The Six NCD Growth Forces

All by itself

NCD begins with the premise that God has created the church to grow. It is the nature of the church to reach others for Jesus and spread the Good News of Jesus. It is like the seed in the parable of the Sower in Mark 4:26’29:

This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain – first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.

Obviously God has placed into the seed a power to be fruitful. Likewise, God designed the church to be fruitful for him. Jesus notes in Matthew 7:17-19that:

Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

Obviously, the problem in bearing fruit has to do with some problem in the tree. It's not that God designed it wrong, but somewhere along the way, this tree has lost its vitality.

Likewise, if the church is restored to vitality it, too, will naturally produce good (and abundant) fruit. Of course the Eight Quality Characteristics play a major role. So do the Six Growth Forces.

The Eight Quality Characteristics tell us "what" a healthy church looks like. The Six Growth Forces tell us "how" a healthy church works together. These six Forces come to us from biological science and help us understand how the Body of Christ holds together. The forces are:

  • Interdependence: Individual people and ministries are connected to each other, rather than being as independent parts with no consequence to each other. Since changes in one ministry will affect the whole Body of Christ, (other ministries and the people in them) we seek to recognize and anticipate how a change will ripple through the congregation.

    Example: An expanding children's ministry needs to ask if they may be crowding out other ministries by using more rooms

  • Multiplication: Healthy organisms do not grow endlessly, but reproduce themselves. The ultimate goal of an apple tree is not simply apples, but other apple trees. If no new apple trees grew, then eventually there would be no apples. Likewise God calls leaders, small groups and other ministries, and ultimately churches to replicate themselves, expanding leadership, ministry and Bodies of Christ.

    Example: A small group can grow too large and may be more effective if it will plan to go through “cell division” providing more groups for more people.

  • Energy transformation: Every church has energy. Sometimes we spend it on productive service to God and others. Other times it is just ldquo;busy-work” or even sinful selfishness and division. Energy transformation seeks to bring all that energy to focus on what will bear fruit for God.

    Example: Disagreements over worship styles can lead to open discussions of differing needs creating an opportunity to improve ministry by seeking to meet all the various needs in one worship or by creating diverse worships to meet all the needs. The people most invested in the differences can become most energized to find a solution that works.

  • Sustainability: Trees grow by re-fertilizing themselves. The leaves they use during the summer are recycled in the fall into the soil to be used next spring. In the same way churches and church ministries need to provide on-going resources and leadership that can be self-sustaining.

    Example: Well trained congregation leaders (say elder or deacons) can apprentice new or potential leaders, who they will train to do the same, creating a self-sustaining cycle of leadership.

  • Symbiosis: Often very distinct creatures combine to create unique habitats. Lichen looks like a single creature, but is in fact a combination of algae, fungi and bacteria that works together so successfully that it can live on rocks. In the same way different ministries can cooperate in ways that create a uniquely stronger ministry environment

    Example: A small group of ”grandparent-types“ deepens how they live out faithfulness to Jesus by becoming mentors to a children's Sunday School class, which in turn teaches service to their members by raking the leaves of the “grandparents” freeing them to serve God in other ways.

  • Fruitfulness: Every organism has fruit to produce. Apple trees ultimately produce other apple trees, but usually not without first producing apples. The more apples in a tree, the more fruitful the tree. In the same way churches and ministries need concrete ways to measure whether or not a group has born fruit.

    Example: If a Bible study meets weekly for a year, it may be active, but unless it produces changes in the behavior of its members it will not have born fruit. But, if as a result of their studies of Spiritual Gifts, all the members of the Bible Study find a way to use one of their gifts in ministry and do so actively, then the study as born fruit.

Bringing the “what&rdqou; of the Eight Quality Characteristics together with the “how&rdqou; of the Six Growth Forces we can improve a churches health in a way that affirms the whole body and builds every part of the ministry up together.

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