- Vital Preparation It is a hackneyed and true saying:
If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.
It is no different with NCD. Increasingly we find that this is the single most important
stage in the NCD process. This stage can take from several months to a year to do
effectively. Three groups need to be prepared:
The Leadership. In every aspect of the church leadership plays a key role.
Not only pastors and staff, but also Elders, Deacons, and lay leaders of various ministries
determine the success of any church venture. In North America we have found that
leadership is the most critical element for churches. (More often than any other
Quality Characteristic, Empowering
Leadership is shown to be the weakest characteristic in North American churches.)
As you prepare to engage in the NCD Process it will be important to strengthen these
vital members of your congregation. Using a collection of different resources
ChurchSmart, the NCD partner in North
America, has created a process to lead leadership more deeply into knowing God
will for them as leaders. This can be done over a period of months or sometimes as a
Of course, it will also be vital for leadership to understand the principles and advantages
of Natural Church Development. Unless the leadership embraces
NCD and the NCD process they will not be able to effectively
use NCD for church renewal. One very brief guide to NCD is the pamphlet
ABCs of Natural Church Development Another good source is the videos at the
NCD International Website.
The Congregation. The congregation needs to know that you will be engaging
in the NCD process. Articles in newsletters, small group discussions, sermons on the
8 Quality Characteristics and other methods can be used.
The Church Health Team Leaders in our congregations already have many
responsibilities. It will be essential to have a group of people who will have the NCD
process as a primary responsibility. These people will guide the congregation through
the process and help keep the process on track. The group will best consist of no less
than 5 and no more than 9 members. Among those chosen there need to be:
A team leader to organize the team
A strategic thinker to help the team think about "how to"
A researcher to gather and store the results to the process
An intercessor to gather a team to pray for the Church Health Team
and the NCD process as it unfolds
A communicator to keep the team, church leadership and congregation
informed as to the progress and results of the NCD process
These people commit only to one full cycle of the NCD process, usually a bit over 1 year.
- Diagnose Once you have taken the NCD survey
you will need to evaluate the results. The survey results will show you the
strengths and weaknesses in your church health. As
explained elsewhere focusing on the single lowest Quality
Characteristic will yield the most benefit. “Where are we weakest?”
&ldquoWhy not focus on more than one low Quality Characteristic?” Experience
has shown that if you try to focus on too many things you rarely do any of them well.
Focusing on one Quality Characteristic will ensure that you will be the most effective you
can be in improving your churchq46;s health. In addition, all of the Quality
Characteristics are linked. As you improve one aspect of your churchs health
the rest of the church's ministry improve. A more inspiring worship will increase the
loving relationships and need-oriented outreach. Making your ministries more gift
- will bear obvious fruit throughout your churchs life.
However, the more important question to answer will be, “Why are we weakest
there?” To answer this question will require drawing on the wisdom and
experience of various congregation members. You will want to draw onto your Church
Health Team people who are most experienced in those areas of ministry. This will
allow your Team to formulate the right questions to ask. “If we has such an
inspiring worship service, why is our passion for God low?” “Since we
are a very loving church, why don't we have many small groups supporting each
other?” (There are extra sub-reports of the survey that can assist you in
formulating such questions.)
also want leaders and congregation members in general to reflect on this question.
Questionnaires have a distinct and limited value in this. Better are small group
discussions, focus groups and even Townhall meetings.
Once you gather the results from these various efforts you will want to narrow your focus
down to 3-5 items that you can address over the next year. Again, if you try to address
everything you are likely to accomplish nothing. If you successfully address 3-5 items
concerning your churchs health in one year your church will make significant
progress. These 3-5 items will need to have the support of your leadership and, likely,
the congregation as a whole. How you achieve that will depend on your congregation.
- Plan Taking each of these 3-5 items we need to again ask questions,
this time leading to plans for improvement in each area.
“How can we use our small group strengths to increase people's passion for
God?” “Since we are a very loving church, how can that shape our worship
to make it more inspiring?” Again, small group discussions, focus groups, and the
like can be very useful in bringing the greater wisdom of the leadership and congregation
to bear on the questions.
These results, in turn need to be made into "SMART" goals. Such "Specific,
Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-limited" goals need to be evaluated
using the 6 Growth Forces found to be vital in the NCD
process. These Growth Forces ensure that each goal will be achieved in a way that
benefits other parts of the ministry. No one wants to build one part of a house by
tearing down another. Reviewing these goals with others will improve the plans and
the ownership of the goals
Again, once these goals have been effectively constructed they need to be adopted by
your church by whatever means are accepted in your congregation. The broader the
consensus and adoption of these goals, the more likely they will be successfully
In addition, it will be wise to actually chart out a time-line for these goals,
including all the various actions by the various groups and individuals necessary to
- Implement The adopted goals will then need to be acted on. Your
Church Health Team and all the leaders most involved in these actions will take the
lead. It will be important to keep the plans before the leadership and congregation,
celebrate all the accomplishments along the way, and make any corrections in the
plan and/or time-table as the come up. Monitoring this process will be the
primary work of the Church Health Team at this time. Knowing how to graciously
ask questions and encourage progress will be vital for those members.
- Evaluate Finally, when the process is finished the Church Health Team
and the church leadership will reflect on the journey. “What did we
accomplish?” “How could we have worked better or smarter?”
“Did we realize new insights that we need to take into the future of this
churchs minsitry?” Celebrating the achievements of the congregation,
along with thanking the Church Health Team and leaders for their work will close off the
The NCD Renewal Process. Left at this point, the NCD process can be beneficial.
However, churches that work through
the NCD process for two or more cycles have been shown to experience an average of
10% increase in their outreach each year. As church health improves the ministries of
the church become more and more able to both reach those outside the church and
strengthen those already within. Many churches have used this cycle repeatedly over
a decade finding their ministry improving with each cycle. Over time the Quality
Characteristic you need to focus on will change, leading you to improve every aspect
of your church over time.
For more information see: