“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow"
--Matthew 6: 28--
When Jesus, in his sermon on the mount invites us to consider the lilies of the field and how they grow he is not inviting us to consider how beautiful they are. Jesus is inviting us to study the lilies and to explore how every part of the plant works and how the plant multiplies. At creation God set everything into motion and let everything grow in its own unique way. The Universe spins and expands, organic life multiplies, everything grows by the power that God has invested in it.
Through our studies of large and small things we have discovered that God in the infinite wisdom of a master craftsman has created all living things with a resonance factor. All things respond to all other things and sometimes the response results in stronger and faster growth. The quality of the soil impacts upon the quality of the plant and in turn the quality of the fruit and the bounty of the harvest.
Natural Church Development is a program that flows out of a research project conducted in 1000 churches from 32 countries around the world. The only continent that did not participate was Antarctica and that is likely because the Penguins, like the lilies have never forgotten what they are about. The Church, from time to time does.
Data collected from the survey indicated eight individual quality characteristics that are vital to Church health. Further to that they found that the degree to which each of these eight quality characteristics is present (and they are always present) impacts upon the quality of the faith community and by extension that faith communities growth.
Each of the eight quality characteristics are scored from 0 to 100 and research has shown that without exception Churches that achieve a 65 score in each of the eight quality characteristics are not only thriving, they are growing and if they are able to maintain that quality level long enough they will outgrow their current facilities and have to consider moving to a larger facility of dividing into two congregations.
Seems like a long way from where we are. So how could we become that kind of Church and experience that kind of energy?
The first step is to assess how strongly each of the eight quality characteristics are present at George Street United Church. That is easily done with the help of 30 participants completing a survey. The survey is 91 questions long and can be completed in less than an hour’s time. The answers given to the survey questions are then used to calculate or scores in each of the eight quality characteristics.
The second step is to examine our weakest score and develop a plan to address the deficits in that quality.
The third step is to complete another survey and measure growth.
All of these steps take place over a year’s time. Each completed survey informs us of our weakest quality characteristic which means we will be constantly shifting our emphasis to address our weakest areas until each area is stronger, the quality of our community of faith grows stronger and that quality will appeal to our neighbors who are looking for something meaningful.
In following Pastoral Letters I will take an opportunity to explain what each of the eight quality characteristics are responsible for. I am going to conclude this letter by telling you what each of the eight quality characteristics are called and let you think about what the names are communicating to you. None of these eight are more important than the other and all are interconnected.
The eight quality characteristics identified by Natural Church Development are:
Inspiring Worship Service
Holistic Small Groups
Need Oriented Evangelism
Grace and peace to you and may you keep one another safe.
-Reverend John Maich