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Hardcover Natural Church Development: A Guide to Eight Essential Qualities of Healthy Churches Book

ISBN: 1889638005

ISBN13: 9781889638003

Natural Church Development: A Guide to Eight Essential Qualities of Healthy Churches

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Format: Hardcover

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Book Overview

Critics of the church growth movement have often emphasized the need for quality congregations. We should not focus on numerical growth, but rather, we should concentrate on qualitative... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

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Interested in Church Growth? Start here!

"There is one rule," writes author Christian Schwarz, "for which we did not find a single exception among the 1000 churches surveyed. Every church" - and please not that word, "every" - "every church in which a quality index of 65 or more was reached for each of the eight quality characteristics, is a growing church" (p. 39). That is as near to an iron-clad guarantee as you'll find anywhere in the church growth literature.I have spent 25 years studying church growth. I have pastored in both California and West Virginia. My doctoral dissertation (Asbury 1998) is - as far as I know - a unique study of unchurched persons and opportunities for evangleism in rural Appalachia and I teach evangelism in the Ohio Valley School of Ministry. In theory at least, I should know something about the subject and, when I read "Natural Church Development," I realized it was something that should have done years and years ago.Yes, the book is terribly dense and at times difficult to read. It reads as though it was translated out of German. However, I'm not aware of any easier-to-read alternative. It's worth the effort.I heartily recommend "Natural Church Development."

Single best resource for ministry planning I've found

As a full-time church consultant, I read a lot of good books on how to enhance ministry in the local church, and I recommend a lot of them to the pastors and church leaders I work with. This book was given to me in 1997 and I fell in love with it at first sight. In January of 1998, the Natural Church Development survey became available for use by English-speaking churches, and since then I have used it with every congregation where I have conducted a full consultation.At first, the work that I did with the survey represented only about 5% of what I did with churches during a consultation. But the more I have worked with the survey, the more valuable it has become to me. Now, this book and the results generated from the corresponding survey more often than not become central to my ministry recommendations for the congregation I am working with.They survey consists of two questionnaires--one filled out by the senior pastor, the other filled out by 30 lay leaders. The survey assigns the church a percentile score on each of "eight essential qualities of healthy churches." The minimum factor--the one that scores lowest--is the area of church life most in need of creative attention, and the one where an investment of time and energy can produce the greatest return in terms of improved health.I find that church leaders are far more willing to give weight to a Natural Church Development score than they are to my intuitive observations about what their church needs to attend to (and appropriately so), and so they are more willing to make needed changes. This tool is designed to be used regularly, like an annual or semi-annual health checkup for churches. Repeating the survey monitors progress and reveals what area of church life needs the greatest attention now. If you believe it is the nature of a healthy church to grow, and you want to identify and remove barriers to health and growth in your church, you won't go wrong with this book.

There is Not Just One Secret

Having read a number of books on Church Leadership and "How to Have An Effective Church" a lot of times I feel people put forth a "Model" approach rather than a "Principle" approach. "If you just do this more, than your church will grow" as if there is just one secret to growth. Christian Schwartz does a great job in sharing principles for a "Heathly Church" whatever model of church you may decide to have. Christian gives us eight character qualities that every church should be concerned about, as well as a way to test your own church to see if it is healthy. With the help of Christopher Schalk, a statistician, the study is based upon one of the most comprehensive research projects done in church history. The research basically shows us that a "Healthy Church is a Growing Church." I found this book extremely helpful as a pastor of a church myself. I highly recommend it for people who want to effectively further the kingdom of God.

Natural Church Development

Schwarz does an extensive scientific study on what makes churches grow. The research shows 8 quality characteristics of a healthy (and therefore a growing) church: Loving Relationships, Empowering Leadership, Need-Oriented Evangelism, Functional Structures, Holistic Small Groups, Inspiring Worship Service, Passionate Spirituality and Gift Oriented Ministry. As a Pastor I found the information contained in this book to be extremely helpful as it caused me to concentrate on the minimum factor in our church. There is a corresponding survey that must be taken to get full use out of the research and help you identify what your strengths and weaknesses are in your church. If you don't think scientific research can be effective at measuring intangible things like spirituality, or spiritual gifts then this book is not for you. Otherwise it will be an excellent investment.
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