The objective of Natural Church Development (NCD) is to provide space and reliable statistical data for measuring church health and capacity. The concept is to grow health by focussing on those key elements that are most challenged in a parish. Identify strengths and challenges; draw on strengths to develop weaker elements.
The eight areas of health are the nature of leadership, ministry, spirituality, structures, worship, small groups, evangelism, and relationships. Churches experiencing health and growth have leadership that is empowering; ministry that is gift-oriented (people are exercising their gifts in ministry in the community); rich and committed spirituality; organizational structures that are effective; worship that is inspiring; small groups that are wholistic (that nurture relationships as well as completing tasks); evangelism (bearing witness) that is oriented to real material, spiritual and psychological needs of our neighbours; and relationships that are loving.
NCD works best using an external coach who helps guide the process. A parish team (including the incumbent and key lay leaders). Paradigmatic change.
A series of 3-4 meetings; starting with orientation, identifying survey participants (over 14 years old, committed to parish, involved in ministry in parish, part of some sort of group that meets regularly; reflects the demographics of the parish). Target 30 people if possible. Complete survey, ideally in one sitting. Reports are generated; team debriefs survey with coach. Strengths, challenges, questions. Reflect. Next: action planning and parish engagement. Do it. Implementing the plan includes attention to modelling new behaviours by key influencers (eg how to be more prayerful, more welcoming). NCD includes material for strengthening/working on each of the eight areas of health; teams can also draw on other material.
Build in process for parish feedback through year.
Evaluation by doing survey again in a year.
Diocese of Toronto (also used in Dioceses of Montreal, Huron, Niagara, Edmonton and Fredericton)
Basic orientation (eg. organization development, catechetical, or missional)
Primarily organization development
Primarily designed to be implemented by (eg lay or ordained; diocesan staff)
Teams including incumbent and key lay leaders
First survey including report $450; Subsequent surveys are $425
Diocese of Toronto provides coaches for member parishes; NCD also provides coaches for a fee
Works best with a coach trained in NCD from outside the parish to provide guidance, feedback and direction.
One year cycle, that can be repeated for as long as the parish wants to. Parishes often find that the work becomes more difficult after about three years as deeper challenges are identified.
Denominational orientation (eg. Anglican or other)
Broader context (eg. rural or urban; size of parish)
All sizes, all settings.
Ease of replication (eg. how easy would it be to start this in a new place?)
Easy but requires real commitment from parish leaders.
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Reviewed: May 25, 2016