Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Book Review: Natural Church Development: A Guide to Eight Essential Qualities of Healthy Churches by Christian Schwarz

I chose to read NCD
because our church will be using some of the principles as we set out some strategic goals for our future. Schwarz sells this program as being distinct from other church growth models in that NCD is not a method to be followed that will guarantee church growth, but rather NCD points out eight essential qualities that healthy churches possess. After Schwarz identifies the eight characteristics of healthy churches, he talks about six strategies for helping churches achieve these characteristics. In essence, he believes churches should identify both their strengths and weaknesses in these areas and then churches should use their strengths to sharpen their weaknesses.

I really found these eight characteristics helpful and I would agree with all of them. I am sure nobody will be shocked when they read through the list. I also agree with Schwarz that we ought to use the strengths that God gave the church to help the church be healthier. I especially enjoyed the beginning of the book when he compared the church to a living organism and stated that God supplies everything the church needs for growth. Our role is to use what God has already given the church in order to allow the church to be all that God has for it.

I found that the major weakness of the book was not the principles that were taught, but that Schwarz spent most of the 127 pages trying to sell me a program rather than teach me about these eight principles. He spent less than two pages for each principle and two whole sections telling his readers why NCD was better than other church growth models. I have to admit, I was over it by the end of the book.

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