this. That’s how He made us. That’s why David wrote: “To the faithful you how yourself faithful; to those with integrity you show integrity. To the pure you show yourself pure, but to the wicked you show yourself hostile. You rescue the humble, but you humiliate the proud. (Psalm 18:25-27 NLT)

So the survey result is a revelation of the people who answer the questions and consequently, a revelation of their church. The fact of the matter is, for us, our perception is the reality. That’s why we need thirty people to do the survey. We want the combined perspective of a group rather than just one person’s ‘reality’!