A Church Survey Tool
Many church growth experts are shifting the emphasis from quantitative growth (numbers) to qualitative growth (principles), contending that if the soil is right and the root systems and stalks are healthy, then fruit is inevitable; translated, quality will produce quantity.
Christian Schwartz, head of the Institute for Natural Church Development, has examined over 1,000 churches in 32 countries on 5 continents. This comprehensive study has revealed that eight essential qualities determine the health of a church. Declining churches scored low on the eight qualities and growing churches scored high on the eight essential qualities. Schwartz's findings have been verified for their validity and the Natural Church Development Assessments have become an excellent tool for local churches to discover the elements which are strongest, and it helps to identify the elements which need improvement.
Natural Church Development principles are not just local, regional or national, they are proven principles that globally apply to all growing churches!
The Eight essential Qualities
- Empowering Leadership Leaders that equip, support, motivate, and mentor individuals to become all that God wants them to be.
- Gift-oriented Ministry Members identifying their gifts and using them in ministries that match their giftedness.
- Passionate Spirituality Faith that is lived out with commitment, enthusiasm and fire.
- Functional Structures Forms and structures fulfill their purpose and are never an end in themselves.
- Inspiring Worship Services Worshippers encounter God and leave the service inspired.
- Holistic Small Groups Individual Christians find intimate community, practical help, and intensive spiritual interaction.
- Need-oriented Evangelism The Gospel is shared in such a way that meets the needs of non-Christians.
- Loving Relationships Genuine love that results in involvement with the lives of others in a practical, vicarious expression.
The All-By-Itself Principle
The secret of growing churches lies in releasing and developing the potential that God Himself has placed into the church. Church growth is not something humans can produce; rather our task is to stimulate the growth that automatically occurs when God's people operate by the inherent qualities that exist in the local church.
Mark 4:26-29 speaks of this "all-by-itself" principle: "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, and then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest is come."
The phrase "all by itself" is translated by the Greek term: automate, which literally translated means "automatically"! This parable teaches us that God has placed within His church the qualities or principles to make it grow.
The Minimum Factor
The strategy of Natural Church Development contends that the growth of a church is blocked by the quality characteristics that are least developed. The church leaders identify this "minimum factor" by a survery done by the pastor(s) and 30 lay leaders. This is scored and reveals the strengths and weaknesses relative to the eight essential qualities. Through this method of self-discovery the church celebrates the qualities that are strongest and focuses on the quality that has the lowest score, the minimum factor.
The analogy of a barrel is helpful. If a barrel had eight staves, each stave representing one of the essential qualities of a growing church, then the lowest stave would limit the amount of water that the barrel could hold. If the highest stave were raised by four inches, the lowest stave would still determine the capacity of the barrel. If energy and effort are directed toward the minimum factors, this alone can lead to further growth.
Steps to Take
- Decide as Pastor(s) and Governing Board to do the survey.
- Ask the District Office to send you the packet of materials.
- This packet will include a special survey for the pastor and 30 regular surveys for lay people to fill out
- The 30 lay people should be: a. In the center of church life, and b. Actively involved in ministry.
- Send the completed surveys to the District Office for tabulation.
- Arrange a time for the Director of Leadership Development to present the results and resources to the pastor (pastoral staff), the 30 lay people who filled out the survey, and all church leaders.