Church Health Assessment
The Northwest Conference is deeply committed to the health and vitality of our churches. After all, without healthy churches, missional effectiveness is greatly diminished. Moreover, the salvation of those far from Christ is in jeopardy when the local church lacks energy, capacity, and commitment. The following two congregational assessment instruments are available to aid in discerning current realities on the local level.
According to the Apostle Paul, the church is like a human body (Romans 12:4-5). Thus, it stands to reason that every living church has its own pulse, and that taking the pulse of any particular church provides a general read on the health and vitality of that unique body of believers.
The standardized set of criteria used in the PULSE Assessment Survey is the ten healthy missional markers that flow out of the material presented at the Veritas workshops that have been facilitated throughout the conference. Even though every church is different, these markers can be used to determine the general level of health and vitality of each church.
1) Centrality of the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16)
- We believe that the Bible is the only perfect rule for faith, doctrine and conduct.
- Our preaching and teaching in all settings reflects careful preparation, relevance, and creativity.
- Our people are equipped and growing in their ability to study and apply Biblical truth in ways that lead to a scripturally integrated life.
2) Life transforming walk with Jesus (John 3:3,30; Philippians 1:6)
- We teach our people how to be attentive to Christ in all circumstances.
- Our people understand the radical nature of the message and mission of Jesus that continually deconstructs and reconstructs a person's life.
- Our people are equipped and growing in their ability to use a variety of spiritual growth resources, experiences, and settings.
3) Intentional evangelism (Matthew 28:18-20)
- We are burdened for the spiritual condition of those who do not yet know Christ.
- We have identifiable pathways for evangelism to take place in our ministries.
- Our people are equipped and growing in their ability to build spiritual friendships and know how to share their faith as God-birthed opportunities arise.
4) Transforming communities through active compassion, mercy and justice ministries (Micah 6:8)
- We are burdened for the hurting people in our community and beyond.
- We have identifiable pathways for compassion, mercy and justice ministries to take place.
- Our people are equipped and growing in their ability to see and address the hurts and the causes of hurt in our community and beyond.
5) Global perspective and engagement (Acts 1:8)
- We raise the sights of our members beyond our congregation and community, by developing a Biblical worldview and both praying for and referencing global matters.
- We have identifiable pathways to support the cause of Christ globally.
- Our people are equipped and growing in their ability to participate in the global dimensions of our ministry.
6) Compelling Christian community (Acts 2:42-47)
- We understand that our love for one another is a powerful testimony to the deity of Jesus.
- We love each other as we are, not as we should be.
- We share life together beyond the worship service.
7) Heartfelt worship (Psalm 138:1a; John 4:23)
- We exalt and celebrate God for who He is, what He has done, what He is doing, and what He will do.
- Worship reflects careful preparation to help give voice to many dimensions of response to God such as adoration, praise, contrition, lament, and commitment.
- People leave worship knowing something more about the heart of God and about their own hearts.
8) Sacrificial and generous living and giving (Romans 12:1-8)
- We help people discover, develop and deploy their spiritual gifts.
- We regularly, graciously, and unapologetically teach on the importance of financial stewardship in the spiritual growth of the Christian.
- We have many examples of lifestyle choices being made on the basis of stewardship and the priority God plays in the lives of our members.
9) Culture of godly leadership (Hebrews 13:7)
- Our leaders at all levels serve with character, competence, and conviction.
- A spirit of collegiality pervades, with our people trusting our leaders and our leaders trusting our people.
- We continually identify and train godly leaders for all dimensions of our ministry.
10) Fruitful organizational structures (Exodus 18:13-26, Acts 6:1-7)
- We can articulate a compelling, Christ-honoring vision for our church.
- We embrace evaluation as normal and natural and work through conflict constructively.
- Our organizational structures are designed to be efficient at making decisions, while at the same time building congregational ownership for those decisions.
In order for a congregation to take the PULSE survey, they must have completed the following prerequisites:
- Participation in a VERITAS workshop
- Development of a Behavioral Covenant
- Participation in an EPIC Workshop
- Formation of a VERITAS Team
Once these have been completed, please contact Jon Kramka by email or calling the NWC office to continue the process toward completing the PULSE survey.
Natural Church Development (NCD)
Jesus also said, "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." (Mark 4:26-29)
"I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So, neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow." (I Corinthians 3:6-7)
The Natural Church Development (NCD) assessment process helps a church determine its strengths and weaknesses. It further assists a church in addressing its greatest needs with the goal of the implementation of a deliberate plan to improve in areas of need. Particular attention is paid to what NCD calls the Eight Key Quality Characteristics. These characteristics are evaluated in order to identify the relative level of effectiveness of each in the local church setting. The degree to which these are present and in operation directly correlates to the health (or lack of it) of the church.
The Key Characteristics are:
- Empowering Leadership
- Gift-oriented Ministry
- Passionate Spirituality
- Effective Structures
- Inspiring Worship Service
- Holistic Small Groups
- Need-oriented Evangelism
- Loving Relationships
NCD has been used in 60 countries on six continents. It has involved thousands of churches and millions of survey respondents. The creator of NCD is Christian Schwarz from Germany. He identifies the following as being pivotal points in the NCD process:
- All churches are different and therefore must take basic principles and apply them to each local setting. It is not particularly effective to try to imitate another church...rather, it is better to identify the principle behind what is taking place and contextualize it for each specific place.
- Churches are organic in nature, not simply organizations. Therefore, leaders must learn to "tend" to the church. This involves evaluation and the caring interplay between the various parts, knowing that each part affects the whole.
- We have a part to play in the health and growth of our church ... God has a part to play. We seek to remove obstacles to health and growth. We also plant and water ... but God causes the growth!
- The key concern of NCD is the quality of a church, rather than simply its numerical growth. Christian Schwarz does believe, however, that qualitative growth does tend to promote quantitative growth in time.
- The crucial aspect of each of the Eight Key Characteristics listed above is the adjective used (i.e. Empowering, Passionate, Inspiring...)
- No Quality Characteristic can be missing. If a church is strong in all of the areas but one, the one area of weakness (known as the Minimum Factor) will be the point of vulnerability and decline. Picture a barrel with each of the Quality Characteristics being a vertical stave. What happens if all of the staves are the same length, but one is significantly shorter? If you pour water into the barrel, the water will run out at the point of the shortest stave. This is the idea behind the need of each church to identify and address its Minimum Factor.
- NCD is a process that involves hard work. It also takes time. It is not a magical formula. It does not promise to bring instant health and happiness to churches that are in deep trouble. It is most effective in churches that have the capacity to adapt and implement changes for the sake of future ministry. It does not solve all of life's problems...rather it seeks to provide a common language and structure to better facilitate new direction and purpose.
If you would like to find out more about Natural Church Development, please contact Jon Kramka by email or call the NWC office.
For NCD's Web site, please click here.