What Schwarz is attempting to measure and to analyze is church health, the quality of the church’s life and ministry, with the assumption that churches which function at a certain level of quality in his perceived eight areas have a better chance of seeing growth. He contends that a church does not have to excel in these eight areas, but all eight realities need to be in place for a church to grow.
Obviously, to me, there may be other principles he’s overlooked, or he may be focusing on those which are of no consequence. But the idea that church quality is to be assessed based upon more than a spiffy worship service or a proliferation of programs is somewhat refreshing and encouraging.
I appreciate his insistence that we not simply look at how other churches (teams!) operate and assume we can operate the same way that they do – or did. We look at large churches across town or churches with a national reputation – or we look at the church of our childhood or the one in the town we were saved in – and we isolate one thing about that church and figure that if we do that one thing we will grow. That is a fallacy.
His view is much more organic and situation specific. He says we need to look at our setting and evaluate ourselves upon the measure of these eight items. Progress can be made if we simply identify the weak point in our ministry and shore it up, without making any changes anywhere else.
His criteria of essential elements for health and quality are perhaps valid, perhaps not. But they can serve at least as a helpful place to begin, as we look at our own ministries. This analysis can help us perhaps find the area of the greatest need and begin to address it with the goal that our church might function as a greater organic whole, and be more effective in her ministry for the things to which God has called us.