Two books lie behind my recent posts on the Rays and church growth (here, here, and here). They are wildly different. The first is a book on how major league teams in underfunded markets have succeeded called Moneyball, from which I have quoted before.
The second is one called Natural Church Development. The thesis of this book is what tied together for me the similarities between baseball success and church growth.
NCD is a book by a church analyst named Christian Schwarz. I’m not sure how widely the book has been read, but apart from some quibbles, I found the book helpful. Like Moneyball with baseball, this author wants to question commonly received assumptions about what makes churches grow in order to look beneath the surface to see the actual principles at work which contribute to real growth.
The author here is a bit tedious, and one must always be suspect of statistical analysis, upon which he depends heavily. It must be more difficult to statistically analyze, say, dynamic spirituality than it is to measure baseball’s on-base-percentage. And it seems to me that the author’s starting point is not the Bible per se but his own intuition. He seems to me to draw in the Bible and theology almost tangentially, but certainly not as his starting point.
He dispels the common idea that if we just did THIS ONE THING our woes would pass (whether it is change our worship, change our pastor, change our evangelism, or whatever). The church is an organic whole of many functioning parts all of which need to be functioning in some way in order for growth to occur.
The eight principles that must be functioning in any healthy congregation, according to Schwarz, are as follows. I am curious if you would add/subract any.
2. Walks/hits allowed per inning pitched
oops… wrong list. Ahem:
1. Empowered leadership
2. Gift oriented ministry
3. Passionate spirituality
4. Functional structures
5. Inspiring worship services
6. Holistic small groups
7. Need-oriented evangelism
8. Loving relationships