‘Natural Church Development’ key to growth

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by Sheila Bradley, Major – 

It’s always exciting to watch corps grow all by themselves! Of course we know that really doesn’t happen…or does it? According to the Natural Church Development (NCD) process it does!

Let me explain. In Mark 4: 26-28 Jesus illustrates how God gives life and healthy growth in the Kingdom of God. The key word describing the growth which occurs is “automatically,” which is often translated “all by itself.”

If you speak to Captains John and Lisa Van Cleef, Medford, Ore. corps officers, they will tell you they are working hard to nurture the health of their corps. But it just got a whole lot easier with the NCD process. The NCD survey, which ideally takes 30 people to complete (but can be done with less), can now be scored at territorial headquarters. The anonymous surveys (the officer only has to supply his or her name and the name of the corps) are sent to THQ where they are compiled and scored to diagnose how the corps is fairing in eight key areas: Empowering Leadership, Gift Oriented Ministry, Passionate Spirituality, Functional Structures, Inspiring Worship Service, Holistic Small Groups, Need-Oriented Ministry and Loving Relationships.

The survey results are then returned to the corps for implementation. It’s refreshing to watch what happens when local leaders come together to work on their goals and develop a plan to help their Minimum Factor (lowest score) grow. This working together seems to bring a deeper understanding of what their roll is in God’s Kingdom and the work they need to do to help the corps be healthy and then grow—all by itself!

Now there’s no need to fear, you don’t have to walk this path alone because one of the great benefits of the NCD process is that there is a coaching element built in.

Four people at THQ have already been trained to coach you along in this process. No, we’re not going to tell you what to do, but we will walk the path with you, helping the officer and the local leaders to understand the process, how to set S.M.A.R.T. goals and assist with attaining those goals so that your corps will become a spiritually healthy body from which God will produce growth.

“We completed the NCD process for the first time last year. We didn’t fully understand it and the corps council didn’t fully understand it,” said Captain John Van Cleef. “It was easy to identify the minimum factors, but we fumbled through the goal-setting process of how we’d strengthen the minimum factor.”

They decided to do the NCD process again this year. “We could not have prepared ourselves for what happened. The survey results indicated we experienced increases in how we viewed our corps’ health. All the key areas we’d focused on during the previous year showed improvement, and the key areas we didn’t focus on also showed improvement.”

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